Two Temples and a Salt Farm

Thursday 26 September: Today we explored the area from Jeonju to Jirisan.

Our guide, Yoon, took us to a temple called Baekyantsa, which was built beneath the Baekhakbonk Peak. The sun shone and the sky was blue which enhanced the colourful wood work. When we arrived monks were chanting, which we later learned was a funeral service. In the Korean Buddhist faith, the body is cremated and interred in a cemetery and the spirit, in the form of a tablet, is taken to the temple where prayers are offered every 7 days, on 7 occasions.

We are travelling between summer and autumn – cooler days but the leaves have barely started to turn. The gardens around the monastery were full of beautiful red Korean lilies.

The second temple at Seonunsa turned out to be in a popular walking spot and dozens of buses had brought hundreds of Koreans, mostly women, to walk on the nearby tracks. They were fit looking people dressed in very colourful but serious walking gear. This is obviously a very serious pastime for many Koreans.

We took a short walk from the temple, along a beautiful track running alongside the river.  The light was gentle, the air was balmy and the mood was friendly.  Such a nice way to spend a Thursday afternoon.

We then went to see the west coast.  Basically it is a muddy flat with extreme tides and wild winds – not a memorable place.

During the previous day we had met some photographers who had suggested to Yoon that it was worth a visit to the Samyangsa salt paddies at Gochang for late afternoon photography, so that was our last stop.  As it turned out, these professional photographers had returned to the salt paddies for further pics.  My first impression was of a rather boring place, but with some encouragement we ventured out to watch the salt being scooped up, and got some great pics.

It was a long drive to our hotel in the Jirisan National Park.  The highlight was the Korean Barbeque where Bruce got to wave some tongs with a glass of beer in his hand.  What a great day!

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