Ruby Ramblings

July 19, 2009, 11:13 am
Filed under: Buddhism, Korea, Travel | Tags: ,

The monsoon rains have made my grand weekend plans difficult to maneuver lately.  Unfortunately I no longer have three day weekends since I’ve taken on teaching a summer intensive. I now teach three, three-hour classes a day.  I missed a “company party” – read the boss gets really drunk and tries to control and humiliate his employees – something I am trying very hard to avoid ever having to go to, but I’m sure there will be ramifications for my not making it.

My original plan had been to go to Gongju for the long weekend, but a series of events made the trip impractical for the amount of time I was going to spend, and at the very last second, another teacher and I hopped a bus to Icheon just as it was leaving.  The day displayed perfectly how if you are are willing to be flexible and not hold onto expectations, the greatest travel experiences arise.

Icheon is known as the ceramic city (not to be confused with Incheon, the part of Korea that I live in – Bupyeong to be exact), but except for the kimchi pots along the unbeaten path, we didn’t spend much time looking at the local wares.  It was pouring rain, and determined not to let that ruin our day, we got off the bus and headed to a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Tai.  It was excellent – we had some noodles similar to pad see ew, and a pork pho soup that was fantastic.  The rain let up and we decided to taxi it up to a temple that I was interested in seeing.  Of course it started pouring again once we got in the cab, all the way to the temple.  The cab driver gave us his number, and even offered to wait a few minutes while we took pictures, but we were determined to make this more than a ten minute trip.  Our luck was with us, and it stopped raining soon after he dropped us off in a field full of louts blossoms and white cranes.



DSCN0787After hanging out under the awnings waiting for the rain to stop, we started walking up the hill.  The regular road ended in a worn path through the woods and up the mountain.  “I’m game if you are game,” we said to each other, and were off into the first place in Korea I have seen where we didn’t encounter a car, another person, or a house constructed from concrete for hours.  The hillside had cemeteries, some older, and some quite new, every few hundred meters.  Unlike most places in the US, where we write off slope as an improbable place for archaeological finds, all the cemeteries here on sometimes quite steep hillsides, with berms of earth built up around them.



We walked up the mountain for a while and started to see the tell tale signs that there was a temple ahead.  Primarily the plastic, painted lanterns strung through the trees.



We came up around the temple, and came into the temple garden from the top.  I noticed that one statue seemed out of place and not in keeping with the style or texture of most statues I have seen at temples.  When I came around to the front, I could see that it was, indeed, a peeing fountain.

Peeing boy and Buddha.

Peeing boy and Buddha.

We had a decision to make, keep heading up the mountain, or go back the way we came and call the taxi.  We went for up.  The weather was holding out, somehow we weren’t suffering from the exhaustion that overtakes me on even short subway rides to Seoul, and the excitement of travelling with someone who is agreeable to taking the unconventional path was too much fun.  We took several paths around the mountain that ended in dead ends, waterfalls (unfortunately covered in trash, it seemed society’s mark had found its way onto the mountain), and one precarious river crossing where the road had washed out.

Making our way back down the other side we came to a peculiar coffee shop in the middle of nowhere.  Called the Station Cafe, it came complete with the sounds of the proprietor playing jazz saxophone.


After a lovely cup of pine nut tea, we called the taxi to come take us back to the bus stop.  When we pulled away from the coffee shop we could see that it was actually right next to the field we had been dropped off at.  We had made a perfect circle around the mountain.

June 28, 2009, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Buddhism, Korea, Travel

I am sunburned and exhausted from my trip down to Suwan today, but here are some pics.

Every Sunday at 2pm they do a traditional dance and cultural event. There was some great tea to be had as well. Look Carrie, it’s like fire dancing and drumming all in one! The streamers are actually attached to their hats and spin around to leave their hands free to play instruments. It was fun to watch.

An old percussive instrument.

A story etched in slate on the side of the building.

From the palace, I looked up the hill and saw what I’ve been looking for. Finally a Buddha!

I think this was a temple on the grounds of a school for young monks and people studying Confucianism.


How do you say Jazz in Korean?
May 28, 2009, 5:29 am
Filed under: Buddhism, Music, Travel | Tags: ,

Thanks to Celtic Librarian I just learned that the Smithsonian has podcasts that I can actually stream here! (Jumping up and down.)

I clicked on Silk Road Stories, and of course the featured podcast is about Korea. Some American and Korean musicians got together to have a Free Jazz concert. I used to play jazz in high school and college, but gave it up for bluer and grassier pastures. I’ve never particularly liked or understood free jazz, but this podcast was nice, beautiful and a lot simpler than free jazz I’ve heard in the past.

Another podcast I listed to was How Asanga Came to See the Future Buddha.

Off in search of news and entertainment not based in Korea or regarding swine flu.

Machetes to Mosaics – April Reads

Thirteen Thursday

It was a slow reading month, I didn’t quite make it to thirteen, so I added a couple of magazines. Lots of moving around, and very little sitting still.

The Women The WomenSee my full review.

The Zookeeper’s Wife — Fantastic hour long interview with Diane Ackerman about the novel.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch

Short excerpts from Gourevitch at the Pen Festival of authors:

Terry Tempest Williams reads the article she wrote for Orion Magazine regarding her trip to Rwanda to help build a mosaic memorial.

Geek Love Geek Love Nominee for the National Book Award, this is a disturbing tale of a carnival family that attempts to engineer “freaks” with the use of drugs and poisons. All of their children are deformed in some way and we watch them grow up and manipulate each other. Interview with the author at Wired for Books.

sorrow Sorrow Mountain A wonderful book about Ani Pachen’s childhood in rural Tibet, how her life changed after the invasion of the Chinese army, and her 21 years in prison. She tells her story without resentment, but in attempt to make the world understand how her spiritual practice sustained her. She recently died in Dharamsala, but here is a nice piece in her honor.

dream yoga Dream Yoga

Shambala Sun Magazine

For all the reading I’ve done, I’ve never bothered to pick up the Harry Potter series. I’m in Maine visiting my mother right now, and she had this inviting, hardcover, texturally interesting complete set sitting on her floor. I picked up the first one, and am half way through number 4 with no break at all. Highly entertaining, now I see what all the hype was about.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

Previous months reading lists: January , February, March

Teaser Tuesday – Pema Chodron
April 21, 2009, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Books, Buddhism, Travel

The Places that Scare You by Pema Chodron

“For instance, even in the rock hardness of the aggression, we’ll generally find fear. Underneath the defensiveness is the brokenhearted, unshielded quality of bodhichitta. Rather than feel this tenderness, however, we tend to close down and protect against the discomfort.” pg. 56

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Portland, ME

Premio Dardos Award
April 21, 2009, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Books, Buddhism, Politics, Travel

Thanks to Book Bird Dog for giving this to me.

“This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.”

Now for the silly part:

“The rules to follow are:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link. 2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.”

I think it is rather ridiculous to create an award, and then devalue it by making it a chain letter. I’m accepting it from Book Bird Dog because she stuck to just a few blogs that were really nice to read through, and I will do the same. I don’t even read 15 other blogs regularly, but here are a few that I really do enjoy.

Naked Without Books – Susan is an English instructor in S. Korea and has just participated in a 24-hour read-a-thon.

Lotus Reads – book reviews of a worldly nature.

While Sleepwalking – My dear friend has not blogged in a little while, but the past book reviews and European travels are well worth reading through.

Lessons from the Monk I Married – A great narrative of a woman who married a South Korean monk she befriended while working overseas.

The News Dissector
– He dissects the news. A great blog with lots of information, video clips, and links.

Rebecca Hosking Travel Examiner – a great friend of mine who has been to over forty countries talks about them one country at a time.

T-13, Incheon, South Korea
April 9, 2009, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Buddhism, Travel

Thirteen Thursday

I got my placement for teaching in South Korea. I will be in Incheon, although not sure which area yet.

1. Incheon has 2.4 million people and is the third largest metropolitan area in S. Korea.

2. On Feb. 27, 2007, Incheon declared itself an “English City”, it is also a free economic zone, separate from other economic laws of S. Korea, both of these acts are an effort to attract foreign business, similar to Hong Kong.

3. Jim’s grandfather was stationed here in 1947.

4. They have two professional baseball teams.

5. It is where the main airport into S. Korea is.

6. There are two really tall towers there.

7. Sadly, because it is such a hub of commerce, I’m not seeing much in a search for traditional temples.

8. It is not just one area, but a bunch of islands, and yes, it is fairly close to the N. Korean border.

9. It houses Korea’s only official Chinatown.

10. Pretty pics I’ve stolen off the internet:



13. I found this pic, it’s not built yet, construction started in 2008 and is supposed to end in 2012.

“Korea’s The Most Highest Pure Apartment!”

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!