Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Seoraksan National Park

In October there is a Korean holiday called Chu-seok which is the equivalent of the American Thanksgiving combined with the gift giving of Christmas. We were given a very nice five day vacation and a bonus from our school. (Amazing school, I must say.) Chelsie and I originally had plans and flights for the Philippines, but the typhoon became a huge disaster down there and our flights were canceled. It was alright because there is plenty to do around here.

We made a trip to the northern part of South Korea, Sokcho to be exact, and took in the sights of their second most visited national park, Seoraksan.

As you may have already noticed, you cannot go too far in Korea without running across a temple or two. There are many, but this must be one of the biggest Buddhas that we have seen yet.

We met a really fun Korean man by the name of Mr.Quo. He was a bundle of energy, and with fairly good English skills, he voluntarily came our tour guide for the afternoon. He had been to the park a number of times and was very eager to be our host, which included insistence to pay for meals, bus tickets, park fees, snacks, water, and anything else he thought we needed. We have been overwhelmed with generosity, and hospitality on a number of occasions as we tour throughout Korea. It has given us a some quality insight to the culture. Mr.Quo, took us in the direction of Ulsanbowie, a fantastic climb with which included hundreds of steel stairways meandering their way up the unsurpassable rock face.

The summit was a delight in one direction we could see deep into the park and in the other we could see the vast ocean.

I hope you don't grow tired of the pictures of the traditional temples, because as long as we are in Korea, I am guessing that they will keep coming.

The lanterns are all hung from the ceiling inside the temple. I believe that the tags, which flutter in the breeze, are prayers.

The great bell found at all temples.

Old roof tiles in a pile. You can "purchase" new ones at a nearby counter and write on them. They are then stored for replacements or new construction.

Taking a break to refer to the Lonely Planet, our trusty guide.

There is a cable car in the park. We have come to realize that it is a very popular fixture in many places around here.

We couldn't pass...... up and up we went. At the top there was a coffee shop. Once again....couldn't pass.

We enjoyed a tasty lunch at the top. Homemade peanut butter and bread. Chels is quite the chief even in the outdoors.

A peek in the direction of the ocean.

Another hike took us to some nice falls.

The next day we took a bus to "Inner Seoraksan". Another portion of the park with phenomenal rock cairans.

We contributed to the multitude and built one of our own.

More hiking, more beauty. The trip was a great escape from the norm. Who can pass up an invitation to the great outdoors.

A hermitage as the map called it. It was a monk village tucked away.

Being here in Korea for a while has given us the opportunity to explore more that we could ever have in a month of vacation.


Jeff said...

The rock cairns made me laugh. One hike we take here goes through a dry gulch that is a much smaller version of this river bed. Someone started building cairns, and now they are spreading. What's interesting is that I think we can identify the work of one particular builder, whose sensibility and talent stand out in very clever and exquisitely balanced combinations, among all the other well-intentioned efforts. I'll have to show these photos to Laura. Do you know if the cairns wash away in high water each year?

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