This afternoon, after a relaxing morning spent doing nothing in the hotel room, we caught a bus to a Buddhist temple just south of Sokcho. Originally built in the 16th century, it has been successively destroyed by the Mongols, the Japanese, the Manchu, the Korean War and most recently by a huge forest fire in April 2005.
This was a very peaceful afternoon, with highlights including walking along the “Path Where Your Dreams Come True” (the trees above this path were strewn with cobwebs, each containing spiders like Shelob’s big brother), which connected with the “Heart Fluttering Path”. At the end of the latter was the “restroom for untying worries”! The buildings were beautifully rebuilt and the views over the sea were spectacular. If you’re going to build a temple then this is a lovely spot for it.
The trip along to the temple was marked by one other thing that struck me: several of the beaches in this area are fenced off with barbed wire. This is a reminder that Sokcho lies north of the 38th parallel and was, from 1945 until the end of the Korean War, part of North Korea. That country lies only about 50 miles north of here and Gangwan-do province, in which Sokcho lies, saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war, including the landing of NKPA (North Korean People’s Army) troops on the beaches not very far from here.
We finished the day off with a trip to the restaurant where we went last time we were here. It has a picture of a chicken as its logo, which led Claire to think that it might be Nando’s. It wasn’t but our request last time for whatever they recommended saw us eating an excellent meal of dakgalbi: chicken, cabbage and other veg stir fried at the table with a fairly spicy curry paste, served with lettuce leaves for wrapping the meat and veg in
served with a couple of kimchis (one a spiced pickled cabbage that is the ubiquitous dish of Korea, the other spiced cucumber wedges).
And so to bed…