SOUTH KOREA HOLIDAY: DAY 1: GAYASAN NATIONAL PARK
It was moon cake festival back home; didn’t realize the Koreans enjoyed a few days of national holiday, for the same festival, except they called it After Harvest or Thanksgiving Days for westerners. Expecting traffic congestion, we decided to fly Air Korea via KLIA to Seoul, then a transit flight to Daegu. My daughter and my sister and her husband would fly from Singapore to Seoul two hours earlier, and we would meet before our transit flight. We were misinformed that our luggage would be forwarded; an hour to check in and out for four would be time pressed. I decided to use my disability (right knee osteoarthritis, which I delay knee replacement) and and senior citizen privilege to ask for a wheelchair. It’s a faster way to bypass the long queue. It was not an abuse of privilege; I declined the offer on my return trip, though the knee was more painful after the travel.
At Daegu we were met by our driver at the local airport. The rental was US$ 400 per day; all transport charges included, except expensive admission entry fees. Daegu is located south west of Seoul, some 320 km away. It was a 8 seater van, big enough to accommodate all our luggage and us. I had my Bell’s Palsy and my relatives didn’t trust my virgin left hand drive. It took us an hour to reach our first destination.
Gayasan National Park is a Korean sacred site for Buddhist; listed under UNESCO. The park had three interesting places to visit: 1. Heinsa Temple was about 1000 years old; 2.the 15th century ancient building that housed the Tripitaka scripture, with 84,000 woodblocks, very well preserved, and the figure represented the varied human agonies; 3 Hangudung Valley with Sorgril or Sound Track, a 10 km trail hilly trail, which we did not participate. We had enough steps to climb up and down after a sleepless night flight. Lots of plants, animals, and insects for nature lovers. Many local and westerners come here to meditate, but I am uncertain what insight they may have achieved.
The huge vase were for preserving Kim Chi, a favourite Korean preserved vegetables, with salty, sweet, spicy, bitter and sweet; Kim Chi on tray were served in every Korean restaurant; they couldn’t live without it.