Korea Diary May 27: More culture and commerce



Since we were up so late with the movie, we slept in this morning, which probably was unfortunate because our plan for the day was a rather strenous hike and it was pretty warm by the time we got started. It was a very interesting excursion, however, and there was enough shade along the way to make it bearable. The road led up a hillside through a traditional Korean village whose main attractions are a series of small Buddhist and Shamanist temples. They are of course currently in use, which makes them doubly interesting, but visually they are quite striking as well. [Text continued below.]

The mountain and Buddhist temple are named Inwangsan (인왕산) and the major shamanist shrine is Guksadang (국사당). There are many more photos taken on our hike here in this Flickr set.

Here is a glimpse of a temple in service, and an impressive gong that wasn't being currently rung, unfortunately. I'll bet it makes a great sound!

outside of temple
large gong

All the buildings were very picturesque, even looking back at the photos I can't, for the most part, tell the temples from the private homes. All had impressive and lovely details such as these:

mural detail
building details
an open gateway

After you get through the houses there is still more climbing past numerous little shrines. The rock formations are quite unusual and reminded us all of Enchanted Rock, which also was considered a sacred place by the native Americans for hundreds of years. The type of climbing and the scenery were enough like Texas to make you forget momentarily that you were on the other side of the world, then around the next corner would be a little shrine with a plastic Buddha and offerings to dead ancestors and you'd know you weren't in Kansas, or Texas, anymore.

[Text concluded below]

scenic rocks spacer
tourists atop a rock
trailside shrine

Great views were on offer throughout the hike:

tourists with view

Hal and Sally at the top (note Seoul Tower in Namsan Park on the mountain in the distance)


view from lower down

a nice view from lower down on Mount Inwang


an old fortress wall

History is everywhere in Seoul: an old fortress wall visible from Mount Inwang

And, finally, more colorful lanterns, seen here from below and above (note: the bumps on the very picturesque rock at the right aren't people—we weren't that far above it. They're pigeons!):

lanterns and rocks
spacer looking down at the lanterns

We fortunately were offered a ride part way back down the hillside by a nice young man in a van, and therefore had enough strength to stagger into a very nice vegetarian restaurant for lunch and then go on and do some more shopping. We spent the evening in watching TV and having a snacking-kind of supper.

Tomorrow's agenda includes attending some of the Asian X-games events.

Many more Inwang photos are in this Flickr set.