Danyang

Back in July of 2017 we took a very the city of Danyang. This was one of the best trips I think I have ever taken in my life.  The rainy weather really set a mood that made this trip unforgettable. So let me regale you with the tale of our Danyang day trip!

The train ride into town was relaxing, and there was so much to see on the way in. Sleepy little scenes, of fishermen, people camping by the river, and old and mysterious looking factories jutting out of the hills along side the tracks. It was summer, and I distinctly remember all this green everywhere.

We arrived fairly early in the morning, caught a taxi from the train station into town. From the station you can see what I can only describe as an observatory of sorts on top of one of the peaks overlooking the city. It’s looks as though it’s made of glass with long balcony you can walk out onto and look onto the city below. From the train station you can’t even see the city, as it’s surrounded by mountains.

I’m operating on my memory and our photographs here so I won’t get overly “inter-nutty” with a bunch of links and photos that I didn’t take, but I bet you could get some great views from the city from up there. You might wanna check that out if you go. We had other plans however, and skipped that without giving it too much thought.

We were hungry, so we headed toward a Paris Baguette to grab a few croquettes and coffees before setting out towards the cave. On the way, I spotted a Tours Le Jours across the street with signage that looked like it was from another. As we continued on I began to notice that the entire town looked as though it were stuck in another time. It was charming, and I could tell that it’d once been a very popular tourist destination. There were old billboards on the roofs of several buildings advertising hot air balloon rides, skiing, and paragliding

After our stop at Paris Baguette I was still hungry, so we stopped by a little shop a few doors down to grab some handmade samgak kimbab. It wasn’t half bad! Typing this I suddenly remember finding it odd that the ajuma running the shop was watching Thomas The Tank Engine with great interest. She would laugh heartily at certain points throughout the show as she prepared our food. After we ate, we thanked her, asked for directions, and headed to our first top on the trip, the Gosu caves.

We picked up a visitor’s map at the bus station, and headed over the bridge toward the caves. There were rows of beautiful, but sun wilted flowers lining the bridge. Looking back across the bridge I could see how the river wrapped around the town like a moat. The entrance to the caves is about a 15 minute walk from the bus station. We decided to walk there rather than take a taxi as we wanted to continue enjoying the rain and sights.  If you can read Korean, there are some helpful signs along the road that will guide you in. If you wanna save your energy, grab a quick taxi over the bridge.

By the time we made it to the caves, the morning quiet gave way to sounds of laughter and chatter. Children and families were rushing about and shop owners were calling out to the crowd announcing their latest deals. There were a lot of carnival type booths lining the parking lot, temping children with games, toys, and confections. There were few restaurants and souvenir shops here as well. As charming as it was we quickly bypassed all of the hustle and bustle and made our way to the ticket booth.

After you purchase your tickets, they give you a hat to wear, and gloves so that you can hold onto the bars without slipping. It’s like a museum of sorts, and the entire place is filled with signs describing how the caves exist, and how they were formed. It’s a very fascinating little stop. I don’t recall how long it took us to meander through the caves, but I don’t imagine it was more than an hour, and I wasn’t too upset over the price of the tickets. It seemed reasonable, but I can’t remember exactly how much it was! Inside the caves you are only allowed to take photos in designated “zones.” So we take very many pictures. That being said it was a very impressive setup they had there, and we really enjoyed it.  

After the caves, we made our way back into town, and boarded the bus for Guin Sa temple grounds. The entrance to the little village at the base of the mountain was a lot like what we saw at entrance to the Gosu Caves. There were lots of shops and restaurants there, and it was every bit as busy as Gosu had been. A very impressive building sitting across from the shops immediately caught our eye. After learning that it was a museum we decided to skip it, and continue on with our original plan of hiking to the top of the temple grounds.

From the museum and village grounds, you either can walk or get on another small bus to get up to the temple’s main entrance. We took the bus, as we’d already been walking for quite a while. We’d learned from various online reviews that we’d have to take some rest as Guin Sa is not for the faint of heart. It’s a long steep trek to the top, but well worth it. My calves were killing me after this trip!

Again, it seemed to me that the weather, as bad as it may have been perceived at any other time, was perfect for this trip. The rain drops pattering all round blended with the distant sounds of gongs and chanting from within the buildings lining the path to the top. There were several groups of workers sawing and banging away, as they restored different buildings throughout the large complex.

As we climbed the paths and stairs there were various quotes set aside on signs with little bits about the monks and the temple. I felt deeply impressed by all of it, and remember the sense of wonder that enveloped me. Every inch of these buildings is covered in ornate carvings and colorful designs. At the very top, we emerged onto a spectacular courtyard with fearsome statues and stone pillars. The massive temple, rising into the mist seemed to command the respect of visitors, and an awe induced quiet seemed to permeate the air around us.

We wandered around a bit, and tried to drink it all in. Looking back, I can hardly remember the details. I remember feeling this kind of bliss throughout the entire day. My legs hurt, and I was hungry by this time, but I was there wholly in it; without a care in the world. 

Eventually we made our way down the mountain and caught our bus and back into town. We had already bought our train tickets back home, and had about and hour and a half left to kill, so we decided to go ahead and eat there. There’s a great little restaurant that had high ratings on trip advisor. We ordered some bulgolgi, bosam, and galbi. There were a ton of side dishes, and the majority of them featured different preparations of garlic. It was an awesome spread, and I personally ate till I nearly fell over.

After we finished our meal, we took a taxi back to the train station, and had just enough time to freshen up a bit before boarding the train home. I highly recommend a visit to this little town. The people were so friendly, and there was beauty waiting around every corner. If I remember right it cost us just under 250,000 won for everything. When I think about it, I’m unsure how I would feel if I went back on a sunny day. I wasn’t sure if it was the rain that complemented the trip, or the trip that complemented the rain.