Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cherry Blossoms and Donghaksa Temple

On Saturday last weekend Jihyeon and I caught the bus to Gyeryongsan National Park, a national park on the outskirts of Daejeon. The plan was to see the cherry blossoms and visit Donghaksa temple. The temple was originally built in 713, destroyed 1728 and rebuilt in 1814. 

We caught the 107 bus that departed from just around the corner from our apartment. It seemed like everyone in Daejeon had the same idea as us and wanted to go see the cherry blossoms. Packed like sardines, we managed to squish onto the second bus that came along. I felt sorry for the people we left standing at other bus stops as we whizzed past. <soup nazi voice> "NO BUS FOR YOU" </voice>.

We finally arrived, but it was sooo busy the bus driver dared not go all the way to the bus stop. He kicked us out and we had to walk the rest of the way.... about 1km. The cherry blossoms lined the street most of the way and there were food stalls and pop up restaurants everywhere. 

One of the many pop up seafood restaurants. 

Some games and entertainment.

One of the many snack stalls. Nothing too scary here. Just chicken and sausages on a stick. A stick of chicken will set you back 3000won ($3). 

This on the other hand it a bit different. At the front is Beondegi (번데기) which is boiled or steamed silkworm pupae, and towards the back is Daseuligi (다슬기) which is a kind of sea snail which is boiled or steamed. Daseuligi is served with the shell, and the snail is picked out using a tooth pick and the shell discarded. 

We kept walking along the road under the canopy of cherry blossoms. 

We didn't get far before we stopped off at another food cart. This time they were selling Hotteok (호떡) which is a Korean style pancake with various kinds of fillings and normally served in winter. They cost 1000 won ($1) each. 

They also had some kind of fusion food, a combination of western and Korean food. They were kind of like a pizza pocket, but instead of pastry the outer shell was made of rice cake. Normally I'm not a huge fan of Korean fusion food, but these went down fairly well and were 1500won ($1.50) each. 

We quickly found a place to sit outside a small private temple and consumed our food ^^. 

We continued down the road further, wondering how much further until we reached the gate to the national park and beyond it, the temple. 

We finally reached the small town at the entry to the national park. 

We snapped a couple of pictures. 

And then bought some tickets. 

With tickets in hand, we greeted the gate keeper with a cheery 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo) and continued up the path.  

For those who may be interested, here is a map of Gyeryongsan National Park.

Once we entered the national park, that was the end of the cherry blossoms. I'd like to come back here again in autumn as all the trees in the park are deciduous and I imagine it would look pretty amazing. 

A large gateway along the path to the temple. 

We stopped and had a snack.

Finally, we arrived. There are a few different temples here. Some are quite new and modern (they have what look to be offices built under them). 

And here is Donghaksa temple. They had a lot of coloured lanterns hung up outside the temple so I couldn't get a wide angle shot of the temple. 

Lots of tiny Buddhas decorating a wall. 

And some flowers. 

This pagoda was built in 723. The base of it has been replaced, but the top stones are still the originals. You can see all the coloured lanterns hanging in preparation for Buddhas birthday.

A gift shop built under a bell tower. 

We then hiked back to the bus stop and waited for a bus. Once we had waited, we then waited some more..... Finally a bus arrived, took a few people, and then we waited again for another bus. Eventually, around an hour later, we finally got on a bus and headed home. All up it was a good day out. 

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