Seongbulsa Temple in Ulleung-Do




     After three years in Korea, I've been to all kinds of temples.  I've been to temples deep in the forest, and I've been to temples tucked into mountains, I've been to temples sitting on the edge of the sea, waves and water crashing against the rocks.  I've been to temples in the middle of one of the world's largest cities and temples in the middle of nowhere.  I've been to big temples, sprawling complexes with dozens of buildings, monks wandering the grounds, monks, sitting cross-legged, their chants echoing off the surrounding mountains.  I've been to temples where I take a hundred pictures and every single one has a person holding a Galaxy note high above their heads snapping photo after photo and I've been to temples where it was me, and Sara, and nothing else.  And now I've been to a tiny temple.  One building, one statue.  

     With Ulleung-do's Mt. Songgatsan rising behind it, Seongbulsa sits at the top of a one-lane road so steep it's nearly vertical.   It took some real balls just to put the pedal to the floor and power our rented Hyundai to the top, that's how steep the road is.  But Korea's magic always happens at the end of roads like this.  Road's that wind and climb, broken roads, dirt roads, roads that disappear into forests and rice fields, roads that challenge the limits of whatever vehicle I happen to be driving that day.  At the top, a few houses, some gardens, and Seongbulsa temple.  The location is dramatic, breathtaking, peaceful.  To the north, the East Sea, reaching out as far as the eye will carry.  To the west, Mt. Songgatsan with it's iconic arched rock staring down like an eye carved in stone.  Finally, to the south, the fertile crest of Ulleung-do's volcanic crater, lines of green trees rolling over the top and down into Nori Basin, the heart of the now extinct volcano that formed this island.

     If you make it to Pohang or Mukho and you make it on the ferry to Ulleung-do, and you make it to Dodong Harbor and you make it past the seawalk and the squid drying in the sun and the rocky beaches and the crystal clear water, make sure you make it to Seongbulsa Temple.  After all that travel, it's definitely worth a look. As always, here's 10 pictures and some foolish comments.
  


Walking up from the parking lot, the whole scene is just impressive. Makes you feel good to be alive.


Here's the one building.


Here's the one statue.  Look at that mountain, look at those trees, what a beautiful spot.




The whole temple is surrounded by beautiful stuff.  


We were almost alone at this temple, so we took the opportunity to take this shot.





Every city in Korea has two little cartoon character dudes that they slap on stickers and signs and turn into statues.  For some reason, behind the temple, the squid and the pumpkin of Ulleung-do were hanging out, waiting for the grass to overtake them.


We usually don't drink the water we find, but this Ulleung-do water was just so clear and fresh looking, we had to try it.  It was cool and delicious and so far our stomachs haven't fallen out yet, so I think it's ok to drink.
If you go over that hill, you go into the volcano crater, an area lush and green and flat.  A rare combination in Korea and one that makes the land fantastic for growing crops.


Everyone on the island was really nice.   The people that took this picture ended up riding with us to Nori Basin.  When we got into the crater, they bought us corn as a thank you!  

     I have one or two more Ulleung-do posts left, and then it's back to Pohang and Gyeongsangbuk-do.  I'm hoping next week to get to Gyeongju and take a few pictures of the former capital of the Silla dynasty.

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