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Mountain travel scenic routes offer scent of spring (1)

Posted April. 13, 2001 10:53,   


Here are six tourist destinations where you can fully enjoy the scent of spring at low cost.

Mount Yongchi in Yosu

Mount Yongchi has emerged as literally one of the best places for the appreciation of azalea across the nation. Several stocks of tens of thousands of azalea trees aged between five to 20 years are scattered here, there and everywhere at the mountain.

Azalea trees live in big stands on the ridge lines between the 439-meter peak and Pongujae Hill, where springtime picnickers spend most of their time there. It takes about one-half hour to walk the course of Heungguk Temple – Pongujae -- 439-meter Peak-Heungguk Temple. However, the magnificent landscape of azaleas does not permit any estimate about how long it will take to round the course. The spring flowers are in full bloom on the northern and eastern ridge lines surrounding the 450-meter peak.

Azaleas, which began to bloom in early April, color the entire mountain pink in the middle of April. Heungguk Temple, the final leg of the azalea tour, was built during the reign of King Myongjong of the Koryo Kingdom by Pojokuksa Chinul, the highest rank of priest. The Buddhist monk residing at Kyubong Temple on Mount Mudung in Kwangju made three doves fly to find the site for the temple and built it at the site where one of the three birds landed. The temple possesses many historic assets such as the main hall (Treasure No. 396), Wontongjon Hall, a picture of Buddha (treasure No. 578) and Honggyo Bridge (treasure No. 563). Adding to the beautiful scenery created by azaleas are the white blossoms of the old cherry trees in the vicinity of the temple.

Other attractions:

Yosu, a naval base that defended the South Sea for 400 years during the Choson Kingdom, has many historic sites across the city, including, among others, the shipyard where the famous turtle ships were built, and various war victory monuments and the remains of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin, who safeguarded the nation from the Japanese invasion of 1592.

Odong Island off the port city is famous for camellia and is surrounded by about 200 species of trees and rocks of various formations. Tourists are urged to visit Hyangil Temple located at the southern tip of Dolsan Islet connected to the port by a bridge after enjoying the camellia blossoms. Hyangil Temple, as its Chinese letters` meaning, ``temple toward the sun,`` implies, boasts of the beautiful sunrise.


There are no good lodging facilities near Heungguk Temple. So tourists are advised to use inns or home-stay houses in the city, Odong Island, Musulmok and near Hyangil Temple. Special cuisines of Yosu are raw fish and Tolsan ``kot`` kimchi.

How to get there:

Those who use vehicles are advised to exit at the Sunchon Interchange of the Honam Highway or Kwangyang Interchange off the Namhae Highway and to drive National Road 17 to the south in the direction of Yosu. There is a parking lot at the entrance of Heungguk Temple. Those who go to Odong Island have to go to the Yosu Railroad Station, the final destination of Cholla Line, passing Yosu City Hall. Hyangil Temple is located at the southern tip of Dolsan Islet, about 23 kilometers far from the Dolsan Bridge.

Mount Kum in Namhae

The way to Mount Kum (681 meters) in Namhae is fantastic with flowers in full bloom along both sides. Along the Somjin River, Hwagae cherry blossoms reflected in the water and other blossoms attract the eyes of tourists.

Crossing the Namhae Bridge after enjoying the floral festival, the tourists will be greeted by blossoms of cherry trees aged 10 to 30 years along the roadsides to Namhae County. The cherry blossoms do not harmonize with the river, but with the sea.

Pori-am, a Buddhist hermitage or small temple, is rated as one of the three top places for prayer, along with Pongjong-am on Mount Sorak and Kotbawi rock on Mount Palkong. There are two courses for hiking. One starts at Sangju toll gate and arrives at the summit via Ssanghong Gate and Porim-am. The other departs at Pokkok toll gate north of Mount Kum and arrives at the summit via Porim-am.

Other attractions:

Noryang Strait, over which the Namhae Bridge is laid, is the very historic site where Admiral Yi Sun-Shin died a heroic death for the nation after crushing the fleeing Japanese fleets in 1598.

To cherish the achievement of the admiral, called ``Chungmugong,`` a shrine, ``Chungyol-sa,`` was erected at Noryang-ri, Solchon-myon, the battle site. The admiral`s portrait is kept at Irak-sa shrine nearby. Other tourist attractions include Nodo, the place of exile of Sopo Kim Man-Jung of the Choson Kingdom, and the forest fence (natural monument No. 150) on the beach in Mulgon-ri to protects the village from typhoons and damage from sea winds.


Near Sangju toll booth are inns such as Chedujang (055-862-6022), Cheil Sanjang (055-862-6030), Pusan Inn (055-862-6060) and home-stay houses in the village with the forest fence. There are some lodging facilities and restaurants near Pokkok toll booth, including Tongnamu (log) villa (055-862-4651). A night stay is also recommended at a log cabin in Namhae Natural Forest (055-867-7881).

How to get there:

If you approach through Namhae Highway from Kyongsang Provincial area, you have to exit from Chingyo Interchange in Chingyo-myon, Hadong, and drive the local road 1002 according to the “Namhae” milestone. If you come from the Cholla Provincial area, you have to exit from Hadong Interchange across Somjin River and head for Namhae by driving National Road 19. Both courses meet at Namhae Bridge from where you have to travel to the south on National Road 19.

Min Byung-Jun, travel columnist < mbjbud@chollian.net >