Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Wake up every morning with the thought that something wonderful is about to happen"

I've had some pretty great weekends in April!! :)

The little kindergarteners
5th graders all decked out
some 4th graders
First though, let me tell you about a completely random field trip we had. I was told we were having a picnic. This is what really happened...we went to this really intense safety center which helps shows and teach the kids all about fire safety,and what to do when there's earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, when building collapse, car accidents, elevator issues, you name it, it was there! It was a pretty impressive place!
To begin, we did 2 obstacle courses! There were specific parts related to fire safety and escaping a building, but other areas were just random. We all put on the orange safety suits and did the smaller one first. It wasn't so bad, some climbing, sliding, crawling, etc. The second was down right scary. I am not a big fan of heights so being about 4 stories high crossing on swings and small rope footings was a little intimidating  Talk about confronting your fears in front of the entire school haha. It was quite a day!

A few weeks back on a Friday night I hopped on the train a couple hours north to catch the bus a little outside of Seoul where I met my group around 1 am. We arrived to our sleeping place, Yangdong village around 5 am. This village is a UNESCO world heritage site, and the largest traditional village in Korea. It was an fantastic experience to sleep in the old thatched houses and awake to a world that looked like we'd stepped back in time. It displays the history and culture from the Joseon dynasty. So fascinating!

Saturday morning we ventured to Namsan mountain. This was considered quite a sacred place during the Silla dynasty  This mountain is covered with Buddha statues and carvings, temples, and pagodas.It was such a mystical atmosphere and you could just feel the history around you while hiking up it, not to mention it's filled with beautiful views of valleys and  mountains all around.

Following the hike we spent several hours enjoying the wonderful sunny afternoon biking around the "Rome of Korea," Gyeongju. "Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC-935 AD) which ruled about two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula between the 7th and 9th centuries. A vast number of archaeological sites and cultural properties from this period remain in the city. It is often referred to as "museum without walls." I absolutely love the freedom of exploring a city on a bike. You can go so much farther than walking and at a faster pace, but slow enough to still look at everything and hop off and explore the sites.

The first few stops were incredibly massive royal tombs. We cruised through a giant park filled with kite-flyers, music, gorgeous fields of flowers, and several historical sites such as the oldest surviving observatory in East Asia. Some of our other stops included temples, the Bunhwanga pagoda ruin (oldest from the Silla dynasty), and the royal pond garden.

Sunday morning I of course was all for the sunrise trip to the Underwater Tomb of King Munmu.  He gave specific instructions to be buried in the East Sea after his death so that he would become a dragon and protect the kingdom from Japanese invaders.
It was incredibly tranquil. There were several locals with candles lit and offerings already out on the beach praying/waiting for the sunrise. After wandering down the beach a bit, I climbed up some rocks where I perched gazing over the sea, my primo spot for the grand appearance of  Mr. Sun. What a lovely morning! 

Also that morning we had some free time to stroll up the street to explore Bulguksa (Temple of the Buddha Land). It's considered a masterpiece of the golden age of Buddhist art in the Silla dynasty. It is also home to several national treasures, and is also a UNESCO world heritage site.

This place was so impressive. For one, it is so huge, there's so many parts to it. You keep climbing up and down stairs, through gates and doors just to come to a new areas filled with gorgeous scenery and buildings, Buddha shrines, and my favorite place of all, one completely filled with hundreds and hundreds of cairns. Literally every and any free space from ground to tops of fences and roofs were covered and piled up. It was quite a spectacular site!

Our next destination for the day was the Seokguram Grotto, the representative stone temple of Korea. The grotto represents the spiritual journey into Nirvana. There is a 11 1/2 foot Buddha inside wearing a serene expression of meditation, there are also reliefs of ten disciples and Hindu gods. Just looking at the Buddha's face made me smile and you could just about feel the calmness flowing over you.

We departed this special place, and concluded the trip with a quick lunch back in the city. They left on their bus to go back to Seoul and I waited for mine to go home. It was definitely a weekend to remember!


  1. Sounds like your weekend was educational with breathtaking scenery and lots of zen experiences! :-) And how sweet it must be to have a super cute apt to come home to!