At the end of the last post, my colleagues and I had just watched our bosses catch a nice buzz drinking makgeolli, boarded the bus, and ended up in a parking lot somewhere in the woods. Two empty buses followed our tour buses into the parking lot, and we climbed aboard the new buses.
For the next ten minutes, we rode up the most dangerous muddy road I’ve ever seen. How the bus didn’t slide off the side of the mountain, I will never know. At one point, we turned a sharp corner and met another bus head-on. Both bus drivers (my bus and the one behind us) threw it in reverse and backed down to a wide spot in the road. Ms. Shin, who was sitting next to me, almost started crying as we sped backward toward the sharp curve.
At the top of the road was….another parking lot. The bus driver dropped us off a few feet from a trail-head and we made our way to the top of the mountain. We traipsed through the woods for about half a mile before coming to a long stone bridge that crossed a shallow river. The bridge was lined on both sides with colorful lanterns. Mr. Kim explained to me that all Buddhist temples hang these lanterns to celebrate Buddha’s birthday (May 28).
The water was so low in some places that people could walk out into the middle of the river. As I took a closer look, I realized that the river bed was littered with thousands of stacks of river rocks. Each rock in a pile represents a prayer. People who visit the temple often walk into the river bed and stack rocks, praying between each one that they place on the pile.
At the other end of the bridge was a Buddhist village with several temples and other buildings. I have no idea how old the temple is, but I wasn’t worried about finding out at the time. I was in awe of the beauty of the place. The buildings were beautifully decorated with lanterns and bright colors of paint. Mountains bathed in a heavy mist hung over the roofs of the buildings.
I snapped as many pictures as I could in the few minutes we were allotted to walk around the village. When my phone’s battery began to run low. Here is a slideshow featuring the village and my fellow tourists.
Stay tuned for the next stop.
Until next time.