Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Temple Close to Home.

With the arrival of semi-spring weather, it has been possible for me to resume my exploring ways.  I say semi-spring because the weather recently has decided to warm up, somewhat.  Unlike the wonderful spring that has been experienced across most parts of the United States, Korea has still been in the grips of a cold spring.  This past week was the first time that daytime temperatures were in the 60's the entire week.  When I say the 60's I mean the low 60's.  However, while it has not been anywhere near as nice of a spring as last year, it has still been decent.  The flowers are starting to bloom, and the trees are blossoming everywhere.

It was with this in mind that I set off with two of my friends and their mom to a temple near our town.  While I'm sure I could have found this place by myself, it's also more fun to explore with people.  That and not having to get completely lost while trying to find this place was a bonus also.  My friends and I assembled and off we went (granted at 4 in the afternoon because they had been out partying until 6:30).  The drive out there was awesome because Seung Hee's mom took us off the main roads and was driving us along the rice paddies in the middle of the countryside.  It was nice to see fields somewhat green and the dirt neon orange.  I guess I've never talked about that before, but the soil here can be quite orange at times.  In fact during the summer time it is not unusual to see my students with orange stains on their hands from the soil.

On the drive out, we enjoyed ourselves, we listened to music, and talked.  Ok, you got me, I listened to music and they talked in Korean to each other.  Even with this situation, the drive out there was quite peaceful and fun.  Even passing by the cow farm was pleasant until we hit the mad cow prevention sprayer.  This thing was funny, except for the fact that they were spraying something designed to prevent mad cow and you had to drive right through it.  There is nothing wrong with driving through a cloud of something designed to kill microbes is there?  Hmm, ohh well it's not like it was Agent Orange or DDT.

When we finally arrived at our destination I remembered why I try to limit my excursions to temples.  The Buddhists have this thing for putting temples in the middle of nowhere, and then on top of being in the middle of nowhere, you normally have to partially hike up a mountain to get there.  In terms of temple hikes, this one was no problem at all, but still reaching the top sweating and begging god to fill your lungs with oxygen is not the best way to enter a holy place.  Maybe in Buddhism it is.  As Seung Hee said when I asked her why they always put them on the top of mountains, "It is so you develop the patience needed to arrive at your destination."  I don't need patience, I have plenty of that already, I'm a teacher.

The temple, small as it was, did not disappoint.  There were several buildings that had been built back in the 7th century, and rebuilt in the 15th century.  The temple was a vibrant yellow color nestled in a sea green.  With tree's blossoming all around it was a very serene day.  The crowds of people at the temple all agreed with me that this excursion was a good idea.  While in no way grandiose this temple was just right.  Given the area we live in, I didn't want huge, I wanted a small temple that felt very peaceful.  There were no giant gold Buddha's here, only modest ones.  There was no great bell or drum, only a modest offering.  However, I think the modesty of this temple speaks volumes to it's devotion to Buddhism.

We left the temple and descended our way back down the mountain to find ourselves some dinner.  Seung Hee's mom was craving barley rice and took us to some small no name place that I'll probably never find again.  The highlight of the meal for me, was not the barley rice Bi-Bim-Bap (mixed rice with veggies).  It was the fresh homemade tofu.  So fresh that it was made just then for us.  While I'm not the biggest fan of tofu, when you have almost anything made fresh, and homemade, it is wonderful.  This was no different. It was light, it was airy, almost like fine ricotta cheese without the stringy texture.  In fact, I'm going to try and learn to make tofu, just like I'm going to try and learn to make ricotta.  After dinner we all headed back to our respected abodes.  I went home to do some laundry and prepare for the next day of work.

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Your pictures and descriptions are beautiful!