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October 25th 2015
Published: November 23rd 2015
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We left Seoul early, the traffic wasn't too bad and it didn't take us long to reach the park. The weather was gorgeous, I couldn't believe that it was almost the end of October. We walked along the long strip of restaurants, cafes, and shops that lead to the entrance to the park. We paid the entrance fee, I think it was a couple of thousand won and went in. We walked along this gorgeous path that was lined with trees in all their autumnal glory. I love autumn time, all the beautiful colours that are all about. We walked along the path, and after a while we reached the Yongmunsa temple. The temple was originally built during the Silla Dynasty. It suffered a lot of damage during the Korean War. The temple is known for the huge ginkgo tree in its grounds. it is the largest ginkgo tree in Asia and is over 1,100 years old. The tree is 60 metres high and has a circumference of 14 metres. According to local legend, Uisang, a prominent Buddhist monk, stuck his staff in to the ground and the tree grew out of it.

We didn't go in to the temple properly, but carried on down a side path to reach the start of the hiking trail. There were two trails and we were going to be taking the shorter, steeper, quicker route. We walked along going gently uphill for a bit. Then we kind of veered off the trail and went up more vertically. This bit was really steep and the earth was a bit loose, making it a little difficult. Luckily, this was only for a couple of minutes, so we could reach higher ground to join the ridge line. Then it was up, up and even more up. The first part wasn't too steep. The foilage was so gorgeous and there weren't many people on the trail we were taking I can't remember how long the hike took many two and half hours. The last part was really steep (for me) and I was knackered and getting slower and slower. I finally made it to the top. The peak area is quite big and there is a lot of room to sit down and relax. I went up to the peak marker to get some photos, there is also a lovely ginkgo tree sculpture there. The peak is 1,157 metres and it is the highest peak in Gyyeonggi-do. There is also some kind of military installation up there and there was a big barb wire fence running along the side of the mountain and round parts of the peak.

From the peak, we headed back down the mountain. We took the same path to a point, but then we took the fork to the left, as we had come up the one on the right. We were more in the valley for this part of the hike. It was really nice to be in the shade, as it was pretty sunny. I definitely felt like I had caught the sun on the way up. The hike down was a lot quicker. I think it took about an hour and a half, maybe a bit less. We reached the temple and headed over to the water fountain. I was really thirsty by this point, I am so glad that the temples here have these free water fountains. The temple was pretty busy, so we didn't stay there. We headed t the park entrance. There were some trees, with gorgeous yellow leaves.

I was pretty hungry by this point and we headed over to the strip of restaurants. We went to one that was at the end of the strip. It was heaving but we managed to get a table pretty quickly. The food was amazing, I was pleasantly surprised by this. At a lot of mountain restaurants the food can be a bit mediocre as they have a captive audience, plenty of hungry hikers all wanting somewhere to eat. The banchan (side dishes) came out first, there were loads of them and they were all (bar one) delicious. i can't remember them all now, but there were the usual suspects of kimchi, mushroom, a couple of spinach ones, quail's eggs (my favorite) and these delicious crispy fried peppers. I was happy digging in to all the sides, when my food came. I had dwenjang stew, dwenjang is soybean paste, this wasn't the regular one, but a thicker one. It was so good, think I have found a new favourite food, if only I could remember what it was called. I also washed it down with some locally brewed makgeolli, very refreshing. The journey back to Seoul was long and torturous as the traffic was pretty much at a stand still for a long stretch, however we made it back eventually.

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