Wishes for All
Posted by Heliocentrism on August 28, 2009
June 27, 2009
The Buddha that makes wishes come true
I was talking with some of my co-workers in my English teachers’ English class about all the things I had seen in Korea. I lamented that there was nothing interesting left in the country to see, when they told me about Gatbawi.
They said that if I climbed all the steps up to the stone Buddha that I would be granted whatever wish I made. They guaranteed it. That’s when I planned this trip and sent out invitations to my friends.
Fancy Shmancy Lockers
When we got to Daegu we put our bags in a locker at Dongdaegu station. There were only vague instructions in English. After about 10 minutes of fighting with them we managed to get all our stuff into 2 lockers. Taryn’s fingerprint was used to lock both lockers so we had to make sure that she returned safely from the hike to get our stuff back.
Please officer, can you tell me where the bus stop is?
Getting to the bus stop to catch the bus to Palgongsan from Dongdaegu station is easy once you know where to go. But, it isn’t so easy to explain. We asked a few people for the directions to the bus stop for the #104 bus, but no one could help us.
We stopped a cop and asked him. He didn’t know and went back to ask another police officer. When he returned he seemed quite flustered. He tried to explain, but his English just wasn’t good enough. He then told us to, “Wait here.”
He returned with a squad car. He got out and ushered half of us into the back seat. There were too many of us for one trip. He would come back for the other three. He drove us to the other side of the subway station and dropped us off right in front of the bus stop.
We hiked up the mountain to meet the stone Buddha who would give us our hearts’ desires. The two guys practically ran up the slope while the girls used the time to schmooze and chat. For us the hike in not about the destination; it’s about the journey. Plus we’re a bit out of shape.
On one of our many breaks we bumped into some Korean guys who seemed very social. They shared some of their iced coffee and tea with us and chatted for a bit. One of them was the proud owner of a tractor.
He was travelling around Korea in his tractor… or is it on his tractor? I’m not sure. I think he even sleeps in the thing sometimes. His next mission is to take his tractor to Mongolia.
I asked him if he was planning to drive it to Mongolia, ie driving through North Korea. He said, “no.” He will have the vehicle shipped to China and then drive it from China to Mongolia.
He is now spending his time blogging and raising money for his big trip. Maybe He’ll make it all the way to Europe someday.
Hiking to Wishes
When we finally got to the top there were many people praying. They were doing the stand, knee, bow, routine that is involved in Buddhist prayers. Everyone seemed to be praying feverishly. I looked at all the people and wondered what their wishes were.
I made my wish, but I pretty much have or am getting most of what I need or want. I thought more about Taryn who was having a hard time. She was nursing a broken heart and I knew exactly how she felt. I have been in her shoes many times. I hope that the hike and visit to the stone Buddha with friends who care about her helped her in some way.
A night on a hard floor
When looking for a place in Daegu to stay, I came across a recommendation for a jimjjilbang (찜질방). It was offered as a cheaper alternative to staying in a hotel. I had never been to a Korean spa before and wanted to try it out. It was interesting.
We checked in and after everyone in my party was showered and changed, we went to the basement. Taryn and Ashley got late night massages, Mark played on the internet, I went to sleep, and I’m not sure what happened to the other two.
I found an open space on the floor and went to sleep. I woke up when some kid laying next to me started poking me. I gave him a dirty look and he went away. I couldn’t go back to sleep because of a snoring man in the room that sounded more like a chainsaw. The night was pretty miserable, but I did enjoy it on some level.
In the morning we did some more exploring of the spa. I like that it had rooms of different temperatures, from the snow room to the “oh my god I’m melting” room.
I didn’t take any photos of the jimjjilbang because it would be like taking photos in a gym. No one wants to be photographed at the gym.
How to get there:
- You can enter by plane, boat, or train, though entry by train is rare if not damn impossible for most non-presidents of North or South Korea.
- Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to South Korea.
- People of most nationalities will get a 90-day visa at the airport or ferry port.
- To be completely sure, check with the Korean embassy in your country.
- Useful Phone Numbers when in South Korea
- Tourist Complaint Center 02-735-0101
- Police 112
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Eat Your Kim Chi – Life in Korea as lived by 2 Canadians
- Korea is a generally safe country. You don’t really have to watch out for pickpockets,muggers, or scam artists.
- You should watch out when crossing the streets, beware of scooters on the sidewalk, and the little old ladies that will push you to get that last seat on the bus or subway.
- Use common sense and you will be okay.
- Things are generally inexpensive and there are many wonderful things to buy.
Enjoy Korea! I live there for 2 years and had a fantastic time.
- 35°52’35.3″N 128°35’46.1″E
From Seoul, go to the Express Bus Terminal subway station on lines 3, 7, and 9. I think you go out exit 9, but I’m not sure. Just follow the vague signs or ask for directions.
There are three types of buses, general, excellent, and midnight excellent, each varying in price. We took the most economical choice at 15,500KRW. Check the bus company’s website for times and prices.
The first bus out of Seoul leaves at 6:00 and the last leaves at 23:55. The return trip has similar times. The website says the trip is about 3:40 hours long, but it’s actually more like four. (Again, another 4 hours bus ride!)
- This is one of the few cities in Korea where a T-money card will not work.
- There is also a train you can take. According to google it’s faster.
- 35°59’15.0″N 128°44’19.6″E
From the bus station at which the bus from Seoul will stop:
- Go to Dongdaegu station. It’s on the main road and across the street. Anyone you meet can tell you where to go.
- Getting to the bus stop for the #104 is a bit difficult to explain, so you might have to ask for directions anyway. Don’t think that you are in the wrong spot when everyone tells you, “I don’t know.” It’s a bit difficult to explain in a foreign language. Just keep asking for help.
Here are the confusing directions anyway:
You will need to walk around the station. Do not go inside. Go to the designated area for taxi pick up. You will see a very tiny convenience store. Look beyond the railing behind the store and down to the street. You want to get a bus that stops at the bus stop you see to the right. Walk down the stairs. Do not cross the street or the bridge.
I don’t think that there are closing hours, but you might not want to climb the mountain in the dark.
How to get there:
Go to Jincheon subway station and take a taxi. Write down the address or print the map from the spa’s website.
You can walk to the spa from the station.
- Go out exit 3 then take a right on the intersect.
- Go 4 block until you get to a really big intersection.
- Then turn right at the intersection.
- Keep walking pass an SK Telecom until you see the spa on a side road parallel to the main road.
- 053-641-0100 (No one there speaks English.)
I don’t remember the exact price, but it was less than 10,000KRW for one night. Just don’t leave the spa.
It is open 24 hours a day and you can check in at any time. The gym on the top floor is not open on weekend though.
- If you have an inflatable pillow, you might want to bring it along. The pillows at jimjjilbangs are slight softer than bricks.
- If you have a mat, bring that along too. Although most jimjjilbangs give you a mat, this one doesn’t. Here you sleep on the floor.
I would have pictures of the jimjillbang, but I would feel really creepy trying to take photos of people in a sauna.
**** UP DATE ****
I’m not sure if Lifespa is still in business. I cannot find any information on it online anymore.