• Korea's Mt. Maisan provides a mysterious spot for adventure travel

    2012-05-17

    The bustling city of Seoul, South Korea, contains a huge variety of attractions to keep tourists busy for weeks. From the top of the Seoul Tower to the local street markets, there is plenty to explore in the city. However, individuals who are interested in adventure travel may want to get out of the massive city and see something more unique.

    Just three hours from Seoul is Jinan-gun, which is nestled in the rural North Jeolla, or Jeollabuk-do Province. The area is known for following traditional Korean customs, and attracts visitors from around the world who are interested in gaining a better insight into the country's culture. Many of these travelers stroll through the Jeonju Hanok Village, passing tiny streets filled with 700 traditional hanok homes and small shops selling everything from silk fans to hanji paper.

    Still, the Jeollabuk-do Province is also the perfect spot for adventure travel seekers to soak in the great outdoors of Korea. One of the best places to do so is at Mt. Maisan Provincial Park in Jinan-gun.

    When arriving in the park, one of the first things travelers may notice is that its two mountains are uniquely shaped. Rather than feature sharp peaks, the mountains are both rounded at the top, giving them a strange and mysterious appearance. According to Korean myths, the mountains were originally two gods who spent some time living on Earth. When these gods were seen by humans while ascending back into the sky, they were doomed to be trapped on Earth forever in the shape of these stunning mountains.

    As they take in the beauty of two of Korea's most gorgeous peaks, adventurous travelers can choose from four different hiking trails, which range from between 1.5 and 5 miles long. Most of these trails pass stunning views of lakes and, of course, the mountains, but what most travelers strive to see is the area's famous stone pagodas.

    At the summit of Mt. Maisan there are 80 stone pagodas, or countless rocks that have been piled on top of each other to create towering structures. The stones surround the gorgeous Tapsa Temple, making for a breathtaking scene at the end of a long walk up the mountain. Gapryong Lee, a retired scholar, is said to have built these many stone towers in 1885, using no adherents to keep the stones together. Yet, even without concrete or other products, they have managed to survive the rain, winds and snow on the mountain.

    This certainly provides an air of mystery to the mountain, but travelers who venture to the region during the winter months may be met with another interesting surprise. According to locals, if water is left on the mountain in a bowl, it will gather in icicles that reach up toward the sky. No one is exactly sure why or how this happens, but if travelers dare to venture from the more common attractions in Seoul, they might have a chance to examine these mysteries surrounding Mt. Maisan. 

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