I’ve seriously been slacking on the blog thing. I’m working on catching up. I promise.
May 28 was Buddha’s Birthday. Bet you didn’t know that, did you? In the Eastern Hemisphere that qualifies as a national holiday so I get the day off to explore a little more of this fascinating little country. Last Fall, my friend Lily moved about 40 minutes away from Daejeon to Cheongju so we went to visit her and see her new home. I didn’t have my camera that day so all the following pictures are stolen from my friends’ facebook pages. Thank you in advance.
Cheongju is a substantially smaller than Daejeon but still boasted a nice little downtown area. The city was really clean and a lot greener than Daejeon. More trees, more flowers, more grass. It also contains three (yes 3!) Subway restaurants. Daejeon has zero. Yes, that was my first stop after we got off the bus in Cheongju. Pizza sub!
Being that it was Buddha’s birthday, we decided it was a appropriate to visit a temple after lunch. I’m told the temple we visited is closed most every day of the year so we were really lucky that the gates were open that day, probably in observance of the holiday.
This is by far the most beautiful temple I’ve seen in Korea. In my (slightly ignorant and possibly offensive) opinion, a temple is a temple. They all pretty much look the same to me. This one however was very unique. Aside from being completely covered in gold paint both inside and out, this one housed six golden statues of gods. Important note: I don’t think they were Buddhists by definition. I can’t remember their philosophy’s name now but it was akin to Buddhism either way.
A lady who lived there unlocked the temple and invited us in. As is appropriate, you leave your shoes outside and bow when you enter the temple. You could tell that she wanted to give us information and answer our questions but the language barrier disallowed any conversation. Thankfully, Lily, our Chinese-American host, was able to translate bits and pieces for us. Our tour guide was very pleased by how we were all in complete awe of our surroundings. This truly was the most beautiful temple I’ve seen.
He was the tallest of the statues standing 4 stories tall. The pictures we took that day really just don’t do this place justice. It was breathtaking. I didn’t think we were allowed to take pictures inside temples but our guide motioned that it was okay.
These freaky guys were hanging out outside. We think they had just been delivered because they still had plastic wrap on them. Behind them is the “dorm” where the residents of the temple live. We only saw ladies on the property that day so I’m not sure if this is a ladies only temple or purely coincidence.
After the temple we took a bus to the downtown area and walked around for a bit. To continue in the birthday celebration, we stopped at Baskin Robbins and order patbingsu. We took our treats to the bridge downtown and enjoyed the lovely afternoon outside. People watching is always time well spent in Korea. Especially since as foreigners we are the people that everyone is watching.
Before heading back to Daejeon for the night, Lily took us to a 해장국 restaurant, otherwise known as hangover soup. Unsurprisingly, it’s quite the popular dish in South Korea. I had not yet tried this soup that is eaten at all hours of the day, not solely as a cure for hangovers, so I was interested as well as a bit apprehensive. When you walk through the doors of the restaurant you are immediately overcome by the smell of a thousand dirty feet. I say that only half joking. I think my eyes actually started to water because the odor was so intense.
photo credit: www.seouleats.com
As with all scents, favorable and otherwise, after we were in the restaurant for a few minutes you couldn’t even smell it anymore. (Though I could still smell it on my clothes the next day….) The soup was really good though, far better than I expected. Meaty with a lot of vegetables in the ubiquitous spicy broth. It’s a Korean staple, I can see why.
After dinner we grabbed a taxi and headed back towards the bus station. We had an early morning planned in Daegu the next day.