Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Last Friday I didn't have to work so I decided to do something that I messed up on the first attempt, and visited Haeinsa temple. Haeinsa is about a 90 minute bus ride from Daegu, for most of which due to crowding I had the small seat right at the front of the bus where the steps to get on are. Hence I managed to take a few photos of the landscape on the way that look similar to this one.
After arriving it was a slight walk to the temple (about 1.2km, so I'm not complaining. It was nothing compared to that damned mountain on Jeju) which is a reasonably large complex. There is at least a dozen buildings and two courtyards. In the first courtyard there was a sort of labyrinth, although I guess it was really more of a path to walk while meditating than an actual maze. Also in the main courtyard they had a big fire going. It looked like they were just burning paper, but at times ash would fall from the fire throughout the temple.

The highlight of Haeinsa temple though is the Tripitaka Koreana, a collection of over 80,000 hand carved wooden blocks containing the oldest and most comprehensive collection of Buddhist writing in Chinese characters. There are four buildings containing the wood blocks that were specially built centuries ago to house the blocks.When you look at it the sheer density of writing is amazing. It is like looking at a huge and ancient library. Well, it's not like looking at a huge and ancient library. It is looking at a huge and ancient library. I think if the Library of Alexandria were still around visiting that would be a similar experience. The Library of Congress might get there if it's still around in a few hundred years.

One curiosity I did notice was the special fire extinguishers they have. Obviously for something as precious as the wooden blocks your ordinary put out the flame and damn the consequences to the burning stuff type extinguisher won't quite make the grade with the guys looking after these. It was the first time I've seen a silver fire extinguisher. I've seen red and yellow before, but never silver.

After wandering around the temple for a while and taking pictures until the battery on my camera ran out (I hadn't charged it since before going to Jeju, and that was only the second time I'd charged it so it does all right, but I should have thought of it before) after which I took pictures with my phone instead. I had a look through the accompanying museum, but there wasn't much to read about the items on display. It was however while I was in the museum that the rain started, and didn't stop until almost an hour later. At one point while the rain was light I made a move for the bus stop, but it started getting heavy and ducked under the umbrella of an old lady selling fruit. I braved the heavy rain when the lady told me my bus had just turned up, but it was full to the brim so I spent another 20 odd minutes standing in the slight shelter the ticket booth provided until the rain stopped. Then it was another twenty minutes until the next bus arrived, and 90 minutes back to Daegu. All in all, a good trip.

I'll put a few more pictures up here, and there are more on my flickr page.The largest building in the temple
The wood blocks on their shelves
A stone thingy

End Post
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