Odaesan

Craig and I took the bus to Jinbu, a small town in Gangwondo. He skipped out of work a bit early, so we could get out of town before rush hour. We arrived just before 8PM, and wandered around for a bit looking for a motel that looked… um… not terrible. I’ll be honest, it was a bit of a struggle, and in the end, we just decided to take a chance on the one we were closest to at that moment. It was pretty basic, as expected, but the owner gave us extra blankets, so I didn’t die in the night.

Craig was keen to go out, even though the town looked like it had already gone to bed. We were able to find a 70/80 bar and gave it a try. I knew they were supposed to play 70s and 80s music, but it hadn’t really occurred to me that that would be more trot and less The Eagles. Lesson learned. We were the only customers, and when we walked in, a guy jumped up and started singing (hits?) with some electronic music as back up. The menu was just as dire as the music, so we drank two drinks (quickly) and cleared out of there.

In the morning, we were up bright and early and took the 6:30 bus from Jinbu to the entrance of Odaesan. We were there so bright and early, in fact, the driver dropped the only other passenger off at the toll gate, where he presumably works.

It was quiet enough to meditate, once you got away from the parking lots.

It was quiet enough to meditate, once you got away from the parking lots.

The walk begins not far from Woljeongsa temple, which is slightly larger than average, but overall, a pretty standard Korean temple, so we only paused long enough for Craig to snap a few quick photos.

Same old same old: Woljeongsa Temple.

Same old same old: Woljeongsa Temple.

From there, we walked along the river 9 km to Sangwonsa temple. There were numerous river crossings, some over bridges (one of which was made of sticks and logs to resemble bridges from the days of yore), but more often than not, the crossings were over stones. The man-made ones were fine—they were high enough to be dry, uniform height, and narrowly spaced.

Easy peasy

Easy peasy

The natural rock ones were a bit trickier. Water nearly covered some of the rocks and the air was just cold enough to create a thin layer of ice. Add in their natural slope, and I was sure I was going in the water more than once. As usual, Craig helped me across and didn’t even laugh at my terror, which was somewhat disproportionate to the actual danger of the situation. Yes, the water was cold, but it wasn’t deep or particularly fast, so even if I had fallen in, it would have only meant that I would be cold and wet.

I'm very proud of not getting a concussion here.

I’m very proud of not getting a concussion here.

About 2 ½ hours later, we got to Sangwonsa temple, where we stopped in at the café for a coffee. Only Craig was able to get one, though, because the café had no milk. According to the barista, that is because Koreans don’t like milk in their coffee. I translated that for Craig, and he somehow managed not to laugh in her face. His inability to get a satisfactory black coffee at work has been an ongoing pet peeve of his here in Korea.

Once he had drunk his coffee, and I had warmed up by the fire gas heater, we headed back out to walk the route in reverse. There were several buses in the temple parking lot, but, as suspected, none of them were there to walk. On the way back to Woljeongsa temple, we saw few hikers, but we did see a group of people picking up litter.

As much as we hike, that’s only the second or third time we’ve seen people picking up litter on the hiking trails. On the other hand, I’ve seen people casually toss bags of lunch trash to the side as they walked on more occasions than that.

Six hours after we began, we arrived at the start/ finish point just after one of the infrequent buses back to town had left. So, Craig stuck out his thumb and within a few minutes, an older couple stopped to give us a ride.

They were very friendly and told us about their kids who all lived in the US. While they were talking, I checked my email. At some point, I realized that music was coming from two sources, but I didn’t think anything of it, until they turned down their radio. Finally, Craig asked me about it. A website I had been looking at the day before had started playing music (which it had not done before). It took me several minutes to figure out what it was and how to turn it off. So, I can only imagine that this lovely couple thought that I had deliberately turned on the music I wanted to listen to while riding in their car. Yay, me.

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