Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Thingz Rawk

First off, I have had no school this week except for Monday because it is Chuseok. Chuseok is equivalent to the American Thanksgiving. I kept asking the kids what they do for it and all I really got was "Teach-uh, make rice cake and grandmas." Oh yea? You make grandmas? How's that work for ya? Naw naw, for realz though. They make rice cakes! And they VISIT their grandma's. So sweet. Anywhos, for Chuseok our school decided to be cool and have the kids dress up in their hanboks (traditional Korean dress) on Thursday before our most-of-the-week off. So, the kids came in their cute outfits and we made rice cakes and learned the traditional bow. Aww, we're cute.

King class. They all look super excited. This is how they always look, except when Sopia teach-uh is dancing around the room like a weirdo... then they look happy and cool.

the raw rice cakes

So, on Monday, we went out to celebrate our friend, Etaoin's, last night in Korea. Etaoin is from Ireland. She is an artist. She had been in Korea since January. She got this awesome job. ...back in Ireland. So she took it. Sad face.
ANYWAYS, we went out to dinner and then out dancing and foosballing to celebrate her awesomeness and how sad we would be when she was not with us. It was a sad moment, indeed. Sophia cried. Go figure, right? BUT, Etaoin is so awesome, that she left me a bag of goodies! Some shoes, some art supplies (yee!), a dress, some shampoo, and some lady products. Cool beans! Thank you, my love!

This is Nate and Etaoin. And me, being weird. Weird.

Tuesday, I did nothing. Actually, I slept in. It was wonderful! Sleeping in on a Tuesday! Haven't done that since... well, I don't know, for a really long time. It was beautiful. And Wednesday, Nate and I went up to Gangnam and did some Fall shopping! I bought two new hoodies and a couple of awesome long sleeved shirts. They're super cute. Take my word on it. And Thursday! Katie Dale and I went into Suji to meet up with some friends for some foodskies and then we went to this glasses place where I had heard they sold some good cheap glasses. Awesomeness. And they did! Guess who bought TWO new pairs of glasses for 60,000 won?!?! If you guessed me, then you are so totally right! :D TWO new glasses, folks. For less than 60$. And, yes, the glasses are prescription. Yes yes, woot! And it was such a gorgeous day out, that we went to the Jukjeon park and hung out under the beautiful sky. Le sigh.

One of my new pairs of glasses. Baller!

This is basically what today looked like. Gorg, I know.

Needless to say, Chuseok (aka no school) rawks, as does inherited gifts, as does new stuff for me! :D Excited.

Peace and love.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Temple Stay 9/11 - 9/12

Hey oh! (again) I told you that I'd post two new posts! The last one covered what I did on the fourth, but this one will be talkin' bout what I did this past weekend which is a temple stay! Woot!

So, a couple people had been talking about doing a temple stay and one of my friends already had, and so I wanted to, too. Mostly because it would be a stay at a Buddhist temple and Buddha is awesome. Why not, right? :)

on the stairs up towards the main grounds of the temple

Anywhos, went with Adventure Korea, again. Excellent. Took off from Seoul on Saturday morning. Got to Geumsansa temple at around 2ish. Once we got there, we all went into a building and got some monk clothes and checked in and what not. We were shown our rooms; girls had one dormitory and boys, another. After everyone was dressed in our monk clothes, we met back at the main place (I say "main" cos that's where we spent a good portion of our time). We met up with our monk guide guy. He was super duper cool and chill. And funny, too. We learned how to walk in a temple, how to bow to Buddha, and other cool stuff. I think this is when we made our lotus lanterns, too. Super neat oh. I was going to bring mine home, but it was falling apart, so I left it. Le sigh.

our monk clothes

my awesome lantern

We had some free time in there, too, so Nate and I went on a nature hike around the temple. Such a gorgeous place. So very green and nature-y. It was lovely and relaxing. The temple buildings were immaculately done. Bright colors, just waving people into their buildings. So very beautiful. Temples are one of my favorite places ever.

After a bit, we met back up with the rest of the group and walked in two silent lines to dinner. It was pretty delicious. Rice and curry and soup and kimchi and other Korean delicacies. Yumsters. After dinner, the group went to the bell tower. Here, we learned about the three different bells that are struck three times daily. So very interesting. I love it! And we even got to strike one! Really cool. After the bell tower, we went to the main Buddha hole to witness an Yebul service, which is a monk chant. The monks are... well, chanting and praying to Buddha for the creatures and the world around them. We got to practice our bows and it was a beautiful sight. I really am not very good at describing this, and so I apologize. I walked away from this entirely relaxed, not a care in the world; I felt so at peace and loved, it was a mind altering activity for me. After Yebul, we had tea time with our monk and a woman monk. Here, people got to ask any sort of questions they wanted to them about themselves or about Buddhism. Pretty cool, some of the questions were funny and good, and some were just... yea. After tea time, it was lights out at 10.

Woke up bright and early at 3 am the next day to go to the morning Yebul. Once again, amazing. It was only til four o clock and we didn't have to be anywhere until 530, so everyone that woke up (it was an optional activity) went back to sleep til 515. Woke up and went back to our main "hideout" to meet with our monk for meditation. He did a quick tutorial for those who had never meditated before and we meditated two times for fifteen minutes each. Then at 6 oclock it was breakfast time. Walked, once again, in two silent lines to breakfast, where we nourished ourselves with delicious Korean food again! After breakfast, we were supposed to do monk chores (like sweeping and cleaning) but it was rainy and wet outside, so we got out of that and went back to bed until 815ish. At this time, we all woke up (again) and met with our monk for a tour and history lesson of the temple. I was so tired that I could barely pay attention, but I have a pamphlet, no worries, folks! The temple was founded in AD 599! OLD! Anyways, if you want to know more about the temple, I have this pamphlet, so just shoot me an email or something, kk?

the grounds at 530 am

ANYwhos, after our quick history lesson of the day, we went on a nature walk up and around the temple. On our walk we saw where the monks are cremated and placed into their own jugs (neato). Then we finished our walk at the love tree. This tree was tight. It started out as two separate trees, but in the middle, about half way up both of the trees, they join together. I've never seen anything like that before. Our monks talked to us (via translator) about the tree and how we should always help others and welcome help when we most need it, too. It was .. touching. It was good. Excellent, in fact. Magic.

the love tree

me and our monks :)

When we returned to the main temple grounds, we had a few moments before our Buddhist bead making, so we just chilled with our new friends, Anthony and Chris (yay!). Then we went to our main spot and learned how to make our beads and got to go to any temple we wanted on the grounds to make our beads. So, these Buddhist necklaces/bracelets have 108 beads on it. While making it, we had to bow 108 times, each time saying a silent wish or prayer for anything or anyone, while putting one bead on at a time. They said we could put 3 on at a time, but I did all 108 bows for each bead. I did not even run out of things to wish or pray about! Afterwards, though, my little pillow that I was bowing on was sweaty and gross and I was even sweatier, but it was so completely worth it. Once we got it all tied up properly, were allowed to wander around til lunch time. Went to lunch and then we had to pack up to leave the temple by 1pm.

almost finished product :)

Oh man. I am so so incredibly happy I chose to do this. It was a great experience. I feel like I learned a lot and I absolutely adore the Buddhist religion and what it stands for. This temple stay will never, ever be forgotten. I'm so grateful I was able to do this.


Monday, September 13, 2010

DMZ, September 4th

Hola amigos! SO! I have much to update, but I'll break it down into two different posts. You're welcome.

Anywhos, on September 4th a bunch of us went to the DMZ (de-militarized zone). It was Etaoin, Etaoin's parents, Katie, Sara, Louis, Nick, Ben, Lindsey, and one of Etaoin's friends. To be quite honest, it was relatively boring because we spent most of our time on the bus traveling from stop to stop to stop. BUT learning more about the history and stuff was awesome! Here's what we did, or at least, as well as I can remember it :)

We first stopped at Imjingak. This is where the Freedom Bridge is located, as well as a memorial that they hold a special service at every so often. ALSO, it's where an abandoned train was left. The train has 1200 bullet holes in it! Pretty neat. Imjingak had this amazing barbed wire fence up with beautifully colored ribbons attached to it. Korean words and phrases and whatnot was written on each and every single one of them. I thought it was a beautiful because I imagined what was written on each of those ribbons; words of love and forgiveness and memories... I would post a picture, but it's all sideways and stuff. Sad face.

After we checked out Imjingak and the Freedom Bridge, we traveled to lunch? I think? Bah, I'm horrible at this. Oh well. So we went to lunch at one point during the day. It was chill. Same ol' same ol' Korean food. Pretty good stuff. It was such a pretty day, too! I was super please with that. Gorgeous blue skies and fluffy white clouds. :) Happiness.

We visited the 3rd tunnel, I believe (that's what it says on Adventure Korea's website, anyhow). This was ballerness. We watched a documentary about the tunnels first. There are four tunnels as of right now (these tunnels were dug by North Korea in order to invade Seoul quickly). They believe there to be more tunnels, but, alas, they've only found four. So, we got to put on some awesome yellow hardhats and walk down, down, down, down, dooooooooown into the tunnel. It was cold! So COOL! I barely had to duck my head (yay for being short!). And we could only walk so far, because it was blocked by this teeny tiny metal door, and we turned back around and started back, then up up up (what a workout, I tell ya). It was neat. We also took pictures next to giant D-M-Z letters at this place. Coolio.

We visted the Dora Observatory, which is basically a lookout place overlooking (weird.. a lookout. Overlooking stuff. Imagine that, huh) North Korea. We could only take pictures from behind a picture line that was placed waaaaay far away from the wall. But when you got up to the wall you could see a city in North Korea. Someone said that this was an empty said, designed to fool South Koreans. You were so not allowed to take pictures at this wall, though. One lady snapped some photos, and the South Korean military kid ran over and promptly deleted all of those pictures, nice try though, lady. So, that was... cool. At least to see North Korea and snap some awesome photos of some guys' heads cos I'm too short. Oh wellzzzz. Edit: the city is totally a scam, I just read the website. It was built so that South Korea would think of North Korea as a prosperous nation or something like that. Hm, whatevs.

Then we went up to Dorasan station, which is the last station of South Korea before it goes up to North Korea. Supposedly a train really does go to North Korea! With goods and people and stuff! Cool. We got to see the train come in (oooohhhhh, aaaaahhhh). Got some coolio pictures of me "unitying" the two Koreas, cos I'm just that AWESOME. I mean, come on, let's be honest folks.

So, uh, yea. That was pretty much that. Like I said, nothing all that exciting, but it was really cool learning more about the war and stuff of the country I'm living in. History is always exciting.

Etaoin, moi, Katie, and Sara

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

new news new!

New!: I bought markers and colored pencils (aka crayons) and origami paper and drawing pencils! Woot! I get a little jealous of the kids when they bust out their cool stuff to draw, so I figured I could be jealous no more and bought myself some things of my own! How very exciting. The markers and colored pencils are super colorful (the outside, not necessarily the colors). They have pictures all over them! Asians are cool. And smart.

News!: A typhoon is going to be hitting us either tonight or tomorrow. Either way, a typhoon is comingggg! I think you only get typhoons in Asia. Hmm...