Korea Day 2 (04 May 09) – From the coast to the mountains

The day started with an American breakfast at the hotel after a great night sleep. After breakfast, we wandered outdoors with whatever little time we have to inhale the very fresh misty air. I don’t even know when was the last time I had inhaled such fresh air, it is like the air fresheners that we found in the supermarket, except that this has less chemical in it. Our first stop for the day was a drive to the coastal market where Koreans staying around here come to purchase their fresh seafood. As we were driven towards our destination, I saw kilometers and kilometers of fences along the bench. Our guide told us there are military patrols along this bench after sunsets to prevent their northern nemesis from invading their land as this bench is very close to North Korea. We were told that there were incidences whereby the North Koreans sent their midget submarines to land along this bench. Such beautiful bench and landscape where I can distinctively see the sea stretching as far as one’s eye can see. This would be a perfect place for sunrise (as this bench is on the east coast of Korea), picturesque if not for the fences.

From the coast to the mountains
Just love the mist
Driving towards the coastal area
Scenic drive along the way
Coast line!
Coast line!

At the Sokcho seafood market, we saw shops and vendors selling their daily catches. Some of these fishes are more common then a minority few that one hardly get to see in the markets. All the fishes that were put up for sale are swimming innocently in their tank, I wonder if they know their days are numbered. There are a few shops where you can choose the fish you want and their cook will marinate on the fish on the spot and send them to dinners for them to BBQ should the dinner choose so.

 Sokcho seafood market

Sokcho Seafood Market

Fresh seafood!
Live Seafood at Sokcho Seafood Market
Live Seafood at Sokcho Seafood Market
Live Seafood at Sokcho Seafood Market

Leaving Sokcho seafood market, we proceeded inland towards the mountains. We are on our way to one of the oldest temples in Korea at Mt Sorak National Park, but before we reach there, we stopped by a teddy bear museum. This is a place where hundreds and thousands of different teddy bears were put on display. This is a pure touristy place, perhaps I am not fan of teddy bears therefore i felt this stop was totally unwarranted for. Oh well, that is what you get when you travel in a tour group.

Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum

Luckily for me, the time allocated for this stop was not too long, otherwise I would be damn bored. Soon we were heading to our next stop, Mt Sorak. As we pass the ticketing office, our tour guide brought us to this bear statue. According to him, whoever touches the paw will have good luck. So as typical tourists, everyone in the group was reaching to touch it. As we were walking towards the temple, I saw some piles of small rocks. Our guide explained that these are stacked by the locals using whatever rock they can find around, the higher you are able to stack without toppling the “rock tower” over, the more successful you will be. We tried stacking…. not too bad managed to get my tower rather high. As we entered the temple, our guide began to do his job of explaining the temple, the history and the age of the temple. We were given time to wander around the temple. We came to this quiet courtyard (away from most tourists and visitors) for a rest and to appreciate the tranquility of this place. Standing in the courtyard of the temple looking at Mt Sorak National Park Ranges, appreciating the Korean architecture of the temple, it was great! As time was about up to gather for our next destination (actually not too far), we chanced upon this pool where we saw locals and tourists alike filling up their waterbottles with water. We jokingly call this the holy water.

Entrance to Mt Sorak
Mt Sorak National Park
Bear Statue at Mt Sorak
Mountain Range at Mt Sorak National Park
Me at Mt Sorak National Park
Entering Mt Sorak National Park
Buddha Statue at Mt Sorak
Temple at Mt Sorak
Inside the temple grounds
Picturesque temple grounds
Me at temple grounds
Does that stone look like a bear??
Inside the temple grounds
Temple Grounds
Inside the temple grounds
Inside the temple grounds
Just love the Korea architecture

We then proceed to the next stop within the Mt Sorak National Park –  the cable car which would bring us up to the top of the Mt Gwongeunseong. As we entered the cable car watching the cable car slowly shrinking to the size of a mere ant, we could see afar from where we were. Soon the cable car called upon the peak station, we went around the cable car station taking pictures, viewing the area from a very different perspective. From here one could almost forget all the troubles and really relax. As my sis was watching some Korean dramas before we depart for this trip, she managed to found what she has been looking for since we decided to come for this trip – the Korean Spicy New Year cake. Well according to her, the taste was blend and not as good as she would have expected it. She was disappointed. I did some walking around as I did not wanna get stuck in the cable car station where hordes of tourists gathered to snap pictures as if they are engaged in some “Who can snap the most pictures” contest. I did a 10 min walk along the walkway around the station. It was a nice and quiet walk. Well time’s up (I wish I had more time to walk further), we headed back onto the tour bus which brought us to the hotel where we can rest for the night. Although the hotel looked rather aged, what I really like is the views from our balcony. I can see acres and acres of farm land surrounded by hills and mountains, as though we had retreated into some mountain resort…. It is time to sleep……

Taking the cable car up Mt Gwongeunseong
On our way up Mt Gwongeunseong
Magnificent views on our way up
Almost can see the whole national park
One can see the coastal area afar
Nearing the top
Visitors can do light trekking up on Mt Gwongeunseong
The views up here are simply stunning
On our way down
The big Buddha is visible on our way down
Dinner time!

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