Hiking at Jogyesan, Sunday 24th April 2011.

After watching Chunnam Dragons lose at home to Sanju Sangmu the previous day I thought that I would take advantage of being down by the South coast to go and hike in Jogyesan Provincial Park. I’ve no idea what the difference is between a National Park and a Provincial Park, but Jogyesan has a couple of eight hundred metre high peaks and so I thought it would be worth a visit.

I’d spent the Saturday night in the BMW Motel in Suncheon where thirty thousand won had got me a room complete with sheets bearing the famous logo. I think it’s the cheapest hotel that I’ve stayed in over here and I did wonder for a moment whether I’d actually only rented the room for an hour. The main quirk was that the pillows seemed to be filled with gravel, but apart from that it was pretty good, certainly not the worst place I’ve stayed at by a long way.

Motel BMW, Suncheon

I slept in a bit longer than I’d intended to, possibly because the shutters on the window didn’t let any sunlight in whatsoever, but I still managed to be up and out by 8am. There are two quite well known temples at Jogyesan, Seonamsa and Songgwangsa, and my plan was to hike from one to the other, taking in the peaks of Jonggun (884m) and Yeonsan (851m). I could have taken a bus to Seonamsa temple but as it was only about twenty odd kilometres away and the bus takes an hour I got a taxi instead.

Half an hour and twenty four thousand won later I was at the entrance to the park. It wasn’t far to Seonamsa temple and since I was there I paused for a look around.

Seonamsa Temple, decorated for Buddha's birthday.

I had hoped that I’d be able to get something to eat as I hadn’t bothered picking any food up whilst in Suncheon but all they had were ice creams. That was fine with me though and a cornetto for breakfast it was.

Apparently this is something quite important in the monk world.

A couple of hours spent steadily walking uphill and I was at Jonggun peak. It was pretty crowded and I was a little surprised to discover the ice cakee salesman at the summit. Whilst I’m not convinced that a diet consisting exclusively of ice cream is necessarily the most appropriate for hill walking I had my second one of the day.

Ice cakee at the top.

There was a bit of a dip between Jonggun and the next peak of Yeonsan, but an hour or so later I was there.

No ice cakee this time.

After Yeonsan there was a reasonably flat stretch of trail for a while before the descent to Songgwangsa.  The path downwards seemed fairly steep but probably wasn’t much different to the gradient on the way up. There are a few small waterfalls and deepish pools as you get towards the bottom.

Stream near Songgwangsa

I had a look around Songgwangsa temple. They have a room with a few exhibits in, old monk bowls, printing blocks, that sort of thing. There are also plenty of photos of the monks taken over the last century or so including some during the Japanese occupation where they stand side by side with Japanese soldiers.

Songgwangsa Temple had been decorated as well.

I got a bus back to Suncheon at 3pm, a journey that took an hour and twenty minutes. There are buses back to Seoul from Suncheon every hour or so. It’s a long journey at four and a half hours and it was ten o’clock at night by the time I got back to the capital. The route I’d hiked probably totalled about seven or eight miles but if I hadn’t needed to leave so early to get back to Seoul I could have added another four miles to it by hiking back along the valley to my starting point of Seonamsa. That’s maybe one for next time.

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