설악산 Seo-rak san, South Korea
I spent 2 months in South Korea and one of the things I wanted to do is to honour the mountains of Korea, as I love hillwalking and feel deeply inspired by the sheer beauty of these places.
Korean people have a special connection with the mountains as these constitute 70% of the land. Mountains are considered as powerful spirits by many shamans who venerate them as mountain Gods or san shin 산신
"The Sanshin faith is interpreted in the folk scene as a belief devoted to the mountain gods. The mountain's beauty, its mystery, and the perceived shape that soars toward the sky are combined to inspire mountain worship on an emotional level" (source wikipedia).
I went to walk in the stunning mountains of Seo rak, which is the highest area of the Taebaek mountains. I was blessed to witness the mesmerising beauty of autumn and snow started to fall on the peak of Seo-rak.
There are moments of pure bliss in life where I could simply die and have no regrets, on top of Seo rak, I felt this way...
북한산 Buk han san, Seoul
Buk han san is one of my favourite mountain as it is right in the outskirts of Seoul, however it is extremely popular with Seoulites as shown on the picture. There was a long queue to access the top of the mountain :-)
The weather was so gorgeous and it is quite a steep walk towards the end, almost rock-climbing as the boulders are very round and can be slippery but it is worth the effort and I felt a real sense of expansion in my body overlooking the vastness of Seoul.
태백산 Korean yew tree, Tae baek mountains
The Tae baek mountains are considered sacred for many reasons as these mountains are tied with the Korean myth of creation where God send his son on Earth on these mountains with the Spirit of Rain, Cloud and Wind. But also because two of the major South Korean rivers originate from these mythical mountains, the Han river that goes to the West and Nak dong river which goes to the east of Korea.
I climbed the Tae baek mountains on the day of "opening of heaven" celebrated on the 3rd of October but it was so misty that I could barely see anything.
With Meesha Goldberg, a beautiful fellow artist, we met the care-takers at one of the temples in Tae baek who told us that the Nak dong river starts from 황지연못 Hwang Ji Yeon Mot, in the city of Tae baek where there is a beautiful pond, which is considered as a healing place for the people of Tae baek. We had a magical time in the temple, we were offered food and tea, the food was so fresh and delicious.
Meesha fell in love with the giant tree just outside the temple, we learnt from the temple's caretakers that the tree was over 500 years old and many people from all over Korea come to pray by that tree.
Gwan hak san, Seoul 관학산
This is another amazing small mountain walk in Seoul, there is this tiny but beautiful temple called 연주대 Yeon ju, which is right on the edge of the cliff. I entered the temple and the view from there is absolutely stunning with the red lotus lantern floating in the wind. I bowed to the beauty of the mountains and expressed my prayer of gratitude for being alive and healthy, allowing me to experience the beauty of this place.
I received so much from these mountains of Korea, may I share all that I received with generosity, grace and humility!