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Bamboo, Sosaewon Garden, & Temples 10.May.15

Alexis and I were told, by multiple people, that if we wanted to enjoy a peaceful, tranquil, natural spot we should visit Sosaewon. We were excited to head out to Damyang, which is a neighboring county known for its bamboo, nature, and history... We had an interesting bus ride, failing to get off at the correct stop. Yet, we were so close to the end of the line we decided to ride it out, since we'd be waiting on the same bus to return for us anyway. The driver was cool, he didn't charge us another fare. And, after smoking a cigarette, he made sure we knew when to get off the bus. Surely he thought "stupid foreigners".

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Sosaewon is a public garden, built in the 16th century, where the beauty of traditional Korea is maintained. It was built by Yang San-Bo, after he gave up his ambition for fame and power when his mentor Jo Gwang-Jo was killed. Sosaewon means "clean and transparent garden between the bamboo grove", and it was meant to gather together righteous men of Anbinnakdo (being content amid poverty and taking pleasure in acting honestly).

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As far as Sosaewon goes we were a bit unimpressed. However beautiful, it's relatively small, and was swarming with families and adolescents trying to be heard over the crowd. We were planning a quiet stroll through a park more than four centuries old. Instead, we were trying to escape the hubbub relocated from the city. *Maybe a Saturday visit was our fault.

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It looks as though "Billy loves Suzy" the world over!

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We did enjoy a more inactive creek side area. We loved how the wall was built to allow water to flow through it.

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We pushed farther and further from the crowd, and continued on a less traveled path, 'cause we enjoyed the peace. It ended in a cemetery with a beautiful view of the mountains. We decided to have our picnic lunch, cut short our visit, and see what else we could get into.

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On the way to Sosaewon we had passed a sign for Wonhyo Temple. We decided that, for the remainder of the day, we'd search for and explore the temple. We hopped back on the bus and returned to the sign. From there we had to walk. We didn’t know how far it was, but we knew we were headed in the right direction. The road was pretty dangerous to walk along. For the most part, there was no shoulder to speak of. We pounded the pavement for too long, it ended up being about two miles. Alexis thought that every curve would be our last. Not because we'd reach the temple, but because we'd be flattened by the next Hyundai or Kia that rounded the bend.

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Our walk took us past this massive boulder, with Chinese characters chiseled into the side.

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Korean Buddhist temples are often nestled deep in mountainous regions, and set near the natural beauty of rivers, valleys, or the sea. Their locations offer a great refuge for those seeking peace of mind or a quiet place to meditate. Gwaneumsa is such a temple erected at one of the coolest locations I've seen. It's built on a rocky mountainside with many Buddhas carved, or etched, directly into the rock. Below are a few pictures of the temple surroundings.

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Wonhyosa is one of the favorite temples, and points of interest, in Mudeungsan National Park. With the remaining pictures, I'll try to relay the scene on that particular day. *The Lotus lanterns are on display in preparation for Buddha's birthday.

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The walk was worth it, and we were glad that we didn't know where Wonhyosa was located. As a result, we discovered the more charming site encompassing Gwaneumsa.

Posted by Jason Willis 05:23 Archived in South Korea

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