Just to the west of Ganghwa Island is another, smaller island, Seongmodo.
Ganghwa is connected to the mainland by bridge, but Seongmodo is not connected to anywhere by bridge. Therefore, one goes to Seongmodo by taking a ferry from Ganghwa.
Naturally, Seongmodo is even more sparsely populated and rural than Ganghwa.
The major tourist attraction on Seongmodo is Bomunsa – a Buddhist people where people tend to go to pray for sons. Yep, traditional Korean culture much prefers the birth of males over the birth of females.
Then again, since this was a weekend, I suspect most of the visitors just wanted a day out and were no motivated by religion or or a desire for sons.
So, if I am going to some obscure island off the west coast of South Korea, it means I
want to add another name to the list of islands I’ve visited expected this temple to be nice, even after visiting many other Buddhist temples in South Korea. At least, the guidebook promised it was a nice temple.
Above, you can see the entrance to the cave part of the temple, as well as a special old pine tree. The photograph below show how the pine tree looks from behind.
So, it’s a nice looking temple, but what’s special about it?
Well, there is this staircase…
And when you go up the stairs, you can start seeing views…
You can sit down midway.
And see more views.
And if you look down…
… you can see the temple from above.
So what’s at the top of the stairs?
It’s a carving of a Buddha on a rock face.
As far as I know, this carving is not particularly old, nor has any particular story associated with it, unlike the giant stone carving of a Buddha in Woraksan National Park.
Ah yes, there is one more thing to look at…
Down there is the little village just outside the temple, and something that looks like mud flats (the the west coast of South Korea is known as one of the great mudflat areas of the world…
And there’s the west sea. I imagine, if I had come in clearer weather, or if I had come in the morning instead of the afternoon, this could have been a more beautiful sight.
Even though I had gotten a bit temple-weary at this point … that’s counterbalanced by the fact that Korean Buddhist Temples tend to look beautiful in general. And aside from the temples by Sanbangsan, I hadn’t seen any other sea-side temples.