Håfa adai yan Buenas from the southern half of the Korean Peninsula! I'm your host, James Bamba,
and we're going to take a short tour of Inwang Mountain. Here we're visiting a place of mysticism,
like many pagan religions means a place that's hard to get to, well secluded, and of great cultural
history; Inwang mountain. Inwang mountain, located in Seoul, South Korea, is just off the Dongnimmun
(독립문 - Independence Gate) stop (#326 on line 3). After we disembarked the subway car at stop #326 and
exited the subway at exit #1, Nate, our tour guide asked for directions from a local. Who of which,
like a lot of koreans dropped what she was doing and became our impromtu tour guide's tour guide. She
took us around winding streets, up to the driving range and explained to Nate how to go from their. We
parted ways, and headed up the now steepening streets noticing the ever abounding swastika-like symbols
which are Buddhist symbols, not to be confused with the Nazi version. :) We saw many things that day,
and below are some pictures of the many things we saw, with descriptions following each. I'm not one to
write stories, so I'll stop here ;) . I try and muster up some creative writing skills and try and finish
Here's us at the base of the hill. Which was at the base of the mountain.
Here is the group of people that I went with, walkin' up the steep hill.
Here's the sign at the base of the mountain. It roughly translates to:
Seoul City area Cutural Treasure #4
Mt. Inwang Zen Stones
(Arrow self explanatory :/ )
Here's a pic of the Mt. Inwang Main gate, don't be fooled, the hill is steeper than it appears.
Here's an up close pic of the main gate, with a zoom-in on the chinese characters which say
from left to right it reads Inwang-san Inwang-sa 인왕산 인왕사 (仁旺山 仁王寺) "in - 仁" can be interpreted
as wise, benevolent, kind. "Wang - 旺" can be interpreted as healthy or good spirited. The
second "wang - 王" doesn't mean the same as the "wang - 旺" it means king. "San - 山" is mountain,
and last but not least, "Sa - 寺" means temple.
Here's a map of the mountain side, the red dots were inserted to show the path we took.
Here's a bell tower that's right across the temple in the next pic. Isn't old korean architecture and painting very beautiful?
Here I am standing in front of a temple with some wonderful paintings on the door.
Here is a woman beginning to pray at the Zen stones, she finished shortly before we arrived to the famed Seon Bawi (선 바위) or Zen Stones.
The famed Seon Bawi (선 바위) or Zen Stones. " Two standing stones, the rock formation
of which looks totally out of character with the rest of the landscape; dark, grooved
and pitted, appearing almost volcanic. The reason for their name is obvious. In shape
and appearance, they resemble cowled monks kneeling at prayer. Or maybe lost souls
caught in torment? The grooves in their surfaces resemble a tortured face as much as
the folds of a robe. In front of the stones is a small prayer platform, with offerings
--flowers, candles, bottles, colored ribbons--set out. " - Excerpts from the American Chamber of
commerce in Korea
Here are many little statues of buddha surrounding perhaps a spirit tree.
Here are some empty Soju bottles (Soju - 소주 (燒酒), Korean hard liquor) that were probably
offerings to the spirits. I like these spirits! They can drink with me any day.
Here is the lady we saw earlier at the Zen stones, here at the base of the boulder we climbed up
preparing to pray again.
Here's a pic of Wendy taking a pic of me taking a pic of her. On the far upper right corner you
can see a korean sitting peacefully looking over the Seoul City setting, probably after prayer to
one of the many spirit beings located on this sacred shamanistic mountain.
Here's me attempting to climb a boulder with really steep cut-out steps. I'm still scared of
high places, so since there was no railing I had a hard time climbing, then to help things out
my shoes popped off....
I made it to the top of the rock, without shoes as you can see. :) Big smile. I turned around
and skooshed up on my butt.
Here's everyone! YAY. Starting from the top left, Wendy & Mark, Dan in the red sleeves, Nate
in the white shirt, Kim to my right, and me squattin' on da rock.
Here is a woman prayer to the spirit beings at a rock face, with many offerings of food (usually
fruits and rice) and beverages (this appears to be bacchus a korean health drink) that can range
from Soju (燒酒, Korean hard liquor) Makkolli (막걸리, Korean rice wine), or various other yummy stuffs.
Here is a picture of a boulder with similar weatherings as the Zen Stones, covered in the names
of people who have been prayed for by people, and below them you can see the remnants of candles
that have been burnt on their behalf. There are also candles in the eye portions of the skull rock,
but they've long since burned to nothingness.
Here I am at the Coex Mall prior to us getting on the Subway to go back to base. I'm standing
with some weird shupao head statue with a BIG belly button, at the mall.. HAHA
The trip which was thought-up and ochestrated by Nate was enjoyed by all. Although I didn't
bring my hiking legs, I had lots of fun, hearing, seeing and taking in all the Korean culture,
seeing the Korean shamanistic rituals although Ill-be-it at a distance firsthand.