Sunday, October 19, 2008
Getting into Korean Culture
So it has finally happened. I was beginning to wonder if it ever was but alas all good things must come to an end. (just teasing). I finally got the opportunity to spend some time with Koreans doing korean things outside of school. It was really quite marvelous. I guess the first incident was about two weeks ago when one of the gr 6 teachers went away for a week long course and the gym teacher replaced her. The other gr 6 teachers were so excited, that they decided to go out and celebrate. Now she isn't the worst woman, but compared to the other gr6 teachers she is much older, much more strict and not really into partying i would imagine. Luckily for me, I was invited.
We began at 3pm by going to a presentation for teachers at the local cultural center, which was most entertaining. We saw students playing music, singing and even rapping and one of our very own teachers performed a few dances with his dance sport team (competition ballroom dancing). After that we recieved soybean cooking oil just for being such great teachers and then we took off to find somewhere to eat. After much debate we went to a lovely japanese restaurant which was an interesting mix of japanese food and korean side dishes. It was a insane amount of food and i am amazed we managed to finish off 3/4 of it, along with 6 or 7 bottles of soju (korean alcohol) and 5 or 6 litre bottles of beer. Slowly my co-teachers began to show signs of "alcoholic english speaking" as they refer to it and even the 6-2 teacher talked to me with more than one word answers. This lead us to deciding to find a new place to go and drink and we ended up at kwanghee's tea house which is a place i adore and was so pleased to find myself there. I am not sure how many drinks we consumed there, but i didn't notice my main co-teacher leave to go home and by the time i made it home it was 11pm. All in all it was an awesome experience. I got to laugh and visit with my co-teachers. Got to see how much Koreans can drink and boy can they drink and it made me feel really apart of the team.
My second major incident occured this weekend after much planning by Caitriona and i, we found ourselves at Yakchunsa temple to stay for the night. This temple is exquisite. It has the largest Buddha hall in the Orient and had three other smaller halls with different Buddhas in them. We arrived at around 5pm, greeted by Dokwan a very interesting character. He was originally an investment bank manager in Seoul with a wife and two daughters, but after his divorce he decided to become a monk. With his wife and kids settled in North vancouver, he has now been a monk for two years. As he had spent time in canada,as well,he spoke excellent english and we spent the weekend with him as our host serving us tea and talking to us about buddhism, canada, finance and many other topics. We got to participate in the three ceremonies they hold each day, at 4:30am, 10:30am and 6:30pm. The ceremonies consisted of a number of different mantras and prayers with the customary genuflection to Buddha and completed with silent meditation. After each ceremony we would eat lunch made from the rice donated to Buddha during the time since the last ceremony. The food was delicious and 100% vegetarian which i can not tell you how happy that made me. I was actually quite suprised to eat so much, thinking we would only eat one meal a day.
The whole experience was so peaceful and the 4 am wake up was actually quite pleasant. It was the perfect weekend with gorgeous weather and i am so happy to have some new friends who love to share about their culture. All are welcome and invited to come and have a tea ceremony says Do-Kwan.