National Park Beauty
Seoraksan National Park Travel Blog› entry 294 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Hyun Sung Kim (South Korea)
After a 4 hour bus journey from Seoul, i ended up in the city of Sokcho a little past 19.00. I had hoped to be dropped at the bus terminal in the north of the city, where there was some budget accomodation, but found myself in the very south and thus decided that i may as well just head into the park and try and find somewhere to stay there instead. A very nice shop owner pointed out the local bus stop, where i met an English girl who was heading the same way. She had already spent the day in the park and was staying where i wanted to go, which made the ordeal a damn sight easier! I checked into a rather nice room ($30), which was the cheapest thing going and settled in for the night.
The following morning i wasn't too sure how far the park entry was, so decided to walk up there and get the blood pumping. Even though it was walking along the roadside, the views were still fantastic and i did the 3km walk in around 45 minutes. Passing through the park entrance i encountered a large bear statue and also a giant bronze Buddha. The cherry blossom added some colour and the mountains looked magnificent. I wasn't too sure where i was going to head once in the park, but decided upon the rock formation of Ulsan Bawi.
I passed over small bridges and a rather dried out rocky stream, which were all very picturesque and soon came upon Shinheungsa Temple, which was constructed in 1770.
Another 30 minutes climbing steadily up the mountain path and the next point of interest was Kae - Jo Cave Temple, otherwise known as Kyejoam Hermitage. The temple had been constructed in 652AD, although most of the area was undergoing renovations and the cave itself was basically off limits - although i did sneek a little peek through some building works! There were also regular intervals where you could stop for food and drinks and i purchased some kind of peanut snack, which i wasn't overly impressed with and spent the next 20 minutes trying to pick it from my teeth!
The path after here became progressively steeper, until it resulted in 805 steel steps that led to Ulsan Bawi's summit.
The views at the top were fantastic, as the ridge ran for 2km's and it felt like we were a lot higher than the 873m that we supposedly were.
The day was drawing to a close, so i said my goodbyes and began to walk back to the hostel. I had the temptation to just catch the bus, but i'm delighted that i didn't, as i got to witness a very pretty sunset along the way. I was feeling a bit tired and in no mood to go and dine out alone, so i bought some noodles and snacks from the local convenience store and plonked myself in front of the TV and watched the football that was on.
I headed back into the park the next day, but this time decided to take the bus there. I was surprised at how deserted it felt, now all the weekenders had packed up their belongings and headed back to their homes. My first decision was to take the 1.1km cable car ride up Gwon-Geunseong, from where i hiked another 10 minutes to the top of the mountain. The climb up to the very pinnacle was a little hair raising, with ropes there to help you, but the views at the top were sublime. Standing on the very highest point and seeing the mountain face just drop away from below you was an exhilarating experience and one that i thoroughly enjoyed.
Back down to ground level and i wasn't too sure of where to go next. I didn't have my Lousy Planet with me, but remembered that the trail to the right led to Ulsan Bawi and i thought the trail to the left led to 2 waterfalls, so went on the left path.
As it turned out, the path i had chosen was very secluded and led through some nice wooded areas and over bridges and alongside a stream. It culminated at Biseondae Rock some 3kms and 45 minutes later. As i crossed a bridge to see the marker posts of how far the next attraction was, a Korean man came out and began making gestures and holding out a book to me. He then led me to a sign saying forest fires and kept thrusting the pen for me to sign the book. From what i could understand, he wanted me to sign up to go fight a forest fire, join the army, or alternatively sign the sheet saying if i died in a forest fire it wasn't his fault! Either way, i didn't want to sign the paper and performed a u-turn before i got myself into a situation i didn't want to be in!
I caught the bus back to the hostel, gathered my belongings and then caught the bus to the terminal in Sokcho.