Jun 1, 2012

미륵리사지 mireukrisaji and hiking failure

I decided to take another trip out Suanbo way, to visit mireukrisaji, a historic Buddhist temple site promising a very old stone Buddha. It's about 8 km from Suanbo. And I figured I'd give Woraksan another go on the way home.
 I had lunch before I went, bibimbap of my own making because bibimbap just isn't bibimbap without gosari (the brown branchy looking parts) and for some reason Chungju restaurants often seem to omit it. If you don't know gosari (and I didn't before Korea) then you might know it from fiddle heads. It's part of that plant. If you don't know fiddle heads, then I got nothing.
I drove my motorcycle out there. I live in the country side, so there's very little traffic and lots of winding mountain roads, perfect for summertime rides. And it's definitely a lot nicer driving along without having to contend with many cars. I do get a whole lot more attention though...
 The weather was perfect, and I passed by many restaurants and dongdongju (rice wine) stops before getting there. If I hadn't already filled up on bibimbap I would've stopped for lunch. The place wasn't very busy at all, so I don't know how so many shops and restaurants stay open (especially in Suanbo). There were only two other people (아저씨) at the temple and they seemed more interested in following me around than anything. So it was a bit uncomfortable.
The Buddha statue was pretty fantastic though. And there were the typical Buddhist chants being played. There was also a little shop selling bracelets and the like, with another lady selling temple tiles.
I headed further along the road and there were a couple more stops, for a head statue and a field of ruins, nothing really picture worthy. And then I kept going to see what was up the hill.
There was another small, new temple, and they offered bathrooms. Essentially a little shed built of leftover materials with some planks over a shallow hole that you can squat over. No door for privacy, but there weren't many people around so I guess it wouldn't matter. There was absolutely no way I was using it though, this had to be the worst "bathroom" I've ever seen.
And then I hopped back on my motorcycle and headed back to Woraksan for round two. A 2.3 km hike to the peak on the "Samunri Nature Interpretive Trail." Things weren't so bad, until I hit these stairs.
 And then after that, the trail got quite a bit sketchier and a whole lot harder.
It started involving climbing up steep rocks and holding onto chain railings. With 0.8 km to go, my legs were really starting to feel it and the sketchiness of the trail wasn't helping, so I decided to call it a day. I didn't see a single person on the trail the whole time and I was starting to understand why, it's one serious hike and it was sketchier going down than up. I'm definitely not hardcore enough to finish it. Woraksan got me again.

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