While Adrienne was visiting, I discovered directions to the elusive Guknyeongsa Temple in Bukhansan National Park, where I have been hiking several times. On a few of those hikes, I could see an enormous Buddha sitting high above the trees, but for the life of me (and Ben when we tried) could not find it.
But then, someone wrote a blog in the winter that had very specific directions.
Adrienne and I decided to hike there. It was awesome. I also took Allison there. Then, I took another group of friends there. I hiked to the giant Buddha 3 times. During each hike, I announced I was never hiking again and that hiking was the worst.
Then, I'd get to the top and think, "Ahh yes, this is why I go hiking."
I have a love-hate relationship with hiking. I get no pleasure from hiking to the top of a mountain, but once I'm there I'm very happy I hiked. I also enjoy the way down, which is usually when I take pictures.
Adrienne and I hiked up in early April, when the weather was still pleasantly cool. I had very specific directions, which was good. In order to get to the temple, you have to climb through what appears to be a person's backyard, then climb up their stairs and into a hidden path.
I knew that this was the case, but a very insistent Korean hiking group wanted to lead us there themselves. This would have been fine if they weren't mildly condescending. And if they could speak English.
The entire time, one of the men who refused to go away kept saying, "You are a very good hiker!"
I am not a good hiker. Adrienne is an okay hiker but was announcing her hatred of exerting herself.
It took us a while, but we eventually made our escape. Yes, I know, it would have been good to practice my Korean, but I was with Adrienne and she speaks zero Korean and would have been left out of the conversation. And the whole reason of going was to hike with her, even if there was mutual complaining involved.
We made it to the Buddha in a little over an hour. It was awesome and definitely worth the hike.
Here I am in front of the Buddha.
This specific Golden Buddha of Bukhansan is the largest sitting Buddha in East Asia. I believe that the temple was founded about 1300 years ago. It is very beautiful.
And had really pointy ears!
I took more pictures on my way down the mountain, due to not dying of exertion.
Bukhansan national park is really beautiful. The mountains in Korea are quite small compared to what I grew up seeing in Washington, but they seem unique. Rocky with a mixture of trees.
This helicopter was flying about and constantly interrupting our hike. Later down the mountain, it landed right next to us and blew dirt in my eye.
This was a smaller temple on the way up/back down the mountain.
Adrienne photobombing. I should stop posting normal pictures of her to encourage her to stop this.
There's a mini waterfall.
At that part of the hike, I announced that would be my last hike, since summer was coming and it was already extremely hot. And, in case you didn't know, it gets extremely humid in Korea in the summer.
I missed the buddha in this picture.
It was Erica's birthday that day!
This time up the mountain was pretty awesome. It was extremely hot and humid, but once we got up to the top, one of the monks gave us a small tour around the temple. He let us all ring the bell two times, so about 20 times total, which was surprising.
The monk who showed us around. He was so friendly!
He taught us a bit about the temple and then played the drums for us, which was really interesting and amazing. He had no need to do that for us, but he offered and we gratefully accepted. He taught us the various reasons people meditate etc.
It was a lovely day.
Overall, the hiking trips were definitely worth it. My love-hate relationship will continue, since I always love the result of the hikes I complete! The beautiful views are always worth it.
The following pictures are a couple of my instagram pictures from my many hikes up the mountain.