After dropping Boy 2 off at Kindergarten, we headed for another adventure with Grammy. We went to the Inwangsan Shamanist village, we saw Seoul’s most famous shamanist shrine,visited small Buddhist temples and hiked along part of Seoul’s fortress wall. This tour is a “do it yourself” type tour, we only had our Lonely Planet Seoul guide book to help us along this journey. It took us a little while to find where we were going, and along the way we met a great lady from New York who was trying to find the same area. She ended up hanging out with us all day. This was one of my favorite days while Grammy was here. (Come to think of it, I could say that about all the days)
At the Entrance......
This bronze bell, which was very unique, marked the entrance to Bongwonsa, the largest of the temples.
This paintings on the entrance gate doors depict the guardian kings of heaven who protect Buddhists from evil and harm.
This next picture is of Guksadang, Seoul's most famous shamanist shrine. The shrine is small, but many of the paintings inside are historic and valuable.
The alter is often loaded with offerings of food for the spirits - rice cakes, fresh fruit, meat and a pig's head. Shamanists believe that the dead still need food and drink. The picture below is the best I could get of the alter, however it does not do it justice. The alter lined the room, and was overflowing with the most colorful assortment of delicious looking foods.
I could not get a good picture because they were having a traditional Shamanist ceremony and I did not want to interrupt the ceremony. The ceremony, which is called a gut, is done by a female shamanist priest, she dances herself into a frenzied state which allows her to communicate with the spirits and be possessed by them. We watched and listened to part of this dance, and I must say it made me quite uncomfortable, one for looking in on such a sacred event, and two, because the female priest was very scary, she was dancing around with a huge knife and pitch fork and I wasn’t too sure she wasn’t aiming for me! I got out of dodge soon after she made eye contact with me.
After gawking at this interesting ceremony for a while, we headed up higher to find the Zen rocks (Seonbawi) which are supposed to look like a Salvador Dali painting. The Zen rocks are 2 rocks that have been so eroded that they look like two robed monks. (I didn’t see that) At the alter in front of the rocks, women still come here to pray for a son
As we continued our hike, we ran into an exercise park. Remember I told you about these in a previous post. Hubby and I "worked out" for a little while, while Grammy was having a cow about there being a workout park half way up the hike. She thought the hike was enough of a work out. J
Once we made it to the top, the view was absolutely amazing! Here are a few shots of Seoul from the top of Inwangsan.
In the first picture below you can see the fortress wall, which we hiked beside on our way down.
In the second picture you can see one of the palaces we toured if you look closely. (The low buildings with the dark roofs)
Eventually we started our decent. We did not go down the way the guide recommended. Hubby always likes to go off on his own and find different ways to torcher us, so he took us off the beaten path. We didn’t always have a very clear path on the way down.
The poor New Yorker that went with us was wearing flip flops, although they were comfortable looking flip flops, they were still flip flops.
The picture below is of Hubby and Grammy comming down the hill.
After our hike we stopped in a traditional Korean restaurant where Grammy ordered bibimbap. Now when you have bibimbap, they give you a side of red spicy sauce that you mix in your dish to add a little heat (there is usually already some in it). This red spicy sauce is just that, VERY SPICY. Well, Grammy dumped almost the entire bowl of red spicy sauce in her bibimbap. When the lady that works at the restaurant saw this she came running over and started scooping the sauce out talking in very fast Korean shaking her head no the entire time. (Just for the record, Hubby and I did not see Grammy do this or we would have stopped her) The lady did her best trying to scoop out the red sauce, and then finished mixing Grammy’s dish for her. Grammy tried to be the trooper and eat the bibimbap, but it was very spicy and Grammy was soon sweating bullets. After a few minutes the lady brought Grammy a new bowl of bibimbap and mixed the entire thing for her.