Posted by: C. Cali Martin | October 6, 2009

Has it really been 6 weeks already?

I’ve approached the 6-week mark : Do I get a cookie? ūüôā I can’t believe it’s already been 6 weeks… it seems like half that! Good thing is – I’m absolutely in love with Korea! Although, I must admit, it’s not in love with me. I’ve be wracked with allergies for the last few days and there’s no end in sight. Also, the food loves me a little too much. I will finally be getting a gym membership¬†this week¬†to hopefully stop that delectable jaeudopbap from hiding near my hips for the next year… jaeudopbap,¬† by the way, is an incredible dish of rice (go figure) and spicy pork. And when I say “spicy”, I mean it. Well let’s recap the last couple of weeks…

September 5, some teachers and I made our way to Busan. The boys for a surf competition, my friend and I to see a temple. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple¬†¬†is probably the most incredible place I’ve ever been in my entire life. The temple building itself was not the amazing part, although seeing a temple that was contructed in 1376 (ok, it was remodeled after in the 1970s) was pretty freakin’ sweet. If you haven’t purused my pics yet, shame on you. The environment where this place was situated was enough to take your breath away. There is no wonder why the Buddhists who built this temple decided to place it here. From a pile of rocks, you could view the great expanse of the East Sea (Sea of Japan), the temple itself hiding among the rocks, great statues tucked away in the trees or between buildings, and looking down, you see the brilliant crashing of waves against rocks the likes of which I’ve never seen before. You could hear the rhythmic beating of water against rock, the quiet murmur of chanting, the glorious smell of sea salt, feel the warmth of the sun against you skin, and a slight breeze to keep you magnificently cool. It really was a perfect day. It was, in a way, spiritual, in that it kind of made you rethink things… personally, nature is more of a god than any one “God”. This was never more apparent than at this incredible place. I would have been perfectly happy to sit there for¬†hours (well, we did for at least two…) and just take in whatever nature had to offer. It was¬†truly an incredible experience.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Busan, South Korea
After the temple visit, my companion and I met up with our cohorts at Haeundae Beach.¬†Of course it was no Pensacola Beach; however, the sand was welcoming and the site beautiful. There was a hill with houses on it as you looked to the left which¬†appeared almost Mediterranean¬†as the sunset. It was astounding. The water was cool and refreshing.¬†Behind the beach was a cosmopolitan¬†city filled with a mishmash of American cuisine and Korean shops. We went to a couple bars and noted the vast amount of American military men crowding the shops. I learned a new word: waeguk. It means “foreigner”, all of whom seem to be quite the topic of hilarity here. We had arrived via the KTX which is an express that travels the length of South Korea. It took an hour to get from Daegu to Busan (and likewise returning). I think it takes a little less than 2 hours to get from Daegu to Seoul on the KTX (pretty quick considering my express bus trip down was 4 1/2 hours).

Haeundae Beach, Busan, South Korea

Haeundae Beach, Busan, South Korea

In other news, I visited a few places of interest, but nothing extravagant. I went to CostCo (sort of like Sam’s) and stocked up on corndogs, bagels, and cereal. Sweet. E-Mart was another adventure. They’re like Wal-Mart, but Korean style. Found some fun things there: a lamp, a juicer, a coffee mug. You know, real exciting things. ūüôā And I finally went to the underground shopping mall in downtown Daegu. It was quite exciting really. Apparently downtown consists of an above-ground version, and an under-ground version. I have no idea how big the underground mall is – but it’s ridiculously awesome. Shop after shop after shop of anything you could ever want! P.S. If anyone is in want to ANYTHING Hello, Kitty, this is your chance. haha there must have been 15 shops alone dedicated soley to Hello, Kitty merchandise. Insane. Clothes, shoes, hats, toiletries, electronics, anything and everything. There was even a¬†Krispy Kreme down there.¬†They give out free donuts. OMG. I was good.. and didn’t¬†eat anything. Surprisingly. We then found this department store called Kyobo that is literally four stories of a bookstore and holy Jesus was I in Heaven. I mean, if they were all in English… but they did have a small section (about 8¬†tall shelves), so I defintely had my pick. I found four books to start… and I can’t wait to go back for more.¬†“Virgin¬†Earth” by Phillippa Gregory; “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins;¬†“Treasure¬†Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson; and “Dracula” (of course). Something for fun, something¬†for learning, something classic, and something… favorite. ūüôā The girl that lives above me reads a lot too, and similiar sorts, so¬†I’ve found a book-sharing buddy!¬†

Nothing else is new really… working on homework for my¬†MA. Things are going very¬†well here. It still amazes me sometimes that I’m actually here.¬†I don’t think that¬†overwhelming feeling will disappear anytime soon…¬†It’s amazing to wake up at dawn and see¬†out my window the purplish first light of day¬†across the mountains some¬†5-10¬†miles away. These mountains¬†surround Daegu, and they’re absolutely beautiful to see out my¬†window everyday.¬†I love being here – and the feeling that things are finally starting to fall into place. I’m quite a lucky girl if I do say so myself. ūüôā

Beside the giant golden Buddha at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

Beside the giant golden Buddha at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

Blog originally posted Sunday, September 20, 2009 on a MySpace Blog.

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