Namsan Mountain Bike Ride


Chungnyeolsa is still unfound, though I know for certain the left turn after Kongkuk Uni should have been a right turn! The map once again was crap but I have not managed to find a bookshop with a good local map, I will ask my co-teacher on Monday where to go for one.

Anyhow I managed to complete a 3 mile circle from my house to Hoamnji lake which is only an 8 minute walk away. It was too early to go home and I saw another of those brown signs that mean nowt but “old monument within an hours cycle ride”. I knew I was heading along the side of Nangsam Mountain which is officially a hill but I think they take their measurements from the road nearest to the top.  After about 15  minutes another brown sign said 1km to “temple”.  3 km later another sign suggested I turn off the road to the left, one more broken sign and 2km vertically from there I found Changryonsa Buddhist Temple. I couldn’t get to see the Buddha as a service was taking place in the main hall. I was the only visitor stupid enough to cycle there, every one else smiled at me from their cars. There is a small stone pagoda in the front yard of Changryongsa temple and it is called `Cheongseoktap Pagoda` because it was made of dark blue stone, built in the Goryeo period. Only a few Cheongseoktap pagodas remain all over the country, Wondangam in Haeinsa temple in Hapcheon, Bomusa temple in Wonju and Geumsansa temple in Gimje.It is said that Changryongsa temple was established by the great monk Wonhyo during the King Munmu`s reign in the Silla period.

Geumbongsan (Nangsam) Mountain is only 636 metres high according to the tourist guide, look at the pictures and make your own mind up! the location is also referred to as “downtown” in the tourist literature, it’s on Jik-dong Road.  They fail to mention that the mountain comes between Jik-dong road and the city of Chungju, Jik-dong road ends at the Seokjongsa Temple which is about half way up Namsan Peak.

“Seok Jong Sa” or 석종사 in Hangul is how temple name is pronounced, it is also a place you can stay as (get a taxi) part of a Temple Stay program in Korea.  Apparently student’s of Buddhism stay regularly, Buddhism is a degree discipline in SK. If you decide to visit sometime a floor mat is provided for you to sleep on. If you decide to become a monk you can have visitors but only around every six months, after all you will be studying the “Korean Soen”, the purpose of their teaching is trying to reach the state of enlightenment. They follow what is called 4 noble truths and have 8 steps to enlightenment. During your stay you will be expected to meet up with other residents at 6pm for the night drumming ceremony. After the ceremony everyone heads to the main temple for the “yebul” which is the chanting/prayer to the Buddha. You are allowed to return to your room by 8pm and then you have to rise again at 3am for the morning drumming ceremony. After your stay you will receive a necklace, there are 108 wooden beads to help keep count when bowing to the Buddha as you are expected to carry out 108 “prostrations” every time you go to pray.  It is my feeling that after this experience you would be very close to meeting the exalted wisdom that JH brings to any fish supper! Enlightenment may be a harder nut to crack!

Seriously through it is a beautiful setting and I will go again in Spring, the Daewungjeon (main hall) of Seokjongsa contains Bulseolsa Sipiyangyeong wooden printing blocks made in 1384 during the Goryeo Kingdom.

Obviously the journey back was much less arduous on the legs but that bloody wind chilled to the bone.  I picked up some veggies and salad from the market to have with my Bulgogi.  This is fantastic beef marinated in sesame oil, seeds, garlic, soy sauce, spring onion, pepper, salt and sugar (I used a fruit sugar syrup, great for cooking, low cal). All you do is leave it for 24 hours and chargrill.  You have it with cucumber (salted and dried) coated with a cider vinegar and red pepper  sauce. All they do is wrap some beef and cucumber in salad leaves and eat, it is brilliantly easy and tasty.

Time for a kip! Sawasdee Krap


One thought on “Namsan Mountain Bike Ride

  1. Some great colours, Gary – especially on the close ups of the beads, and the roof. Looks like a summer’s day in some shots, but in others I can almost feel the chilling wind – atmospherically, just looking at some of them, appears like a biting wind!!

    Great stuff – keep ’em coming.

    You might make the Tour de France in a couple of years, you never know!

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