At 9:00, when our hike was to begin, the sun had already begun to warm the air. Thankfully, we were given the option to wear our own shoes, which made the hike a lot more comfortable. The tall monk led the group. For most of the walk, we were to be in two lines. He had us do various exercises and practices, such as walking backwards, walking VERY slowly (which did make it great to be attuned to the sounds of nature, including a pheasant flying by), and some stretching, massage, etc. with the person across from us. After leading us down some steep hills and across a stream, we entered into a forested area unlike the others. Here, the tress were all a special type of pine tree, whose ball-like seed pods had a fragrant pine scent when rubbed. As a Korean woman (who was also on a temple stay here and joined the walk) began singing in traditional dramatic tone, I looked upward. The immensely tall trunks diverged in the sky, their upper branch cluster of leaves looking like swaying giraffe spots. Looking across on the sloped ground, the mid-morning light began to play on the lower portion of the trunks.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Cherry blossoms deserve their symbolic attribution of temporal beauty. Last weekend, I took these photos on the mountain right by my school in Seoul.
Today, I walked through the same area. I was hoping that there would be a bit more cross-over between the cherry blossom and the azaleas (that just began to poke out a couple of days ago), but alas, much of the beauty of the cherry blossoms had faded. With the gorgeous temps, it still made a beautiful walk. I'll have to return in a week or two to check out the progress of those azaleas.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Following breakfast, we were given the option of catching some shut-eye for an hour or two. Seeing how beautiful the early morning light was, I decided instead to capture some of the tranquil, but dramatic scenes. Early morning fog still enshrouded the hills and mountains. The fish wind chimes gently clanged in the breeze. Dramatic light cast shadows on the latticed windows and into the open buildings. The streams and stone drinking areas gently flowed, their clear waters moving onwards. Women monks walked by, communicating without words. Others were using smartphones whose covers had the OM symbol on them. Less than an hour later, hikers, all decked out in their walking gear, began passing by.
Find more photos of my early morning walk through Seonamsa on my Flickr set
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Following the schedule, 5:40 marked the start of Buddha's Breakfast back at the dining hall. Instead of eating at the low tables as we had the night before, we would be partaking of a more formal ceremony with our bowls on spread on a cloth on the floor. Forming two lines, we quietly waited our turn to pick up a nested set of bowls and some folded cloths, tied neatly with a grey strip. Seated on the heated flooring, we were spaced apart to ensure enough area to eat properly, and also be neatly aligned with those ahead (and/or behind) us.
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
|Photo by William Cho|
Sunday, April 06, 2014
|Scooping dried tea leaves ($150 a package) into the teapot|
|Pouring the tea|
Warned that we had to be up and ready for the 3:30 AM ceremony, I eagerly heeded the advice to go to bed after that at 9:00. The warmth of the ondol-heated floors made the sleeping much more pleasant than the colder "slumber-party" style few hours of "sleep" we had at the jinjabong the night before.