Category: Busan

Temple Stay

Temple Stay and Gwangali 026

The monthly event at Hongbeopsa Temple for July was a temple stay. As opposed to being free, like all their other events are, this one was 20,000 won, compared to 40,000-50,000 for other temple stays.

At 3pm we arrived, checked in, went to our rooms and changed. Next, we had orientation and met a monk from Texas. She came to Korea in 2001 as a teacher and in 2004 became an ordained monk. She had to travel 5 hours to be with us for the temple stay. I am very grateful that she came because she was able to better explain everything we were doing, why we did it as well as what our Western perceptions were as opposed to what is real.

There are two main ways to hold your hands. One is pushed together, so no light gets though, with your arms flat. The other is to hold your right hand in your left hand, because the right does the bad things, and place them just below your belly button. This is where our energy comes from, and where breathing comes from when we are younger–if you look at a baby, their stomach moves when they breath, not their chest. It is also important to have good posture, to make breathing easier.

Then, we did the Heart Sutra which is the ‘heart’ of Buddhism. Overall, it is about emptiness, which is not negative, but rather just a different state.

After we had a break and then silent dinner, which was not too silent because the head monk kept giving us directions on how to lay out our bowls, how to receive the food, how to eat, and how to clean. It lasted an hour and a half but was only silent for about 20 minutes.

You are given 4 bowls that are wrapped in a cloth, with a place mat folded underneath, napkin on top, and chopsticks and a spoon on top of that.

Everything must be taken apart in a special way. Untied, folded in half, the napkin and utensils placed on your left knee, and then the tie is folded in half again. The lid is then removed from the bowls and the tie is placed on top. Then, the  place mat is unfolded in a the bowls are placed in the left bottom square–this one is for rice. The 2nd largest goes in the right bottom square–this one is for soup. The 3rd largest goes in the right top square–this is for water. The 4th largest (smallest) goes in the left top square–this one is for ‘side dishes’–vegetables and tofu as well as a yellow squash to clean the bowls after.  The utensils are placed in the water bowl and the napkin on top of tie.

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The water is then poured into the largest bowl, swirled around, poured right, swirled around, poured diagonal, swirled around, poured right. Next rice is served and we place it to our foreheads to say thanks. Next, soup is served, then the side dishes are passed.

When you eat, you must hold your bowl up to your face so no one sees your eating face. This just made us look around the room a lot–I kept finding my eyes were wandering.

To clean warm rice water was poured into the rice bowl and you had to use the yellow squash to clean it by pressing the squash against the bowl with chopsticks. This was poured right, and diagonal. After, we drank the hot rice water so there was no waste. We were also supposed to eat the yellow squash which I find disgusting so I did not eat it. A bunch of ladies in training tried to force me but the head monk made them stop. The hot rice water was not bad to drink, it was just chunky and pulpy which I also find disgusting–I always buy no pulp. Finally the water was poured around the bowls again and then poured into large buckets. Finally, we put the bowls back together with the lid on and place them in a crate and the napkin and other cloth items in another crate with the utensils.

Next we had another recess followed by meditation. First we did chanting, which was done in Korean so only the Koreans and the Texas monk chanted–everyone else just followed their actions of bowing. Next was sitting silent meditation for 30 minutes, followed by silent walking for 10, then silent sitting again for 20. During the sitting, we had our hands in another position: making a circle with our fingers overlapping on the bottom and the thumbs just touching on the top. They should not be pushing but just enough together to hold a piece of paper up.

A good way to clear your mind and not zone out is to count to 10 or to chant something in your head that you want to change.  Meditation should not be something where you are repressing other thoughts; my favorite metaphor she used for this was that a rock does not stop grass growing forever–when you pick up the rock, the grass will grow again.

Next we had fruit and went to our rooms at 10. Some people sounded like they were throwing a party which was frustrating since we had to be outside at 4:00. At 10:30 the noise stopped completely though.

At 4am we went outside and did walking meditation around the grounds and then into the temple. We then did 30 minutes of silent sitting meditation followed by the 108 bows which seemed to go by quickly. I was not counting, but it took about 10 for me to get into a rhythm and at about 70 I was just falling to my knees, not going down slowly; however for the last 10 I was back into a rhythm. After, we did walking meditation next to a river which was beautiful. By the time we started walking the sun had come up and rose beautifully behind the Buddha statue atop the temple.

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Next was a little break followed by picking up leaves, as monks need to be self sufficient and this was our lesson in that.

After was breakfast which was rice, vegetables, tofu, and bean sprout soup. Again, we cleaned our own bowls but this time we were able to use sinks.

Next we made bracelets which was frustrating. We put beads onto string, which was then tied in a certain way that I never saw because it was taken from me, then given back assuming I knew what she did when her hands were covering anything I was supposed to see. It reminded me of kite making where we were supposed to do the work but everyone came over and did everything for us. Not what I signed up for. I figured out how to continue doing the loop she had done and finished but she laughed at it because it was a spiral and not straight. Oh well, it worked. Many others had the same problem and had a monk make theirs for them. After we finished the drawstring part we added on beads at the ends of the drawstrings and did a different loop there. We were all given one large bead and told not to use it. I then had to give it back to the person leading us. Strange. There were also bracelets made by monks that were supposed to be given by the best 3–and none were given to anyone. Stranger.

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We ended up leaving at 10:30 instead of 10:00 so it was impossible for me to make the hike that was going on on Sunday. I should have known better because these events always end late.

The coy fish were acting strange. Kissy kissy!

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Natural Dyeing

This month, the event at the Buddhist temple that I went to twice before.

The handout they gave us had this written on it:

Origins of Natural Dye

Natural dyes are dyes or colorants derived from plants, invertebrates, or minerals. The majority of natural dyes are vegetable dyes from plant sources – roots, berries, bark, leaves, and wood – and organic sources such as fungi and lichens.

Archaeologists have found evidence of textile dyeing dating back to the Neolithic period. In China, dyeing with plants, barks and insects have been traced back more than 5,000 years. The essential process of dyeing changed little over time. Typically, the dye material is put in a pot of water and then the textiles to be dyed are added to the pot, which is heated and stirred until the color is transferred. Textile fiber may be dyed before spinning (dyed in the wool), but most textiles are yarn-dyed or piece-dyed after weaving. Many natural dyes require the use of chemicals called mordants to bind the dye to the textile fibers; tannin from oak galls, salt, natural alum, vinegar, and ammonia from stale urine were used by early dyers. Many mordants, and some dyes themselves, produce strong odors, and large-scale dyeworks were often isolated in their own districts.

A variety of plants produce red dyes, including a number of lichens, henna, alkanet or dyer’s bugloss, asafoetida and madder. Madder and related plants of the Rubia family are native to many temperate zones around the world, and have been used as a source of good red dye since prehistory.

Process of Natural Dye

The essential process of dyeing requires soaking the material containing the dye (the dyestuff) in water, adding the textile to be dyed to the resulting solution (the dyebath), and bringing the solution to a simmer for an extended period, often measured in days or even weeks, stirring occasionally until the color has evenly transferred to the textiles.

Some dyestuffs, such as indigo and lichens, will give good color when used alone; these dyes are called direct dyes or substantive dyes. The majority of plant dyes, however, also require the use of a mordant, a chemical used to “fix” the color in the textile fibers. These days are called adjective dyes. By using different mordants, dyers can often obtain a variety of colors and shares from the same dye. Fibers or cloth may be pretreated with mordants, or the mordant may be incorporated in the dyebath. In traditional dyeing, the common mordants are vinegar, tannin from oak bark, sumac, or oak galls, ammonia from stale urine, and wood-ash liquor or potash (potassium carbonate) made by leaching wood ashes and evaporating the solution. (Above is from Wikipedia.)


I was a bit disappointed to see ‘taken from Wikipedia’ but still.

They gave us an explanation as well, saying that the green dye had plants (mud something…it looked like seaweed) and the red dye had flowers. I can’t remember what the brown dye had in it. I guess another time they had bright blue and yellow as well.

We started with a pot of dye that we had to bring to a near boil and throw all of our rags in.

Baseball and Natural Dyeing 217We had to push the handkerchiefs/bandannas around in the dye, wearing two pairs of gloves. The little kids did most of this part.

Baseball and Natural Dyeing 229It was then transferred to another bowl and the dye master helped us!

Baseball and Natural Dyeing 233It was then put back into the pot to boil, and the second bowl had water and a binding powder added to it. It was rinsed back and forth between the dye and the binding water. After it was rinsed in cold water.

Baseball and Natural Dyeing 242The final product!

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My first baseball game!

I went to my first Korean baseball game on Saturday! Of course I went to go see the Lotte Giants.

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Baseball in Korea (and Japan) is very different from baseball in the US–everyone is chanting nearly the whole time, you can bring food and drinks inside and even those inside are not expensive, and the games go a lot faster than in the US. Also, there are no assigned seats, and the prices go from 7,000 won to 25,000 won! So cheap! I could never get Red Sox tickets at that price. Here’s a layout of the seating area. There aren’t that many colors in the seats, but I guess this is more price breakdown. There are blue, orange and green. Green have trays and less fun (so I’m told).

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The stadium is between Sports Complex and Sajik and Korea was playing Hanwha which we knew would be an interesting game, due to racist comments one of their players made against the African-American player for Busan. Everyone boo’d  Kim Tae-kyun (the Korean who made racist comments) whenever he went up to bat which was really moving. He was stuck-out on Friday by Shane Youman (the African-American player), but on Saturday he got some hits and helped others score. Oh well. Busan lost in the end.

As per standard Korea, there were Soju mascots. These are not team mascots, Busans mascot is the Seagull.

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There is a cheer-master who helps out with the crowd at the start of the game. He also goes to the Fireworks show. This is the same stage that the cheerleaders go on as well.

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Here’s Busan scoring!

Baseball and Natural Dyeing 026And Busan getting an out.

Baseball and Natural Dyeing 067Two twins battling!

Baseball and Natural Dyeing 071A hit by the other team!

Baseball and Natural Dyeing 102Oh, and Busan fans put trash bags on their heads at the end to show support. Either a balloon like thing or Minny Mouse ears like mine.

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Fringe, Sandcastles, and Planes

A busy weekend in Haeundae!

Fringe Festival

A arts festival with music, water fights (not sure how that’s artistic) and a parade. Something’s up with my camera so I couldn’t get video of any of the music. And I missed most of watching rugby later at night.

The water fight was interesting because there were two sides but people just seemed to be shooting anyone, including one person who was standing outside the barrier shooting in–cheating! There were sprinklers attached to trees as well and they were spraying outside as well!

Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 004Later, after the air show, I saw a parade from the Lovin Hut “vegan” restaurant–they sell steak and my pasta had ham in it but maybe it was fake–so it was a great view as it was on the second floor.

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Doko signs held by kids dressed to the tops in their Tae-Kwan-Do finest. Above was my favorite sign because it seemed to show a transformers battle.Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 183 Superheros Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 188

A bandFringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 190

Not sure what this is other than intense costumes. The theme was Hollywood (for this and the sandcastles) so that explains some of the costumes….Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 192

…but not the triple head ones–why do they have two heads on top of their heads???Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 194

Fancy dressesFringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 196

Chinese DragonFringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 199And zombies. Because why not?

Sandcastle Festival

Westerners wouldn’t really call these sandcastles, as the professional ones are more carving than anything else. The theme was Hollywood so they were all film based, other than on of Psy, of course. I wondered why he was there other than being a Korean hero. I can’t stand him anymore.

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PSY, Superman, Spiderman, Batman and the Hulk. These were all a bit too kiddie and animated for me (when did Superman wear braces?) for me, but they were the only ones in color.Fringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 014

King Kong, Star Wars, and more SupermanFringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 016

CarsFringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 018

Titanic and James Bond….don’t think they were going for this look

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Charlie Chaplin

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Marilyn MonroeFringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 031

and Shrek

The non professional ones were more like sandcastles, not all though. There were some really good ones! People were going around and watering them as well to make sure they didn’t fall apart, which seems like a huge time commitment. It was set up for kids but it was all parents doing it.

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a pretty good houseFringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 039

snakeFringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 041

The flying penguin who I never remember the name ofFringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 044

Hello KittyFringe Festival, Sandcaste Festival, Blue Eagles, Sarado Hike 045


Air Show

Not much to say here, other than they are new to doing shows in Busan and called the Blue Eagles. They made a heart and the middle of the Korean flag.

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Global Gathering, Take 2

This past weekend was the Global Gathering. The last one was in October or November, and it was such a big hit that they had another one earlier in the year. As last time, it was not well promoted.

Global Gathering 001Some ambassadors even showed up! At least that’s who we thought they were. Chinese guys in suits surrounded by cameras shaking hands with everyone at the Chinese stands. The Chinese stand was selling beet for 1,000W too!

Some places were not really selling cultural food, as one stand was selling Peach Ice Tea from Lipton containers and many were selling kebabs and Turkish Ice Cream. I did get some spring rolls, potato pattys, and fritters as well as a Brazilian drink (that should have some sort of rum but instead had vodka) and Mango Lassi.

There were some interesting cooking methods on display as well, such as solar and biking.

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For dancing and music, there was….

Global Gathering 027traditonal Korean–I’ve seen this plenty of times but it’s great to watch the hat dancers!Global Gathering 072

Brazilian martial arts–started slow but got interesting with this next pictureGlobal Gathering 079

Brazilian martial arts–hand stands!Global Gathering 097

Japanese–pretty slow but great costumesGlobal Gathering 101

Japanese–I was really impressed with this guy, that flag would weight a ton!Global Gathering 123

And this guy was really into the Japanese musicGlobal Gathering 143

Kenyan–looked like me drunk dancingGlobal Gathering 176

Ta-Kwan-do Global Gathering 188
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And finally, Ta-Kwan-do dancing and Break Dancing. I wish I could post the videos but I can’t figure it out (someone let me know how to!). The whole time my friends and I were talking about how amazing they are. Slow-motion kicks above their heads? I’d fall over. Back flips from standing on a hard floor? I’d be too scared to start and just land on my back. We also came to the conclusion that the reason Korea are the best at break dancing is because a lot of kids are raised doing Ta-Kwan-do.

There were also tons of photographs from the 1960s and 1970s vs today which showed how quickly Busan has developed.

Global Gathering 042 Global Gathering 043 Global Gathering 044 Global Gathering 046And, of course, plenty of cute things to take pictures with…or punch in the face.

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Buddhas Birthday in Nampo

The weekend before Buddhas Birthday there was a celebration in Nampodong (or Seo-gu as a whole). I was told lots of mixed things and I’m still not sure what is true. First told parade from 7-8  from the BTCFC soccer stadium to Busan Tower, then 4-8 at the same address, then 8-9 from Busan Tower to Lotte and back. I wasn’t there that late because I had a going away part to go to, but it definitely wasn’t from 4-8 going from the BTCFC soccer stadium to Busan Tower because that would have gone past my apartment and I was there from 3-6.

Anyway, I just went to Nampodong and saw some decoration that had been up for a bit, including a massive dragon.

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Next I went up to Yongdusan Park which is where Busan Tower is. There were massive lanterns, similar to those I saw in Jinju. There were, of course, more in Jinju, as the city is famous for their festival.

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Also, BREAKDANCING! I’m told Koreans are the best.

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This last weekend there was a hike scheduled to start in Children’s Park and go further to the mountains to the West.

I was a bit hungover due to no food the night before and no food in the morning (not smart, but I didn’t think about it and was in a rush both times).

Children’s Park is beautiful and I can’t wait to go back. It starts with a a strange square statue and then goes into a pond with massive fish and swans followed by ramps to make it easier to go up.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 003 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 017At the top there was a temple. It’s all decked out for Buddhas Birthday on the 17th.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 026 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 032 Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 043From the top (at least the top I got to) this was the view. I thought it was pretty great anyway.

Childrens Park, Hike, Lanterns, and Breakdancing 048 On the way up to this point, every step up made me want to throw up, and it was only getting worse. I decided to walk down on my own and find a way out. Adventure Time!

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Yeongdo Night Hike

The night after a full moon, April 26th, I went on a night hike with Busan Daytrippers. I was supposed to go on two before when I lived in Ireland, but they got rained or snowed out. It was tons of fun and I hope that we do another one here!

We went to Yeongdo (do meaning island) which is where I went before for the taejongdae. We didn’t go that far out, as there are mountains in the middle, called Grandma, Son, and Grandson and those are the ones we hiked.

We took bus to the lion temple.

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We then walked along the beach to a mini Buddhist shrine and went up from there.

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Never sit on Grandma! It’s a curse!

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Son has a little building at the top.

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Grandson is where we saw the sunrise, but I think any would be fine for it.

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When the sun did come up we got a good view of oryuk islands, or four or five islands.

Lantern Making

I’ve been to this temple once before for kite making. I wanted to go back for percussion which was last month, but it was on St Patricks Day and I knew I would not make it.  Next month is the weekend I plan on going to Seoul, the 19th, so I won’t be able to make it to the flower pancake.

Once you go to Nopo you go out the exit between the subway and the bus and walk to the right (its quite a walk, but you could see other foreigners–or I’m told that that there are also little kids dressed in the Buddhism clothing looking for us). After that a bus takes you for about 10 minutes to the Temple.

The head of the temple told us this:

Lanterns mean taking away the darkness. It means light. We make them every April to represent winter ending and spring starting.

Which I thought was really well put.

Again, they gave us everything we needed to make the two lanterns: paper, glue, metal cage, paper cup and brush.

We made two lanterns: octagon and lotus.

The octagon lanterns were a lot easier to make as we just glued the paper directly onto the metal frame.

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The lotus lantern was a bit harder, as we start with the little cup with string (first photo) and take the little papers that are kind-of-triangles and put glue on the bottom and stick them on a cup where they overlap but not too much and don’t go too far down but have 5 rows.

Tofuballs and Lantern Making 048 Tofuballs and Lantern Making 050The whole temple was decorated with lanterns.

Tofuballs and Lantern Making 007 Tofuballs and Lantern Making 020 Tofuballs and Lantern Making 056 Tofuballs and Lantern Making 057I also went up to the very top, and inside of the Buddhas belly was this:

Tofuballs and Lantern Making 068 Tofuballs and Lantern Making 070There is no Buddha inside the belly because the bones and spirit are inside the pagoda (above). It was brought by either the Dali Lama or another famous Buddhist from Nepal.

Song-do Hike

This past weekend there was a hike in Busan to Song-do Beach. Taking a bus from Nampo out toward Song-do but stopping by a market and uphill street you can start going up toward the peak–which is just very steep but not too far.

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There were lots of flowers starting to bloom.

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After a few more ups and downs we ended up at a park that overlooks a big rock of an island. There are some rocks jutting out in other places with lots of colors.

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Then, back the same way we came with a few changes to stay closer to the water and we were at the beach. There is a beach side walk that we could have taken back, but I went with the group that kept hiking. There are statues in the water of whales tales and dolphins–pretty odd, especially at low tide when you can see the change in color and rust on the dolphins.

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