Songnisan

July 25, 2009

Last weekend, we piled into some buses and drove to Songnisan, a mountainous national park that is also home to Beopjusa, a buddhist temple founded in 553 AD. “Songnisan” translates roughly to “mountains remote from the mundane world,” and that is a pretty accurate description. Here are some pictures of lunch, traditional Korean style:

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Lots and lots of little bowls full of whole fried fish, mushrooms, fried leaves and twigs, pickled vegetables, and an host of epicurean oddities that, to the Western eye and tongue, are simply unidentifiable. And we sit on the floor…

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After lunch on Friday, we visited Beopjusa. It was beautiful and fascinating, and there is an enormous golden buddha statue there:

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A random picture at the temple that I like:

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And the morning and evening ritual of drum beating and bell ringing by the monks… this was very cool:

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Now that’s what I call a drum. Check out the intensity on this monk’s face:

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And the bell… once again, it’s big. So big, in fact, that it has to be struck with a log swinging from chains:

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On Saturday some friends and I hiked one of the mountains. It was a beautiful hike, not very difficult, and there was nature everywhere! I made this diagram to aid the untrained eye:

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I saw this guy hanging out in a hole in a rock. He probably had never seen homo sapiens before, and he didn’t really know what to make of me. I got really close to take this picture, and he sat there for a bit and then after a while hopped deeper back into his little home in the rock. Definitely one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken:

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And here I am  at the top of the mountain making an awkward face:

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Fellow Cincinnatian and I:

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You may be wondering why I am wearing a bathing suit. At this point in the day I was starting to wonder the same thing. We were informed that there would be swimming, but at this point, there was none yet to be found. I probably looked extra silly given the fact that Koreans consider hiking to be a serious sport. Every single Korean we saw on the mountain was decked out in ergonomically designed micro-fiber apparel, boots, and “hiking” poles, which are basically skiing poles. Exhibit A:

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Wait a second. To quote Rick Deckard, “Enhance 224 to 176. Enhance. Stop. Move in. Stop. Pull out, track right. Stop. Center in, pull back. Stop. Track 45 right. Stop. Center and stop. Enhance 34 to 36. Pan right and pull back. Stop. Enhance 34 to 46. Pull back. Wait a minute. Go right. Stop. Enhance 57 to 19. Track 45 left. Stop. Enhance 15 to 23. Give me a hard copy right there.”…

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As fellow Cincinnatian put it, if Kanye West and Jerry Garcia had a child sixty years ago, it would be this guy.

Anyway, here’s a plethora of pictures from the top of the mountain:

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We took a different path down the mountain, and once again it was beautiful:

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And luckily this time there were waterfalls big enough to play around in, so my looking ridiculous was not in vain. After a long day of hiking in thick humidity, there is nothing like washing off the sweat by submerging yourself in chilly mountain water:

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What a weekend. This week was busy again, and I taught my first two classes! They went very well, and I’ll teach one more this week. That’ll be it for the orientation period, and then the next time I teach it will be at my school… for keeps!

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One Response to “Songnisan”

  1. Kate said

    Thank you for pointing out the nature!

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