Categorized | Korea, Korea, Travel

Donghwasa Temple

I love living in a big city. I love how I can catch a cab or bus within a block or so of my apartment and be anywhere in the city in a matter of minutes. It is a nice change from having to get in my car and drive to get anywhere back home. It does have its downsides though, mainly exhaust. The air here isn’t exactly the cleanest so me and a few co-workers decided to get out of the city on Saturday for some clean crisp fresh mountain air.

Within a short distance (45+ mins by bus) is Mt. Palgongsan Natural Park. It’s a nice big area with several tourists sites. The section we chose had both a very old temple and a cable car going up the mountain with great views. We started with the cable car, and it did not disappoint. The cable car took us about 900m above sea level and gave us a great view of the surrounding area. The weather was perfect too. It was just chilly enough to actually be enjoyable plus the sun was out. We took in the views of the surrounding town and hills and simply enjoyed breathing in some fresh mountain air. I do miss the mountains. I think I was spoiled the few years I spent in Denver. There is just nothing like breathing in cool mountain air. It refreshes the soul.

So after the cable car ride, we headed off to find Donghwasa Temple. The temple was built in 493 AD, and it was truly an amazing site to see. It is more than just one large temple where they worship, but more of a series of buildings. It was very peaceful there. Built back in the hills among the woods, the scenery was beautiful and peaceful. The architecture and colors used were simply amazing. Between the incense burning, to seeing people praying to Buddha, to watching a monk meditate I don’t think I have ever been anywhere where I felt so at peace and enjoyed the quiet.

The temple was not the only attraction there however. Just a short walk away was the Tongil-daebul Buddha Statue, which at 33m high and 16.5 m round is the largest in the world (according to our brochure). In the body of the statue are 2 pieces of Buddha’s bones presented by the Myanmar government. It was completed in 1992 and was really a site to see. Surrounding the Buddha statue were various carvings, statues and pagodas.

It really opened my eyes to another culture, and I am very glad to have been there. It has also increased my desire to learn more about the Korean history and culture. I find it fascinating to see how others live, think, and pray. After the busy holiday season, a few of us from school might venture out for a temple stay. It sounds like a very interesting way to learn more about the Buddhist culture. You spend the night in a temple and have the chance to learn from them first hand about their religion, meditation, and other aspects of their culture.

Getting out of the city was a nice way to recharge with some fresh mountain air and learn a little something along the way. I can only hope to have more weekends like this in the future. Enjoy some of the photos below. There are many more on my flickr page.

The big Buddha statue

Longhorn Buddha?

There is a monk meditating in there. There were lots of people praying and meditating but I did not feel it was appropriate to capture that up close on film.

The communal drinking fountain.

What fun! A safety theme park.

View from up on top of the mountain.

Me up at the top of the mountain.

About Eric Bynum
I taught ESL for three years in South Korea and now I am looking to set out on a new journey after just finishing my teaching certification in the US. I hope to continue teaching and traveling and you can follow his journeys here.

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