Tag Archives: travel

No Naps Allowed – Hamilton Hotel Pool in Itaewon

Just last week I was swimming under a waterfall on the island of Jeju and last night I contemplated turning the heat on in my apartment. The weather in Korea at the moment reminds me of the transition from summer to fall back home in New England. The change is quick and if you don’t take the time to look around and enjoy the last bit of summer it will be time for scarves and boots before you know it. Toward the end of August I found my ultimate summer escape in Seoul. I was always intrigued by the loud techno beats booming from the rooftop swimming pool at the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon, but I had yet to bring my bathing suit, towel and sunscreen with me to Seoul. Each time I exited the subway across from the hotel entrance this past summer I told myself I must plan a day to enjoy this infamous pool. Summer flew by and after some internet research I learned that the pool was closing after the first weekend in September, so I went to bed early and set my alarm on the last Saturday in August and ventured into Seoul the next morning to spend the day poolside.

My friends and I arrived in Itaewon a little after 11am and the pool party was already going strong. The pool was packed with swimmers and sunbathers positioned around the pool making it difficult to walk from one side of the deck to the other. I had imagined a day of lounging on a chair reading my book and listening to music from my headphones but these plans were immediately squashed. This was a pool party and one of the last of the summer so people were making the most of the day. We stored out bags in a locker, grabbed drinks and made our way to the pool. There was no room to lounge on the deck so we spent most of the day floating around the pool.

A DJ in the corner pumped out dance music and the pool guests danced, drank and swam away the day. I was impressed by the Korean women who easily maneuvered their way around the pool in skimpy swim suits and super high heels while many of the men continuously applied tanning oil to their buff bodies and strutted by each other making sure to flex and convey how much time they spent each week at the gym. The pool atmosphere was one I had yet to experience in Korea and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the entertaining show that was the pool party until the sun began to set and we were ushered out of the pool facility by the hotel cleaning staff.

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I only made it to the Hamilton Hotel Pool once this summer and I regret this statistic. The pool provided a great escape from the summer heat and humidity and it was easy to get to in Itaewon. If you are in Seoul next summer I recommend checking it out, but don’t bring a book or expect to take a nap poolside. There will be dancing and loud music and you will love it. Just consider yourself warned.

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Directions: At Itaewon Station (line 6) walk out Exit 3 and you will find the Hamilton Hotel directly to your right. The pool is on the 5th floor.

The pool is open from 10am-6pm most days during the summer. Arrive early if you want to rent a chair and secure a spot on the pool deck. You can also rent towels and lockers. The pool is closed on rainy days.

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Seoul Subway Line 9!

Seoul Subway Challenge: Line 9

Line 9 still needs some work on its smile, but speaking as someone who didn’t get braces until the end of high school, I am going to give the 2009 addition to the Seoul Subway a break and appreciate the quirky half smirk that is a work in progress. Line 9 went live in July of 2009 and is the first privately run subway line in Korea run by Veolia Transport, a French company. Also called ‘The Golden Line’, Line 9 snakes from Gaehwa Station and Gimpo Airport along the south side of the Han River toward Sinnonhyeon Station in Gangnam to form a half smile. A full smile should be completed in the near future with plans for further station stops at the Sports Complex Station and later at Oryun Station.

I began my exploration of Line 9 close to its most eastern point. I was hungry after a long ride down from my home in Uijeongbu and I figured the Express Bus Terminal would stimulate my taste buds and sense of adventure on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Seoul…

Express Bus Terminal

At the Express Bus Terminal I did not venture outside as I did with the remainder of my Line 9 stops. There was no need to leave. There was plenty to see within steps of the subway exit. The Express Bus Terminal Station is under the Seoul Express Bus Terminal (aka Gangnam Bus Terminal) and it is not where you go to escape the hustle and bustle of Seoul. The terminal is full of people on the move. People are busy and moving fast in the Express Bus Terminal. They are in a rush to snatch up the latest designer pieces at Shinsegae, eat at the ‘Prestige Food Empire’ (Who knew we had ‘Premium Food Courts’ in this world?), check into the exclusive Marriott Hotel or depart for/arrive from another swanky city in Korea. After mindlessly wandering the maze of floors in the terminal my friends and I decided to eat at KFC before venturing to our next stop on Line 9. Believe it or not, this was my first time eating at a KFC. *shock* I don’t know, the ‘Prestige Food Empire’ just freaked me out. And I had promised my friends a travel-worthy lunch for accompanying me on my Seoul Subway Challenge adventure. And they like KFC.

Dongjak

Line 9 leaves no room for travel confusion. The elaborate digital screens in each car display the upcoming station information along with a birds-eye view map showing the immediate neighborhood at each location. At Dongjak Station we simply scoured the map and chose a spot to explore and its corresponding numbered exit. Seoul National Cemetery was desolate except for a lone woman wandering the aisles of graves chanting some sort of prayer or song. We walked among the uniform grave stones of hundreds of Korean Veterans. The late President Kim Dae-Jung was interred here in 2009. We soon found ourselves in a lush pathway leading to a bridge over a small river teeming with brightly colored fish. With no KFC leftovers to spare, my friend searched her bag and found a package of crackers to feed the fish. Watching fish jump and splash for bits of old peanut butter crackers: It really is the little things in life…

Noryangin

A few stops after our friendly fish feeding experience we found ourselves in the midst of a bloody and lively seafood massacre. We followed small signs illustrated with fish designs along a subway track  overpass toward the obvious smell of fresh fish. The Noryangin Fisheries Market is Seoul’s largest marine products market with over 66,000 square meters of small shops, auction spaces and restaurants. If it swims you will find it here and usually at a much cheaper price than you would at a supermarket. The 24-hour market is full of an intense sense of urgency. With many of the 700+ small shops selling the same products, they are competitive and will stop at nothing to gain the attention of shoppers meandering up and down the market aisles. As I stopped to snap a few pictures of live octopus, shrimp, giant crab, oysters and flounder, some shopkeepers were full of pride and posed for my camera while others frowned and quickly ushered me away because they saw my photography as a distraction and a missed selling opportunity.

Yeouido

After the crowded fish market it was nice to breathe some fresh air upon exiting the station at Yeouido. We walked a few blocks to the Cultural Event Plaza where a sign at the park entrance encourages people to “rest or talk with friends”. We did just that and also snacked on some cotton candy a friendly man was selling from the back of his motorcycle. Children giggled as they ran about in the open space, older couples walked briskly along the shaded bike path and young professionals played basketball in  collared shirts, ties and dress pants (Sunday?).

Dangsan

Dangsan was a perfect last stop for our expedition. A narrow bridge outside the station exit led us over the busy street to the Han River where we spotted a strategically placed 7-11. I can’t think of a better way to spend a late Sunday afternoon: enjoying a cold beer sitting beside the river and watching boats pass by. As I finished my beer I felt my phone buzz from my pocket. A message from my father back in the US surprised me. “Are you prepared for the TYPHOON!?” it read. I laughed and put my phone away. Korea continues to surprise me each day as I attempt to teach and survive typhoons, but at least I can rely on the Seoul Subway for convenient and dependable transportation.

Which line gets you around Seoul? Take a look:

Line 1

Line 2

Line 3

Line 4

Line 5

Line 6

Line 7

Line 8

Thanks to Waegook Tom for making this happen!

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Vacation Travel: Don’t forget to pack the right people.

I arrived in Seoul smack in the middle of February, an unsympathetic month following the excitement of holiday cheer in December and the promise of new beginnings in January. February rudely reminds you that winter has no plans to retire anytime soon and you better start planning a vacation if you want to remain sane. Shortly after settling into my new life of teaching and living in Korea, I met a handful of new friends and we compared teaching jobs, living arrangements and vacation dates. I was ecstatic when I realized I shared the same summer vacation with two of my new friends. Even though we had just started our lives abroad, we quickly began planning our first adventure outside of Korea. I think the planning is half the fun!

We decided to spend a week in Taiwan in late July. We booked our flights in the spring and then we all became busy teaching and living life. Time flew by, as it does in Korea, and before I knew it, it was a week before my vacation. I found myself panicking and I soon realized I was stressed about my upcoming week off from work. Is that even allowed? I was nervous about traveling for a week with new friends. I loved meeting them for coffee and laughing over teaching stories and exploring Seoul on the weekends, but would we work together as a traveling trio? Perhaps one of us might surface as an annoying diva and make us all suffer for the week? Would another throw caution to the wind and make irrational and dangerous decisions in a country we knew little about? Was it possible that one of us was secretly a vacation dictator and would order the group around with daily itineraries and little time to rest or be spontaneous? I knew these girls socially, but would we mesh in vacation world?

Sadly, for those of you hoping for an entertainingly disastrous story, we got along splendidly. With only a hostel room booked for the first two nights and a travel book in hand, we made the week a pleasant one and came back to Seoul still friends. The three of us worked well together. We each brought something to the table.

One friend shared with us her country connections. She had studied abroad in college with a girl from Taipei. On our first night in the country’s capital the friend and her sister gladly met up with us near our hostel and took us on an exclusive tour of one of the city’s famous night markets. I can say with much certainty that I would never have tried Stinky Tofu  if it were not for these sisters coaxing us to hold our noses and “just try it”. They were extremely generous and proud to share a bit of their culture with us. Throughout our stay in Taiwan, even though we eventually ventured outside of Taipei, this Taiwanese friend stayed in contact with my friend and gave us travel advice and even made sure we were safe when an unexpected typhoon greeted us at the beach.

My other companion, having been in Korea for 2 years and an avid traveler, was the one who got us places. She told us early on in the trip, “I never guess, I ask for help.” When I almost wasted $15 in buying the wrong metro card, she quickly squashed my idea and marched us over to the information booth a few feet away. She showed the attendant by pointing to a map which station we needed to get to and he then sold us individual trip tickets that were less than $1. This friend was confident and direct in getting the right information. In situations where I might tend to swing and hope for the best, she made sure we made contact with the right people and got us what we needed as travelers in a foreign country.

Toward the end of our vacation as we sat enjoying drinks at a beach-side bar one night, we eyed a few foreigners lingering nearby. We assumed they were like us: teachers from Korea on vacation. With a deck of cards, full beers and little knowledge of actual card game rules, we knew we would benefit from more friends at our table. After a few awkward moments I turned around and called them over. “Could you help us…?” I offered a silly question that made them smile and move their seats, and from there we went on to have an epic night of cards, beers, beach and new friends. The next day my travel companions complemented me on my ability to socially ‘break the ice’. I have no shame in being the first one to confront strangers, just as long as I can rely on my friends to keep the conversation going once it has begun.

I hope to travel much more in the coming months. I have a few long weekends, a winter vacation and the option of travel after I leave Korea to look forward to. My first vacation taught me that as important as logistics are, it is crucial to make sure these plans involve the right people. I lucked out and packed the right companions without even realizing it. Now I just need to decide where to travel to next…

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Hummus Heaven at High Street Market

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“You look like you could use an almond milk coffee smoothie with real mint chocolate bits,” the man behind the counter caught me off-guard as I stood at the entrance of the store wide-eyed and drooling. “I can make it for you now and you can enjoy it while you shop.” I nodded, unable to verbalize my gratitude. “Did he just read my mind?” I thought. Maybe he did, or maybe he just saw me for the sucker that I am, regardless, the drink was beyond amazing and I couldn’t help but make a few annoying slurping sounds with my straw as I managed to enjoy each bit of the almond milk deliciousness as I browsed all that High Street Market had to offer.

I spy Nutella!

High Street Market is located in Itaewon in Seoul and had been on my list of places to visit for a few months now. According to the store’s website, The idea of High Street Market was conceived in late 2010 when a few foreign guys doing local import business decided to create a place where people could find the foods they missed back home, all under one roof.

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I knew I would most likely go shopping crazy when I visited, so I had to time my visit when I could manage to carry a few heavy bags from the store directly to the subway and home with no interruptions. I easily convinced my friend to accompany me for the trek into Seoul one Saturday, and I awoke the morning of our shopping trip itching to get my hands on a few precious foreign food items I have been craving: almond milk (duh, it’s awesome!) and hummus (the main staple of my diet at home).

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The store is easy to find, you take the Seoul Subway Line 6 to the Itaewon Station and use Exit 2. At Exit 2 you simply walk about 5 minutes until you see the IP Boutique Hotel on your left and High Street Market is right next to it on the 2nd floor. The address is 2F, 737-24, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea. High Street Market is also all about staying connected, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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I managed to find what I was looking for and more. Two equally amazing varieties of hummus were being sampled along with crispy baguettes at the deli counter and two kinds of almond milk were for sale. There was some serious mind reading going on! I also found, among others, cooking spray, ingredients to make my own hummus, cookies for my students and fellow teachers, ranch dressing, Nutella!, Nature Valley breakfast bars and some locally made vegan treats from a Seoul favorite, Alien’s Day Out. The staff were extremely friendly and spoke English and they gladly recommended products and answered my foodie questions. High Street Market is known for their fabulous selections of meats, cheeses, breads, wines and beer, but they also have a comfortable corner of the store that serves as a cozy cafe sitting area. I could go on, but I am getting hungry…get yourself to High Street Market and I apologize in advance for buying all the hummus (I think I managed to snag 5 tubs!).

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Jason Mraz: showing me up with his Korean skills

 

Jason Mraz was in Korea for about a week and he knows way more Korean than me. Watching him make small talk with the Korean audience between songs at last month’s Rainbow Island Festival on Nami Island (Namiseom) was just the motivation I needed to kick my butt into gear and learn Korean.

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I have always loved live music, most of my paychecks in Boston went directly to paying for concert tickets and I am okay with that. I was thrilled to learn that Jason Mraz would be in Korea for a show in Busan and also headlining the Rainbow Island Festival about 1 hour from Seoul. I impulsively purchased tickets and luckily found a friend who was a fan of the man who sings ‘The Remedy’ and ‘I’m Yours’. Koreans love Jason. It is difficult to sit in any coffee shop in Korea for 20 minutes and not be serenaded by one of his romantic ballads. I even scored some ‘cool teacher’ points when I mentioned the concert to a few of my students.

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My friend and I were excited to see Jason perform but we were unsure of what to expect from the Rainbow Island experience. We headed to Nami Island early on Saturday morning by subway. I gave us plenty of travel time to account for mistakes along the way, but the transportation, as always, was simple and fool proof. The subway from Seoul took us right to the station closest to the island and then a five minute taxi ride brought us to the water’s edge where we claimed our concert tickets and were promptly ushered onto a ferry. Sometimes Koreans really impress me with their organization skills. Within minutes we were on-island each with a colorfully illustrated island map that also conveniently served as a fan. Oh Korea, you’re always thinking of everything.

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The music festival was incredible. My friend and I arrived on island in the early afternoon and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we explored the island, ate delicious food, listened to live music playing on numerous stages and collected as many festival freebies as we could: temporary tattoos, backpacks that turn into sitting mats, Vitamin waters, organic face moisturizer samples, a sound amplifier for smart phones and more! The festival booths were all interactive and provided much entertainment. Jason came on the main stage at 8pm and the Koreans went wild – they love him! It was a perfect summer night and he sang old and new songs and I was surprised that the crowd knew every song he performed. His band was fantastic and he sounded amazing live. He played for over two hours and the show was worth the hassle of waiting in line for the ferry to take us back to the mainland and the walk back to the subway station where we realized the train to Seoul was done for the night..but that’s another story for another time. Come back soon Jason…you can help me practice my Korean!

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back to the beach – BUSAN!

I had no problem hopping a plane from Boston to Korea in the middle of February to teach English in Korea. I love New England, but I have never been a fan of winter. I was born to swim and I live for summers at the beach, as short as they may be. As summer made it’s way to Korea I admit I was a bit homesick for NH beaches and my favorite summer spot, Martha’s Vineyard. I quickly reached out to my friends in Busan from Chungdahm Training and planned a beach weekend. Little did I know, the weekend happened to also be the Busan Sand Festival. Traveling to Busan was simple – I left my apartment early on Saturday morning and made my way into Seoul on the subway and then caught a KTX train to Busan. I was dipping my toes in the water by early afternoon and spent the rest of the day and evening at the beach catching up with friends and swimming as much as possible.

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On Sunday, I spent time exploring the sand castles that were on display all along the beach and listened to live music booming from a gigantic stage set right on the sand. I think most of Korea joined me in Busan for the weekend, but I really didn’t mind the crowds. I loved watching the cute Korean kids squeal with delight as they chased waves and intently constructed sandcastles at the surf’s edge. In the sea of Korean families I felt very much at home – I knew that just across the world there was a very similar beach scene taking place. It was all too familiar – a mother lounging on her towel trying to skim her novel while keeping an eye on her kids, a father chasing the little ones into the waves and children making seaweed delicacies for all to try – oh summer I love you – wherever you are!

If you know MV you will appreciate this beach restaurant/bar we went to – SHARKYS’! What!? Where am I?

Cheers for now…posting this back in my room as my fan blows warm air in my face…missing the beach!

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a bad case of facebook envy & 5 lessons learned abroad (so far)

*Be the person you envy. Live the life you’d be envious of if you saw someone else living it.*

Here is my first travel piece published in my hometown NH newspaper. I hope to write a piece each month for the paper – wish me luck. I have included the first paragraph and you can click the link for the rest. What should I write about next?

Last spring I found myself up too late on a weeknight perusing the time sucker that is Facebook. I pathetically drooled over photo albums from my adventurous friends exploring the world. I fell asleep with a small seed of jealously planted firmly in my stomach. The seed grew, and soon I found myself daydreaming at work and realizing I had to do something to squash this unflattering jealousy. I undoubtably loved each messy, new, hilarious, challenging and delightful moment of my two post college years living with friends and working in Boston, but I was itching for change. It took me a few months and lots of advice and encouragement from my friends and family, but I finally decided to skip town and get lost.

Here are five things I have learned from living abroad (so far)…

Fosters Daily Democrat

 

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be mindful of your shoes and mind – Haeinsa Temple Stay

A few Saturdays ago, instead of relishing in the time that is a weekend morning without work, I struggled out of bed before 6am, threw a few random overnight necessities into a bag and headed out to find where the heck the Uijeongbu bus terminal was located… I had originally been hesitant to commit to a temple-stay weekend with friends at the end of April, not because I wasn’t eager to sleep, eat and learn at a Buddhist temple for a night, but because I had already enthusiastically scribbled over the entire weekend on my calendar: LADY GAGA WEEKEND!! I wasn’t sure if I could squeeze a megastar pop concert (the biggest show at the Olympic Seoul Stadium since MJ) and a spiritually rejuvenating temple visit into one single weekend. In the end I realized I could do both, I would have to forgo the Friday post-concert night out in Seoul to be physically able to get up and leave for the temple Saturday, but in the end it was very much worth the sacrifice.

After a 4+ hour bus ride, a subway excursion and another 1+ hour bus ride we made it to the Haeinsa Temple located in the Gaya mountains of Hapcheon-gun (county) in the southeast part of the country. The temple’s name means ‘Temple of Reflection on a Smooth Sea’, which is taken from a passage in the Avatamsaka Sutra where the wisdom of the Buddha is compared to a calm sea. When the mind — like the sea — is freed from the waves of worldly desire, it will perfectly reflect existence as it truly is.” (http://english.visitkorea.or.kr)

I had signed up for the temple-stay unaware of the significance of the Haeinsa Temple. The weekend’s plans were orchestrated by a friend and I had appreciated the calm in not having to plan any of the travel logistics. I should have asked which particular temple we were visiting, but I got caught up in my busy teaching weeks and failed to educate myself on the trip beforehand. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Haeinsa Temple is one of Korea’s three largest Buddhist monasteries, or one of the “Three Jewels” as Korean Buddhists call them. The temple is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site (added in 1995) because it has been home to the Tripitaka Koreana, a selection of wooden printing blocks (81,350 of them!) of 13th century Buddhist scriptures that make up the most complete and oldest edition of the Buddhist canon in Chinese characters, since 1398.

The temple was first built in 802. Legend says that two Korean monks returned from China, Suneung and Ijeong, and healed King Aejang (애장왕, 哀莊王) wife’s of her illness. In gratitude of the Buddha‘s mercy, the king ordered the construction of the temple.  Another account, by Choe Chi-Won in 900 states that Suneung and his disciple Ijeong, gained the support of a queen dowager who converted to Buddhism and then helped to finance the construction of the temple. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haeinsa)

*****

Haeinsa is nestled into the quiet mountainside of one of Korea’s national parks. A brief hike from the bus stop to the entrance of the temple revealed how far from the bustling streets of Seoul we really were. After checking-in with the main office we were given our temple stay uniforms and guided to our overnight room. I was exhausted from the day of traveling and the lack of sleep the night before, but I was primed – and a bit nervous – to start the stay.

The bus dropped us off at the base of a hill in the Gaya mountains. We followed the Korean crowds up the hill to the temple. Although only a small group of us (mostly foreigners) were there for an overnight stay, I was surprised at the sea of Koreans hiking, exploring and enjoying the serenity of the temple during the day on Saturday and Sunday.

We stopped to admire many signs of Buddhist art and sculpture before even reaching the temple gates.

The architecture was fantastic – I am in love with the temple colors!

This area of the temple is home to the the Buddhist instruments that are used to announce the time for monks to practice their daily rites. The instruments include the dharma drum, the wooden fish and the large brahma bell.

I experienced the drumming of the dharma drum once in the evening as the sun set on Saturday and also at 3:20am on Sunday when the day began for the Haeinsa Temple monks and Buddhist practitioners. The drum beats to save all beings living on earth, from humans to animals to ants, and so on. The sound of the beating drum is considered to echo the sound of Buddha’s teachings. (http://english.visitkorea.or.kr)

Our temple stay crew in our fashionable uniforms! They were not the least bit flattering, but they were definitely comfortable.

Saturday night we drank traditional tea with our guides and made our own lotus lanterns. It was a relaxing end to the day and we were surprised with a visit from a Haeinsa Temple monk who came to sit with us and answer any questions we had. His words were translated with help from our guides, and he stressed that we take what we learned in the temple home to incorporate into our daily lives as needed. It was a pleasantly relaxing activity, I loved sitting quietly among the rest of the group as we all worked creatively with our hands and listened to the monk. We all broke out in smiles and low giggles when the room was suddenly filled with song and the monk sheepishly fished out his cell phone from his pocket and excused himself from the room to take a call.

Bedtime was 9pm on Saturday night, and in my opinion it was the perfect time to head to bed. To be honest, my sleep patterns in Korea have been a bit sporadic. I teach everyday from 1-8pm, so most nights I find myself staying up very late and waking up each morning when most of my friends have already put in a solid few hours of productive work. In my 2+ months in Korea, this night was the first night I was in bed with my eyes closed before 11pm – let alone 9pm! I was exhausted and drifted off to sleep effortlessly. Although my bed consisted of only a few blankets and a small pillow on the hard floor, I was instantly comfortable. The front door of the “dorm” was open and fresh air and the sounds from a  monk-made stone waterfall lulled me to sleep…until my alarm sounded at 2:55am.

One of the teaching moments that stayed with me from the weekend was a brief explanation of the placement of your shoes from our guide. She explained: You must be mindful of your shoes and in turn the mindfulness will spread into other parts of your life. This was during our first monk/temple etiquette class as the guides were introducing themselves to us. One of them pointed to the pile of shoes at the room entrance. We had all been in a hurry to change into our uniforms and find the class meeting room. Many of us had unknowingly shuffled out of our shoes and left them scattered outside the room. The guide explained that how we arrange our shoes tells a lot about us and our state of mindfulness. After that I took the time to carefully place my shoes neatly outside each temple room we entered.

 

We hiked up to another small temple that is situated away from the main temple where monks can practice in complete silence.

There were fountains sprinkled all over the temple grounds where people used plastic scoops to drink the water. I simply followed.


There were so many tiny spots of art that you could easily miss while trying to take it all in. The attention to detail is amazing!

I am most familiar with the Nazi use of the swastika and I was unaware that it was first used in ancient civilizations around the world. Today it is still used in religions including Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The symbol is meant to evolve ‘shakti’ or the sacred symbol of auspiciousness. The swastika is also a Chinese character that is used in East Asia to represent eternity and Buddhism.

It doesn’t matter how much sleep you get, 3am is rough if you are not used to it. The early wake-up was a bit difficult and I snapped a picture of myself to document my earliest wake-up in Korea thus-far. We soon realized it was worth it to experience the first dharma drumming of the day.

*****

Although this is only a taste of my stay, it was a stunning weekend and I returned to Uijeongbu on Sunday night physically exhausted but mentally refreshed and looking forward to my next temple stay. Not all temples are the same, so I am intrigued to see what the next one will reveal.

Thanks for reading!

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internet is life

So first of all…I apologize for my tardy first official blog post IN KOREA! I made it through training week (phewww!) & I am now settling into my apartment/teaching…and I finally have internet!

It has been a crazy few weeks since my last post. I learned on Tuesday 2/14 I would have to apply/collect my visa before Friday 2/17, catch a 6am flight in Boston –> NYC –> Seoul on Saturday 2/18, arrive in Seoul 6pm (Seoul time) on Sunday 2/19, and then start training (medical exams & teaching exams) at 8am Monday 2/20…and I thought I was leaving AT LEAST a week later. Oh boy. I rushed through my last few days at home packing, completing my lingering to-do list, and of course saying goodbye to many friends & family! Thanks for making the time to see me on such short notice!! xoxox all

I didn’t really have much time to get nervous…I had so much to do! I don’t want to drag on…but I made it to Seoul! The trip was surprisingly straight forward. My heavy baggage was a struggle, but I managed. Chungdahm (the company I am working for) was great with explaining the entire travel process….I felt like I was following a scavenger hunt map. Ex. 1) Make your way through customs 2) Find a bus at 4b that is black and red 3) Exit the bus and find a cab that looks like –> a drawing . . . it was so simple!! I made it to the hotel and was about to crash when a few fellow trainees invited me to dinner. Why not? We went to a Korean BBQ restaurant and although I usually do not eat meat I found myself consuming crispy pork stuffed into lettuce leaves. I quickly realized that I will have to be more adventurous with eating here – Koreans love their bbq meat!

Training week was intense – but I believe that it did help prepare me for my first day of teaching. I am teaching young students. Some of my classes know little English and others can read at a 2nd or 3rd grade level. My school recently implemented the young student program, April English, they used to just cater to older students.

I hope to use this blog to post various thoughts/loves/frustrations/adventures etc. of my new life in Korea. I am not sure where I want it to go but I know I don’t want to neglect it! We will see what happens

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Be well.

Goodbye (ahn-nyong-i kah-se-yo)

Devan

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