Why Not Rent a Car and Drive to a Mountain Temple in Korea

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A lot of Korea is like back in the states, but a bunch of it only 90% like back home. Examples include they have food that tastes like banana runts, but instead of being a candy it is an alcoholic beverage. You can buy single servings of milk at the confidence store, but flavored like banana, strawberry, green, chocolate or coffee.

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Banana runt alcohol

After our previous train “adventure” sitting on the floor of the area between cars Katy went online and prebooked us tickets to our next city which we would use as a launching point for the next 4 days.

We got to Daegu and began to look for our rental car company (more on that later). The issue was our directions had us leaving an exit from the station that was closed for construction. We found the exit and began to look for the rental company, but the issue was that somehow Katy thought we were looking for a subway line not the car rental company. We eventually found it, sporting only a 4X8 sign in English on the first floor of an office building. After a rental process that involved a lot of confusion and 45 minutes we were shown to our car and proceeded to drive to Haiensa which is a Buddhist mountain temple where we were planning on spending the night. We got there with only one navigational hiccup.

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Haiensa temple stay schedule

The main parking lot for Haiensa is 3/4 of a mile downhill from the site and due to not being able to read the signs and some caution we decided to walk there from the main parking lot (we later discovered you could drive right up to where we were staying, but we would not have found it without walking down the road).

We checked into the temple stay and were given our temple outfits/costumes to wear. We were then assigned rooms and normally men and women are segregated but since there were only six of us each couple was given their own room. The rooms were traditional rooms with mats to sleep on and a heating system built into the floor. Like all things in Korea each room in the temple did have its own wifi router… The issue with the heating system in the temple was two fold, it was set at “sweltering” without a control to decrease it and since you sleep on mats on the floor it makes your sleeping surface really warm and it hard to sleep.

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Temple clothes and steep steps

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We then walked around the temple and each time we came back to the room I put on another layer since it was cold (read so cold that ice formed overnight) and we had on thin cotton pants. We were then given an orientation of the temple and went to dinner. You were not suppose to talk during dinner and you were suppose to finish every last grain of rice on your plate. Dinner was purple rice (good), a mushroom root vegetable stew (good), turnips (bad), potato pancakes (good), bland soup, and lotus root (fair).

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We then went to the evening ceremony which started with three monks playing the drum and ringing the bell. We then went to the main temple and participated in the chanting ceremony. There were only two monks there since it is the time before the monks winter retreat and a lot are “on vacation”. We then went back to our room (read sauna) and I promptly fell asleep 7pm, not before opening the door and putting my mattress right in front of it. We woke up at 3am (I got a full 8 hours of sleep) and bundled up and ventured out in the sub 30* weather to hear them play their before ceremony drums. We then went to the temple and there were about 20 monks and the chanting was pretty magical in the cold morning. Luckily neither Katy nor I was the person who fell over transitioning during their prostrations. After additional sleep and breakfast which was very similar to dinner we attempted a hike, but below freezing temperatures combined with a more than stiff breeze stymied our attempt to reach the top of the mountain 100 yards in.

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Our rental car in the mini one different than all the others parked next to where we were staying

After walking around some of the extended complex for a bit we headed to tea time with a monk. Which was less about tea and a lot more about talking with a monk for an hour. We then ate lunch and got back in our trusty rental car and started toward our next destination Gyeongji.

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