A&E on the World Heritage Train East 2009 travel blog

Kitsch and sublime nature are often side by side in Asia

Part of Tapsa Temple, Maisan NP

Looking at the main Tapsa Temple, the Chon-Ji towers behind (a Tae-Kwon...

One of the horse's ears, apparently you can climb these!

On Maisan Trail

Maisan

Hanbyeokdang, Jeonju

Hanok village

Crossroads in done-up part of the village

Hanok museum

My bibimbap and side dishes...yum


A really good day today, enjoyable despite the ever-present and humid heat and the long walks. I'm still not sleeping too well, but was off early to the bus station to go to Maisan National Park (about an hour East), fully equipped for some serious trekking. Walking out of the nearby town of Jinan there were two signs for the park (Korean is thankfully easier to recognise than Chinese or Japanese). I took the most likely looking route heading towards the two dramatic horse-ear shaped (hence the name Mai San) mountains in front of me. After walking about three miles with an increasing conviction that this was somehow not right, I worked out where I had gone wrong and flagged a taxi down. It was lucky that I did as it turned out to be another 10 miles to the North entrance of the Park, as opposed to the much nearer South entrance. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing; while I was smug about being able to recognise the words for Maisan Park in Korean, I now realised it would have been helpful to have also been able to read the words for North and South.

It was really quiet at the park and there was hardly anyone around (it's Monday), and it was really nice to be in the countryside again, though I imagine it wouldn't be so nice at weekends. First was the Tapsa Temple, where an old (now dead) white-haired monk from a kung-fu film had made all these strange stone towers for peace, without any cement, etc. Looked great, and I liked it that a lot of the male stallholders round the car park also sported long white wispy beards, one even moved like the martial artists in an old Shaw Brothers kung fu film. After that it was an uphill walk between the two peaks of the 'horse's ears' and then back down the other side, all over in about an hour! This Philippine woman and her Japanese friend gave me a lift back to the Jinan bus stop from the end of the trail and seemed to appreciate my attempts at Japanese and Korean, the latter working a bit better today.

Back in Jeonju I got a cab back to the hanok village and had a really nice time exploring bits I hadn't seen yesterday, and with no tourists at all today! I really like the solid and heavy wood craftsmanship and would love something like that at home...and then to finish the day a glorious bibimbap. My table had a nice view of the royal shrine nearby, but my eyes were all for the meal, which looked great and tasted lovely, such variety. Bibimbap is a Korean dish, but Jeonju is famous for the best ones, and this had 20 fresh, tasty and great looking ingredients in the main bibimbap alone, never mind the 10 or so side dishes. As usual, I had no idea what 90% of what I was eating was, but it tasted great, I love korean food. And you'll be glad to know my chopstick technique is back on form (so far they have been steel chopsticks, and no forks even if you wanted one, only spoons!)

I still haven't made up my mind where to move on to tomorrow, but first a shower and maybe a drink!



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