The Story Of…Samneung Valley in Gyeongju

CSC_1404

 The Large Seated Statue of Mireuk-bul up Samneung Valley.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Sometimes, a temple adventure isn’t always amazing, or adventurous for that matter. However, Samneung Valley on Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju was both amazing and adventurous; but it was also something else: embarrassing.

I had been enjoying all the sites along the Samneung-gol Valley like the Headless Mireuk-bul Statue, the Gwanseeum-bosal Image on a Rock Face, the Two Lined-Carved Buddha Triads, the Seated Stone Buddha, and Sangseonam Hermitage, where I was able to take a bit of a rest and enjoy the amazing views that Mt. Namsan offers.

CSC_1327

The Gwanseeum-bosal Image on a Rock Face mid-way up Samneung Valley.

The final destination was the Large Seated Statue of Mireuk-bul. I followed the trail that leads to the left of Sangseonam Hermitage, attempting to find perhaps the most important statue on Mt. Namsan. Somewhere along the way, I must have got lost because I ended up at Sangsaam Rock, which I knew was well past the Large Seated Statue of Mireuk-bul; so either I had missed it completely, or it was well hidden.

Back-tracking down the mountain, I was finally able to spot the massive statue. However, everywhere I turned, it was roped off. I was finally able to figure out that the government ropes off the area in winter to protect hikers from the icy stairs. It must have been at this point that the Canadian in me kicked in, because I wasn’t going to let a little ice prevent me from hiking all that way and not see the Large Seated Statue of Mireuk-bul.

So hopping the roped off area, and with the winter wind seeming a bit cooler, I finally saw the amazing Large Seated Statue of Mireuk-bul. It was everything I had imagined it to be and more.

Finally back at home, after an amazing tour of Mt. Namsan, and Samneung-gol Valley in particular, I realized I had torn the crotch of my pants. Not only had I torn my pants, but I had completely blown a hole in them. Seeing this, I finally realized why it felt that much colder after hopping the roped off fence. But what is most embarrassing is that I’m sure there must have been at least a dozen Korean hikers watching me with amazement with a huge hole in the crotch of my pants! Sometimes, I’m just so embarrassing…

For more on Samneung Valley on Mt. Namsan Pt. 1

For more on Samneung Valley on Mt. Namsan Pt. 2

20130125_124553 (1)

 Said pants…

The Story of…Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju

DSC_1235

A successful climb of Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju.

Hello Again Everyone!!

In total, I think I’ve explored Mt. Namsan, in Gyeongju, four or five times. I’ve explored the north, south, east, and west sides of the mountain; and most of them have been highly enjoyable. In fact, I enjoyed exploring Samneung-gol Valley so much that I thought I would explore the south side of the mountain a couple weeks later.

Well, let’s just say that exploring the south side of Mt. Namsan wasn’t as successful as hiking Samneung-gol Valley. Each little adventure isn’t always a success, and the south side of Mt. Namsan on this day was certainly added to that list.

So I took a turn down a country road, where the houses are literally placed right on the road without a curb or a milimetre of room for error. I wasn’t the least bit surprised as I made my way towards my next temple adventure with my map in hand. I’ve been up more remote roads in my travels.

DSC_1204

The view from Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju.

Then the road gave way, and I was next to a pig far; but the road kept going. Finally, the road gave way once again, and I was on a dirt road (which is putting it nicely). There was grass growing between the ruts in the dirt road with trees jutting out from the neighbouring mountain’s face. I thought, “Okay, any minute I’ll arrive at the temple, and everything will be okay…”

Well, my “okay” turned out to be a truck that was blocking the only lane as the occupants loaded their truck with rocks. I thought, “Okay, what do I do now?” One foot off the grassy road on either side would land me in a rice paddy. I didn’t want to do a U-turn into the unknown. So I decided to reverse my car back from where I came. In the process, I was giving up on seeing the temple that I thought once lay up the road. But at this point, as I switched into reverse, I’m pretty sure no temple ever existed up the road I was attempting to explore.

With tree branches whipping off my window with a twang, and my parking sensor beeping every two seconds warning me about any and all potential rocks, weeds and mountains, I made my way slowly back to the pig farm. Finally arriving, in what I hoped was in one piece, I got out to take a look at the damage. I had to get down on all fours to pick out the grass from both my front and back bumper, and I also had to bend my driver’s side mirror back into place. Not the best of situations, but it could have been a lot worse, too.

The lengths I sometimes go to to see the next amazing temple or hermitage in Korea.

DSC_1216

The stony face of Mt. Namsan on a more successful day.