Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Lovely Sunday

Last night my director, Cate, stopped by to invite me on a picnic today, which I eagerly agreed to. So today she and her husband Mark stopped by just prior to eleven and picked me up. Next we picked up their daughter Rosie, one of my students, and Angie, another of my students. Then we set off for Bulguksa Temple, a gorgeous Buddhist temple located near here.

It was a beautiful drive to Bulguksa, lasting probably close to fifteen minutes. I saw parts of Gyeongju that I had not yet had a chance to see, and of course we passed many of Gyeongju's famous tombs on our way. Once we got there, we had a yummy picnic lunch of homemade kimbap and fresh strawberries. Kimbap, for those unfortunate individuals who haven't heard of it, is rice, vegetables, and crab wrapped in seaweed, and it is totally delicious. (Click here to see what it looks like.)

After lunch, Cate, the girls, and I went to explore the temple. It was stunning, and I am still kicking myself for forgetting my camera. Cate advised me to go back there for Buddha's birthday, so when I do, I'll get pictures. In the meantime, click here to go to a website that tells about it and has a few descent pictures. They really don't do it justice though; the colors of the buildings are so much more vibrant. I, of course, was fascinated with the history of the area as well.

After Bulguksa, we drove high into the mountains, on winding roads that would have paralyzed my grandmother with fear. The views were spectacular, although I would have enjoyed it more if Korean driving didn't make me so nervous (how they avoid accidents is beyond me). Our second temple was Seokgulam Grotto, a Buddhist shrine built in a cave in 751. I believe the cave is also man-made. Click here to go to someone else's website, which has some good pictures. (Note to my non-techno-savvy relatives: If you click once on any of the pictures, they will get bigger and easier for you to look at. The same goes for any pictures posted on my blog.)

All in all, it was a terrific way to spend a day. I got to see some gorgeous places (why the heck did I have to forget my camera?!?!?!), I got to spend time with my very kind director and two of my best students, and I got to eat kimbap. No complaints from me!

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"