The last stop on my first Seoul Hiking Group trip was the Tapas Temple in the Maisan Mountains. After a wonderful hike in Saryangdo and exploring dinosaur footprints at Goseong Dino Park we took a brief bus ride northward.
Upon exiting we were told that we had 2 hours to explore. We could hike to the temple and then the Maisan peak, or we could eat. Not enough time for both. So far every temple I’ve seen has been pretty similar so I decided to eat, plus rumor was the region was “famous for bibimbap.”
Turns out we were NEAR a region famous for bibimbap but didn’t actually stop there. After passing some unique coffee trucks we found a restaurant on the trail. The meal was good but in hindsight I definitely would have preferred a longer hike. But I digress.
Walking up to the temple we passed tons of boutique shops with handcrafted goods. It was interesting watching these rural Koreans working their craft. Passing a burnt out restaurant brought a quick realization of the lifestyle out here. The owners set up a few tables on the street and used whatever was kitchen was left. The fire couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old. A few meters down an ajima (old lady) hunched over a mortar and pestle, 2 ajusshi (old men) roasting the latest catch of what looked like tiny rodents and fowl on a spit.
The scents filled our nostrils strolling past buckets of spices and more grills on our way to the mountain in the distance. A small pond filled with Koi pulled our attention briefly before the trek continued.
After a few minutes the well laden trail grew steeper. As we got near the top of the next hill the rock face on our left loomed higher and higher. This vertical mass gave the impression of some immortal carving their way through the mountain. An intricate tree climbed the stone face and threatened to bloom according to a nearby picture. It looked pretty dead to me but I thought it added wonderful character!
As we walked along the shadow stores popped up again and in the distance we could see the Tapas Temple! It surprised us all with the new style of architecture and outdoor alcoves.
Tapas temple is famous for these rock spires. Allegedly there are hundreds of them that were all built by one dude!
Walking around I snapped a few photos and enjoyed the view while chatting away with my new friends. Thanks Seoul Hiking Group for a great way to explore Korea and a wonderful first trip.