Posted by: evedlewis | September 8, 2009

Journey To “Horse Ear Mountain”

Mr. Jeon invited me to accompany him and his family to Mai (Maisan) Mountain – also known as “Horse Ear Mountain”, because it looks like horse ears from a distance.  Although I had been up all night and morning, I was very eager to join him on Sunday.  So – we left for the two hour ride in the afternoon.  We went to pick up his wife and three-year-old twins first and then headed to the mountain ranges.  His wife did not speak much English, and his sweet twins were very shy (at first) and absolutely adorable!!! 

I love that Korea is surrounded by mountains, and also has beaches/coastline just a few hours from the interior.  The gorgeous mountain ranges are visible from the city, and I was thrilled to be escaping to the natural parts of this beautiful land.

So – we arrived at the mountain, and I’m expecting that we are going to climb to a high peak and see some amazing views.  Instead, we walk up a paved trail on the side of the mountain and we stop at an area where there is an ancient temple built with stones in the crevice of the mountain.  There were nice views of trees, a lake and some open restaurants along the way.  However, there were no breath-taking views of the lower landscape from this side of the mountain where we stopped.  There are many sides and paths to take, but Mr. Jeon chose the ancient temple side.  I was slightly disappointed that we did not walk further.  Since we had two 3-year-olds with us though, I completely understood that we could not climb further up onto the mountain top.  So – I enjoyed the ancient temple and the story that went with it. 

Mr. Jeon explained that there was a nine-year old boy whose parents were killed in war.  This boy escaped his village and hid in the mountains.  He continued to live there alone and raised himself.  While he was there, he built the temple and tall monuments from stones.  There was no cement or machinery to help him move the stones or keep them together.  The stones came from all parts of Korea, and the Gods helped him stack the rocks in place.  He built the tall spikes over his lifetime, and when he died at around 100 years old, the ruins remained intact.  Even though the area has experienced typhoons and other rough weather conditions, the stones still stand errected as if the were just created.

Now – I went on-line initially to search the correct spelling of the Mountain name, and I came across another blog post where another visitor explains a slightly different version of the myth.  Not sure which story is more accurate, but you can read the other version here: http://www.thingsasian.com/stories-photos/1974

So – we had a great walk up and down the mountain followed by a traditional Korean meal before we left the area.  I had Bi Bim Bop again, and I also tried a new dish, which was essentially veggies sauted in a flour batter.  The food was very tasty, and I enjoyed watching Mr. Jeon and his wife interact with their daughters.  They ordered one more plate of the veggie flour dish with octopus before we left, and I quickly declined the invitation to taste the new batch.  I am constantly amazed at how much food my Korean friends eat!!!!  I really don’t understand how they remain so tiny!!!  I could not even eat my entire bowl of Bi Bim Bop this time!!!!  I wanted to get my left-overs to go, but in Korean culture, it is not customary to take rice home with you.  Mr. Lim also explained this to me at one of the first restaurants I visited.  He said that many restaurants will not allow you to take rice home, because that is “what beggars do.”  Although it’s actually what I DO because I don’t like to waste food, I left the rice there without an argument.

The twins were wide awake and very talkative all the way home.  Mr. Jeon said that the girls don’t normally go to sleep until around 10pm.  There was a point where they were fighting in the car over their mom’s lap.  Both daughters wanted to lay down, and the youngest finally “yielded” and allowed the oldest to have mom’s lap.  Bickering between siblings obviously occurs in all cultures 😉  Mr. Jeon apologized for their behavior, but I assured him that it was no problem – I told him that I was accustomed to the normalcy of bickering children – and I thanked him and his family for the wonderful day.

When I got home, I called Allison, and we went out for coffee.

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