Monday, 28 November 2011

Kimchi for breakfast - at last!

It has only taken 4 months or so and a stay at a Buddhist temple to bring before me a very Korean breakfast including kimchi (see top left bowl, red stuff) I struggled slightly and can't say i have been keen to recreate this meal at home since, but the kimchi was a highlight and boy was I proud of myself. The templestay was an experience i won't forget, and not for all the right spiritual reasons. For once the language barrier really got in the way and sitting for a long time on the floor listening to a monk but not understanding very much at all was frustrating and left me with little to focus on but my aching joints. One illuminating aspect was, however, the insight I gained into what it must be like for our students at school who arrive in our classes with very little English - and in Elementary, to make matters worse, we make them sit on the floor too! No-one seemed that bothered that we couldn't follow what was going on. My polite smile wore thin and, like some of our students, i really had a strong urge to roll around on the heated floor during the last session. Only the atmosphere of dutiful reverence for the aging monk who was sharing his experiences with the group, stopped me from lolling back and stretching out. I will remember my stay at Beomeosa mostly for the 108 bows and beads, the good company of my companions and the beautiful surroundings in the rays of the  rising sun.

That was over a week ago. It took me several days to catch up on the sleep I had missed that weekend - not all down to the templestay(3 hours sleep at most) - we had been out late the night before too and had too much to drink - i can recommend a templestay for a hangover cure, the perfect place for mind over matter. I am going to practise sitting on the floor - it will come in handy and widen the number of restaurants i can consider going into.
The weather turned decidedly chilly a week ago and it was all woolly jumpers and vests and at last i could wear my new furry fleece without melting. However, we're going through a slighlty milder few days which means rain is expected. It will be good when temperatures decide to stabilise as so many people are going down with colds etc. I say bring on the freezing, sunny, bright fresh winter days - we have our winter clothes, now that Sevenseas have finally delivered our boxes, not to mention the warmest duvet you could ever hope to snuggle under with good, Welsh, woollen blankets for added cwtchiness. I am issuing my annual dictat that 'no, we don't need the heating on yet' even though the school pays our winter fuel bills (makes me feel like a pensioner!) and underfloor heating is really rather lovely.

I also went for a run while it was very cold - i really should get something to wrap round my ears, or i'll be joining the ranks of the sneezing snifflers. I got to wear my new trainers, which our tenants back home very kindly sent out here after they were wrongly delivered to Trowbridge. Should help my knees to last a little longer. That reminds me - i really should be taking extra cod liver oil as i doubt i am getting the required amount for healthy joints. I must also make an effort to keep up the exercise as it is the only thing that keeps me on an even keel when the hormones drag me down and drive me to tears at the slightest thing. I nearly lost it in the canteen the other day when there didn't seem to be anything i wanted to eat - the sight of mashed potato sent me to the sandwich bar only to find strips of multi-coloured cheese. That took a big effort of will and some deep breaths to keep my eyes from filling up. Maybe more vitamins might help too - back to the kimchi?
The photo above gives an idea of what our view is like at night - there have been some beautiful evening skies at sunset -which gladden the heart and have me reaching for the camera every time (i put it straight back down with the words, 'it doesn't do it justice' most times)
Since my last post we have also been to watch some basketball, had people round to play poker (i'm no good at it as i put too much faith and optimism in the last card with absolutely no regard for what other players might be doing) It's a pleasant social occasion though. We went to another temple with a huge Buddha on top to do some mask dancing. Bob joined in with gusto even though he was politely told he couldn't wear the mask he'd chosen as it represented a newly married young bride...mmm. He settled for another with a glum upturned mouth which I'm sure was an accurate reflection of his face beneath as he skipped about waving his arms and legs around like the end of the Morcambe and Wise show. What larks eh? I'm sure Buddha was finding it most amusing - i certainly was.

Anyway, past my bedtime. Bob is working hard, i am doing my usual avoidance of taking things too seriously and getting by on a wing and prayer as is my wont. Can't get bogged down with thinking ahead so last minute planning suits me fine. Now Buddha would approve of that, surely? Night, night x