This past weekend Brian and I had a mini-excursion to a gorgeous mountain/hiking/Buddhist temple provincial park on the outskirts of Andong, a mountain called Cheongyangsang. We've been meaning to go there to do some hiking for months because we've seen friends' pictures of an awesome sky bridge hundreds of feet in the air that connects two of the peaks. However, on our short excursion this past weekend we didn't have time for the sky bridge hike but instead did a different couple of paths. There are half a dozen or so trails for climbing to this mountain's several peaks, and I do believe we could return there weekly for a few months and manage to have a different experience every time. Some of the trails take longer - we went with a short one due to our bus schedule requirements that day.
Cheongnyangsan is beautiful!! I'm talking stunningly pretty with flat rock peering out from thick green mountainsides, uniquely shaped peaks, and a cute little tourist village with minbaks, markets, restaurants, and so on. Our short hike took us up to Cheongnyangsa (note the lack of final 'n'), which means Cheongnyang temple. Now, I have seen my fair share of Buddhist temples in Korea, and I adore them, but this one was really, really well placed in some spectacularly gorgeous scenery perfectly overlooking the mountain as the late afternoon sunlight dissipated. I am a fan.
I am also a fan of the frog pond at the temple...well, it's not necessarily a frog pond, but it's a little pond in a stone enclosure that sure has frogs in it now. I could have stared at them for hours. There were dozens, and they were black/brown on top, kind of blending with the surroundings, but with orange undersides, and they would flop around in the water every once in a while, turning as if to show off to us their bright bellies. I love frogs.
Cheongnyangsan verdict: highly recommended, particularly Cheongnyangsa.
Afterward, we headed back into downtown Andong and strolled by the park just in time for the evening guards/drums/bell-donging ceremony. I could have stared at that longer too, even though I was being bitten by mosquito monsters, but we were on our way to a delicious dinner at a new-to-us restaurant that served a soup whose name I've forgotten. It's like dongjongjigae - I butchered that, but I do love that soybean-derived soup we get with rice all the time - only with the beans in a more whole form. It's really rice-and-bean-like, which may be why I loved it, although this restaurant also had the best side dishes of any restaurant I've been to in Korea (a statement I don't make lightly!) Brian found the restaurant because he's cool like that; my job is just to eat and then promptly forget the names of things I've eaten.
I suppose that particular mental block of mine could use a bit of examination. Like, some people can't remember dates, or names, or faces - I can't remember food names very well. I don't think it's a Korean thing, even. I am not particularly obsessed with names of foods in the U.S. either. I'm not much for talking about and describing food, although I do like eating it.
This week has been reasonably boring at work. We have two days of testing in our elementary level classes, which should feel like Easy Days at work but instead to me just further emphasized how many middle-school evening classes I have to still teach even on elementary testing days. I'm so looking forward to our new schedule, about four weeks away, although I'm definitely wary in a devil-you-know sense.
Meanwhile, I am entirely fixated on our next adventure, which is barely more than two weeks away: our triumphant return to Japan! Once I get there, I might never leave! (Just kidding, Japanese immigration authorities. Or at any rate, I would obtain legal gainful employment before staying, don't fret.)