Ruby Ramblings

Gonju and South
September 3, 2010, 1:01 am
Filed under: Korea, Travel

Last summer when I took the bike tour to the southern coast, I passed through a town that I thought was Gonju. It was this gorgeous mountain town with little mushroom houses and an amazing view. I know now that it wasn’t actually Gonju, but one of the national park towns on the outskirts. Gonju itself is a pretty typical city, but seemed a bit more rundown.

In Gonju I took the 7 bus to Magoksa temple. More than half of the buildings are under renovation, so now isn’t the best time to see it, although the Pagoda is a Tibetan style and is supposed to be one of three left in the world.

I wasn’t that impressed with Gonju on the whole, but I had a bus driver who made my day. It’s funny how one interaction with someone can change the perspective. I was ready to hightail it out of town and head to my next destination, but this guy was so helpful and kind that I stuck around to have some more adventures.

From there, my guidebook, said I could use the same bus #7 to get off at Seonggoksa, but was very vague about the bus stop, and how far away the temple was. The driver helped me figure out where to get off, but warned me that it was a hike. Here is the bus stop for anyone wanting to do the same:

From there it’s a 4km hike down the road and up a mountain. It really wasn’t that bad, and it was a gorgeous day. The temple isn’t so much a temple, but a shrine/statue park. It’s quite beautiful and peaceful with a few waterfalls. There was almost no one there on a weekday, and the views were great. Sometimes I really can’t help but wonder how much money went into all these statues though, and how many people that money could feed out of Buddhist generosity. But maybe the statues inspire people to donate more that can be used for those purposes?

From there I headed to Jinan, where my hotel room proves the point that hotels in Korea aren’t meant for travellers.

Again, I was warned about the walking involved in getting to Tapsa, a temple made by a monk who stacked huge piles of rocks into carns around the temple. I just wanted a lift to the entrance, but the cab driver took me around to the back of the park, and right to the entrance of Tapsa. This made my job easy, but I think I would have been more satisfied if I had done the hike around and had to work for it. There are supposed to be buses that go the front entrance, but early on a weekday morning, I didn’t find such a thing.

From there I hiked back over the mountain to the front entrance. The long hike everyone was warning me about is a mere 1km. The stairs are steep and many, but it doesn’t take long. At the front entrance at this time of the morning there wasn’t a shop open, a bus to be seen, or a taxi to be found. I ended up walking back to Jinan, which was really close. Maybe a 30-40 minute walk. If you like walking, you could do the whole trip without taking transportation at all.

1 Comment so far
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I think that top temple you visited is insane! And a bit surreal. Very cool photos.

Comment by Bumble

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