Saturday, December 08, 2007

Korea Day 8: Temples and Kimchee

OK, I finally have some pictures that I can show you all! Yesterday, the school board of Naju put together a tour bus for some of the new teachers and those of us who wanted to tag along. We hit three different Buddhist temples and a resort/water park. It was a pretty fun day, even if it did wear me out to a frazzle and I'm sore as hell today.

The first temple we went to was called Eunju temple. It was fairly secluded and was very pretty. It was kind of funny because our bus driver stopped us at the end of the drive way and we walked about 1/2 a mile in to get to the temple. I assumed this was because they didn't allow cars or buses to go that far, but turns out, I think our driver just didn't want to drive us any further. There were cars parked up there and trucks would drive in and out while we hiked to the temple. Here are some shots:
We were first greeted by these guys. DF's co-teacher said they were basically totem poles like we have in the US, but they seemed a lot happier. See what I mean?
Once we finished hiking to the temple, I was amazed at all the colors there.
The buildings were even more colorful.
The camera didn't do it justice. After the Eunju temple, we headed to the Bul Hyae temple which was much more of a tourist attraction. This one is famous because it has over 1000 Buddhas there, including two stone laying Buddhas.
These are a few of the Buddhas. Most of the ones in this area were all carved out of the stone that occurs in this area. The geologist in me took this picture because right behind the far right Buddha is a fault :oP The temple complex also had a lot of other stone monuments, or treasures as they kept calling them.
And here is a group shot with me, DF, and DF's co-teacher Mrs. P:
Have I mentioned that I feel like a giant over here? Not only have I gotten the beautiful comments, but I have had a lot of comments about how tall I am too :oP We hiked up the side of a really big hill (still not calling it a mountain yet) to get to the laying Buddha.
That was only about 1/3 of the stairs. Let's just say that after all the walking, hiking, and other stuff that I should come back to the US much lighter :oP It was worth hiking up there though to see this huge stone laying Buddha.
Even along the way on the hike up, there were Buddha statues hidden with the natural landscape.
As we entered the rest of the temple complex, there was a fountain with purified water that is supposed to bring the drinkers good luck. Here is DF getting some luck. He took my picture too, but it wasn't on my camera, so I'll have that one later.
It was really cold and really refreshing too. Here is a view from the top of a big rock (another climb up a hill) called the Rock of Command. It lets the monks be able to see anyone who might be approaching the temples.
Yeah, had to get the rock in there too. Here's a better view of the complex from up here.
There were all kinds of shrines here too, with lots of colors again.

I really have no idea if we were even allowed to take pictures of the shrines. There were signs up in Korean, but we have no idea what they said, and no pictures of cameras on the signs or anything. No disrespect if we weren't supposed to, but since no one stopped us, we took pictures. This was one of those places where we could have probably spent a whole day here, but we only had an hour, so we rushed around everything. It was really pretty and very serene and quiet, even with the throngs of tourists there.

The third temple we went to was the Mi Ruk temple. This was where we had lunch as well. This was my first experience with traditional Korean food. It was spicy. Very spicy. I ate a lot of rice :oP At least it was all vegetarian since the monks at this temple are all vegetarians. Did I mention it was spicy. Mmmmm, good kimchee :oP

This Buddha seemed happy to me. There was a big shrine in the back with burial mounds too. I haven't looked much into it, but it seems that burial mounds are still the way that most people are buried here. There are lots of little humps over the landscape which are burial mounds. Here's the ones with the shrine.
And here is the buddha that watches over the mounds:

After lunch, we were told about how every human has 108 ills or problems with their lives. The monks there do 108 prostrations at least once a day because they said that it cures all their ills. So, as a treat for us, we got to do 108 of these things. OK, I'm in bad shape. I'll admit that right here and now. 108 prostrations about killed me. DF swears he counted at least 110. The only way I can describe it is it's like doing 108 squat thrusts. We were with a group of very fit just-out-of-college kids who put me to shame doing that much. It didn't help that I was still recovering from the head cold too, but damn, that was hard work. No wonder it would cure 108 ills :oP It will either cure them, or kill you, which in turn cures them I guess :oP Still, it was interesting, even if I skimped out on some of the 108 to catch my breath. There was a kid next to DF who started moaning really loud too about 1/2 way through the exercise.

We went to a spa after that. Yeah, after killing ourselves with 108 glorified squat thrusts, we get to go sit in a hot tub for a while! It was kind of like an indoor water park where all the water was at least warm. There was even this one spot that they called Doctor Fish where you sat in this still water area with hundreds of little minows who were pirranas in training who eat the dead skin off your feet and rest of your body. They really tickled, but DF had one spot that they kept going after. Turns out they ate a scab off and he was bleeding a little. See, pirranas in training! He was OK though, but I think we were done with the Doctor Fish part of the spa :oP

I didn't have any pictures from this because water and cameras make me nervous. I rather like taking pictures and I could just see one of the cameras falling in and getting ruined.

After the spa, we ate dinner at a Korean restaurant at the resort. It was Korean BBQ. They had pork and mushrooms, so I went to town on the mushrooms. Korean BBQ is really good and if you ever get the chance to try it in the States, go for it. It's more Americanized in the States obviously, but you have a better chance of getting beef. This is another reason I can lose weight here: they love pork and I can't eat it :oP They do have beef here though, but it's really expensive, so it's easier to just be a vegetarian. Those mushrooms were really good.

That was the day in a nutshell. I'm getting ready to head to church this morning and then head to the market this evening to look at hanbok. More pictures tomorrow.

Oh, and yeah, I'm sore as hell this morning. I weighed myself on the scale at the spa yesterday and I have already lost 10 pounds :oP Korea: The ultimate diet for Leah :oP


Janis said...

Wow, the colors on the first temple are intense and gorgeous. :D I keep mentally comparing them to Japanese temples and shrines, but they are over the top. :D

I hope you'll feel all right. I do love some Korean BBQ.

Zabet said...

Squee! I've been to that temple and drank from that fountain!

*warm fuzzies*

(PS, the little mounds are indeed graves. There was a small graveyard behind one place that I lived where I loved to go and play. It was a little fancy, too, in that it had marble "benches" by each mound. Later I found out those were for tables for food when you come to picnic with your ancestors.)