Sunday, July 10, 2011

Temple and Homestay, Part 1

The hotel room is wonderful. There were two beds, one double and one twin, and SuJin let me have the double and it was amazing! I swear, the pillows here are to die for. They are so fluffy and soft and you feel like you never want to move.

We left after a Western style breakfast, including hashbrowns and eggs, to go to another temple. This temple had many building and we saw the monks doing some traditional ceremonies, which our guide said was rare for them to be doing during the day during the tourist hours. We couldn’t take any pictures of them or the Buddhas, but it was everything I expected. The shaved head, the robe, bare feet, the chanting. They explained to us that anyone can become a Buddha, which is the opposite of Christianity in that there is only one God. I love hearing about Buddhism and it fascinated me the differences between Buddhism and Christianity.

The guide told me one story that I thought was cool that I want to share. There was a male student who was very bad and did nothing right. He died young and his fellow classmates held a funeral for him because they felt sorry for him. The teacher then was called to a meeting in another country and invited the class to go with him for a learning experience. On the way, they saw a tree moving upriver and they went to investigate. A tree had grown onto the back of a fish and the fish was in so much agony he couldn’t move fast and was in constant pain. The students and teachers left but the students asked the teacher to meditate to find out what the fish’s former life had been like for him to earn such a awful fate in the next life. He found out it was the student who died shortly before and they went back the next day to perform a forgiveness ceremony for the fish. The fish asked the teacher to make a bell to play every day to remind him to not go back to his former ways in the next life. So the teacher cut the tree off the fish and made a bell that had the body of a fish and the head of a dragon. Their belief is that a fish that reaches Nirvana becomes a dragon and flies out of the water.

There were several stories like this and I guess it’s our stories like Noah’s Ark or Jonah and the whale. It was raining the entire time and I got soaked even though I had a poncho and an umbrella.

We then went back on the bus back to Busan to start our homestay. We went to a restaurant to eat that had Bulgogi burgers, and I expected hamburgers. Nope. It was a hamburger patty with a sweet onion sauce on it. It was good but I had never eaten anything like this. Then I went with SuJin to her house. One of her friends came over and we talked about English and Korean and I explained a few things to them and they taught me a few new phrases. I explained how to say “I want to” to “I wanna” and others like it. It was so fun to hear them say it this way. They taught me slang words for hey, good bye, friend, etc.

SuJin’s mom then came home and we ate pig’s leg for supper. It was delicious. This is how you eat meat here. You get a piece a lettuce. Then you put rice, onion, a spicy sauce, and whatever else on it, and then the meat (using chopsticks of course). Then you wrap it up and shove it into your mouth. Very efficient way to eat. They put a ton of little dished on the table and you might have a small plate but everyone eats off the same plates. They normally don’t use napkins or drink water or another drink with their food.

SuJin, her friend, and I then went to a little restaurant near her house and met another friend and hung out for awhile. That’s what I told her I wanted to do: meet some of her friends. It was so much fun because there wasn’t a common language between the three of us. There were 4 languages between us, but not one we all spoke, so that was fun. I went  to sleep around 12 and SuJin let me have her bed and she slept on the extra bed in her brother’s room. Isn’t she the best?!

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