While Christianity has a significant presence in Korea, Buddhism also has a large following as well. On a typical weekend off from teaching in Baebang, I decided to seek out out local temple. After hiking into the hills above my town through rice and kimchi farms, I finally reached its hallowed grounds. When you are faced with a view like the one displayed above, how could you not build a shrine to your deity of choice?
Despite arriving at its doorstep on a weekend afternoon, all was quiet. Perfect for a spot of exploration and a rare moment of serenity in a nation as crowded as South Korea…
Buddhism has a huge influence in Thailand, with 95% of the population claiming Thervada Buddhism as their religion. As such, there are many exotic (to us foreigners, that is) golden and brass houses of worship across the country, along with countless centuries old brick stupas. When you walk into these sacred places, there are a number of different things you might see, ranging from idols that honour various animals, to gold leaf covered Buddha statues. One thing that I always scope out a temple for though are the sayings of the Buddha. Frequently, you will signs in Thai and English, imparting the wisdom of the Buddha to visitors.
Generally speaking, temples, ruins, and other architectural attractions don’t really peak my interest while I am travelling. Usually, I tend to be drawn towards natural attractions, like mountains, beaches, hiking trails, and so forth.
However, some human heritage sites are just so spectacular and breathtaking in their scale, that they cry out to be explored. The Grand Palace in Bangkok Thailand is one such place. Scores of ornately designed buildings, plotted out in the Buddhist tradition, capture your imagination. The spires, pagodas, and Buddha statues are decorated in brass, gold leaf, and flecks of mirror-like glass, testaments to the wealth and creativity of the Kingdom of Siam.