The Haunting…

Written by on October 31, 2013 in Travel

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The amazing main hall at the beautiful Unmunsa Temple in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

I think one of the scariest movies I ever saw while growing up was The Birds, the 1963 film by Alfred Hitchcock. Ever since that day, I’ve had this phobia of any close encounter with our winged friends.

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The original poster of The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock.

With all that being said as a bit of a precursor, I visited Unmunsa Temple, in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do, this early fall season. The weather was still a nice 20 degrees during the daytime; and yet, the fall colours were out in full swing on the trees.

After visiting the neighbouring Naewonam Hermitage and Bukdaeam Hermitage, I found myself strolling up a path filled with these beautiful fall colours all around me. Because it was a weekday, and it was earlier in the day, I found myself enjoying the fall weather and colours at Unmunsa Temple all to myself.

Taking my time and snapping over a hundred pictures in total, I explored all that Unmunsa Temple had to offer. I especially enjoyed the massive main hall, the Mansye-ru pavilion with a painting of the Buddha with children, the Biro-jeon hall, as well as the other dozen halls that the temple has to offer a visitor.

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Where things took a turn for the worse.

But it wasn’t until I got to the Cheonbul-jeon that things took an interesting turn for the worse. I was all by myself snapping a few pictures inside the hall, when I heard a scratching sound at the door. It creeped me out a bit, but I took a couple more pictures. Finally, a bird appeared out of nowhere and buzzed close by my head. Ducking, I thought, “God help me.” Then the bird buzzed by me again, and again, and then again. The fourth time was the charm. I immediately made for the door. It was only then that I realized that I had left the door slightly ajar, and a much bigger bird was waiting for its partner on the other side of the door.

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Somewhere up there is where the bird was plotting against me.

In a near panic, or thinking I looked a little bit out of sorts after my perceived encounter with death, a nun at the temple greeted me with a bow as she made her way to the Cheonbul-jeon hall. Perfect. I hadn’t seen anyone the entire time during my tour of the temple; and just when I needed no one to be around, I was greeted with an “안녕하세요” (Annyeong hasyeyo). I returned this greeting with an “안녕하세요” of my own. The nun, whether it was because I was speaking Korea (which I hoped), or I looked scared out of my wits (which I think), she gave a little laugh and smile.

Either way, I found a tiny corner all to myself at Unmunsa Temple, out of sight from everyone, to both collect myself and to calm my rapidly beating heart.

All I can say is that you should keep your eyes peeled the next time you visit a temple, or the temple might just get you!

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The beautiful view as I exited out of the Cheonbul-jeon a bit out of sorts.

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About the Author

Dale Quarrington

Dale Quarrington has lived in the Busan and Gyeongsangnam-do Province area ever since arriving in Korea in 2003. He’s visited all of the Korean provinces, exploring both the known and unknown temples and hermitages around the Korean peninsula. While he’s not traveling, he enjoys reading books and learning about Korean history.