Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mt. Mudeung

Today the weather was actually good enough to take a trip out to the mountains! One of the great things I love about living in Gwangju is the proximity to these gorgeous mountains. (Back home it takes you at least 3 hours to get to the Appalachians, so 20 minutes or so is awesome!)

Clare, Mike, Ivana and I set out about 2:30, driving out in Clare's car. There are bu
ses that go up to the mountain, and I'll have to keep those in mind for future trips. But once you get to the edge of the city by the mountain, you start the windy uphill climb, and it reminds me of those car test drives on the commercials. There was that much winding around, up and down, what a roller coaster of a trip.

Anyway, about halfway up, we stopped at this temple that was dedicated to a great General who fought there in
a campaign against invading Chinese forces long ago. There was a little museum with his traditional clothing and armor inside, as well as huge paintings of the battle scenes. Up at the top of the hill was an altar where incense burned and one could pay his/her respects by bowing to the General's image on the wall. People come here to pay their respects for what he did against the Chinese invaders.

After that, we headed further up the mountain. Like any tourist destination, there are the ubiquitous restaurants and shops hoping to lure in money. But there was also a cool eco-friendly park that we went to on the way back. It's very good for walking and the large lake is gorgeous. Clare took some portraits of us by the lake, so I hope to have those from her soon. My camera died halfway through our trip, otherwise I would have more pictures to show. Another trip, no worry!

One of the coolest parts of the trip (besides all the awesome scenery) was drinking green tea at a traditional tea house. This very nice elderly woman set out cups and all the fixings f
or us. There's a precise ritual for preparing the tea for drinking, and I wouldn't be able to describe it accurately enough. It's something that needs to be seen and experienced in person to fully appreciate it. But green tea is very tasty, and has great health benefits. We also had green tea rice cake to eat on the side, and that was good as well. I've eaten so much rice in its many different forms since I got here, it's crazy to think about it. I got some pictures of the temple, and the beautiful cherry blossoms and other flowering trees coming into bloom now that spring is approaching. I hope you will enjoy the pictures!

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