Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fall colors and taxicab love?

I've been taking intermediate Korean at the YMCA on Saturdays since September. I probably should have taken the beginner class, but I'm not really one to back down from a challenge. Plus the intermediate teacher is really cute and sweet (and happens to be a good teacher, to boot). This Saturday, the instructors of all three levels decided to take us on a field trip to Palgongsan, a large mountain just outside of Daegu with a huge temple complex. The air was crisp, the lunches were packed, and the leaves were beautiful.

Unfortunately, my camera seems to have been injured terribly between Wednesday's Halloween party and Saturday. The LCD preview screen doesn't work anymore, which is disheartening. The camera also seems to have developed a finicky appetite in relation to batteries. So until I break down and buy myself a new one (which may take awhile since I just bought an expensive digital toy this week--the dictionary), I'm back to taking pictures like I used to with old film cameras, where you pray they turn out ok and don't really know until you develop (or in this case, download) them. I also ran out of batteries a couple times, but with many many thanks to Samantha's gift of a couple more, I was still able to take quite a few shots of the temple grounds.

The Reunification (Medicinal) Buddha, of impressive size (our tour guide said it is the largest in Korea). I bowed in front of him.

Donghwasa Temple, with Buddha reflected in the windows.

A man gets some water at one of the many fountains. The water is supposed to help purify you or something. It was pretty good after climbing all those steps to get to the top of the temple!

The grounds were amazing with the fall mountains in the background.

Fall colors are splendid, don't you think?

I took some more that came out ok, which is a miracle considering my poor, limping camera. If you want to see them, check out the album:

Palgongsan and Donghwasa Temple

Later on in the evening, I met up with Iosha, Vivian, and Samantha to go to Iosha's boyfriend's friend's bar (is that a mouthful or what?). They were nice guys, and I tried to speak with them in Korean as much as I could, which wasn't all that much. I had a really nice time, although I definitely drank too much soju and ate the spicy peppers in a stupid bar stunt moment... oh dear.

We went downtown to Old Skool, which is a pretty laid back spot for a hip hop place, and ran into Meg and Leo from the YMCA class. I learned a new card game that was silly and fun and then got very sleepy, so I went home.

My Korean must have improved, because I had the following conversation with the cab driver on the way home, entirely in Korean:

"Yulha subway station, please."

"Ok. Where are you from? Canada?"

"No, I'm American."

"Oh! I like USA. Do you have a boyfriend?"

"No, I don't have a boyfriend."

"Why no boyfriend?"

"I don't know why no boyfriend."

"You should go to Kyungbuk University. You meet boyfriend there."

I pretended not to understand that one.

"Do you like Korean men?"

"Yes, I like Korean men a little."

"Do you like American men?"

"I like American men a little."

"You should have a Korean boyfriend."

Sigh. Oh, Mr. Taxicab Driver, it's not quite that easy to find a quality person to date; especially not in a foreign country. And since when is my love life a taxi cab driver's business anyway? The fact that I answered his question indicates that I'm getting far too used to Korea. I even ask people how old they are within the first five minutes of meeting them now... Scary.


  1. Hey - just thought you might want to know, the giant Buddha statue @ Donghwasa is *not* the Gatbawi Buddha, it's the Reunification Buddha. The Gatbawi Buddha is located on Palgongsan, but it's up at the top of the mountain. My trip up to Gatbawi is here. You should totally go there.

  2. Thanks! Maybe I should have paid more attention to the tour guide and less time flirting with the cute uni student/YMCA intern.

    Ha ha.

    I've become such a boy-crazy gal in Korea. It's strange.

    Post edited.

  3. Hey. I asked our list dude to invite you to a martial (I typed "marital," which is somewhat appropriate for this post) arts group. I hope you join. It's low-volume.

  4. Amanda,

    Thanks! I'll check it out.

    Hey--I also met another girl with a Korean boyfriend who just tested for her black belt a couple weeks ago here in Daegu. I told her she should check out your blog.

  5. If you think asking about ages or boyfriends is odd, I had a store owner in Brasil ask me how I do my laundry. Oh, the joys of very social cultures.

  6. Eli,

    Yeah... that's pretty bizarre! Even though it's slightly annoying, I hang my laundry to dry inside my apartment precisely because with all the stares I get and the fascination with my comings and goings makes me a little nervous about leaving my undergarments in plain view of the neighborhood. I'm sure if it were allowed, someone would ask me that question, too.

    The weird thing is that questions we'd consider personal back home, like age and marital status, are asked immediately here because it's part of the whole Confucian mindset--they need to know so that they can know how to address me. I've explained to my students that in America, these questions from a stranger are considered rude, but they only sort of understand.

    In many other ways, Korea is much more private than the US, even as it has the collective mentality. There's a lot of obsession with appearances and "saving face" in front of other people.



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