Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Japanese hornet, otherwise known as one gigantic bee

A few weeks ago, Ben and I decided that we would go hiking every week until it got cold. That lasted a full 2 weeks until we both needed to go to Costco one week, then it was cold.

We went to Bukhansan, which is where we all went hiking last year.

Our first hike, we hiked about 11 miles. The fall leaves were out and being beautiful, I was still recovering a bit from my asthma induced cold of death, so having a little bit of difficulty breathing, which just meant I had to stop a couple times halfway up the cliffs, aka slightly steep inclines.

Notice how the leaves are beautiful, the sun was shining.

On approximately mile 7, we stopped briefly at the tree to the right. I thought it was a good spot, there was a large rock to sit on. Ben was standing near the tree when he says, "Whoa, nice resting spot Lauren."

If you look closely at the tree, you can see an enormous hornet.

Or just look there, it's so huge you can clearly see it's eyeballs.

We stayed in the spot and couldn't stop looking at it. There were actually several of them flying around. I imagined them dive-bombing me from the sky.

Luckily, that didn't happen.

I posted it on facebook, which naturally meant that Amy, bug expert extraordinaire, told me it was a Japanese hornet, the largest species of hornet alive. It's the deadliest animal in Japan, because it injects so much venom when it stings, if you're allergic, you will die faster than other hornets. More people die from the stings than from any other animal in Japan, including bears. But, it's not aggressive and if you're not allergic, then you won't die. Thank heavens.

That didn't help me feel better when I was looking at it's eyeballs.

Anyway, back to hiking, the picture to the left there is near the Blue House, which is the Korean equivalent of the White House. Aka, the president lives there. Ben and I wanted to hike behind it, which is a popular hike that requires your passport to do it. North Korea invaded along the path a long time ago and they still have to check the path thoroughly every day to ensure that it's not being invaded. That also means that the path closes at 3PM.

Ben and I got a bit lost and by the time we arrived, it was about 2:15, so we didn't make it. We've been trying to go on that hike for about a year, but still need to make another attempt. It's currently 12 degrees Fahrenheit outside at 2AM and will reach about 20 during the day, so no more hiking until Spring.

So, we went to Bukhansan the following Wednesday.

As I said before, the leaves and the bees were out.

There are some persimmons and a nice view in the background.
There is a bird.
There are some people sitting on the gate eating lunch.

Here is a working temple along the way up.

Here's a waterfall we accidentally stumbled upon by following some random people up the hill.

Here's another temple, which was being remodeled. I didn't realize we were approaching a temple and approached while speaking at full volume, practically shouting around, when we reached the top and it was completely silent. Ben whispered, "I think we're supposed to be silent Lauren."


I think I spend most of our time together embarrassing Ben by being loud and speaking like I'm in Victorian England. Or, as was the case in Japan, announcing how the other table is cooking their food in a dramatic voice.

But that's ok. I'm sure he's less embarrassed than Carrie when I dramatically sing Christmas carols through the streets, or sing along with the carols in the cafes we frequent.

The leaves.
The giant hornet from another angle.
Some more beautiful leaves.
The view from the top, approximately mile 7. We walked in a bit of a zig-zag pattern up, but straight down.

A photo bombing leaf.

Look, people up there!

Some more leaves.

While taking this picture and the one below it, I naturally stepped on an unstable rock and fell.

How was I supposed to know that the GIANT rock I was standing on would suddenly fall to the side when I stepped on it?

Naturally that meant that I yelled, "OH NOOOO!" dramatically and Ben laughed at me, as usual. I injured my elbow just a little bit in my attempt to save my camera from death by falling. Luckily that worked. And my elbow was fine in about 15 minutes.

There's the temple from afar.
This was the day of our second hike. I took fewer pictures. We also walked a bit less that day. Aka only about 3 miles. We were a bit more tired and it was colder than the week before.

And those were our 2 days of hiking.


  1. GORGEOUS pictures - you should make them into prints.
    Can't help laughing at your stories and reading them out loud to your dad, who'll be reading them soon anyway ...
    Keep up the great blog!