|The beautiful Pagoda at Golgulsa ( 골굴사 - lit. Stone Buddha Temple) 20km East of Gyeongju.|
|Did I mention that the monks also train in archery? 'Cause they do!|
|They grow a number of their own crops.|
|And have horses!|
|A view of their training grounds.|
|Hiking up the trail to the temple proper with some of my fellow Gwangju-ites.|
|Sunmudo demonstration. These are done daily and are free for any and all visitors (though donations are welcome).|
Notice the sign. Even temples are not immune to politics. It claims Dokdo Island (ownership disputed with Japan) as Korean.
|Training: Bear-walking down a steep slope.|
|The trainees noticed my camera.|
|And decided to impress!|
While the fact that Golgulsa is the home of Sunmudo was certainly a draw, another was the beauty and history of the temple itself.
|You can see one of the shrines through the holes in the rock.|
|The stone Buddha, carved in the 6th century when Buddhism was still just making it's mark on Korea .|
|Practising our moves|
|I, unfortunately, have no pictures of the morning's chanting or meditation - both seated and walking - services. Something felt wrong about having a camera at those. Please enjoy the view of the sun peeking out after our breakfast though!|
|The monks' quarters.|
|A beautiful blue day (it was not even 9 am at this point) and a view of the rocky outcropping that is home to the shrines and the stone Buddha.|
|The morning view.|
|Fall pumpkins sit outside one of the buildings at Girim Temple (기림사) on the slopes of Mt Hamwol (The same mountain which houses Golgulsa).|
|Initially built in 643AD, but later renovated twice at the turn of the 20th century after being burnt down, Girimsa is a wonderfully colourful temple.|
|The oldest section. All but the base and lowest tiers of this pagoda are original.|
|The guardians of the gate.|
|Meditating by the sea.|
|Playing in the surf (very un-zen, I know ;)).|
|Sunday edition - Complete with cymbals. (such a struggle not to type symbols there, though I assure you, the latter were present too!|
|This was also phenomenal. Perhaps most astonishing however, was their choice of music.|
Pachelbel Canon anyone?
|Posing with the master!|
Easily one of my favourite experiences thus far, this stay was so totally worth it! Another aspect that I truly loved but did not photograph was our tea time with the monks during which they were open to any questions or discussion. I will say though that only having the one night (especially on a weekend, when training occurs only once a day, and not twice) was not sufficient. I definitely recommend staying for 2 nights (or more?). There were some at the temple who had been there training for nearly a year! May you all feel peace & tranquility this Chuseok weekend, I'm off to bed before I head off hiking this weekend!