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Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday hike to Seokbulsa

Seokbulsa Temple (석불사) “Stone Buddhist Temple”, is rated #1 of 68 things to see in Busan, and #27 of 6,196 sights to see in Asia, according to Lonely Planet!  So, when I woke up Sunday morning and the weather was perfect for a hike, I asked Aaron to come along ...and off we went!

Now, as a side note, for anyone wanting to go here, take the subway to Mandeok station (line 3) and take the # 4 exit.  Then immediately hail a taxi!  Just say "Seokbulsa - ooEyay"  This basically means, please take me up the hill to Seokbulsa!  $4.00 later, we had arrived, and bypassed the almost 2 hour hike up the mountain!  Now that's what I call a successful shortcut (or lazyness, but whatever!)! 

We hiked a total of about 2 minutes to get to the entrance of the temple... 

...which was all locked up!   Apparently this was the original main gate, but has been off limits now for years...

So, we continued up the hill to this intricately painted archway, which serves as the new entrance to the temple complex! 
When we entered the temple grounds, we found that the temple is indeed made of stone. Not that we ever really doubted.  There are two stone buildings at the entrance and a beautiful 3-story stone pagoda in front of the main building.

Once we passed through the center of the two buildings above, we were greeted with an awe inspiring work of Buddhist art. There are several images carved along the stone walls on either side. 

The bell tower, where monks come to bang the drum and awake the gods...

From the bell tower, you can see all the way to the Gwangan Bridge! 
And that's even on a somewhat hazzy day like today!
A set of stone stairs leads up to the left of the main stone carving, to a Sanshin Alter (산신단), a place for worshiping the mountain spirit. I don't know how Buddhists keep track of all of their gods and spirits! Seems like there are thousands!

There two pairs of shoes were waiting patiently outside of the Sanshin alter, while their owners bowed inside.

Looking down from the Sanshin Alter (which is also the tallest point of the temple grounds) gives you another vantage point for admiring the immense carvings and the surrounding landscape.

Aaron and I sat up here, for a while, playing Farkle (aka: 10,000) and enjoying our snacks that we had brought along!
If you look carefully, you can find some of these miniature buddha statues laying around temples in Korea.  This one happened to have some money laying beside it (the equivalent of less than a penny!)

This buddha statues and the candles that accompanied it were tucked back in a little cave in the mountainside...

I can't imagine carving all of these!  They're amazing!

Inside the main temple building are hundreds of these bronze buddhas, lined up in rows.  Koreans came in and out, all afternoon, bowing to these statues.

This alter was set up in the smaller temple building.  I have no idea what the symbolism is of this painting or the candles.  Wish I had a little history lesson before going, but there's really not all that much online about this temple!

We thought about staying for the sunset, but it was getting really cold, so we headed back down the mountain, stopping to enjoy the wildflowers along the way...

... and the graveyard too.  Creepy?  Yes, a bit!

I found this little Jeju god sitting in the graveyard, all by his lonesome.

On our hike down, we spotted an exercise park, which are quite common on mountains in Korea!  We had a fun time playing on all the weird equipment!

Tah dah!  Yes, this thing actually turns you upside down and you hang from it...
and no, I didn't figure out the apparent benefits of hanging upside down on it!

Who wants to go skiing?!

Now, this thing was GENIUS!  You can lay your cell phone on a dock of sorts, and the friction from the rubber bands against the metal will actually CHARGE YOUR CELL PHONE as you work out!

We left the exercise park and continued on our way, basking in the gorgeous sunset!

We lucked out and were able to catch a taxi down the rest of the mountain!  About an hour later, Aaron and I met our friend Keely and her boyfriend (who was visiting from the US), in Seomyeon, for a little dinner date!  It was the perfect ending to a fabulous outdoorsy Sunday!

1 comment:

  1. Im so happy about this post! Ive been reading so many blogs about reaching Seokbulsa but no one mentioned you can get there by taxi and I truly dont have the time to do the hike! Can I ask how long does it take to reach it by taxi? And can you call a taxi to take you back?