April 24, 2015
We headed three hours east of Seoul to the backbone of the Korean peninsula – the Taebaek mountain range and the magnificent Seoraksan mountain, the range’s highest peak in Gangwon Province. It is 1,708 metres (5,603 feet), located in the Seoraksan National Park.
What an adorable place for lunch in Beckdam. This place’s cuteness on the outside was only surpassed by its fishiness on the inside. We ordered the vegetable specialty – a root vegetable – which allowed us to pass on the smelly dried fish special dish which most of the Korean guests seemed to be enjoying. Dried fist were everywhere in the local markets, too.
We took a Harry-Potter-style bus ride up the winding mountain roads from the town of Beckdam, passing incredible views of mountains and streams, with hairpin turns that were that would seriously challenge any passing vehicle.
We arrived at the Baekdamsa Buddhist Temple (Inje County, Gangwon). It was built in the 7th century, but has been rebuilt numerous times since then. The wooden Amityus Buddha Statue dates to the 18th century.
We had the most incredible tea in the tea shop – a thick prune fruit tea, and a spicy chai tea. Bought some Buddhist bell wind chimes with little dangling fish there.
There were groups of school children in the stream as we approached the temple area – adding their contributions to the hundreds of stone piles. Amazing sight.
Then on the the Osaek Mineral Spring where we sampled some of the sweet tasting mineral water from the spring.
Our hotel was the Des Myung Resort (also called Del Pino) in Sokcho. It is a Korean style hotel, designed to accommodate families who want to hike the mountains and enjoy museums the kids’ waterparks while cooking in their own apartment style units (there are restaurants on the property too). One of the bedrooms (ours) had a western style queen size bed, and the other bedroom was empty with a bunch of bed rolls in the closet. The Korean style bed rolls, called “yos,” are designed to be rolled up in the morning. At first John was going to insist that the hotel deliver a portable bed for Nathan, but Nathan just smiled and said he’d be fine. 🙂 Obviously, this is the way a Korean family travels.
And what could be better than dinner at the Daepohang seafood market in Sokcho?
The next morning we crossed the canal from a parking area to another seaside market. We skimmed over the water in a ferry propelled by a hand pulled cable; the cable was attached to the other side. Even the passengers got to pitch in and help with the pulling, walking the length of the boat. One of the well-dressed Korean businessmen on the ferry told us in excellent English that 45 years ago, he was the operator of a ferry like this. It’s the Asian story which repeats itself over and over again.