Gyeongju

Pohang

Yesterday my wife and I embarked on a foolhardy journey from Gyeongju to Pohang, driving there in our new car to get me a driver’s license from the nearest Examination Office. This trip was remarkable for numerous reasons. The first was the distance: these two cities are so close that as soon as you leave one you enter the other, and even with my wife’s studiously cautious driving we managed to get there in under half an hour. I had assumed for no good reason that the distance was greater, and that the country itself was bigger, but by having a car the distances between places shrink down considerably, to the extent that if there were a bridge built from Busan to Japan—one can only dream!—the drive would probably not exceed a couple of hours.


Photos From The Day’s Adventures

A sticker my wife chose to fix to the rear windshield of our new car which says, in loosely-translated English:

A sticker my wife chose to fix to the rear windshield of our new car which says, in loosely-translated English: “I’m a stupid woman driver.” Literally it says: “Kim Yeo-sa is taking”, Kim Yeo-sa being a generic name for a woman who cannot drive.


Spin Kicks, Spirituality, and a Sunrise: Templestay at Golgusa Temple



It's never a bad idea to start out a new year with a few extra good karma points... you never know when you'll need them.  So, instead of spending New Year's Eve drinking too much in a crowded, overpriced bar in Seoul, I decided to ring it in at Golgulsa, a Buddhist temple located just outside Gyeongju, South Korea.
Templestays have been gaining popularity amongst tourists and usually involve a short-term stay in one of the 900 traditional Buddhist temples in Korea.  Participants follow a rather strict schedule to experience a day (or two or three) in the life of the monks that reside there.  A templestay was something that had been on my bucket list for a while, so when I found a special New Year's program on the official Templestay website, I knew I had to sign up.
It was about a five hour trek from Seoul to Golgulsa Temple that required two bus trips, a bit of waiting around, and a short walk to the temple grounds from the final bus stop.  Once I had arrived, I was given a brief introduction to the program, a map of the complex, and special clothes that I was to wear during my stay.  I was then directed to my room where I would be spending the night with about fifteen other women.  The room was a rather large common area with pillows and blankets spread out on the floor for sleeping.  There was a bathroom with a toilet, a few open showers, and sinks that were to be shared.  I've become use to this arrangement after living in Korea for a few years but wondered how other Westerners not used to copious amounts of nakedness would handle the situation.

Dispatches From A Bleak Kingdom

Korean Faiths

I was in a cafe, where a Buddhist monk came to bang on his hollow wooden moktak for exactly three seconds before the barrista, a chubby man who had been chomping and slurping at his noodles like a ravening horse not five minutes before—shaking the windowpanes with the barbarous thunderous smacking of his tongue and his lips—ordered him to get the hell out, almost before he even started chanting, like this:

Monk: [to wooden knocking] Ha-may-ha-may-ha
Barrista: Fuck off!


Current Status Of The Hitler Mural

Gyeongju’s most infamous example of public art—second only to the tomb mounds, the temples, the pagodas, and the idols—is the Hitler Mural, which is currently being utilized to hawk used cellular phones to Southeast Asians.

OK Hitler Mart


On Several Encounters With UFOs

One of the photos taken with a cellphone.


The Pattern Of Chabyul!

The Site Of The Foul Crime!

Chabyul…or discrimination.


Field Trip to Gyeongju!

On Tuesday morning, I came to work and immediately loaded a comfy greyhound style bus with a bunch of 6th graders...

Biking At Night In Gyeongju

Pedaling through Gyeongju at night. This is a flat city, built millennia ago beneath the great sheltering wall of South Mountain, and unlike the near-vertical drops of Busan you can really get around in this place if you’ve got a bike: only the crisscrossing four-lane highways pose any danger, and the traffic lights go on forever. Even as I bike here I’ve got New York on my mind: there at least the lights change after just a few seconds.


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