I don’t know a lot about Buddhism (yet).  But yesterday, Kayse-shi, Steven and I went with two new friends up to a nearby Buddhist temple called Samgwangsa.  I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it since, as I mentioned, I don’t know much about Buddhism and I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  But we took a special bus out of Seomyeon and headed through a part of town I’m not familiar with.  I got to ride in the front of this bus with the driver, and it was really fun.  He navigated up a very curvy, steep hill, and suddenly, I see it.

one of the temple chambers

We got off the bus and started the exploration. But not before some necessary tourist photos.  Meet Marybeth and Grace.  We met Marybeth through a series of funny connections this weekend.  We pretty much instantly wished that she was a teacher here in Busan so we could absorb her as a friend.  She has been teaching for the JET program in Japan for the last year.  She just finished her contract, has been traveling around Japan and took a detour to Busan for a few days, and she, as we, enjoy digging into new cultures.  So we showed her some things, including the Busan Museum of Modern Art, the Jagalchi Fish Market, Shinsegae, and Gwangalli Beach… the girl can karaoke like the best of them.

The girls on the steps. Marybeth is between Kayse and I, Grace is on the other side of me.

Grace met us at ICC the first week we were here, and she saw us at a bar this weekend, reintroduced herself, encouraged me to become a professional dancer, and then asked if she could be our friend.  UM YES.  And I’m glad, too, because she’s really funny, and even though she’s a “conservative” Christian, she is also “very naughty” and “likes to play [read: mess with people’s heads] with people.”  She’s as cute as a button and has a mischievous streak, plus she’s curious and outgoing to boot.  I also take a little bit of pride in making friends who aren’t just other foreigners — and it’s always nice to have a Korean friend available to help out in a Korea-pinch.

Grace is so sweet, and NAUGHTY ^^

I don’t have a lot to say about the Buddhist temple other than that I really enjoyed it.  It was very beautiful, very deeply ancient and spiritual, and the people who live and work and visit there were so open and friendly.  We went to one of the top temple rooms just to explore, and even though people were praying in there, one of the women who worked and tended to the shrines served us yogurt and watermelon and answered some questions (again, thanks to Grace being a great interpreter).  They also invited us to have a vegan dinner with them (yay!!) and all in all made an extra effort to make us feel welcome as we stomped around their equivalent to a church in progress.  I am anxious and eager to learn more about this religion and the culture that still surrounds Korea today.

Steven and I

The group in front of one of the shrines.