Sunday, October 26, 2008

Taejongdae Park

Today we visited Taejongdae Park at the southernmost tip of Busan. It was somewhat of an adventure getting there due to some confusion with the bus system, and even more of an adventure getting back due to the fact that we thought we had figured the bus system out. We spent the afternoon walking around on a lovely path in the park, which was beautiful yet filled with snack bars. We resisted the snacks at the park, but once we got home we made a trip to the bakery to reward ourselves.
This dracula cookie is the closest to Halloween we'll get, unless we carve some Kimchi.

This was part of the vegetable garden near the monastery. In South Korea there is so little arable land that every available inch is used. Small plots of vegetables are often seen growing on the side of the road in the city.

A bell outside the temple.

A Buddhist statue in the garden outside of a small shrine. In the background is the famous curmudgeonly-looking Korean monk with the name we can't pronounce or spell right. We'll get back to you on this one. Update: his name is Dalma.

A bust of Buddha covered in moss and spiderwebs in the garden.

A statue guarding the path to a temple cemetery. Several memorial markers are visible in the background.

A small Buddhist temple.

In Buddhism, fierce-looking protectors guard the entrances to sacred spaces. Even though they often look evil, they are actually benevolent spirits who have taken on an evil aspect in order to scare away real evil. This one is ready to punch someone out.

And if the first protector doesn't get you, this guy will happily crush you with a boulder.

Three representations of San-Shin, the Korean mountain god, and his tiger companion. When Buddhism came to Korea, San-Shin was the most important god in the pre-existing indigineous shamanistic tradition. Buddhism absorbed many of the Korean shamanistic beliefs and today there are shrines to San-Shin next to all Buddhist temples.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cartoons, UN Cemetery and Today's Weather

Cartoons are everywhere in Korea, from logos for the Post Office to Buddhist iconography. Stephen drew these cartoons and gave them to Adrienne when she arrived in Korea. The characters shown are among the most popular in Korea (some are Japanese in origin). Above are Gamzadori and his girlfriend.
Clockwise: Post Office Hermes, Sea Urchin Boy and his turtle sidekick, and Mashimaro (an infamous ill-tempered Japanese cartoon).

Clockwise: Hello Kitty, Buddhist monk, Pucca and Doraemon.

Adrienne with a robotic (or human?) Doraemon in Seoul.
UN Cemetery near our apartment. It commemorates the international troops that died in the Korean War.
Special tree in cemetery. It was surprising to see it blooming in October.

View from underside of tree.

The cemetery was full of manicured evergreens.

The happiest saddest dog in Korea.

An overcast view from our bedroom this morning.

A tempest over Busan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Beomeo-sa Temple and Busan Fireworks

Magic berries.


Buddhist Gollum/Smeagol.

A huge Buddhist protector at the outer gates wearing a cat-faced beltbuckle, a loinskin of a mythical animal, and clutching a seahorse (or dragon) for macabre accents.
Another protector holding a stupa, or reliquary house.

A common Buddhist fundraiser is to collect donations for laypeople to inscribe the underside of rooftiles. It's usually a $10 buy-in.

Temple rooftops with an Autumn view of the mountains.

The fourth annual Busan Fireworks display, as seen from our bedroom. I like how there was no pretense for a holiday; these were fireworks for fireworks' sake.

Monday, October 20, 2008

first post

hello to all of our family and friends!

we decided to create this blog as a way to share our travel experiences and photos and to keep in touch with the people we care about. stephen arrived in south korea at the end of july and adrienne arrived at the end of september. currently, we are both living in the southern coastal city of pusan (also spelled busan) and we will be here at least until the end of december. after we leave south korea we plan to travel to india, with possible stops in japan and/or thailand in between. in pusan, we are working on several book projects with a retired korean psychiatrist and also living with him in his home.

we hope that you enjoy reading our blog and we welcome all comments, questions and suggestions. okay, well we better get started on our posts!

much love,
stephen and adrienne