My first walk in the park behind our temple in nearly a year. Last vacation we had–at the end of the summer–I distinctly recall lamenting not having the time for a walk through the park. I was about to finish this vacation with the same lament, and have narrowly avoided it.
There was a time when what was behind the temple wasn’t a park, but simply a single long, wooded, and largely uninhabited crest of land (we glorify it to a series of mountains and “peaks” when we talk about what barely qualifies as a couple of hills where I’m from). In front of our temple, which at that time wasn’t the modern, Korean-style building we have now, but a Japanese-style complex, grass and trees also stretched down to the street below us. Now the crest has been officially turned into a park, complete with sculpture gardens, paved paths, and a few motley concessions stands; and in front of our temple the street runs right up to and then through the front gate. The old, occupation-era Japanese buildings are gone, for the most part.
At the top of the park stairs, there’s a great view of the West Sea and the estuary of the Geum River, even the though the view is admittedly an industrial one. Both the stretch down the coast on the North Jeolla side of the river and up it on the South Chung-jeong side are dizzy with smoke and steam coming from various factories, plants, and in the case of North Jeolla, the international harbor just south of the city. But, as one of my sisters at school, an art major and the former site administrator (read: design and content director) for our school’s homepage, landscapes are a weakness for me. Sure enough, despite my best shot a few times over, nothing compelling. Ah, well, who goes to parks to look at industriascapes anyway?
Summer dawn, around 5:30 a.m. The ridge is “Lying Tiger Ridge” (허고산) and the roof belongs to Vajra Hall, the oldest residential building on our temple’s campus. Faintly visible in the left foreground is the double-gabled roof of our bookstore.