Saturday, April 25, 2009

강화도 - 마니산

On the second day of field trip, we had early morning breakfast at 7:30am at the hotel's cafeteria and by 9am, we were off to Mt Mani (마니산, 摩尼山).

Pink cherry blossoms in full bloom around the hotel compound.

It's time to leave the hotel and set off for Mt. Mani.

Our buses, parked in the carpark of the hotel, waiting for us.

Mt. Mani is 468m above sea level and located at the southern end of Ganghwa Island. Legend has it that Dangun (단군, 檀君), the founding father of Gojoseon Dynasty, prayed to the heaven, for the good fortune of his country, at the Chamseong Altar (참성단, 斬城檀) built on top Mt. Mani. As such, Mt. Mani is also considered a sacred mountain and whenever the National Sports Championship is held, the sacred torch is lighted up here.

Dangun is worshipped as a god and so where he had been, heaven is probably not far away. So one good reason to visit Mt. Mani is probably to be at the closest point to heaven on earth.

A quiet corner in Mt. Mani which overlooks a pond of water.

A pond of still water with a bridge across it. Reflection makes all the semi-arches look like full circles.

Although Mt. Mani is not a high mountain, climbing it was anything but easy. To get to the top of Mt. Mani where the Chamseong Altar is, we had a choice of either normal trekking trail or stairs. We chose the stairs as it was a shorter way to the top. However, it turned out that this route was quite tough because at certain section, the stairs gradient was as steep as 40 to 50 degrees.

Doesn't matter which route, all lead to Chamseong Altar. But no smoking please.

After more than 1 hour of climbing, I finally reached the top. To be more exact, I almost reached the top because the top was out-of-bound as renovation work was being carried out at the Chamseong Altar. There is only one word to describe it - 실망 (失望).

At the top, low rain clouds were gathering around and it did feel like I had reached heaven or somewhere near it. Before I got carried away by this heavenly feel, I had to make my way back to the bus because we were only given 2 hours. It was fortunate that rain only started to fall when I almost reached my bus.

Picture of Chamseong Altar which I didn't see with my own eyes.

Lunch was at a very nice restaurant. The main dish was beef with leek and straw mushroom. The dish was not bad but I was more interested in eating the apple salad side dish. The apple was really sweet and crunchy.

The pot of beef cooking in front of us. It seems like there is a lot in the pot. However, the opposite is true because the centre of the pot is raised to give the impression that there is a lot of food in the pot.

After a fulfilling lunch, it was home sweet home and the end of our 1박2일 to Ganghwa Island.

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