Sunday, May 24, 2009

Youngyeon Temple

The first morning we woke up at Mrs. Kim's house, I was out walking around with my camera and snapped this picture about thirty yards from her front door. It's so handy having the English translation right there for you. I still don't know why so many signs and other things in Korea have the English translation. Maybe it's because English is becoming the De facto second language of the world. Still, it's awfully accommodating of them to include the English.

Anyhow, I got to thinking that four kilometers is only about two and a half miles. I could do that in less than an hour, easy. I'm a fast walker, a strong hiker. So, I figured I'd hike up to this Buddhist Temple on my own one morning, get a few pictures, and be back almost before Ok Hwa knew I was gone.

Friday, April 10 looked like a good day for it. I showed her the sign, and told her what I wanted to do, and she surprised me by wanting to come along. She's been joining me on more of my hikes lately, and I encourage it, so I was happy to have her join me. We love any excuse for a good photo expedition, so, off we went.

It ended up taking us about two hours to hike up there, but, only because we were stopping to look at things, and take a lot of pictures. The road up the valley is a relatively easy walk until you get past the main, level agricultural area. From there the way gets a bit steeper, a lot less populated, and a lot more interesting. The mountains come in much closer, and the road rises up above the level of the river. The river becomes less visible as the trees crowd in closer. We passed a few small grave sites, and a couple small dirt roads leading off into the trees.
About a mile up, we came across a small cluster of homes and farm fields off to the left between the road and the river, and one very nice contemporary house being built across the road on the right. At this point we were about half way from Mrs. Kim's house to the man made lake up at the head of the valley.

We continued our hike up towards the lake, stopping frequently to take pictures. We walked down to the river on a dirt road leading to a camping and recreation area, the Youngyeondong Recreation Area, according to my map. There was nothing doing down there, I guess because it was a bit early in the season. We had the place to ourselves.

We continued on up to the lake, and as we neared the lake, a couple of taxis passed us. We thought they were carrying people up to what we thought was some resort, or recreational facilities by the lake. We could see some buildings across the lake, but when we finally got over there, they turned out to be the administrative offices, and maintenance facilities for the lake and aqueduct system in the valley below. There was nothing else about here by the lake except a small farm, some monuments, and a beautiful, old shrine building. Oh, well, onward up to the temple.

From the lake, the road got a lot steeper, and very curvy, following a small tributary up into a side valley. Ok Hwa almost bailed out on me, due to the steep climb. I held my tongue and slowed down. She held her tongue and soldiered on, and after a couple rest stops we finally made it up to the temple. About half way up this steep section, a rather large flatbed truck passed us carrying a load of building supplies.

When we got to the parking area just below the temple, we found the two taxis that had passed us earlier. She left a note on one of their windows to the effect that we would like to get a ride back down the valley. We never did come across the taxi drivers, or their passengers. Don't know why, either, because the temple was a pretty small affair.

I counted six buildings in all, two of which appeared to be living quarters for the monks, plus a storage and garage shed. The main complex of buildings was about twenty feet up above the parking area, on a leveled off piece of ground supported by retaining walls. We walked up a flight of steps and arrived at the courtyard, formed by three buildings, one each to the right and left, and one directly ahead in the back, raised up on another leveled off section supported by a retaining wall.

Right in the middle of the courtyard sat the flatbed truck, offloading supplies. There was a maintenance, or remodeling project underway, with various building supplies stacked here and there. The monks also seemed to be setting up some decorations for what surely was to be the celebration of Buddha's birthday later in the month. I know this because the last time we were in Korea was during this time in late April, and there were major celebrations for this event everywhere we went.

Anyhow, we were now in picture taking mode, as this place was quite picturesque. I went up to the building directly ahead, up a flight of stairs. The view of the complex was better from up there, plus, the building there was the main temple, with the golden Buddha inside. I went in, and to show respect, went to the prayer mat and bowed my head to the floor, said my thanks, and asked for permission to take pictures. I got a few good shots inside, then went outside to get some more.

The flatbed truck had finished up in the courtyard below, and had moved up to the level I was at, and was unloading some more supplies over by a beautiful pagoda housing a very large bell. We wandered around the place for about twenty more minutes, taking pictures. There were very few people about, and they were busy with their work, and paid us no mind.

When we started back down the road home, we paused by the taxis for awhile, hoping the drivers would show up, but none ever came. So, on we went, knowing that at least the way home was downhill.

About half way down the steep section between the temple and the lake, the flatbed truck came along, heading back down after finishing his delivery. We flagged him down, and he was happy to give us a lift back down to the valley. It was nice riding up in that big tall truck of his, back down the mountain road. The view from up there was better. It took us about ten minutes to make the trip back, and he let us off right in front of Mrs. Kim's house. He asked Ok Hwa how we came to be here, and she told him that her mother lived here. He seemed to know her, and when we told Mrs. Kim about the ride, she said that the driver was the son of one of her neighbors. Small world there in Sacheon Valley!

Here are the pictures I made on this outing:
The official website of the Republic of Korea:


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the account of your hike as well as the pictures.

  2. Thanks, MsBelinda. I will try to get some more of the story of the Korea trip up here soon. Hope all is well over your way.

  3. Great post! I'm interested to learn more about Korea, I might visit next year.

    Thank you for sharing about your amazing wife and her experiences. I look forward to hearing more about you both.

  4. Katherine, thanks for your kind words. I highly reccomend a trip to Korea. It's beautiful, clean, and friendly.