To hike Jirisan, I’ve been told, takes a full three days, so the one time I went hiking in the mountain, I only went a short way up, to Buril waterfall, and camped out nearby, then made my way back down the next morning.
Just before the waterfall is a small hermitage, where the monk, Il-ryong (One Dragon), invited me in for some locally made green tea. I thought I would sit and have a nice talk with him, while he poured us tea but instead he pointed over to his tea sets and basket of tea, and said, “I have to go pray now, help yourself.”
I was a bit surprised, but took him up on his offer, anyway. Even more surprised was the older gentleman who came along a few minutes later to find the bald-headed foreigner sitting in the temple making green tea. He asked if I were a monk and was really puzzled when I said no, and that the monk was in the back shrine doing ye-bul (ceremony). He let me pour him one cup of tea, but quickly got up and left after. I wondered if he thought I’d invited myself in and didn’t want to be there if the monk came back.
I sat facing the open door, and enjoyed every sip until the leaves were finally exhausted, while gazing out at this view. I often think about making the eight hour trip back there just so I can enjoy it once again, but I know that moment will probably not be found again.