Saturday, May 3, 2008

temples and theme parks

rhea is one of my university students. when she found out that i have an affinity with buddhism, she told her family and they extended the invitation to take me to haeinsa - a very well known buddhist temple about an hour away from daegu. i was thrilled, as haeinsa has been tops on my "must see while in korea" list! so, last weekend, rhea and her family treated me to a magnificent day. i felt completely taken care of! they would not let me pay a cent for ANYTHING and they even insisted upon purchasing a rubbing of one of the wood carved panels of buddhist scripture for me to keep (see below). they were so generous and kind. i find nothing less here in korea, time and time again. nothing less.

here is a woman preparing the panel with ink or some dark liquid substance for me to rub with paper. it was really quite funny because i couldn't seem to get it right, so finally after the second try she just decided to take over and do the rubbing for me! i was actually very relieved! everyone found it amusing!rhea, her mother and father....we relaxed in the temple museum with some persimmon leaf tea before venturing up gaya mountain to the temple.

zen stone towers by the side of the road

entrance to haeinsa
rhea's father adding a stone to the top of a stone tower, making a wish, hoping the tower doesn't fall!

a maze made of lotus lanterns where people walked silently in meditation and prayer
the main sanctuary....we entered and did the traditional bowing rituals along with many other lay people who had come to make prayers
rhea in front of one of the pagodas
it was an incredibly windy day!
the steep stairs one must climb to the upper reaches of the temple where the buddhist scriptures are kept.
haeinsa is famous for being the place where the tripitaka koreana are housed - 81,258 carved wood panels/blocks, on which are the complete buddhist scriptures, as well as many illustrations similar to those found in nepal. the panels are kept in four enormous buildings (built with no nails) with excellent, natural ventilation systems to prevent deterioration. tripitaka means "three baskets," representing the three divisions of buddhism: the sutra (scriptures), vinaya (laws), and the abhidharma (treatises). the carving took 16 years to complete.
some of the 81,258 tablets

a couple of the buildings that house the tablets

this image says it all...

giant fir thousand years old

leaving the temple
make a wish and toss a coin onto the turtle's back....all of us missed except for lucky rhea!
following our visit to the temple and a huge feast of rice and twenty million sidedishes, we went to visit the hapcheon theme park. it's funny because when rhea told me we were going to a "theme park" i visualized an amusement part with roller coasters and carnival games. so when we arrived to what looked like a ghost town movie set, i was a little confused but actually relieved that i didn't have to brace my stomach for any tilt-a-whirls or corkscrews. this "theme park" is famous for being the set in korean films and dramas such as "taegukgi: brotherhood of war," "wind fighter," "seoul 1945," etc... the set is from the era of japanese imperialism. it had a very eerie feeling to me....that time period was so dark here in korea.

the japanese government building
an old movie house
seoul train station

posters illustrating scenes from one of the dramas, "seoul 1945," that was filmed here

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