Nowhere to go but up.
View from the parking lot.

We took a 30 minute bus ride to Kyaeryongsan National Park in early November and spent a beautiful day hiking and leafpeeping during the peak of the Fall. It's a very beautiful and popular site, and we sure saw why. Bonus: the park is home to five Buddhist temples, the largest and best-known of which is Tonghaksa, a residence for Buddhist nuns. We stopped there before heading up the mountain. The craftsmanship displayed on the temple structures blew us away.

We're not Buddhists yet...
The main prayer space at Tonghaksa.

...but these temples sure are nice.
Another Tonghaksa building.

Then up the trail we went, surprised to find that it was almost impossibly steep and rocky. Culture shock: many Korean women made the hike in full makeup, designer outfits, and 4-inch high heels! Plus, a lot folks brought their cell phones on the hikes and talked a LOT. Making our way up was tiring but rewarding, though it turned a bit cloudy when we reached the first peak.

Grunt, gasp, wheeze.
These are some rough trails.

Just a little further...
A view from about halfway up.

Cheris makes a new friend at a rest stop.

We headed downhill from the first peak on the back side of the mountain, knowing that it would lead us to the park's second largest temple, Kapsa. Kapsa was less crowded, so we enjoyed it a bit more than Tonghaksa and took a lot of pictures. (At Kapsa and Tonghaksa, however, we took no interior shots of main prayer spaces: they're almost always occupied, and it would be really rude to disturb those who've journeyed there to pray and not to sightsee.)

Not such a bad place to live!
Monk's quarters.

Quite please. Prayer in progress.
Kapsa's main prayer space.

Feeling serene yet?
Interior of a smaller prayer space.

Hello, Mr. Buddha.
Another alternate prayer space's interior.

Grrrrrrrr, part 2
Dragon sculpture, Kapsa entry gate.

Gnarly, man.
Cool gnarled tree behind Kapsa.

take me back to the index, please