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Newer Page 537 of 968 Older Full Trip Report
Korea Daegu Hiking Gatbawi Palgonsan

10 March 2015

Wrong buddha

Hiking Palgonsan near Daegu at Gatbawi

Despite warnings of a world ending freeze / blizzard, I woke up feeling so strong that I thought I better go to another mountain.
This was my last chance in Daegu to go to a Daegu mountain before I move to Busan tomorrow and do some Busan mountains.
The internet told me the place to go in Daegu was the Gatbawi buddha. A giant stone thing with a traditional Korean hat. Koreans love that someone carved a buddha with their favourite hat.
I read plenty of descriptions on 1500 steps to the top, people that didnt make it because they are weak and useless, and that they nearly died to get to the top.
So off I set, on express bus number 1, presuming this would go to the number 1 Daegu attraction in all Korea and or world.

Getting off the bus, the mountains were indeed impressive, but I expected there to be more people. There was however a big map, and I picked my path.
I kind of expected the path to be friendlier, and marked, it wasnt. I wasted an hour at one point going the wrong way, and had to do the most hated of all things, double back.
I then followed a different path to various peaks, which dont look as impressive in the photos below as they actually were, but no sign of the buddha.

Not to worry, I pressed on, I think I stayed on the top too long exploring the weather station and tv / phone towers, because my nose started to feel like it was burning, frostbite perhaps?
Before getting to the top, I was actually quite warm, no need for my hat even (universal gauge for how cold I am).
I decided that the famed buddha statue must be at the top of the cable car station I could see, and started my perilous descent.
Again I was amazed that the path was so hard to follow, just the occasional rope, ribbons in trees etc.
On more than one occasion I lost the trail, and doubled back to do an investigation. At these times, I was checking for phone signal, and wondering why I cant see anyone else enjoying the greatest tourist attraction in East Asia.
Eventually, I arrived at the cable car top station, which had 2 restaurants, and awesome coffee (more on that below), but no buddha!
There were signs here pointing to a temple, so I left in that direction, down steep slopes, and again, wondered if I was on the right path, the path to enlightenment perhaps.
Occasionally I was reassured by a bit of old rope, or some footprints in the mud, but mainly I was letting gravity dictate my course.
Finally after 6 excellent hours on the mountain, I found a very nice temple, with a HUGE buddha, but it was the wrong buddha!
Once I got back on the bus and it was warm enough to google properly on my phone, I found out the right buddha was about 10km away, barely up the mountain at all, no more than 500 metres from the bus stop, and on a completely different bus route.
I think I would have been disappointed had I gone to the right buddha, walked up a few steps, then gone home.
My getting lost on the peaks of what is collectively known as Palgonsan was a fantastic day! Now onto the boring photos.

Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - Keen to include some photos of non mountain and temple things, heres my snack for the bus ride. The bus driver was suitably skilled at being a maniac

Keen to include some photos of non mountain and temple things, heres my snack for the bus ride.
The bus driver was suitably skilled at being a maniac driver.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - Theres my mountain, with the comms equipment on top. All day I was buzzed by F15 jets from an airforce base, I only glimpsed them occasionally, but I

Theres my mountain, with the comms equipment on top.
All day I was buzzed by F15 jets from an airforce base, I only glimpsed them occasionally, but I believe they were doing low level stuff in the valleys.
It must make prayers in the temples an interesting experience.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - Huge map was informative. Also there was a small store to buy water etc. Except it was full of smoke. Not incense, but actual smoke like they were bur

Huge map was informative. Also there was a small store to buy water etc. Except it was full of smoke. Not incense, but actual smoke like they were burning a tyre or something.
The owner was apologetic, but his whole family was sitting at a small table in the smoke.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - Before I started my climb I did some rock climbing practice. 2 finger overhang swings freestyle, or something.

Before I started my climb I did some rock climbing practice. 2 finger overhang swings freestyle, or something.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - Future lunch. Or bird flu. Or both.

Future lunch. Or bird flu. Or both.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - A short way up the path and there was a shitty temple. The main attraction here is the pile of slate inside the plastic igloo. Beyond this point, the

A short way up the path and there was a shitty temple. The main attraction here is the pile of slate inside the plastic igloo.
Beyond this point, the path became somewhat vague.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - View from half way up. The pine trees all seemed to be bonsai.

View from half way up. The pine trees all seemed to be bonsai.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - First glance of my destination. I was unable to work out what that mystery cable was, looked like optic fibre, but to where? It was low enough for me

First glance of my destination. I was unable to work out what that mystery cable was, looked like optic fibre, but to where? It was low enough for me to pull on.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - View from the top. Doesnt really look impressive, it was very steep at the end but looks flat.

View from the top. Doesnt really look impressive, it was very steep at the end but looks flat.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - And the view down the other side. Note the rusty barbed wire, which didnt do a very good job of keeping me out of the electromagnetic nightmare towers

And the view down the other side. Note the rusty barbed wire, which didnt do a very good job of keeping me out of the electromagnetic nightmare towers.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - Whilst it was windy and damn cold here. It was not as windy as at one point later, when a sudden gust nearly blew me over when I was walking back to t

Whilst it was windy and damn cold here. It was not as windy as at one point later, when a sudden gust nearly blew me over when I was walking back to the bus. And then that was it. No other such gusts.
Do I look cold here? It was at this point that I took my phone out, and it looked cracked. A sheet of sweat had frozen over the screen! I brushed it off. Phone still works, fingers not so much.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - It was much better when I descended a little and got out of the wind. I enjoyed my calorie balance and pocari sweat.

It was much better when I descended a little and got out of the wind. I enjoyed my calorie balance and pocari sweat.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - Whilst there was some snow and ice today, it was nothing like the other day. And thankfully, there was no mud to sink into, which is far worse than th

Whilst there was some snow and ice today, it was nothing like the other day.
And thankfully, there was no mud to sink into, which is far worse than the ice.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - Superfluous photos of where I had descended from, on non existent path.

Superfluous photos of where I had descended from, on non existent path.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - I was relieved to get to this point, as here was a lookout construction with some guys cooking stuff on a gas stove. The hut below is the top station

I was relieved to get to this point, as here was a lookout construction with some guys cooking stuff on a gas stove.
The hut below is the top station of the cable car. My next goal!


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - Todays panorama. This is at least half way down, and yet looks much higher than the photos from the top.

Todays panorama. This is at least half way down, and yet looks much higher than the photos from the top.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - The guys cooking their pigs blood soup insisted on taking my photo. I then set off in the direction of the cable car station, looking for a path, and

The guys cooking their pigs blood soup insisted on taking my photo.
I then set off in the direction of the cable car station, looking for a path, and I could hear them laughing hard. Not sure why, but I am glad to have provided them such amusement!


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - The coffee in the cable car station was easily the best I have had in Korea. And the guy that made it spoke fluent English. Which leads me to believe

The coffee in the cable car station was easily the best I have had in Korea. And the guy that made it spoke fluent English. Which leads me to believe he has been to Australia to learn how to make coffee.
I seriously wanted a 2nd one, but alas, I had cable cars to ignore, and mountains to slide down.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - At first I just thought I would try and find a trail under the cable cars, that didnt happen. I was also amazed they were operating at all because it

At first I just thought I would try and find a trail under the cable cars, that didnt happen. I was also amazed they were operating at all because it was very windy.


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - Relief that I was on the right path. Unless the local chipmunk population did this?

Relief that I was on the right path. Unless the local chipmunk population did this?


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - And then I slid on my ass on pine needles and ended up here. I shall call it bonus temple, as it was not the main attraction. However from this point

And then I slid on my ass on pine needles and ended up here. I shall call it bonus temple, as it was not the main attraction. However from this point on, there was a real path to follow!


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - And then finally, I was at the real temple. You can stay here if you want, I know because everywhere there were signs saying TEMPLE STAY! COLORFUL DAE

And then finally, I was at the real temple. You can stay here if you want, I know because everywhere there were signs saying TEMPLE STAY! COLORFUL DAEGU!


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - This is not the buddha I was looking for, but it was huge. And brand spanking new. Who needs to see an ancient rock carving when theres a new concrete

This is not the buddha I was looking for, but it was huge. And brand spanking new. Who needs to see an ancient rock carving when theres a new concrete statue on offer?


Korea-Daegu-Hiking-Gatbawi-Palgonsan - The entire complex was very large, 20 or more temples, gardens, bridges, streams, roads lined with lanterns, a Chinese tourists dream. A heap of them

The entire complex was very large, 20 or more temples, gardens, bridges, streams, roads lined with lanterns, a Chinese tourists dream. A heap of them arrived on an electric open top bus thing that wound its way up the path.
Thats my 7+ hour adventure for today, there will be no mountain tomorrow, as I am travelling to Busan.


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