A Short Jaunt to Mireuk-ri

Sunday morning Chungju was “dull”, misty and depressingly bland. I had an inkling to take a ride through Woraksan and then take lunch at the dam hoping to catch the last remnants of our Cherry Blossom. The hills are already looking greener and the odd cherry blossom brings the scenery to life. As our Bill sonnet proclaimed, “When proud-pied April, dress’d in all his trim, / Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing.” Gerard Manley Hopkins chomped on the following lyrics:

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.


What is all this juice and all this joy?
   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

Arriving at Mireuk-ri the ugly scuffling that supports paper lanterns for Buddha’s birthday was well set in place. Why don’t they use bamboo like in Hong Kong? A solitary monk had set his stall out, chunky mat and other paraphernalia. I believe they get seven chances to robe and disrobe as a monk, so it’s a bit like some folk use marriages.

We noticed a road leading up past the old coach house ruins and drove up to discover a new monumental stone temple under construction.  The craftsmanship was marvellous and you’ll rarely hear me say that about Korean trades. There’s no way of knowing but I suspect it’s a replica of the original temple which had been constructed in the form of a stone cave topped by an ornate wooden roof.  Very little of the temple remains other than the buddha and the caves stone walls guarded by the giant turtle.

We left and drove trough the Songgye Valley where a few early adopting weekend campers were in-situ beside the river.  Water levels were low but the cherry blossoms were still pretty much intact and the roads not too busy.

Leaving the National park we skirted the lake before the road heads inland back to Chungju.  Driving up between Namsan and Gyemyeongsan Mountains we again met the dam the blossoms cascading over the car like endless confetti at a wedding. On reaching Chungju Dam we discovered some sort of Spring Festival taking place so instead of heading to our intended restaurant for lunch we settled for spicy vegetable soup in a food tent and picked up some barbecued corn (which I’m about to reheat and scoff now!) before taking a stroll across the dam.  Though the temperatures were pleasant the hazy atmosphere wasn’t particularly conducive to photography hence this weeks gallery being limited.

I’m looking (inspired by Hari)  into the history of my home town Farnwoth and will post on that next time. Arriverderci and come on City!

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