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…
Unlike more elaborate inner sanctums that one would find in halls of worship in places like Seoul, Beijing or Bangkok, Baebang has kept things simple, with a small idol of the lord Buddha accompanied by offerings of abundance and sublime style elements.
One thing I wasn’t able to figure out during my time in this country was the purpose behind altars built in the honor of seemingly prominent Koreans. Not sure who this guy was, but I’m sure he was integral to the building up of this nation, or at least this community.
Ever visit a non-descript temple, church, or mosque that captured your heart? Let us know below!
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.
The above saying is particularly apt in today’s modern world. Technology has us constantly distracted, deflecting attention from the things that truly matter in the real world: beauty, the taste of food, the laughter of a friend, and so on. Also, the careful considerations of one’s actions could make a huge difference in the life of many people. So often, we live our lives on autopilot, making automatic decisions that may be creating sub-optimal results in our everyday lives. By questioning seemingly easy decisions that we take for granted, we may, as the sign says above, begin to prosper where prosperity had not been present before.
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.
At 500 baht ($16.50 USD), the entry fee is steep, but if you are a fan of Thai design, it is well worth the money!