Sunday, July 19, 2009

Songnisan - In Summary

We have returned safely and restfully from our time in Songnisan. I didn't want to leave! It was the first time in the two weeks we've been here that I did not have any obligations. Yay!

We first arrived to hear a seminar on Buddhism. It was given by a Buddhist monk, so it was pretty cool. He then took us to the Buddhist temple (literally on the hotel grounds) and gave us the 4-1-1 on Buddhist temples. Actually, during the time we were there the monks rang the (what I call) suffering bells. The bells are rung in the morning and at night.

There are four bells: the first is really a huge drum. Beating the drum is a call to end suffering to all land animals. Then the bird bell is next (to end suffering for the animals in the air) and then the fish bell (for animals in water). It ends with 33 rings of the human bell (to end human suffering). In the morning the human bell is rung 28 times for the 28 heavens. At night it is rung 33 times for the 33 rulers of heaven. It was actually really cool.

There was this beautiful gold statue of "Baby Buddha" (the Buddha reincarnate) in the middle of the temple. And the temple is surrounded by green, misty mountains. Absolutely beautiful. The temple at one time housed over 3,000 monks (now only 50-80) and they have on display the rice pot that cooked rice for 3,000 bowls. It was crazy big! I could not imagine stirring that!

The entire first four hours of the weekend were incredible. Not to mention that one of the monks is straight from Chech Republic and recognized the "Benes" name. He kept telling people that they were in the presence of an aristocrat. Ha. Yeahhhhh, maybe not quite.

The next day we decided to hike in the forest that surrounds the temple. I thought we'd just be strolling through some nice paved trails. Oh no. My group definitely decided to climb a mountain. I'll let the video take care of that adventure.

There were some pretty incredible stories along the way. So many that I can't really fit them all in here. I'll briefly highlight a few:
  • 4 is an unlucky number, so the hotel floors go from 3rd to the 5th.
  • My everyday Korean really got a boost since most of the shopkeepers didn't speak English
  • The food was incredible and I miss it already
Well, as much fun as the trip was, now it is back to orientation. I have a quiz tomorrow and I teach my first lesson on Wednesday. I'll let you know how that goes. The lesson topic is "Persuasion" and the theme of the day is St. Patrick's day. I will be teaching advanced elementary school kids (kids that have spent considerable amounts of time in English-speaking countries). Hoohhh boy, I hope their English isn't better than mine. :) Check up on Facebook where I'll post more pictures of the weekend. Bye!


  1. Hey Amy, glad you got to relax. Did they tell you why 4 is an unlucky number? The sounds of number 4 and death in Chinese characters are the same - different characters and different tones but the same sound. A borrowed taboo so to speak - at least that's the reason I was told growing up. I don't know if 4 is an unluckly number in Chinese speaking country, come to think of it. I assume it is.

    Enjoy the first class! Those little gremlins can be difficult to deal with, but hopefully you will have a room full of little angels :-)

  2. Very cool. Good luck with your first teaching experience!!
    Love Mom

  3. Amy, great video, and you actually looked tired, miss 26 mile girl. Really glad you had such a cool experience.

    Good luck with the teaching...
    Aunt Sandy

  4. Hi Amy
    Thanks for taking us with you on that exhilirating hike! We really were in God's country. It's great to see you making this such a memorable experience. We love and miss you.
    Aunt Betty, Uncle Jim and Guinness

  5. very interesting post, regarding the buddhist experiences. did i ever tell you that my dad became a buddhist several years ago?

    you should have no trouble with that 2 hr. hike, what with your marathoners ethic. ;) i appreciate the sounds of the format in the backgound as well.

    sneaking a peek at your other comments: i miss guinness! what a cute dog!