5.28.2007

Belated Blog about Buddah's Birthday (in the style of the Bob Loblaw law blog)

So, last Thursday was Buddah's b-day, in case anyone missed it. If you did miss it, I suggest getting a Korean calendar because all the holidays (read: days I don't have to regulate screaming children) are listed in red. My mom has one, so she lets me know if there's a holiday coming up. Like this one, for instance. And, she also told me that virtually every Buddhist temple in Korea (and there are a lot!) has a big lantern festival on said day. So, like any good mother, she made sure that I made plans to celebrate the day off Buddhist style.

After the rare splurge at T.G.I. Friday's with some pals, Cara, Jo, Jenni, and I decided to head up toward Taejosan mountain to Gagwansa Temple. The clouds were brewing overhead, and just as we got off the bus, the rain started coming down. With three out of four umbrella-less, we made our way through town, which was littered with tents and booths selling food and Buddhist paraphernalia. We soon had the appearance of drowned rats, calling more attention to us than the usual "whitey stare". The rain was refreshing, though, and it was still warm out. After a seemingly infinite stair climb, we reached another string of booths. One had some ladies making the paper lanterns that we could see were hanging everywhere up ahead, so we decided to try our hand at making one. The ladies helped us, sometimes losing patience and just doing it themselves, but we ended up with some pretty sweet lanterns. They wrapped them in plastic for us so they wouldn't get wet.

The big Buddah (15 meters high and 60 tons!) loomed ahead and we could see hundreds of pink lanterns strung in front of it. By this time, we were thoroughly soaked, but Buddah drew us closer. We watched as people lit candles and bowed in respect before the giant statue. It was really quite a serene sight. After taking altogether too many pictures of the wet paper lanterns, we jogged over to the temple, where people were streaming in to pray. Three golden Buddahs were in the front of the place and a monk was beautifully chanting and playing a drum. It was so simple and peaceful and reverent.

I swear that Buddhists are some of the nicest people around, because as we headed down the hill toward the town to catch a taxi, an older lady pulled over and waved us into her car. She didn't speak a lick of English, but she saw that we were cold and wet and had pity on us. Not only did she pick us up, but she drove us the entire way back into downtown, about 20 minutes! She even gave us some gummy seaweed candy (it tasted about as good as it sounds). But it was really cool.

After a Chai at Starbucks, we split ways and went home. To top off my great day, as I got off the bus a Korean lady motioned me under her umbrella and walked with me part way home. Buddah was definately shining on me that day. It was good. Thanks, mom.

Pics to come soon....

3 comments:

Jennifer Bryson said...

Hi Betsy

I also want to thank your mom for her great idea! Why is it that our parents know more about what's going on here than we do..? Anyway, it was an adventure!

Mom said...

My pleasure, Bets. Thanks for seeing some of these things for me. The calendar is definitely keeping us both up to 'date'. Ha!
Can't wait to see some pix.

Just Wandering said...

Hey...why no beachee update? I was going to not do an update and just link to various blogs but yours is a no-go. What's up with that...you need to be looking out for your friends!