Last weekend, UNESCO Korea gave me a wonderful opportunity to visit one of the most sacred temples in South Korea. First, we started our day early in the morning in Seoul to catch the tour bus. After about 4-5 hours, we arrived the beautiful Gayasan National Park. Below Gayasan, is where our first destination began. Haeinsa holds 2 of Korea’s National Treasures: The Tripitaka Koreana and Janggyeongpanjeon. The Tripitaka Koreana is a collection of 81,258 wooden printing blocks which includes some of the world’s oldest Buddhist scripts. The Janggyeongpamjeon is the shelter that houses the Tripikata Koreana. Mind you, this is not a modern depository, these were constructed hundreds of years ago and it is amazing that these shelters can keep the Tripikata intact in perfect condition for so long.
After checking out these amazing treasures, the tour group and I had a chance to walk around and sightsee this historic temple complex. I have been to countless temples in Korea, but this one sets the standard. It has a huge courtyard with a maze built in and supposedly if you successfully walk through the maze, all your sins will be removed. Also, take note that Haeinsa has a Temple Stay program during the weekends. If you ever want to feel enlightened or feel the mindset of a Buddhist, I would highly recommend taking part in a temple stay. After spending an hour or so here, UNESCO Korea took us to our next destination, Geoje Island!
UNESCO Korea provided our tour group with accommodations at the stunning Hotel Riviera in Geoje. The next morning, we set out on a boat to Oedo Island. First, the tour boat took us around the Haegeumgang Island. This enormous rock island is a sight to see and what is even more amazing is when the captain cruised into the Haegeumgang cave so that we can get a closer look. The towering sides will make your mouth drop as the height of the island is astonishing. After spending a few minutes here, the tour boat arrived at Oedo Island or as I like to think of it, the floating botanical garden. Basically, the entire island is one enormous manicured botanical garden. The credit goes to Lee Chang Ho and his wife who came to this island and started creating this beauty in 1969. There is a section near the entrance that has pictures and other memorabilia of this wonderful couple. In the island, you will find various plants, flowers, and sculptures from all over the world. To my understanding, every season looks completely different from the last. In the Spring, the flowers are blooming everywhere. During Summer, a lot of greenery can be seen as well. During Fall, the island transforms into an orange and brown beauty. In the winter, a wonderland of white and blue. There are a lot of things to see so make sure to pace yourself because the boats only give you an hour and thirty minutes to roam around the entire island.