Buddha's Birthday

We did not get the day off work for Buddha's Birthday (I had a few of my classes sing Happy Birthday to Buddha) since we had Children's day off and then they gave us Friday off as well instead of only Thursday and Tuesday. We, got the same amount of vacation days and a 4 day weekend. So, the night before, Spenser and I decided to head down to the Suwon Fortress and check out what activities were going on. Sadly, nothing was happening when we got there at 8:30 am. Luckily, there was a Buddhist temple with a giant gold Buddhist statue, the same one as seen in the blog before. So, we took the 5 minute stroll up to the temple to see what was happening. I'm glad we did.

(Giant Gold Buddha)

(Not sure the purpose of the lanterns, part of me thinks it's more for fundraising for the temple but I'm sure there's a practical purpose - light = enlightenment, not sure, but it looked awesome)

(More lanterns coming out from the temple and surrounding complexes. Not sure about the colors either, if they have a special meaning.)

(Ringing the bell at the temple. If you look closely it's chained to the pillar so sadly, I did not get to ring it.)

(So we were at the temple around 9 at the latest, did our thing, checked it out. And we began to wonder if there would be a service and if so, what time. As time passed more and more people slowly began showing up and there were a few people sitting inside the temple. So, we hung out and I tried to do the old man squat they do in Korea. I just couldn't quite hack it. Maybe I'm not old enough yet.)

(Service, that is the best word I can use to describe it. There was a pamphlet for each of the visitors and instead of a Hymn book, there was a chant book. The two monks in the middle led the chants. Pretty freaking sweet...)

(To see chanting visit here: http://vimeo.com/23516013)

(While the service was occurring, other people were outside eating. Again, all I can compare it to is ham at church after the Easter Sunday service. All vegetarian since Buddhists don't believe in harming any animals.)

(Reverse view with the statue in the background. Since we had to get back to work we didn't take the time to eat. It was interesting and another cultural experience I am glad to have had.)


Leo's Wedding (Korean Wedding)

The co-owner of the bar I visit, as well as my co-workers, got married this past weekend. Although he owns the bar, I do consider him a friend as well. He was kind enough to invite all of the foreigners that frequent his bar. It was a beautiful wedding, but a bit strange, at least according to my Western Ideals of a wedding.

The ceremony itself was a bit different. First, the parents go up and light a candle. Instead of saying the vows to each other, they shout them out to the crowd. After that, they pay respect to their parents. All in all it would have been about a 20 minute wedding without the flare show. People talk during the wedding and a few people were on their cell phones. It seemed like most people were more excited about the buffet afterwards instead of the actually wedding itself. I must admit, the food was quite delicious.

After the wedding, we went back to Ju-Rok, the name of the bar, in a van Honey had rented to take us all to the wedding. Since they owned the bar, it was an open bar. My goal for the month of May is not to drink any alcohol and I sure picked the wrong time to do it. While I did end up drinking, I only had 3 shots of beer with Leo. Everyone had a great time and there were a few fun games. One involved hiding 3 peanuts on the groom and the bride had 3 minutes to find them all. Someone explained to me that it goes back to the tradition of arranged marriages and it was to show that the bride and groom are okay with touching each other in front of friends. I ended up carrying some girl home I just met with the help of another guy from the bar and helped a co-worker find his way home when, after calling him, he told me he was lost. Overall it was a great time. I do hope in the future I am able to see a traditional Korean ceremony at some point.

(The group of foreigners before the wedding)

(Honey in the background, Sol-gi and Leo)

(Sol-ji and Leo)

(Only bridesmaids, no best-man)

(The bride and groom pay respects to their parents and say thank you)

(Leo is a class act. He completely bowed to the ground to thank everyone who came. He also did the same thing when thanking his father and mother. A true sign of respect.)

(Since he owns a bar, what the wedding be like without a little flair?)

(Exchanging of the rings)

(Again, perhaps because most of his friends are bartenders, Leo got a little surprise)

(Thank you other bartenders, those holding the fireworks in the background)

(A photo of the families)

(A photograph of all the extended family. The photographers took a picture with friends but I have no idea how to get one of those pictures.)

(Honey brought a box of Jager to celebrate)

(The biggest part of the wedding, at least in Korea, is the food. This was our table.)

(A toast to the new bride and groom)


Suwon Blue Wings Soccer Game

Now I can cross one more item off my list - going to a soccer game in Korea. I've never been to a professional soccer game and in fact, I'm not a big fan of the sport itself. However, I know millions of people across the world enjoy the game and, if it was anything like a Penn State College Football game, the atmosphere enough would keep me content. While there was constant cheering and chanting, it lacked the sheer numbers of a Nittany Lion pigskin match. Nevertheless, it was a rather enjoyable experience and I think I'll try to make it to another game sometime soon. There was also another perk - we all carried an open can of beer into the stadium. Furthermore, it was 2 bucks a beer during the game - not too bad. Suwon ended up losing 2-1 but it was fun to watch.

(Is that Che? Yes it is. Why? I don't know. I believe it has something to do with the fact that the colors on Cuba's flag is the same as those the Blue Wings use.)

(Katrina and I at the game. I used one of Justin's old scarves.)

(Suwon World Cup Stadium)

(We sat in the fan section and tried to cheer as much as possible, missing a few due to the lack of our Korean skills.)

(Spenser, Justin, and myself)

(This is probably 5 minutes before kickoff - notice the empty seats)

(After the game we met up with a TA that used to work at Avalon and got a few pictures with his friends)

(Katrina and I in the cherry blossoms after the game walking to the bus stop)

(Spenser and I)

(and myself and Justin)