Early one weekend (that’s Friday for us lucky four-day-weekers), Amy and I found ourselves in Andong (안동) with nothing much to do for the best part of an afternoon. Rather than sit in our motel with the inconsistent attractions of television, we studied the area map intently and, inevitably, were drawn to a small area labelled “Pyeonghwasa (Mystic Watermelon Temple)”. We struck out without delay, and spent some time walking through the back streets and over a river before Amy spotted a signpost directing us along a winding track and up a hill.
After much climbing and marvelling at the picturesque agricultural valley, we found a small, well-kept shrine with a path leading back into the temple proper. As claimed, the place was indeed dedicated to watermelons – there were several lying around in auspicious places as well as hundreds of Buddha images, candles and written prayers. Perched near the top of a hill in a small farming community, it could not have been more peaceful; we were absorbing this placidity when a nun materialised behind us to find out what we were doing all this way from the city. Amy succeeded in having a limited conversation with her, but sadly we couldn’t unravel the mystery of just why there was a temple dedicated to watermelons in an apple-producing area.