23 June 2012
I met her in Year 5, an exchange student from Seoul. After all this time, I’ve held onto those childhood memories and for a few years, feared the worst when she moved back to Seoul. Letters stopped, I changed schools and contact was lost. However, luck was by my side. I managed to track her down and funny enough, she is currently staying in Daegu, a city on my list since I’ve always wanted to visit Haeinsa Temple.The express bus terminals in Seoul are pretty straightforward and always close to a metro stop. Since it’s low season, I got a ticket on the day and everything was prompt and easy.
I really like the bus system here for its great efficiency, reasonable prices and ease. It’s a great way to see the country especially when trips are short. The four hour journey from Seoul to Daegu was comfortable with a nice short break in between.
The country is fairly mountainous with lots of empty land. After another hour or so, the bus pulled into Daegu Station and I couldn’t contain my joy – I’m minutes away from seeing my beloved friend.
“Soo-Jin! I haven’t seen you for 14 years….argh”
I held onto her tight – I had tears in my eyes. As a sentimental wreck, I was really happy to reconnect with a childhood friend. Life is short and to have a moment like this (no matter how long it may be) is worth it! The day ended with great food, a quick stop in the countryside and some quiet times with the puppies.
24 June 2012
The day was spent with Soo-Jin at Gaya Mountain where you can find Haeinsa Temple (Daegu’s most well-known attraction www.haeinsa.or.kr).
It is a millenary old temple and a symbol of Korean Buddhism, Haeinsa temple is a holy place located at Gaya Mountain some 400 m above sea level. It is most notable for being the home of Buddhist scriptures carved onto 81,350 wooden printing blocks.
Found by two Korean monks, the temple was first built in 802 and renovated in 1488, 1622 and 1644. It was burned down in a fire in 1817 and rebuilt in 1818.
Haeinsa was nearly bombed during the Korean war (1951). UN forces were ordered to bomb Haeinsa since 1000 North Korean soldiers still remained around the area. The leader of the four air force bombers did not obey the command since he knew that the Tripitaka Koreana (wood carvings) are priceless. The storage room faces southwest to avoid the damp winds and no part of the room is exposed to the sun. The windows are used for ventilation and the clay floor absorbs the humidity.
The storage halls for the 81,258 Tripitaka Koreana woodblocks were designated by the government as a national treasure of Korea on December 20, 1962. It was built at the highest point of the temple with windows that are good for ventilation and clay floors to reduce humidity.
After the visit, I headed down Gaya Mountain with Soo-Jin and she told me that if we have more time then we could totally enrol in the temple stay program which allows visitors to experience Buddhist culture. Apart from the temple, there are numerous gates, altars, towers, pagodas, halls and other structures around the mountain area. Daegu is such a nice city: even better when your friend is right by your side.