I could never put down to words the best moments I’ve had on my travels. Or even the worst for that matter. Each experience, good or bad has had a positive outcome. I don’t think I remember everything I did whilst travelling, or every single place I’ve visited. There are only memories, some more vivid than others. And with them, are a mass of feelings which I can still feel if I let my mind drift back there. Some of these recollections are vague, disappearing into the mind of an aging wanderer. Some are so powerful they hit me right through the chest. There are these feelings I remember having, feelings of loneliness, of excitement and feelings of contentment. And then there are photographs of places I’ve seen, beautiful places I have been, and I remember being there yet I can’t remember how that felt. There’s nothing worse than not feeling anything, than not being moved by anything. We can’t force ourselves to have an emotional attachment to something, no matter how beautiful or sacred that thing might be, but we can make an effort to be present in those moments.
This Photo Journal holds some memories of visiting a temple in South Korea. It is located deep within the Korean countryside, in the midst of the Yeongwol Mountains in Gangwon Province.
I am not familiar with Temple Stays or the reasoning behind them. But I did watch Eat Pray Love one too many times and thought it a wonderful idea, minus the cleaning part of course. There was something really beautiful about this place though, something surreal. The autumn leaves gave us an incredible scenic view – that picturesque postcard material. I swear I want to turn one of these photos into a puzzle so that I could relive this moment of seeing such beauty. But it’s not just the outward beauty of the space we were in, there was something else here, something more.
Most times we travel through lands we’ve already seen hundreds of times in images, in films, in this media frenzy world we live in. So when we get there it’s always packed full of hungry tourists waiting to get their share in it. Queues and queues of people, who have flocked from all over the world to visit these amazing places, stand and wait in in the summer heat with sun hats on heads and maps in hand. And it’s all very busy and very exciting as well. But what if you went to a different neck of the woods, to a more distant place?
You might just find yourself in an empty space, walking through a massive forest breathing in fresh air and listening to children’s voices laughing in the distant background. There’s not much that I remember from being here. But I remember the people who were with me, friends who paid their respects at the prayer area. And I remember the children, who were always laughing. The feelings I’m afraid, have passed on. I’m scared to say that I felt nothing more than appreciation for nature. But maybe that was enough. Maybe that was all I was supposed to take from this visit. But look what rich history there’s left to uncover, a culture, a story. And then you realise, no-one’s been here before, not really. There’s something about being in a land untouched that appeases you. It’s finding new ground, finding a hidden gem in a tiny corner of the world completely enclosed by its large trees that make you feel really little. There’s peace in these places. So stray a bit, move away from those tourist attractions and wander around. And find the road less travelled by.
If you’ve had a similar travel experience or have done a Temple Stay, please share your experiences in the comments below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.