Namyangju ~ Sujongsa Temple at Ungilsan

We were off to hike Ungilsan (운길산) to see Sujongsa Temple. It was late on a Saturday afternoon, and the tables at the base weren’t yet filled with thirsty hikers.

img_4657

Getting off the outer city train, following signs to the temple, past cute little houses and restaurants that looked as if they’d been closed since 2006. Most of the beginning hike was up a road, which was not cool as there was much more road noise and exhaust than I’m used to on a hike.

img_4659

We came across a standing Buddha in the hills.

img_4664

After a pretty easy hike with terrible annoyances by the passing cars, we made it to the temple. It had good views of “Two Heads”, where north and south Han rivers merge.

img_4668

img_4669

It was a beautiful temple, complete with tiny Buddhas, HD satellite TV for the monks, cute plants, amazing views and a tree that appears to be 1,000 years old.

img_4670

img_4671

img_4673

img_4676

img_4680

img_4683

After a snack break of beef jerky, nuts and water, we were back down the mountain in the fresh air of the forest. We went down the tree path this time and avoided the cars from the way up. We also spotted the tomb mounds that can be seen on most Korean mountains.

img_4685

img_4687

img_4689

After the hike comes Korean rice wine and pancakes made of green mountain vegetables. We ate under the road in a red lit underpass.

img_4690

img_4693

img_4695

After a long train ride back to Seoul, we were hungry again and went to eat Vietnamese pho simply because it was on the way home and bedtime was rapidly approaching. But, in case you’ve never seen the shared bar soap in bathrooms that have become normal to me, here it is.

img_4696

Pho and a cold one: always satisfies.

img_4697

 

 

Tofu at the River and Beef in the Country

Where the north and south rivers meet to create Seoul’s massive Han River there is a small island called Joan-myeon where the ferry captains used to live. There is a relaxing river walk and some outdoor activities, plus croaking frogs in the cool fall evenings.

img_4628

We only took a short stroll before I spotted a tiny burger place called Ssom. It was a nice surprise with handmade patties and bread.

We walked until dusk before stopping into popular tofu house. We ordered a wet tofu soup, and aged kimchi with fried tofu. There was a nice sweet Korean liqueur to match the blandness of the tofu and the sour aged kimchi.

img_4639

img_4640

img_4642

img_4647

Driving out to a place deep in Seoul’s countryside, there was a small restaurant nestled among the browning rice fields of fall, that served wonderful Korean beef and traditional soy bean soup. It’s always a pleasant surprise when the kimchi is handmade and possessing its own special “touch.”  The sun was setting and the last mosquitoes of summer buzzed about in the fragrant mountain air.

img_4569

img_4573-1

img_4575

img_4574

img_4586

img_4576-effects

Bonus meal: One late night in summer, I finally found a Korean beef rib soup that wasn’t chewy. The meat fell off the bone with a fantastic broth. It’s called 수갈비탕 in Guri.

IMG_4318

IMG_4317

img_4315