Tag Archives: Cheonan

Gagwonsa Temple: A Chief Cultural Attraction In Cheonan, South Korea

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With South Korea having the rich past that it does, its not long after a foreigner arrives here before they go searching for relics of its heritage.  As such, I also went looking for the most vaunted cultural attraction in Cheonan, Gagwonsa Temple, within the first few months of being settled in South Korea (little did I know that it would be close to the end of my stay there, but c’est la vie).

Located up on the slopes of Taejosan above the rapidly growing industrial, high-tech and research city of Cheonan, this place is one of serenity and peace from the hustle and bustle present in the streets below.

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After taking a bus from the entertainment district of Cheonan, I arrived in the relaxing mountain village that lies just below the temple complex itself.  After a bit of a walk in the sweltering 32 degree heat (not counting the heat index), I finally made it to the most famous sight of Gagwonsa – The Bronze Buddha…

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Noted as one of the largest sitting Buddhas in Asia, it was a worthwhile sight to see on this day … but there was still more exploring to be done.

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To those not familiar with Asian religious history, the symbol of the swastika on these venerated temple structures may come as a bit of a shock.  They were used as Hindu and Buddhist symbols for thousands of years before the Nazis co-opted this icon for their own nefarious purposes.

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Heading down into the courtyard, I simply couldn’t come here without taking a look inside…

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Shoes off before going in!

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I wasn’t sure if cameras were frowned within the inner sanctum, so I snapped a pic before stepping inside.  Anyone in the know about this, please inform me on the proper protocol!

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I was going to go on a mountain hike on this day, but with the heat so overwhelming on this day, I thought better of it on this day and turned back at this point. Summer is a terrible time to go peak bagging in Korea, spring or fall is your best bet!

Do you have a favorite local temple in Korea where you live?  Have you visited one on holiday here?  Tell all in the comments below!

Photo: Waegook Comedy Night In Cheonan, South Korea

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When you’re in a homogeneous place like South Korea, where less than 1% of the population are foreigners more or less like you, sometimes you gotta band together to avoid feeling overwhelmed sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, cultural immersion is rad and all, but sometimes you crave the company of people that share your collective societal experiences and that speak your language.  Cheonan, despite being a smaller city by Korea standards (600,000), has an expat community that is larger than normal, making for a lively community.

One thing that went on here during my time in Cheonan was a comedy night.  Apparently, if you are crazy enough to drop everything and move to a foreign country completely different from your own, it also engenders a wicked sense of humor within you!

Despite the thin pool to draw from, most of the guys you see above are from the area (a few parachuted in from Seoul), and did a bang up job bringing the house down with guffaws, snorts, and all-out barrages of belly laughter.

It was certainly one of my most memorable nights in Cheonan, as I also went bar crawling with most of these gents after the show (many bars stay open until the sun rises in Korea on the weekends!).

Live(d) in Korea? If so, how is (was) the expat social scene in your city/town?

Photo: A Park … In Korea?? With GRASS!?!

Park in Cheonan Korea

Throughout much of Korea, land is used to the maximum extent.  There are 50 million people living in a country that is smaller than the State of Ohio (or the island of Newfoundland, for my Canadian readers).

These people need a place to live, food to eat, and places to work.  Complicating things further is the fact that 70% of the land in South Korea is mountainous, severely limiting what can be built or grown there.

Parks as we know them in North America or Europe are very rare in South Korea for the reasons stated in the previous paragraph.

This makes the green space shown above that much more striking, as it contains an abundance of the parkland we take for granted back home.  Of course, this is South Korea, so signs of urbanity are never far behind.

The towers in the background is the new, dynamic Korea showing its much prettier face, a breath of fresh air from the commie block style apartments that litter just about every town and city in this country.

Cheonan is a rapidly growing area 1 and 1/2 hours drive south of Seoul, so the relatively underdeveloped land here made for an interesting experiment in cutting-edge architectural design, paired with green principles.

Not only is there a spacious park with easy walking distance of this mixed use tower, there are wind turbines and sports facilities on the other side of the hill, making this place the leading edge of a healthier way of life for people in Cheonan, and hopefully in the long run, for all people in South Korea.

A Look Around My Former Home in Korea, Baebang

Optimized-IMG_0384The streets of Baebang outside my apartment on the first morning at 8am

After shaking off the jetlag that accompanies a trip to the other side of the world, it was time to take a look around the community that would be my home for the next year. Baebang, unknown outside of Korea (and likely the Asan-Cheonan area) is considered to be a town by Korean standards, with a population of approximately 30,000.

While many places this size are a dime a dozen in this country, Baebang has a vibrant feel to it, due to the rapid economic growth it is experiencing due to the presence and continuing expansion of the Korean electronics company, Samsung.

Let’s go for a little stroll and see what’s here, shall we?

IMG_0386The view from the top of my five storey building, overlooking the Eastern portion of Baebang town.

Optimized-IMG_0395This is what the mailboxes look like over here … mail theft, what’s that? 😛

Optimized-IMG_0418An exercise machine in my neighbourhood … back pain? Rub up against it grizzly bear style and knead those cramps away!

Optimized-IMG_0421Many colourful flowers blossom in the long, hot summers that grace the Korean Peninsula. On a major street near the downtown area, we see a display of floral beauty that brighten the sometimes gritty urban landscape that you see throughout Korea.

Optimized-IMG_0426In Korea, with 50 million people hemmed into an area the size of Ohio or the island of Newfoundland, and with 70% of that land being comprised of mountains, land available to grow food is at a premium. Therefore, every square inch of land that can be used for growing food, usually is, even in the midst of urban areas. Here, a vacant lot is used to grow onions if I’m not mistaken…

IMG_0424At the back of the town site, an amazing site repeated almost everywhere throughout Korea … beautifully shaped mountains towering over their respective towns and cities. Korea is a wonderland for the hiking enthusiast … it’s just a shame I didn’t get a chance to scale one of these beauties (due to the heat, and my sudden … erm … exit from the country)

As I alluded to in the title of this post, I am no longer in Korea, as of August 16. I pulled a midnight run from my private English institute for reasons that shall be disclosed soon (by the end of this month).

Right now, I am typing this from a comfy hostel bed in Bangkok, Thailand. My focus over the next week will be to de-stress from everything that happened in the past two weeks or so. To that end, I’m headed to Koh Chang, hoping for a little sun in the midst of the rainy season (we shall see).

Until next time, I’ll leave you with this: Do you, or have you ever lived in Korea, away from Busan or Seoul? What was your town/city like? Tell me about it in the comments below!

In Motion: My Korean Apartment Tour – Live From Baebang, South Korea!

My Korean kitchen ... cosy, but many tasty meals were made here!

Hey guise! Sorry for the silence over the past month or so. With the major adjustments that come with moving overseas and working as an ESL teacher, I have struggled with falling back into a routine with respect to online work.

Now that things seem to be falling into place, I will getting back on the horse, which means finishing the Philippines, the start of posts on South Korea, as well as a variety of new content related to outdoor adventure and excitement in general.

Today’s post is my entry into the vast trove of Korean apartment videos. I had fears of moving into a rickety tar paper shack. Thankfully, South Korea is a first world, super modern country, and those fears are largely unfounded. A few holes owned by shady Hagwon owners do exist, but they are in the minority.

Check out my Korean apartment tour below, and enjoy!