Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wednesday- Happy Chuseok, Temple Trip, and Rain

Wednesday September 22

After our nice wet Tuesday we were happy to see that Google had only forested Daegu with a 40% chance of rain for the day leaving us with a nice 60% chance of no rain. So with odds being slightly tipped in our favor we headed out to meet mom and dad at Seoul Station. We had already purchased tickets the month before and were on the 7:30 train and were lucky to get business seats so we could all sit around a table and have a nice chat as we enjoyed the views of the countryside. On our way down the sun was shinning and things were looking up; however about 30 minutes outside of Daegu it got dark and started to spit rain. We all kept our hopes up and fingers crossed that the "spitting" was as bad as it was going to get, but sadly by the time we pulled into the station and headed over to the subway it was a nice wet downpour.

Happy to be on the KTX

The place we had lunch
Along with purchasing tickets down to Daegu we also bought tickets in advance back and they were not till 9:50 that night. So we all took a minute or two to look at our options and decided we were here so why not just keep on going. We rode the subway for twelve stops popping back up to head to the bus terminal not to shocked to see that the rain had not let up. We had just missed the 10:00 bus and now had a nice 40 minutes to sit around an people watch till the next one left. Once on the bus it was a nice hour and a half ride though the country side as our driver blasted Korean Music all the way up to the Korean National Forest and on to Haeinsa Temple.

It was just about noon when we arrived and started looking for food. With it being a holiday and a nice rainy day most of the few places there were closed. One woman however had her shop open and offered to cook us up some Korean Pizza. So as she showed us to four seats (turned over buckets) and table (wooden bench) we couldn't help but laugh that mom and dad were getting such a "Korean" experience. The day yet again was turning out to be wet and soggy but a good one, everyone was happy and maybe even a little on the peppy side. As we joked and laughed we started to wonder exactly what it was this woman was making and how she was making it seeing as how there was no kitchen.

After a few minutes she came back with a dark green drink and just told us tea, so we took a vote and Ryan tried it first. It was good a little on the chunky side but good. She later returned with two plates of a potato, egg, onion pizza/omelet like patties.  One of them had squid added to the mix. As she handed out chopsticks mom and dad got out their plastic forks we got them and we all started in. For the most part it was great and to top it off the surroundings made it even better for a story we could all tell later.

The purple stuff would be squid

After lunch we went to use the restroom, I giggled quietly to myself as the lady gave mom and I both a mound of toilet paper and pointed us all down the hall. I also got to giggle once more when I found out they only had the oriental style bowls or squatters. On our way out the cute little woman came running up to give mom back her plastic forks, she had even gone through the trouble of washing them. Oh the hospitality in the country is truly amazing!

At this point and for most of the day my camera got blurry.

We then started our nice, long, wet hike up what seemed like a straight up mountain path. I as always was shocked at the Korean girls doing it in high heals; however they seem to be able to do everything in heals. Once at the top we stopped to read up on the temple and the mountain and then went in to explore.

Hey guys wave to everyone at home!

Some quick facts about Haeinsa:
  • Haeinsa means: Temple of Reflection on a Smooth Sea
  • It is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism in the Gaya Mountains.
  • Haeinsa is most notable for being the home of the Tripitaka Koreana, the whole of the Buddhist Scriptures carved onto 81,258 wooden printing blocks, which it has housed since 1398.
A few of the many pictures:

prayer rocks

It was really cold

With it being a holiday they were doing a service in the main temple and also had the smaller ones open to privately pray. getting to watch was an exciting thing however I felt I was imposing as I watched what seemed to me to be something so sacred and ancient. We made our way through some of the smaller temples admiring the Buddha statues, the paintings and all the details in everyone. We made our way up to where they keep the Tripitaka and through a few more small temples before deciding to catch the next bus out and start the trip back. Sadly as pretty as it all was we were all wet, cold and tired.
Some quick facts about the Tripitaka:
  • It is a Korean collection of Buddhist scriptures carved onto 81,340 wooden printing blocks in the 13th century.
  • It is the world's most comprehensive and oldest intact version of Buddhist canon in Hanja script, with no known errors or errata in the 52,382,960 characters which are organized in over 1496 titles and 6568 volumes.
  • Each wood block measures 70 centimeters in width and 24 centimeters in length.
  • The thickness of the blocks range from 2.6 to 4 centimeters and each weighs about three to four kilograms.
We caught the 2:20 bus and headed back. We started to think of things to do and hoped that the sun would come out soon or at least the rain would let up so that maybe we could wander around town a bit and kill time. The bus ride back took us longer due to all the extra traffic on the small town roads for the holiday but sadly once back in town it was sadly only 5 leaving us lots of time before our 9:50 train. We took the subway back to Dongdaegu station and checked on getting on an earlier train but all of them were full unless we wanted to stand on the slow train getting us back only a few minutes before our original tickets on the KTX would get us back.
With time to kill and the rain still coming down we ruled out wondering around town and headed out instead to try to find something to eat and beer. We ended up at a Mr. Pizza where we ordered a garden salad pizza with chicken, something with a name like "The Secret Garden Pizza", some wings and a salad bar. We tried to order beer but were told because of the holiday there was no beer and well if you have ever been to Korea you know this is crazy because everyone drinks here all the time. We also had to break the bad news to mom and dad that families/friends/couples/everyone at the same table share so we would only be getting one bowl for the salad. It is at this point in the week I feel my dad was finally "Koreaned Out", all wet and with no beer now having to share one small salad bowl. As we explained to him the culture behind it he asked for extra bowls to which the waitress just looked at him and said "bowl change (with the lone EEEEEE at the end)" and then walked away.
We went around this by sending everyone up one at a time so they could come back and dump their salad on their "pizza plate"; this normally upsets the waitstaff very much however tonight they seemed to figure it was just best to let us be. Mom and dad also got to experience 5 Korean male teens drinking out of 5 straws from one soda next to us. Boys and girls or well friend and all act way differently than at home but that is for a different blog. But I will say they are all ready for a flood (due to their pants looking like capri's) and after Tuesday I guess I now see why.

Anyways after dinner we headed back to the train station to find some place to sit and wait for our train. After a few minutes a few seats opened up; however sadly it was only about 7:30 so we had a good bit of time to kill. The place was packed and people were everywhere making it fun to people watch. Mom had finished her book so Ryan and I went off on the hunt to find something or well anything in English to read. We were sad to find out all they had was one Readers Digest and it was the "comedy" issue; however it was English and it was something to read.

After a little bit of reading we had a man come up to mom who spoke really good English and was asking her if she would mind talking to her son who is learning English. Mom asked one of us if we would mind, saying she was worried about asking or saying the wrong things and this is still a fear I have also. So that left Ryan who is really good with kids.  The boy in the mean time went running back to his mother and sister.  Ryan waited for him to come back not wanting to push him or scare him more than he was.  When the dad pulled him back over he was about in tears and having a hard time breathing.  Ryan did a good job of calming him down and making the conversation seem friendly.  He was such a sweet little boy with such proud parents.

A little later we headed down to the tracks to wait for the train.  Once we boarded I think everyone but Ryan slept for most of the hour and a half back.  once back we rushed off the train and to the taxi line. We went our separate ways after a short wait.  As the taxi looped around the station to head towards the Hill House we could see the major lines of people waiting for taxies at every exit and every taxi stand.  Our driver dropped us at the bottom of the hill, killing the point of a taxi, and left.  Once back at the room I was happy our long soggy day was over but yet again was a great one! 

Some facts about the Korean Holiday of Chusoke:
  • Chuseok (추석) was originally known as Hangawi (한가위) (from archaic Korean for "great middle").
  • It is a major harvest festival and a three-day holiday in Korea celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar.
  • Like many other harvest festivals, it is held around the Autumn Equinox.
  • In modern South Korea, on Chuseok there is a mass exodus of Koreans as they return to their hometowns to pay respects to the spirits of their ancestors.
  • People perform ancestral worship rituals early in the morning.
  • They visit the tombs of their immediate ancestors to trim plants and clean the area around the tomb, and offer food, drink, and crops to their ancestors.
  • Harvest crops are attributed to the blessing of ancestors.
  • One of the major foods prepared and eaten during the Chuseok holiday is songpyeon (송편), a crescent-shaped rice cake which is steamed upon pine needles.
  • Other foods commonly prepared are japchae, bulgogi and fruits.

1 comment:

Chas said...

Sounds like you guys experience the same type weather we do..rain, and more rain. I love seeing these cool temples and museums you guys go too. Isn't it amazing the details and artwork that went into making them? I bet it took forever to build that temple! Germans put "different" things on their pizza too. I must say I haven't tried one with squid before! I love how your parents brought plastic forks and spoons! I would have done the same thing. he he. Cool Prayer rocks! I wasn't surprised to read you guys ended up at another pizza place. I imagine lots of places were closed. Germans close down lots of places when they have a holiday too. Good thing I am getting better at cooking. Humm..I think you told me before you have to eat out of the same bowl..I just pictured it like an Olive Garden..something tells me no..not like Olive Garden. We have had to share tables with people we didn't know before..its different..then you realize the people you are sitting with have no idea what you are talking about so it doesn't matter. :)