Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Namsan, Samneung Valley
On our last weekend in Daegu, we decided we'd rather spend it in Gyeongju, and took a ride back out to Namsan, as promised.
With Fina and Cello in tow, i wasn't sure how far up the valley we'd get, but hoped to see at least a few Buddhas.
The first we came across was a bit of a headless lump and a worn-out old stone, and not much to stop for. Just a short way further up the hill, though, was another headless Buddha, but exquisite, other than the missing melon... I imagine it would have been amazing in its entirety.
Two woman were there bowing and lighting incense, which they kindly shared with Fina when she showed interest. They were also kind enough to point out a small trail up the cliff to a Guanseum Bosal (Avalokiteśvara) carving that we otherwise never would have known about. It was a very short climb, just behind and above a few trees, and you could feel the pleasantness pouring out from the granite. Near the top of a small, narrow outcropping was a fairly worn, slightly crude, but entirely beautiful Gwanseum.
Though fina generally likes Buddha, she is sometimes scared by large statues, so when she asked who the carving was, i told her it was Buddha's girlfriend, which she found quite amusing! I hope no beings were offended!
Carrying on for a few more minutes, where the valley started getting steep, we found what might be best described as two murals chiseled into the faces of two massive stones. They both have a central Buddha image with Bodhisattvas on each side. It was another amazing spot to soak in and enjoy for a few minutes.
Though my goal is always the peak, Eunbong's goal was to get to a restaurant ASAP, but there was one more Buddha I really wanted to find. Fortunately for everyone involved, it happened to be the next one up the trail, a very well preserved, though extensively restored, Gautama Buddha. Fina just about lost her mind going up, and mine along with it, since she'd heard the mention of food a few minutes before (I forgot to bring gimbap!), so it wasn't the moment I'd envisioned, perhaps sitting for a few minutes, if not doing 108 bows or some quiet chanting...
I did manage to calm Fina down long enough to get a few photos before strapping her back into her seat and lugging her back down the mountain. We sang some nursery rhymes and she did her take on the abc's until she passed out. We'd spent an hour and a half slowly going up, but it was only twenty minutes back to royal tombs that marked the trail entrance. The sun was just over the mountains, lighting the land in reddish-gold warmth. It tinted the twisted pine forest with a touch of magic as we came down.
Once we got back, we drove to a famous restaurant where they make a unique style of bibimbap, and the best bowl of bibimbap I've ever had! Instead of the usual spicy cause, it's made from fermented soy-bean paste mixed with mashed "gondalbi", a green that looks something like a giant strawberry leaf.
Of course, I would have really like to have seen more of Namsan, but even when we lived in Bundang, we made occasional trips to Gyeongju. Hopefully, I'll be back again before too long. I still don't know why I let so many years go by without exploring it!