|From Suanbo rather than catching the bus we decided to take a local bus to Chungju dam and from there a ferry across a large artificial lake to Danyang. Unfortunately the water levels were not high enough to get us all the way to Danyang so we had to get off at Janghoe a few km's downs the road.
As ferry rides go this was an extremely picturesque one which we enjoyed with lots of Koreans on their summer vacation. In fact since we left Seoul we've hardly seen another westerner and have been mingling solely with Koreans. The landscape consisted of rocky cliffs backed up by steep forested hills and mountains which was made even better by the fact that we were given fruit by the locals and were asked to pose for photos with their kids (we really should start charging!).
Danyang itself is a resort town nestled in the mountains on a bend in a river with steep, forest-clad mountains all around it. Trout fishing is a popular pastime in the area and in fact all the restaurants on the main street and huge fish-tanks outside of them with trout swimming round which you could pick for your dinner.
The first thing we did is book ourselves into one of the 'love' motels and then head out to the main highlight of the area - Gosu Donggol. This is a huge (and spectacular) limestone cave. Endless metal catwalks and spiral staircases allow you to see the various formations up close. Being 1.7km long it took us a good hour to explore. The number of stalactites and limestone formations was really quite amazing.
That night we decided to try the local cuisine (you obviously all know by now that food is one of the main reasons we travel and we would think it rude if we didn't sample the local cuisine!). This is a dish called Pyunggang a garlic hotpot rice meal and it included a dish of cold meat, soups and 15 other side dishes....yummy.
The next day despite Heidi's best attempt it was a late morning start as we caught the bus to Gu-insa. Lucky it was a later start as we found out when we arrived at the bus stop that all the earlier buses had not yet arrived (very un-Korean who are quite german like with their transport system). But after an hours wait the bus did turn up and off we headed (with one other westerner - an ozzy) to Gu-insa.
Gu-insa lies deep in the mountains and is the impressive headquarters of the Cheontae sect of Korean Buddhism. This temple complex consists of 30 multi-storey buildings that line a road in a forested narrow valley and are connected by elevated walkways. It was extremely impressive and the opulence was very evident. Monks were chanting in one of the main halls as we entered the valley which made it quite atmospheric. But the best thing for us was the communal kitchen which serves up hundreds of free vegetarian meals...very tasty even considering there was no meat.
Just as we were leaving the heavens opened up again....but not to worry as the monks (who evidently wear grey here - not orange), were on hand to give us their umbrella as we wandered back through the complex - yet another example of the huge Korean generosity we have experienced in this country.