Go Hiking in Nature on the weekend – the trail to Gatbawi
A test of your physical and mental endurance
Gatbawi is a Stone Seated Medicine Buddha Statue near the top of Gwan Peak(Gwan-bong 관봉), located in the south of Palgongsan Mountain that rises 850m above the sea level. The name ‘’Gatbawi’’ comes from the flat rock ‘’bawi’’ on the Buddha’s head that looks like a Korean traditional hat (called a ‘gat’). This statue is one of the sculptures of ancient craftsmen in the ninth century, which means that the statue is over a thousand years old. It is believed that if you are honest prayers, your wishes will come true. So it attracts a number of visitors including me:)
Since Gatbawi is located near the boundary between Gyeongsan and Daegu, it is very accessible from the city. There are several ways to get there, it takes around 40minutes to drive from downtown. If you don’t have car, you can take a Daegu City Tour bus, which costs 5,000 won or another choice is a regular city bus No. 401. The last bus station is 20 meters away from the base of the trail.
From the entrance, you can see the tourist map of Mt. Palgongsan Natural Park and the place that you are standing. However, this map describes a large area so you may get lost. To avoid that, I just followed other people.
There are two ways up. The path initially heads up is the direction on the left from the parking lot, which is the main path and wider than the one on the right which is shorter but harder to walk. Let’s make a wise choice. :)
We chose the left one which length 1,1km and fairly easy. It’s not really hiking in this stage; people make many stone steps and steep inclines that have been paved over. Walking on this trail is also an awesome way to immerse yourself in nature and warm up for the next distance, which gets harder and higher.
The first stop is Gwanamsa Temple (관암사), it is a beautiful architectural complex with religious features and the combination of handicraft and nature. You can take a rest here and get more water before climbing to the Buddha statue.
From Gwanam Temple (관암사), there are two routes leading up to Gatbawi.
The main one is off to the left of the temple, it has a stone stairs, you can’t get lost if you follow these steps. The other one is on the right, go up through the temple and there is a gate on your right-hand side. I chose this way, it is a little bit harder with less well-defined and narrower steps. At some narrowest points, only one hiker can pass by. Make sure that you’re wearing good shoes or quality hiking boots, following other people and focusing on your steps.
I was the only non-Korean on this route and to be truthful, it is not an easy but worthwhile climb, there were thousands steps that I need to conquer and the view up there was extremely wonderful.
The hike takes about 40 minutes on this stage, but it can take longer depending on your fitness and whether or not you stop at the temples which scattered along the way, you can visit them for a while, they are really beautiful and charming.
In the end of this route, I reached Gatbawi, there are so many prayers in front of the statue, which made a good sense of achievement at the top and a very spiritual place especially with everyone praying. I myself can feel the peace and sincerity here.
It was a fantastic day with blue sky, white cloud and gentle wind with incredible view. Your mind will be refresh and left behind all the anxiety. It was an awesome experience, not about the destination, but the journey when I reached the top. It was like heaven gate opened!
Go hiking has many benefit, it make you less stressed, ward off depression and having strong social networks and hobbies if you do with friends or family. If you’re looking for a fun “cardio” activity and want to exercise in a way that’s exciting, it is a great way to get your legs, feet, and body used to strenuous activity.