Elwood 5566

Buddha’s Birthday at Chang Su Temple

Posted in Art, Buddhism, Photo diary, video clips by 노강호 on June 17, 2012

On Buddha’s Birthday, May 28th, I traveled out of Daegu to the nearby town of Ok-Po. I was with a friend Jane, whose uncle is the senior monk in the Chang So temple (장수사) temple. As it transpired, almost every other person we met was one of her relatives.

With a monk in the temple forecourt. Note the curved roofs.

It was an interesting trip firstly because there were no mountains to climb (nothing spoils a trip more to a temple than an hour’s hike) and secondly, as the temple was small, it was quite calm and not teeming with visitors as a larger temple would be.

We looked around the temple complex, lit joss sticks in the main temple and poured water over a small statue of Buddha followed by the traditional temple bibimpap (mixed vegetables and rice) in the canteen. Then we sat sat in the monks rest room and drank coffee.

temple art is wonderfully exotic

a series of panels tell the story of the birth and life of Buddha

Temple buildings, traditionally built of wood and without nails, are always highly decorated and the narrative panels are exotic with their distinctive turquoise background. As there is a believe that evil travels in straight lines, the roofs of temples are curved to prevent evil entering them. Temple complexes house a main temple and then several smaller shrines dedicated to the various manifestations of  Buddha. Usually, there is always small shrine dedicated to the Mountain God (산신) who was revered in ‘Korea’ before Buddha was born but has since become a manifestation of Buddha.

The elongated ears signify enlightenment

One of the larger shrines, the largest after the main hall, was filled with small statues. It was an incredibly impressive hall where the mesmerizing effect of row upon row of miniature statues induced a sense of serenity.

a sense of serenity

and one statue naked

Children playing in the midst of Buddha

the small shrine to the Mountain God (산신)

the Mountain God (산신)

The beautiful and elaborate art work of the main hall

The main hall, a shrine to Ksitigarbha (지장 보살), the Bodhisattva. The hall contain depictions of heaven and hell and their associated judges. On the edges of the hall are small shrines to recently deceased people and hanging from the ceiling lanterns with attached wishes of devotees.

the wishes of devotees

the judges

part of the ornate ceiling of the main hall

Korean temples are wonderfully relaxing. Usually located in the mountains or countryside, they are a respite from the hussle and bussle of city life. All the elements of a temple, from the art and architecture to the hypnotic chanting of  a solitary monks, conspire to induce a sense of serenty and reflection.

I would liked to have added much more information about the temple and its features but I do not know enough about Korean temples and Buddhism. The subject is quite complex and intense.

 

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Doboks Galore – Photo Diary

Posted in Martial Arts, Photo diary, video clips by 노강호 on March 4, 2012

I feel quite at home among taekwondo and martial arts clothing. With twenty years experience of taekwon-do, I got to the stage I could go shopping in a supermarket in the UK or Germany, in a ‘dobok’ and not feel out-of-place. I find something quite ‘homely’ about the various uniforms you see on Korea streets and in schools and again this is probably because I was also fifteen years in the British army. Wherever you go in Korea, uniforms are part of the scenery and one of the most popular is the taekwondo ‘dobok.’

2001: Boys in summer komdo (kendo) uniforms with the baggy pants, playing an arcade game

2001: Two komdo boys in summer dress. One carries a bamboo 'shinai' (don't know the Korean term for this)

2001. Hapkido boys in summer uniform. This school is still training ten years later.

flying side kick

A couple of taekwondo boys resting. WTF 'dobok' are always blinged to the max!

one of my younger students demonstrates his front kick

Jay is a third degree black-belt (WTF). This is a fantastic side kick!

Some older taekwondo boys on a wet morning in the monsoon season

Jay performing a side kick

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Park Life

Posted in Photo diary, seasons, Sport, video clips by 노강호 on July 24, 2011

I visited Warayong Park, Song-so, a few weeks ago.

Saturday afternoon in Warayong Park

soap making stall

frienship bracelet making stall

escaping the sun under the arbors (정자)

giant swing

6 week old baby girl

cute

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Arrival of the Memi 2011

Posted in Animals, Nature, seasons, video clips by 노강호 on July 18, 2011

memi (매미 – cicadas) are more colourful in flight

Has the weather been a little strange? Until a few days ago, especially with the arrival of the boknal period, on July 14th, it hadn’t been particularly unpleasant and as I haven’t lived in Korea long enough to notice changing weather patterns, less the fact that copious hours sat in steam rooms and the number of years I have spent here, may have resulted in my being somewhat acclimatised, I haven’t really being splashing sweat all over the place.

Last year, I heard the first memi (매미 – cicadas) on July 22nd. Of course, this is not the first memi to sing in Daegu per-se, but the first I heard and I am consistent at standing in a small park everyday in the lead up to their appearance. Last year, the temperature was scorching as I heard what was actually a solitary song. This week, on July 14th, it seems cooler, though certainly above the memi song threshold of 29 degrees Celsius, and I heard my first song for 2011 and it was a full, if somewhat half-hearted chorus.

Memi song can damage your hearing and I advise you to turn down your volume if you activate the video!

The memi will continue to sing into the hanyeoreum (한여름) period, which occurs in August and by which time the rainy has fully moved north and the evenings are hot a balmy. The chang-ma (장마) rain reappears in early September, only for a few weeks after which the memi song will gradually fade away as the temperature decreases.

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Update: On the 'Art' of Brewing British Tea

Posted in Uncategorized, video clips by 노강호 on June 26, 2011

A few weeks ago I posted an article on the fantastic coffee available in a small shop near E-Marte, in Song-so. The article was Seduced by a Gutamalian Beauty. Though I’m no expert in the field of either beverage, I mentioned how the art of making a perfect cup of tea, seemed somewhat random compared to coffee which, if you follow the correct procedures, produces a decent cup on demand. I refrain from describing such coffee as perfect as I don’t really know what I’m looking for; currently I’m a white belt level at ‘coffee cupping.’ However, the University of Northumbria have recently published their research on pursuing that perfect ‘cuppa’ and pinning down the process which produces it.

There have always been brewing methods but there was always disagreement about the exact sequence of the various stages. Thanks to the students at Northumbria, we now have the ultimate method which I will trial when I’m next in the UK. I’m a snob and making British tea demands British ingredients and British milk.

I do have one gripe, however! Tea bags! British tea made with a tea bag! Where is the method for making traditional British tea with loose leaf tea?

Daily Telegraph. Sunday 26 June 2011. How to make the perfect cup of tea- be patient

And if you are interested in the art of tea, you can read George Orwell’s, A Nice Cup of Tea, published in the Evening Standard, January 12th 1946.

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Images of Innocence (5) – James

Posted in Images of Innocence, video clips by 노강호 on June 19, 2011

James, is eight years old and my youngest student. He sleeps in a tent in his bedroom with three teddy bears, one named Aloo. Here’s his story.

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Senior Citizens’ ‘Street Party’

Posted in Diary notes, Entertainment, Photo diary, video clips by 노강호 on May 24, 2011

dancing to traditional ‘trot’

Last Saturday, as I was returning home from an outing I heard the sound of gongs and drums and walking down to the small park near my ‘one room,’ where an old peoples facility house is located (이곡경로당), discovered the old folks in the area where having a street party. In the middle of the small park a television screen had been set up and a small group were in the throes of a trot-style (트로트) karaoke session. One the periphery another group were busy accompanying the singing with an assortments of gongs and drums usually associated with traditional music such as pungmul nori (풍물놀이 and samul nori (사물놀이). Meanwhile, others were dancing in the style typical senior citizens. And the soju and makgeolli were flowing freely…

belting one out

as I sat watching, a tray of snacks was brought to my seat

a passing boy joins in…

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Punishing Naughty Students with Ai-Sh-Yo! (아이셔)

Posted in Food and Drink, Korean children, Uncategorized, video clips by 노강호 on May 5, 2011

Specially for Children’s Day! In every box of Ai-sh-yo, is an intensely sour gum. You can’t distinguish the gross one from the others in the box. If you want to punish your students or get some pleasure after they’ve pestered you all week for Children’s Day candy,  you can do so in this random manner.

In Seoul you can’t smack them, but you can feed them an Aishyo

Yea, I know my Korean is shitty! And here are some photos capturing the moment.

aiiiii….

shhhhhhh…

yo…..

 Further References

A Candy for Teacher

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Monday Market – King Oyster Mushroom – 새송이 버섯

Posted in plants and trees, Technology, video clips by 노강호 on February 10, 2011

oyster mushrooms growing wild – difficult to find, easy to cultivate

In Britain, we tend to have both mushrooms and toadstools. ‘Toadstools’ is a term, though not exclusive in its use, to describe those cap bearing ‘mushrooms’ which are inedible or poisonous. Unfortunately, many toadstools are indeed edible and there are a number of examples I am competent enough to pick and eat. One of my favourites, which grows and is eaten in Korea, is the parasol mushroom (갓 버섯 – lepioptera procera). In England, this wonderful mushroom is prolific but few people pick it and it is unavailable in shops.

young parasol mushroom – unmistakable

Koreans, like many other European countries, are much more adventurous in their culinary and medicinal use of fungi and a wide range of exotic mushrooms are available. The king oyster  mushroom (새송이 버섯 – pleurotus eryngii) is common  in markets and supermarkets and is also known in Britain as the king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom. In Korea it is a common ingredient in stews and a favourite skewered between meat and onion. Though not particularly flavoursome, when cooked it has a meaty, abalone-like texture. Though difficult to find, as they often grow under forest ‘debris,’ they are easy to cultivate.

an oyster mushroom farm

Baby oysters are excellent in soups and stew and freeze easily

Korea is one of the leading producers of  the king oyster mushroom and grown in temperature controlled environments with air cleaning, water de-ionizing and automated systems,  farming is high-tech.  One of the most successful producers is Kim Geum-hee who now owns six high-tech farms producing over 5 tons of mushroom daily.

Kim Geum-hee a pioneer in the art of mushroom farming

Kim Geum-hee is an adorable character and one of Korea’s outstanding agriculturalists. I fell in love with her personality after just one video  partly because the added translations are a little ‘studenty’ but ironically enhance the videos imbuing  them with an enchanting cuteness.

meaty

“Photo by Catie Baumer Schwalb, pitchforkdiaries.com, used with permission.”

The videos about her success are interesting and well worth watching. ‘Kim Geum-hee ‘had a dream about mushroom,’ and later, ‘after graduating fell in love with mushroom.’ Oh, dear, I have bad thoughts.  When I see a room full of cap-type mushrooms I can’t help being reminded of penises. I’m sure many other westerners would have the same response and besides, the stinkhorn’s botanical name is phallus impudicus and before it  was biological classified it was known as, ‘fungus virilis penis effige‘ ( Gerard, 1597).  It’s not just me! You can poke a Korean in the eye with even the most phallic of fungi, of which there are a number of amazing varieties, and not the slightest link will be made to a penis. To Koreans that offensive fungi is simply a mushroom!

There are some excellent ways to use the king oyster mushroom:

Pitchfork Diaries

Ptitchef

Vegan and Korean

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Images of Innocence (4) – Sam

Posted in Images of Innocence, video clips by 노강호 on January 31, 2011

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