I've always been a walker, every city I've lived in or traveled too, I've also probably wandered and explored by foot. It could be something I picked up from my father who's often by spotted by my friends walking the streets of Greendale, or more likely it's just another attribute of my desire for a simple life. While friends are sitting behind screens watching Netflix, complaining about having nothing to do, or spending all their money on drinks, coffee, food or the newest trend, I'm wandering back alleyways and side streets, curious about who's living behind the walls, who came before and who will come after.
My first home in Korea was, considered by my Korean friends, in the complete countryside. I lived in what we would refer to as a village, a quaint offering of stores on the main street to the north and a vast expanse of rice fields and farm land to the south. While living in a somewhat remote location came with its challenges; limited transportation and a decreased social life, there were also many advantages, most notably the nature I was surrounded by. Since moving from Buksam, I've continued to seek out the parks, river walks and mountains near my home, which thankfully in Korea, is not too hard to do. Even now, despite living in the "Gangnam" of Daegu, I've found two escapes from the busy streets and traffic of the blocks immediately surrounding my home. Unsurprisingly, my morning routine has often included walks down random back alleys and side streets, but more often than not I find myself at either 야시골 or 범어 공원.
It's kind of crazy how much of a contradiction I am to myself. While I'm viewed by many as a globe trotter, nomad or world explorer who can't sit still, I'm equal parts homebody, total hermit. Having been back in Daegu for a month I've done very little outside a few kilometer radius of my apartment. I work across the street and everything I need is within walking distance of home; shops, restaurants, parks and even the train station. I did get out a few times, visiting Gumi to volunteer at Samsungwon, but other than that winter has sent me into hibernation mode. Two weeks ago though, my co-worker Elizabeth asked for ideas of what to do in Daegu and where to go with her boyfriend, who'd be visiting from the States. I recommended Dongwhasa, one of my favorite temples in not only Daegu, but the whole of Korea. Seeing some hesitation I offered to tag along, playing tour guide for the day, making it the third time I did so, previously introducing my mom and Peter, on their visits in 2013 and 2016 respectively.
When I first came to Korea *cough* 7 years ago *cough* I remember spending my free time searching for interesting things to do and places to visit. Thanks to the Colorful Daegu blog I found many such things close to home and quickly had a long list to fill my weekends and holidays. As is my normal tendency though, I found so many different events, temples, festivals and fun weekend get away ideas that it wasn't possible to check them all of my list. My friends and I were often taking off for the weekend, weather it was for a festival, such as the Lantern Festival in Jinju or just a weekend away in Seoul, we often took advantage of the efficient and affordable Korean transport and got out of Gumi. This was great, but it also meant that I often overlooked what was nearby and thus I never properly explored Daegu. Since leaving in 2014, I'd come back to visit Daegu a few times and often had grand plans which never unfolded as expected. Finally though, I've crossed one of those early "too see" off my list with a solo visit to Kim Gwang Seok Street [김광석 길] last week.
In my typical "I can't sit still" fashion I decided that staying around town was out of the question. I asked my friend Sara if she wanted to go on an adventure to Daegu and try to find Donghwa temple - so that is what we did. Two bus rides and one train later and we arrived! Considering the temple is located on the side of a mountain about 22km outside of Daegu I'd say our travel was pretty smooth (I was mildly impressed with myself). Before heading up to the temple we stopped for a coffee and some snacks and were then on our way.
Where to start. After living in this country for three years I have memories, experiences and stories galore. I'll now always be a bit partial to the Land of the Morning Calm. Filled with delicious foods, beautiful nature and friendly people, I'm always happy to return.