Today I felt drawn towards making another visit to Jogyesa Temple in Insadong. And I arrived just in time for the Sunday night service! The service was led by a monk who sang and played music…it was deeply moving.
I’ve been feeling the pull to venture out for a solo daytrip for a couple weeks now…and what could be better than a day at the hot springs after dancing, singing, playing, “heavy-weight lifting” with 4 year olds all week???
over Buddha’s Birthday weekend, 5 of us took a ferry to the island of Deok Jeok Do, located about an hour away from Incheon Airport
When we arrived on Friday afternoon, the weather was picture perfect…Everyone was just thrilled to be at the beach. I felt right at home taking a nap on the sand right when we arrived!
We stayed at a minbak, which is sort of a korean version of a bed and breakfast. We slept on blankets on the floor which was actually very comfy. So comfy I’ve started sleeping on my floor at home, in fact. Anyways, the family that owned it was warm and friendly to us…even letting us pick the veggies off their farm. Here’s some cultural authenticity!
Being silly on the beach and collecting shells.
photos above: a. brady 🙂
The next 2 days it rained.
And I became a sourpuss.
I realize I need to work on not letting a little bad weather affect my moods. But this particular weekend i felt even worse than the usual bad weather blues. I felt homesick and a little, okay a lot, lost.
I talked to a couple friends about it.
One idea was that it was just a case of culture shock hitting me during the 4th month.
I sensed that it was more than that.
It took a couple days after getting back from Deok Jeok Do to figure out what the hell came over me.
My take on it: I felt like i wasn’t in control…
I’m used to planning everything and doing everything solo…
and not used to letting someone else take the driver’s seat.
So next time i need to become aware of this feeling before heading out on the trip, by acknowledging that the trip is not in my hands, or by taking on some part of the trip planning task.
P.S. After all that psychobabble being said…I’m grateful to Jeno for planning this trip (otherwise, it probably never would have happened!).
Anyways, We were all looking forward to a beach getaway complete with suntans…but we made the best of our rained-out beach vacay by cooking yummy food, and finding a kareoke bar… 🙂
The farmland outside of our minbak where we picked our own veggies
we cooked! (well, Jeno did…thanks Jeno!)
we shared sea snails with our minbok neighbors! (yum!)
we noraebanged mid-day! That’s kareoke gone wild… (picture tbd)
and we ate some more. This Sunday brunch of bean paste stew (tenjin jigae) and all the sides was only $5).
keeping dry with lovely Jeno on the way to the ferry.
photo: a. brady
see you next time, Deok Jeok Do!
Headed off to the island of Deok-Jeok-Do today!
My first time out of the city of Seoul since I arrived nearly four months ago.
So excited to spend time with good people and be at the beach.
The last couple days something has been bothering me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then last night I walked through the alleys of Itaewon, my neighborhood which is known for it’s gearing towards foreigners.
I found a couple nooks and crannies that actually felt really Korean. and my heart skipped a beat.
I can’t deny that I’m craving some cultural authenticity out of Korea. It’s what I wanted out of my travels.
Seoul is wonderful in that you can get around without knowing much Korean. Many a sign is in English.
But the things that excite me most are the little alleyway markets and experiences that make me actually feel I’m in a very foreign land. Communicating successfully through hand gestures and exchanges involving the few Korean words I know and the few English words a little ajjima (Korean old lady) knows can put me on a high.
Last week at the Lantern Parade, I had my first “holy crap, I really AM in Asia” moment. Surrounded by a celebration of a foreign culture, swept away by the beats of a korean drum, mentally and spiritually satisfied by the visual parade and music of a proud korean people, young and old, carrying beautiful lanterns through the streets of Seoul, passing through the ancient temples…
It took me nearly 4 months to have that ah-ha! moment…
Stand by for a Korean adventure…tbd…
Let me just start by saying I adore Asian food. The parents took me to the sushi bar at the ripe ole’ age of six, and Western food just never tasted good again. Give me Japanese, Korean, or Thai any day over pizza, burgers, spagetti, and tacos.
During college, I used to drive a half hour to the Asian market just to get some of these ingredients to eat at home. Now they are available in alleyways all over Korea for radically insanely cheap prices.
Even though eating out in Korea is extremely cheap, it’s even cheaper to eat at home if you get the right ingredients. Plus, in Korea, eating usually is a social thing, and if you are in a meditative mood, well, sometimes home cooking is good for the “Seoul”.
yes, this explains why most of the food is raw and uncooked in the following pictures. I avoid turning on this hotplate…
Dotorimuk + Nigari Dubu (tofu) + sesame oil + soybean paste + green onions
Dotorimuk is a jelly made from acorn starch. It’s low in calories, high in protein and several vitamins and minerals.
Mung Bean Jelly…same idea as Dotorimuk, but made from mungbeans…
Homemade yogurt by Elisa!
After being on antibiotics for two weeks, it was important to get the good bacteria going again my system. Korean yogurt tends to be loaded with tons of sugar, so I made my own lower-sugar option by adding store-bought yogurt (for it’s cultures) to milk.
How to make homemade yogurt:
1.Dump 1 cup of yogurt and 1 carton of milk into tupperware.
2. Fill sink up with hot water. Cover tupperware and allow to sit overnight.
3. Voila, fresh plain yogurt in the morning. Refrigerate and enjoy!
Okay, I officially am having a wonderful time here in Seoul!
The weather is now sundress worthy, I’ve met some amazing people, and am happy as a clam.
This past Sunday was the Lotus Lantern Festival in Insadong. Insadong and the surrounding area of Jongno is what I’d call the cultural mecca of Seoul. Alongside skyscrapers are beautiful old Buddhist temples and shrines, which were decorated with beautiful lanterns during the weeks leading to the festival. The festival is held in honor of Buddha’s Birthday every year.
Seeking shade underneath countless paper lanterns. If you look closely enough, you can see the paper prayers hung from the bottom for the worshipper’s ancestors and family.
photos courtesy:B O’rourke
Us girls posing for a pic with the lanterns we made ourselves–gotta love crafting!
Temple. Yes, we actually went in and sat in awe. I plan to go visit for Sunday services simply for the peace I felt here.
The sheer bliss of joining in the Lotus Lantern Parade~TK and I danced to the amazing music alongside the parade-ers. It was pure bliss.
Lantern collecting and dancing to the beats of Korean marching bands.
photos courtesy: B. O’Rourke and A. Brady (Thanks!)
But the USA economy being what it was in 2008…well, it didn’t leave a lot of options. And I don’t think I was quite ready to make the leap from the crazy modeling and acting industry to Korean english teaching. I needed to come home, take a break–I needed a reality check.