Friday, October 12, 2012

The Flowers that Were: Bulgupsa

A single Sangsahwa (상사화) flower stands in front of Yeonggwang County's Bulgup Temple (불굽사).
After having seen a number of photos over the past few weeks of friends lounging in fields of vivid pink flowers, two friends and I decided to spend the last day of our long weekend out at the temple where these flowers were supposedly located. 
Unfortunately however, we arrived too late. Fields which had, only the week previous, looked like this: 

A photo of sangsawha in full bloom.
looked instead like this:
A field of sangsawha when they're... well... not in bloom.

To make matters even more entertaining, not only were the flowers gone, but temple renovations had just begun!
A half-finished paint job.

A crane stands over Bulgupsa, ready to held the men with the roofing.

Artisans sanding the guardian statues for repainting.

In spite of all of this, we had an absolutely lovely day. The weather was perfect and the temple grounds are not only vast, but they encompass groomed parkland, a reservoir and lovely hiking trails.

A view of the temple grounds.

Some ripe persimmon. I really need to try one one of these days - especially now that they're everywhere!

Our desire to see at least one sangsawha before we left also lead us on a merry flower chase -which mysteriously involved walking the hiking trails despite my having just hiked Seoraksan only two days previous. Here were some of our finds:

Some lovely orange... ... ... yikes... so we can tell I'm not a plant person... species designation anyone?

Not exactly flowers, but beautiful non-the-less.

A new-found friend.

Playing around at the Indian-style pavilion.

Still scouring the grounds. Unfortunately all of these were also dead.


We found one! Although it was sadly withered, we knew this meant there had to be more!
Wandering around the reservoir.

Another! This one healthy too!

Trying to capture the magic.

Rising out of the remains of summer.

Look! A whole er...  patch?
Although Bulgupsa is not one of Korea's more famous temples, I think it certainly deserves to be. Not only are the grounds stunning, it was one of the foremost places for Buddhism during the Baekje Kingdom period (particularly around the late 300s AD). The way we encountered (what remained of) the sangsawha was also pretty fitting. The flower is extremely important to Buddhism, symbolising the power of unrequited love, as the flowers and leaves never appear at the same time!
A prelude of what`s to come. The afternoon sun shines down on fields of  ripe golden rice.

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