Geumsansa Temple in Gimje

Sundays usually consist of early mass, a quick run and a decadent breakfast. This past Sunday, Mr. Yi invited us to a gal-bi lunch with his family. It was nice and reminiscent of post-mass Sunday lunch with my family at home.  Afterward, though, he surprised us with a query: Jeonju or a temple? Impromptu trips always make me a little nervous, but Clint and I decided a temple would be neat. And so we made our way to Gimje to visit Geumsansa Temple.

Located in the mountains of Moaksan Provincial Park, the temple sits at an elevation of 2,600 ft. From the parking area, we walked up a small market area and purchased some drinks in preparation for the hike. Quaint vendors line the road selling random souvenirs such as beads, wooden swords and even old toys from the ’80s. As I knew nothing about this temple, I was certainly not prepared for the long trek towards it. I was so relieved when we finally reached the entrance, but then discovered it was only a halfway point to the actual temple grounds.

The temple was an impressive sanctuary with prayer halls, national treasures and monastic housing for on-site monks. It wasn’t a busy day, so we were able to view the colossal statues of Buddha (38.8 ft tall!) quite freely. At the bottom wall was a fountain with mineral water flowing out from the mountains. Untainted water is magnificent!

After an hour, we were all exhausted and started heading back. Stands selling snacks called out to Little Yi, and she got some bungeoppang (fish-shaped pastries filled with red bean) for everyone. The fragrant smell of the hot pastry gave me memories of the pandan waffles my mom used to make at home, but the taste was nothing of the sort. The breading was bland, and red bean has never been a favorite of mine. Oh well, I tried it. The drive back must have been difficult for Mr. Yi as we all fell asleep and trusted him to get us back home safe and sound. A pleasant Sunday had by all!

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