Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Buddha

For those that missed it, Friday was Buddha's birthday! Yay! That means, no school. Three-day weekend! Double yay!

A lot of my friends were planning on going to Seoul for a fun, laid-back weekend. I was about to go... but...
Me: Buddha's birthday is next weekend...
Host mom: Yes. You we will go to chicken farm?
Me: [pause, choosing my words carefully] Okay.... Um. Why?
Host mom: Ah! We will look at chickens and take the eggs.

So, not knowing much more than that, I climbed into the car around noon on Friday with my mom, bros and Jae-gyeong (younger bro)'s friend - Ji-hwan.

Well, we drive 10 miles into the sticks of the sticks, the last 2km being up a mountain road. Very windy and steep. (It also smelled like farm animal ... uh ... waste, which Jae-jin labeled as "nature smell.")

Finally, we get to the "chicken farm" ("산하산장" ... I don't know what it means, but I know 산 means mountain...which is repeated, and 장 means "place" or "point")

Well, initially, there weren't any chickens. Just a completely stunning view. We were up pretty high, and kind of in the elbow crook of a mountain. The sky was big and blue, and off in the not-so-distant-distance, I heard the babble of a small waterfall. Don't worry, the "nature smell" was gone now.

To the right of the picture, is a patio-like dining area, where I had kimbab while my family had Korean BBQ. There were three women about my mom's age also eating with us. I think one of them owned the place, which turned out to be a restaurant and hotel.

After lunch, I found the chickens! They were down the mountain a little way. Host mom said that "chickens too not-tall to eat." Thank god. We also didn't take any of their eggs.

Isn't he adorable? He made faces at me and my big, scary blue eyes all throughout lunch.

Now, in real life (AKA: my life in America) I've never had a brother, even though Kristin comes pretty close. ;) In Korea, I've had four. Boys are weird. It's like, if there's a rule, they have to break it. It's an unsaid challenge. After lunch, mom gave us permission to walk up to our knees in the river. Me and the bros (Ji-hwan spends so much time at our house that he's like my third brother) went down to the river. Like I thought, there was a small water fall. The water was the cleanest water I've ever seen. And ice cold! "Mountain spring water" has new, definite meaning for me now. How many places in the world can you still drink straight from the stream? Sitting there on that rock in the middle of the beautiful mountain river, overlooking a stunning valley, and skipping the occasional stone, I realized that this is perfect.

Then boys become boys. One dare led to another. Before you know it, all of their pants were off (they held onto their underwear, thank god) and they were dunking each other. I made it very clear that their lives would become a living hell if they dunked me.

Mom was "nor so happy" about my wet bros. So, we kicked around the soccer ball and I taught them the game "500" until they dried off. I also reached deep and brought out my inner brother and kicked the ball down the hill, where all three boys ran after it. While they were down the hill, I grabbed one of Jae-gyeong's shoes and hid it behind a bush.

Everyone thought it was funny except for Jae-gyeong. He, too, was "nor so happy."

So, that's how I spent my afternoon on Buddha's birthday. Meditating and thinking about life in a slice of paradise.
Jae-jin, Mom, Jae-gyeong, me

Ji-hwan, me, Jae-gyeong

On the way home, we stopped at an eco-museum. It just had fish and stuff. I'm not sure what the point of these bikes were, but my brothers took joy in getting each other wet....again.

That night, host mom brought me to Hwaeom Temple to pay our respects to The Buddha. The temple is beautiful during the day, but even more beautiful at night on Buddha's birthday. There were hundreds and hundreds of lanterns lit throughout the temple.

Level 1

Level 2


Host mom and I did our bows to Buddha. Afterwards:
HM: What did you ask for?
Me: [oops, I just bowed and meditated, I didn't really "ask for" anything...] Oh. Um. World peace.
HM: Oh! [laughing] You are so good! I asked for Amy to find good husband and have good job and many money.

Damn. If I knew it was wish day, I would have been more prepared!

I asked mom if I could buy one of the lanterns (they were so pretty!) to which she replied, "Oh. No. But, tomorrow, I will call king monk and take one for you." Sometimes the language barrier provides the greatest small joys in the world. So, we'll see if my mom has as much pull with the "king monk" as she says.

That was a busy day, huh? But really, an awesome day. Anyways, thanks for reading!


  1. Nice day. You are a good sport.

    It's amazing that all Mom's think alike.

    I too hope Amy finds a good husband and have good job and many money, so she can take care of her mother. :0)

    Love you muchos.

  2. Thanks, Amy. I saw a lot of these photos on facebook, the "things you want to remember", right?

  3. Hey Amy, if I go back to Korea some time, I will have to take you as my tour guide.