Bukhasan National Park- BIG BUDDHA

Every day this week, I intended our outings to be half-day outings, with plenty of time to come home and have Landon take a good nap. Our hike day was pretty much the only day this happened.

Landon was content to wander away without us into the woods
while we figured out where to go

Landon woke up pretty early and so we headed out early for the national park. We wanted to do some hiking! I did not realize this before, but Koreans are really into hiking. They all have the hiking sticks and special hiking clothes and shoes and hats and other face coverings to keep the sun off their faces. They take backpacks and are probably prepared for anything at any moment. We just had on athletic clothes and running shoes. Because the hikers all look like hikers, it was pretty easy to figure out where to go. We took a few trains, then a bus to the entrance of the park. We had to hike up the road quite a ways, but it was interesting as we passed virtually every outdoorsy type store you could imagine- North Face, etc. Then we hiked along a road for awhile. There were cars coming up often because there was a parking lot and trail head up ahead, but many hikers arrived by public transportation, so we had company on the road.

Ancestor stones downhill from the Buddhist nun’s house

There were a few old ladies that turned off the trail and from the map, it looked like a shortcut to where we were going. We followed them up very steep steps (toting Landon on our shoulders) and came upon a Buddhist monk’s house. She had a cool house with a temple on top of it, with good views of Seoul. We soon figured out that this was the end of the trail, and she tried to invite us to tea, but we decided to just go back down. It was a miracle those old ladies made it all the way up there for sure!

My boys going to the Buddhist’s house

Very small temple on top of the nun’s house. This painting was really pretty, though! Landon scored candy from the old ladies that were there.

After that, we were determined to follow the directions I had written down. We made it to the trail head and went the proper direction at the fork. After a long steep climb and getting on a real trail, we turned into the front yard of a shack and climbed up stairs inside the shack fence to reach the trail that we wanted to take. I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures of the shack, but it looked inhabited and I thought it was rude enough we were tromping through their yard.

There were a few people on the trail- but not nearly as many as the main trail. It was more rocky and had lots of tree roots. It was in the middle of the forest and felt like a real hike! About half way up the mountain, we came across these two guys with big backpacks on taking a break. The backpacks were full of fruits and veggies that they were taking up the mountain. Austin had commented earlier that since there was a restaurant, there has to be a road up to the top. Well, this proved otherwise.

Fruit backpacks! This was their 2nd load that we saw them bring up. At the bottom, I saw a pile of food they would get on their next trip.
First step of directions: Pass under this gate! Check!
Under the gate was painted prettily
This was another Buddhist temple on the way up

Next step, pass these guys… Check! Landon liked the eyes.
Turn right at the fork and start on the real trail vs. road… Check!
This scholarly fellow had real clear beads hanging down from his hat
Here we are about 3/4 of the way up. We asked a guy to take our picture. He was not satisfied with how it was turning out, so he saw we had similar cameras and popped off our lens and tried to put on his really expensive looking huge lens, but it didn’t work. Who does that, except a wonderful, helpful Korean??!?
We passed over this bridge right after the picture above was taken. It was rickety to say the least, but worked for us, this time!
Evidence that Landon walked some of the time

Landon did very well hiking up the mountain. We did a healthy mixture of him walking by himself, him walking holding onto hands so he didn’t fall/could climb better on the steep parts, and being carried by Austin or I on backs or shoulders.

All of a sudden, the Buddha came into view. It is the largest seated Buddha in east Asia. It was huge! Also, it was one of only 3 known Buddhas that have their hands in the way that they were posed. Surrounding the big Buddha were ten thousand smaller Buddhas in glass cases. We wondered how they got the materials to make the statue or the statue up the mountain! It is thought to protect the Seoul metropolitan area, and is 24 meters tall.  The surrounding granite seemed to have been quarried on the mountain, but all the other materials had to be brought up individually, I guess. The temple was built in the 1700s but it was unclear from signs when the Buddha was built.

BIG BUDDHA, with the person for size comparison
Austin thinks this is a calendar winning shot. The glass case is full of mini buddhas
Shot from right below
The small temple from the bell tower

Another shot of the small temple- such a picturesque location in the tops of the mountains!

Up the hill were a small temple, restaurant and guesthouse. I think there was also a trail to reach the top of the mountain, but we were content with eating our packed lunch and heading back down. We ate in the shadow of a bell tower, which ended up being a poor idea because Landon was wandering around way close to an edge without a fence beyond which was a long drop off the side of a mountain. Don’t worry, though, we kept him away from the drop off!

The bell itself. It is rung by a big piece of wood hitting the side of it, not pictured

The mountains here look exactly like they do in eastern style paintings. I hate to reference Mulan as a source of knowledge on eastern culture and art, but hey, I’m not at all educated in this topic and the mountains do actually look like the ones in Mulan. So there.

Austin with the sleeping boy. We found that
putting Landon on our backs and walking
lulls him to sleep in about 30 seconds if
he is tired. Good to know!

 Landon fell asleep on Austin’s back on the way down, so Austin carried his sleeping son down the mountain in various positions. It was sweet to see him stepping so gingerly to be careful and not slip and to not wake Landon. We decided if we were avid hikers and had unlimited room for things (or a long term assignment) we might invest in a hiking backpack. Landon is so tall and strong that he can hold his own for awhile, but is still toddlery enough that he doesn’t necessarily feel the need to stay on the trail or go in the direction we are headed. Hopefully that will happen soon.

Down the hill, we thought we heard the sound of gurgling water. I needed a refill for my water bottle, so we went to investigate. It was not water, but compressed air machines, and I think they were for blowing off your shoes. Koreans think of EVERYTHING! We passed a few of these machines, and I tried one out for a bit before running to catch the bus back to the train station.

Traveling on a bus in Korea is a little more harrowing than the subway because nothing is in English. You hope that you got on the right bus, and that you will be able to figure out where to get off. For hiking it was easier because we just followed the guys in hiking gear. For other things, I think we will probably stay with the subway because at least the stops are spelled out in letters that I can read half of the time.

We saw these guys on the trail. I’m not sure what their deal is.

One thought on “Bukhasan National Park- BIG BUDDHA

  1. Hi there, found your blog by searching details about Bukhasan 🙂 Thanks for sharing these pictures! I have my heart set on climbing it in September when I come for a visit, so doing a bit of research before hand. Off to check out some of your other posts!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s