Our Korea Experiences

This is an attempt to Pen down travel stories during our stay in South Korea. South Korea with its four distinct seasons and awesome landscapes is a treat to visitor's eyes. Travelling is always fun here due to the hospitality and extremly cooperative people.
If you liked our story then we would be happy to know it through your Comments.
Note: If you click on the photos you can reach that particular blog.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Ganghwado Temple Stay

The trip to Ghangwado :-suwon youth cultural center took us for a trip to Ghangwado for a unique experience of temple stay and to enlighten us about the history and culture of Ghangwa do.
Around 30 students from different high and middle schools and around 5 foreigners together with sycc teachers started the trip from suwon cultural center.
there was also an historian who explained the historical importance of Ghanghwa do ,Ganghwa island is the fifth largest island in Korea and is located in the West Sea.it has prehistoric remains as well as this island is a witness of the french and mongolian invasions
all these information made the trip more interesting.
Visiting the dolmans:-
after reaching ganghwado island we first visited a dolman site Because there were people living on this island from the prehistoric times, there are many ancient artifacts on the island. The most famous of these are the Goindol Rocks, designated as World’s Cultural Treasure. The Goindol graves are where the rulers of the Ganghwa Island in the Bronze Age are buried. There are about 80 of these stone graves around the island .

On the way Our bus stopped here too
Visit to Manisan:-

we were then taken to manisan mountain. here three mountain tops stands together. this is a very religious place for koreans. we had a brisk walk and it was very refreshing.From the top, one can see many islands of the Yellow Sea to the south, and on clear days one can SongAksan Mountain to the north also.

by the time we were all hungry so we went to a local restaurant to have lunch . the students were very excited and happy . chatting with them and with the teachers we had a wholesome meal.and headed for the journey again.

The museum tour:-our next stop was ganghwa do historty museum.The museum was located in a scenic place and we could see the sea from its observatory .

Inside the museum our historian explained many things like the world's most important cultural asset tripitaka koreana , the shifting of capital to ganghwa do during mongolian attack and the french invasion in 1866. Ganghwado can be said as the homeland of history.

Our bus stopped for an hour here

Chandra Inside museum
After learning so many things about ganghwado and korean history we left the museum and headed for our destination.
Jeondongsa temple :-
we reached jeondongsa temple within 40 minutes.Jeondeungsa Temple is an old temple situated on Mt. Jeongjoksan it was built around 1282 but has been rebuilt twice.The ceiling is constructed like a well, and around it are many beautiful and colorful sculptures, such as lotus flowers and bicheon. In the temple yard there is a bell from Song China, called Beomjong. Jongdeungsa Temple is not only beautiful inside but outside as well. Especially the sea that you can see from the temple is exquisitely beautiful in the morning and evening. Greeting sunrise at Jeondeungsa Temple is a nationally famous activity.
Our temple stay:-
The monks took all of us in a big hall . he brought dresses for all of us which we should be wearing for our 1 day stay there. the clothes are hand made and naturally dyed . also he explained the code of conduct of staying in the temple.
the whole group is divided into males and females and the males are given the rooms in male monk's residence area and the ladies were given rooms in the female monk's residence.
we went to our respective rooms and changed our dresses and got refreshed. we were then called to have dinner with the monks.

Just after reaching the temple and changing dress
the temple food is famous for its unique taste and the speciality is that its pure vegetarian and even no onions and garlics are used to cook food. After the delicious dinner we went to have a look around the temple and the nearby places
after that we all gathered at the hall to listen to a speech by the head monk followed by a short lecture about the history and culture of ganghwa do and Korea.
it was a real eyeopener class for us as we foreigners know very little about Korean history and culture. the lecturer made the class interesting with funny comments and acting .
we went to our rooms at around 9:30 pm .there we had a good time chatting with the students and the teachers .
The temple prayer:-
next day morning we woke up around 3:30 am in the morning hearing the sound of bell and holy sholkas chanted by the monks.
we hurriedly washed ourselves and reached the main temple . it was a big hall with a huge Buddha idol in front of us. we took our places and chanted some sacred shlokas .then the chief monk started bowing and we were told to bow for 108 times . the room had a very sacred atmosphere with the smell of incense and the chanting of holy words with the sound of bell we kept bowing for 108 times.
then we went to another room to listen to some holy speech by a lady monk.
we saw the sunrise from the temple which looks very heavenly from this point.
at around 8 am we had breakfast.

Our guide explaining us about how many books were stolen from Korea
afte that the guide took us for a visit to nearby library . this library hold a unique collection of many old books and documents. we learnt that during french invasion many important books and documents were stolen from this library which the korean people are now demanding back
. we could see many paper lantern with notes for the french govt asking to return the books
then we were taken to the hall again where many acitivities were wating for us
we learnt to make paper lanterns and were taught to bow in korean traditional way.and also learnt a few yogasanas.

Doing some yoga under supervision
The tea ceremony:-
Next was tea ceremony . Tea holds a very important position in Korean society. its given lots of respect and there are ways to drink the tea .
the tea ceremony was demonstrated by a lady .
she showed whole process very nicely . In Korea the green tea is very famous and its known for
its medicinal property. One lady monk described the importance of drinking green tea. we all enjoyed the tea and it was indeed very refreshing.

Demonstrating the TEA ceremony

Infront of one of the buddhist temple

Learning to paint:- Next activity was learning oriental painting.
the uniqueness is that its done with only black colour and the paint is made of coal.the paper given to us was hand made.
A famous korean artist was invited to demonstrate the process.

An oriental Painting by our teacher
all of us enjoyed doing this.even we tried to make something .
Learning the art

The first Painting. Not that bad
after the painting class there was a small break and in that time we went to the nearby souvenir shop to buy one.

around 12 noon we went to have our last meal in the temple .we changed our dresses and got ready for the departure.
we had a short photo session after that to make the journey a remarkable one.

Returning towards our bus
we paid respect to the monks who gave us a wonderful chance to stay with them and
enjoy a new way of life which is so different and refreshing .


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