Hyangiram Hermitage, Yeosu

After the green tea fields of Boseong we headed to Yeosu.  Last year Yeosu hosted the 2012 World Expo, so it's a place whose name we'd heard a lot, but with the expo over, we weren't sure what we'd do once we got there.  We got up early and drove south along the coast, stopping along the side of the road to take pictures and admire the coastline.  We had no real destination, and we ended up following signs to Hyangiram Hermitage.  It turns out Hyangiram is one of Korea's most important Buddhist sites and was established over thirteen-hundred years ago.  Hyangiram turned out to be the quirkiest Buddhist site we've been to, as the temple is dotted with stone turtles on nearly every surrounding surface.  Apparently the natural rocks that Hyangiram is built into resemble the look of turtle shells.  And so, Hyangiram is the turtle temple.  Because the temple is high up in the cliffs, there's a steep hike up and back, but the top of the hike has such beautiful views of the surrounding water and islands that it's totally worth it.  

Here's a link to the visitkorea page on Hyangiram, with information on the cost and how to get there.  You can also check out my map, which I'll update shortly, and see exactly where it's located in relation to Yeosu.
As always here's 10 pictures and some foolish comments.

Hyangiram Hermitage
A couple years ago a lot of Hyangiram burnt down.  Because it's so high up into the cliffs it was difficult to get up there and put the fire out.  Now it's reopened and shows no sign of the damage, but there were some cultural artifacts that were lost.
Hyangiram Hermitage
The hike up was really beautiful.  All the forests in Korea are just bright green right now, a great time to be here.

Here are some of the turtles.  
There were 100 won coins on most of their heads and backs, good luck I suppose.

Yeah, we dropped a couple hundred won on some luck.
Rest stops on the side of the highway are packed with picnic-ers eating out of the backs of their cars.  This spot, only two couples.
One more of Hyangiram's turtles.

After spending all morning under a grey cloud, the sun finally came out as our time at Hyangiram was ending.  I can't wait to get back to Yeosu and see the rest of the mini-peninsula.

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