The bus stop I thought had moved, had not moved, I was looking for the 426 when it should have been the 246. Those at home may remember the pin number saga. To accentuate the problem not only was I looking for the wrong bus I was stood at the bus stop on the wrong side of the road. You may laugh but even for one who’s marbles are severely disintegrating the road sign for Suanbo was pointing in the opposite direction. After a 50 minute wait I got on the 240 because the previous evening the charming Annie Yun had said it was in fact the 240 I should get. Once in Suanbo some 24 km away I consulted my famously useless Tourist Map, it indicated that my desired destination Chungju Mireukdaewonji was in the near vicinity. I wandered aimlessly and with close to little confidence, to the right and up a hill…following a Brown Sign and you know from past flaneurings that the Brown Sign is a sure fire way to find something, right? The sign indicated something of importance some 1100m ahead. I carried on through a derelict apartment complex, past farmers tilling fields with old cows and wooden ploughs and helped by family members wearing Man U and Liverpool shirts. After 15 minutes walking up the winding incline another sign said 800m, onwards and upwards. I couldn’t see a temple or stupa or indeed anything of significance but then I hit cock-up gold…the Suanbo Insect Museum at an altitude near to the summit of Everest. I shouldn’t exaggerate, Everest Base Camp. There was a lovely tended garden with a waterwheel and some great views. I consulted my Tourist Map again and decided I would ask the first contact I met which direction to take, unfortunately it was a little red dog but I took his advice and headed down the mountain. I came to a crossroads and met an old lady stooping at 90 degrees and using two sticks. I showed her the picture of Mireukdaewonji and immediately she thrust a stick in the air virtually decapitating me with the same action. I was confident that my destination was easily accessible from here. After 20 minutes walking up hill, the road veered left and I saw a sign indicating I take a left towards Woraksan National Park. I walked ahead stopping at another Buddhist Temple where a female monk gave me a brew and the biggest smile I have ever seen, this was to prove not the last act of kindness on what was becoming a very warm day. Further on I came to a sign, which said it was 8km along the road. I guessed this might prove inaccurate and an hour later I saw a log cabin with a café sign. The lady inside made a great brew and told me I still had 5km to go. I finished my brew and was about to leave when she offered me a lift, the second act of kindness. It was indeed another 5km and by the time we arrived, she had asked enough questions to cover my life story. My luck was in through she didn’t want a taxi fare, just another one of those hugs!
The temple was a hive of activity and it nestled in the shadow of mountains on all sides. Chungju Mireukdaewonji is a Buddhist temple site, built in a highland stone cave, made to protect a statue of Buddha. The site is the only one of it’s kind in that the Buddha faces north. It is said to be modeled after Seokguram. It was the first place I have visited that had a tourist shop and it still is managed by an active order of monks who live in a dormitory nearby. They were planning some sort of festival and were hanging multicolored paper lanterns on, sadly, scaffolding. Before the roads were built it must have been quite inaccessible and a memorable pilgrimage for those of the Buddhist faith. There was a great fountain of spring water, which everyone was guzzling down with great gusto. I got a bus back the 17km back to Suanbo and another back to Chungju. May head out for a bike ride tomorrow but going upstairs to Michelle’s for drinks tonight.
“Neither from itself nor from another, Nor from both, Nor without a cause, Does anything whatever, anywhere arise”
I am senile…yes? This totally confused me.