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From the category archives:

Temples & Shrines

IMG_2286You know those dreams where you’re climbing up an infinite flight of stairs and everything around you looks the same? Yea, I’ve never had those either, but now I know the reference. We had found the path again after returning from our foray into the wild. And with the path were those cheery orange gates, reminding us with their relentless continuity that we had so far to go.

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Bulguksa1Determined to hold onto my newfound sensation of cool, I mounted our bike and turned the ignition. Holding a firm mental image of Arnold Schwarzenegger riding the Harley in Terminator 2, I cranked the gas and took off. It was a beautiful Saturday and we were heading to Bulguksa, the premier temple of Gyeongju, the city commonly referred to as “a museum without walls.”

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Yasaka ShrineThere’s no real way to describe the feeling of visiting a Japanese shrine, especially when it’s beautifully lit up at night time… and especially during a full moon. The astounding light coming from the lanterns in the central pavilion seemed to echo the brightness of the moon. Looking up, we couldn’t help but admire how naturally she stole the spotlight. The universe felt a bit smaller, a bit more contained. This called for reflection.

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Wat ArunThe challenge of this structure lies in the stairs. When I said steep, I meant steep. Like triple black diamond steep. Going up is not too bad, but once at the top the thought of descending is all but discouraged at first sight of the view down. You’ll likely overhear some discussion on the best method of going down these steps, from side stepping to climbing down like a ladder, but the technique I found more effective is tackling the bastard like a regular flight of stairs. Stay low, keep your ass close to the stone, and remember that the handrail is your friend. You’ll be down in no time.

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Gokoku Shrine1What can I say about Japan? It’s the only place in the world where I experienced tranquility in the midst of vastness. The feeling of being the only person in such a huge place is simultaneously humbling and liberating. It is one of the rarest occurrences in life, but for me, one of the most sought after.

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