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2016 travel diary 20: Journey to Iljiam

The entrance leading to Daeheungsa Temple
The entrance leading to Daeheungsa Temple, our destination for the day

Nohwa-do, Wando-gun, Jeollanam-do, 19 May 2016, 1pm

We regretfully leave Bogildo and its sister island Nohwado behind. We have a bigger ferry for the return journey and I somehow manage to reverse the car into position without hitting anything or anyone. As we sail back to the mainland I am happily wandering around on deck rediscovering the panorama function on my phone’s camera.

Insoon is more usefully employed researching good lunch places in Ttangkkeut Maeul on her mobile phone. We drive off the ferry and head straight for the restaurant, which serves Namdo Jeongsik. It was now perhaps a little late for lunch, around 2pm. There were only two other people there and we wondered whether it was still open, but we were welcomed in, and the food lived up to recommendations.

Namdo Jeongsik
Namdo Jeongsik in Ttangkkeut Maeul

When we left Ttangkkeut, a lot heavier than we had been an hour earlier, it was about 3pm, and we had some ground to cover if we were to get up to Iljiam hermitage and back before sundown. Based on information received from the Haenam Country tourist office (which turned out to be wildly inaccurate, like the ferry timetable they had sent me in advance) I had budgeted for a 3 hour hike from Daeheungsa temple car park to Iljiam and back, so I didn’t want to get to the temple much after 4pm.

While we were on the road Insoon got a call from Yuseon Yogwan, the guest house where we were due to stay that evening. “Do you want to have dinner here?” they wanted to know. If we did, we had to book now, and be in our rooms at 6pm to be given it. This seemed a bit strange to us. We didn’t want to have to rush our hike, so decided to gamble that there should be plenty of places to eat in the vicinity of a temple, and declined dinner at the guest house.

The road from Ttangkkeut Maeul to Daeheungsa
The road from Ttangkkeut Maeul to Daeheungsa (via

Our drive inland is leisurely and relaxing. On the way to Daeheungsa and Iljiam is another site relating to Gosan Yun Seon-do – a mountain fortress called Hyeonsangoseong which is believed to date back to the Goryeo Dynasty. Inside the fortress walls is the village of Geumswaedong where he wrote Record of Geumsaedong in 1640. Given the utopia that Gosan prepared on Bogildo, it is perhaps surprising to find that he spent time elsewhere: but he also spent time in retreat in Geumswaedong and later returned to his family home, the Nogudang.

Scenery at Hyeonsangoseong
Scenery at Hyeonsangoseong (image: Cultural Heritage Administration)

The area contains the echoes of Gosan’s love of the landscape including a forest that he planted and the sites of a pond, trail and various pavilions that he constructed. If we’d had an extra hour or two we would have explored it. But I had to be ruthless in focusing on my priorities. I knew in advance that I wasn’t going to be able to see everything that I might want to see: instead, I had to make sure that I got to see everything that I had to see, and the two absolute priorities I had set were Bogildo and Iljiam.

The view from Hyeonsangoseong
The view from Hyeonsangoseong (photo: Cultural Heritage Administration)

So we drove past the turning to Hyeonsangoseong with reluctance. And while I consoled myself with the thought that I could always come back and see it another time I think in this case I was probably fooling myself. And judging by the photographs of the site on the Cultural Heritage Administration database the area does not have the natural appeal of Bogildo, though you can see similar topographical elements that would have inspired him to linger there.

The stream in the valley leading to Daeheungsa Temple
The stream in the valley leading to Daeheungsa Temple

Shortly before 4pm we arrived in the Daeheungsa car park, paid our dues and started walking up the long wooded road to the temple.

The first entrance to Daeheungsa Temple
The first entrance to Daeheungsa Temple

Geumswae-dong and Hyeonsangoseong Fortress: Historic Site Related to Yun Seon-do, Haenam is Historic Site 432. Address San 181, Gusi-ri, Hyeonsan-myeon, Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do

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