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Day 7

June 20, 2011

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It was another busy day, starting off with check-out at 9:30. Our first stop was another Buddhist temple, Bulguksa. The stone wall and steps at the front are the only remaining original pieces, but the rest was reconstructed by 1972. It is 15 centuries old! These temples are all beautifully maintained and so peaceful. There are trees everywhere, and it is a very nice place to be with your thoughts.

Interestingly, there is a Buddhist swastica. The legs go in the opposite direction from the Nazi symbol. They also have a trinity symbol, which is three circles representing past, present, and future, or monks, scrolls, and Buddha. Pagodas are basically hiding places for valuables. At each temple, there is always a place near the entrance containing four guardians that keep out the evil spirits, one for each direction, north, south, east, and west. Inside the temple where people actually worship, there are three Buddhas, one for past, one for present, and one for future. Each Buddha also has a special gesture. The famous “ohm” gesture with thumb touching the fore or middle finger is indicating whether the person is a monk, a Buddhist, or a non-Buddhist. The ring finger is for non-Buddhists.

There was no place to walk and pray at this temple. But there was this money pig. I rubbed it in hopes that our business does well.

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Next, we went to Seokgulam Grotto, which involved a beautiful walk through the woods on the cleanest trail I have ever been on. The temple is situated at the very top of a mountain, with gorgeous views of the valley below. It is a popular place to see the sun rise, though you can only do so about 80 days a year, when it is clear. It was hazy and rainy today, but still beautiful.

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Lunch was tofu soup, which doesn’t sound exciting, but you rarely have just one dish in Korea. The spread included numerous side dishes, so we were suitably stuffed when we left.

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On our way to Daegu, we stopped at the SexMuseum Love Castle, which I has seen yesterday as we passed it on the way to pottery. Too amusing to pass up a photo op, we all climbed out for a few choice shots of this bizzare and hilarious museum of erotica, complete with daycare.

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The drive to Daegu was not too long and uneventful. It is the third biggest city in South Korea. We stopped at the Eastern office there for a Korean language class. The teacher was Ms. Kim, and she taught us a few phrases, but mostly was just charming and energetic. She was an English language and education major, and learned English completely domestically. She spoke pretty well considering she has never been immersed in an English-speaking country.

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The bus left us at Eastern and immediately headed north to Seoul with our bags, but we got to ride the fast train from Daegu. A few minutes from the Eastern office, we took a taxi to the train station and I couldn’t believe how cheap it was. 2300 won for the whole trip. We had four people in our car, and even though it was a very brief ride, I was shocked at the low price. That is less than the base rate in New York!

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The train was very comfortable and smooth. Quiet and efficient. It takes less than two hours to get to Seoul from Daegu.

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We got a quick bite to eat and roamed around the LOTTE Mart, a huge store with food, clothes, houseware, etc. before meeting back up with the bus and coming back at last to the guest house. It is good to be back in Seoul.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Julia Bates permalink
    June 21, 2011 12:27 am

    Great that Seoul is starting to feel like an anchor–a place that you can count as your own in some way.

  2. Amy S. permalink
    June 21, 2011 1:40 am

    Mmmm looks yummy! I love how you can just take bites from all different dishes – that’s a great way to eat! Have you seen a female Buddha at any of the temples? My Chinese friend has one in her house – I can’t remember the name, I’ll have to ask her again. The country looks beautiful!!!

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