Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yongyeon Buddhist Temple - Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We had no plans for the day, and nothing came to mind right away, so we were just hanging around waiting for Mrs. Kim to get back from her trip. We didn't expect her 'til late in the afternoon, so we decided to spend the day at home for a change.

I had time to kill, so I decided to head out for a walk. It dawned on me that I could make that hike back up to the temple, and make the video I'd planned.

I got my stuff together and headed out the door at 09:45. I told her that I'd probably be gone about two hours. I started walking, making fifteen to twenty second video segments every now and then. As I went along, I found more and more interesting things along the side of the road to include in the video. I knew I'd have to self edit some as I went along, or else I'd end up with way too much, and the video would run too long. What I do in the editing is string all these little video clips together in Movie Maker. Then I put a fade transition between each clip, fade in from black at the beginning, fade out to black at the end, titles and credits, and it all comes out looking pretty slick. I knew I'd be able to add or delete segments in the final editing to adjust the length, but I didn't want to leave a lot on the cutting room floor, so to speak.

So, the hike went pretty much as I'd imagined it. There was not any traffic, and I make pretty good time up to the temple. Once, a small private bus passed me heading up to somewhere.

Up at the temple I got lucky. The small bus that had passed me was parked over behind one of the buildings, and all the passengers were up in the main temple building chanting. I could hear one of the monks in there with his hollow wooden bell and mallet, keeping time. This would lend a bit of authentic soundtrack to the video. Aside from those people in the temple, I pretty much had the place to myself. I was up by the main temple building filming the large bell in it's separate pagoda when two ladies came out of one of the buildings down in the lower level courtyard. They were carrying what looked like covered rice bowls high above their heads. They came up the stairs to the main temple and carried the bowls inside. I got a few more video segments by the temple building, bell pagoda, and in the courtyard below, and figured my job was done.

I started back down the hill feeling pretty satisfied, and just savoring the walk through this beautiful countryside. The sun had finally come out after several days of overcast. It was a beautiful day, and was really the first day that felt like spring since we'd gotten here. There was a cool breeze coming out of the north-east, but the sun on my shoulders, and the exertion of the hike were keeping me warm.

Back down by the lake I was admiring the set of monuments by the side of the road, when I noticed that there were not any burial mounds with them. There are usually burial mounds nearby the monuments. Then I noticed again the small, steep, winding, but paved road heading up the hillside. I'd noticed this road when I'd come up here before, and wondered where it lead. All the other roads leading to hillside burial sites were unpaved, so this one intrigued me. I know I'd promised her two hours, but I just could not resist.

This little concrete road was steep! It had those grooves in the concrete to give added traction to car tires, too. Well, I huffed and puffed up this little gut buster for about a quarter mile, 'til it leveled off at a little parking area. There were stone staircases leading up each of the two hills flanking this parking area.

Looking up the staircase to the right I saw stone monuments and earthen mounds, and realized that I had found another burial site. I headed up there to check it out, and discovered the most elaborate burial site I've seen. This was a two level site with stone retaining walls and lots of granite statuary. There was rectangular stonework around each of the mounds, one on each level. This is the first time I'd seen human figures represented in the stonework. At the bottom level there was a stone statue of a woman on each side of the mound. I climbed up to the uphill mound and there was a stone statue of a man on each side of the mound, as well as other statuary. It occurred to me then that these must me husband and wife burial sites, with the wife in the subservient, downhill position, and the husband in the dominant, uphill position. It all made perfect sense now. These people must have had some money. At most of the other burial sites I've seen, there are several mounds on each level. At this one there were just the two levels, and one mound each, with lots of expensive granite statuary. The stone monuments down by the lake, and the paved concrete road all added up now. These must have been important people indeed.

I went back down to the parking lot and up the staircase on the other side. It was pretty much the same over there. Something about this second site was more comfortable to me, though. The setting was more pleasing somehow, something to do with the landscape, the trees, and the rocks. As a place to spend eternity, you couldn't ask for much more. There was the same two level layout, with the female statues on the lower level, and the male statues on the upper level. There were stone lions by the upper burial mound also, giving it a regal touch. I had never seen stone lions at a Korean burial site before.

After making pictures from every angle I could imagine, I headed on back down the hill. I was hiking for home in earnest now, as I knew I'd been gone longer than two hours. Back at the house I pulled off my shoes and went in and checked the time. It was 12:30. I'd been gone for two hours and forty-five minutes. A mighty fine outing.

Mrs. Kim arrived about twenty minutes later, and all was chatter and activity. She was tired from her trip, but set about working in the kitchen right away. Ok Hwa was right by her side, helping her and talking non-stop. That woman loves her mother and enjoys being around her more than any woman I've ever seen. Ok Hwa can be as hard as nails to the world at large, and to me sometimes, but around her mother she's still the loving, obedient little girl she must have been years ago. It's pretty heart-warming to see it.

I took a nap while they prepared lunch, and then after lunch, Ok Hwa and I headed into town. We went back over to the Jungang Market browsing for veggies, then hit the D/C dollar store for a couple of items. Last on the shopping list was the Home Plus store. I wanted to see if they sell alcoholic beverages, and they do. They had a pretty good Scotch section, but, alas, no single malt. I settled for a 50 cl. bottle of Chivas for 28,000 wan, about what you'd pay for it in the States. They also had a good selection of beer. Along with all the Korean beers, there were four or five Australian beers I've never seen before, plus Heineken, Budweiser, Miller Genuine Draft, and Corona. Back over in the liquor section, they stock Jose' Cuervo Gold Tequila, and Kahlua coffee liqueur. Not bad.

We'd had the presence of mind to check the bus schedule before going into the Home Plus store. This way we knew to stay in the warm store 'til five minutes before the bus was due. Outside, the clouds had rolled back in, the temperature had dropped, and the wind had picked back up out of the north-east, making it feel like winter again.

Here's the slide show of pics from the burial sites:

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