I hate planning events or organising my folders at my work desk. Planning my birthday is no exception, hence text messages flooding in on the eve of my 23rd, nagging me as to what the plan was or to remind me that I am one inch closer to being officially an ajushi. I was lucky to have friends to drag me out of bed on a cold, but sunny Saturday morning and take me to Namhae Island for a little cultural enlightenment. Although I was feeling a little reluctant to go at first, little did I know this trip would leave me in wonder and awe.
Asia has always been stereotypically classed as the ‘mystic’ East, yet seeking out a location with a genuinely ‘mystical’ vibe is no easy matter. However, I felt that feeling of wonder and inner peace for the first time at Boriam Temple in Namhae, situated in the southwestern area of Gyeongsangnam-do.
Often referred to as one of Korea’s treasure islands, Namhae is a fishing county boasting amazing sea views and is dotted with 68 mini islands. Its most beautiful spot, in my opinion, is Geum San – Gold Mountain – where Boriam Temple lies. Built in the year 683, the Buddhist temple is among three holy sites which are famous for prayer, alongside Hongryeonam temple and Bomunsa temple. It’s particularly known for its beautiful sunrises.
Picturesque views and unique rock formations of Geumsan attracts tourists, photographers and in my case, me, the birthday boy. Ever wanted to experience a temple stay in Korea? It usually isn’t my cup of tea due to the insane sleeping schedules and strict dietary requirements. However, I would consider doing it at Boriam as their temple stay programme only lasts for eight hours and costs only 10,000 won. No meat mastication for eight hours? Piece of cake…I think.
How to get there:
From Seoul Express Bus Terminal take the bus to Namhae (4.5 hours). As public transport is not really developed in Namhae, the easiest and more convenient option is to take a cheap taxi to Geumsan. You can then take a shuttle bus up Geumsan which will drop you off 900m away from Boriam temple and from there you are going to have to hike up the mountain for about 10-20 minutes. No pain no gain, right??
Words and images by Ken Lee. Make sure you check out his blog, Seoul State of Mind, for more of his ultimately flawless photography, and . And !