Week 18: Autumn viewing at Naejangsan

Gwangju Travel Blog

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Autumn colors at Naejangsan.

At 6am this morning Drs Huh and Lee picked us up to go hiking at Mt. Naejang to view the autumn colors.  Apparently this was the peak weekend for viewing the  tampung (autumn leaf turning) and the crowds tend to get bad which is why we left so early for a destination only 1.5 hours away.  It's a good thing we did get there early because despite our early arrival, several of the parking lots closest to the mountain were already full.  After enjoying a nice warm bibimbap breakfast we headed to the park entrance.  There was already a 2 hour wait for the cable car to the top of Naejangsan so we explored the park's small museum for a bit then took a 3 hour hike up (and down) the mountain.  The hike probably would have taken me and Justin only an hour but Dr.

A literal translation of a snare from korean- "nothing which will come" :)
Huh stopped quite frequently to talk with just about every other hiker that crossed our path.  Dr Huh invented this game in which he asked his new korean acquaintance where they thought Justin and I were from and the acquaintance had to guess.  Not one person got our nationality right!  We thought someone would have guessed American right away but we heard everything from "Russian" to "Swedish" to "Hungarian".  Dr Huh got quite a few chuckles out of his little game. 

Although the trails were a little crowded we really enjoyed the mountain scenery.  We stopped at three different Buddhist temples along the way and also snacked on clementines, dried persimmon and hot odeng (fish paste) soup. On our way back to the parking lot we passed dozens of little food stands selling garlic clove slicers and huge steaming pots of bundigi (boiled silkworm pupae).

At one of the upper temples at Naejangsan.
  The stench was overpowering but hundreds of hikers seemed to relish eating a hot cup of boiled insects.  Yum :) 

We headed back to Gwangju by 12:30 and it's a good thing we left when we did.  The road coming into the park was completely backed up with carloads of hikers.  Part of the highway leading to the mountain was actually closed due to the traffic overflow. 

When we got back to the city the doctors took us to a gourmet organic restaurant for a "light" lunch.  We feasted on raw, soy sauce-soaked softshell crabs, mulberry cakes, 20 different veggie side dishes and of course some huge bowls of rice.  Once Justin and I got back to the apartment we collapsed as a result of a tiring hike and eating entirely way too much food.

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Autumn colors at Naejangsan.
Autumn colors at Naejangsan.
A literal translation of a snare f…
A literal translation of a snare …
At one of the upper temples at Nae…
At one of the upper temples at Na…
Buddhist altar.
Buddhist altar.
A huge golden Buddha at the top of…
A huge golden Buddha at the top o…
photo by: khartl731