It's kind of crazy how much of a contradiction I am to myself. While I'm viewed by many as a globe trotter, nomad or world explorer who can't sit still, I'm equal parts homebody, total hermit. Having been back in Daegu for a month I've done very little outside a few kilometer radius of my apartment. I work across the street and everything I need is within walking distance of home; shops, restaurants, parks and even the train station. I did get out a few times, visiting Gumi to volunteer at Samsungwon, but other than that winter has sent me into hibernation mode. Two weeks ago though, my co-worker Elizabeth asked for ideas of what to do in Daegu and where to go with her boyfriend, who'd be visiting from the States. I recommended Dongwhasa, one of my favorite temples in not only Daegu, but the whole of Korea. Seeing some hesitation I offered to tag along, playing tour guide for the day, making it the third time I did so, previously introducing my mom and Peter, on their visits in 2013 and 2016 respectively.
When Pete and I went back in 2016, a time I apparently fell out of the blogging routine, we ate the most delicious hand cut, buckwheat noodles I've ever had. I'm generally not a huge fan of Kalguksu (noodles) in Korea, but these were a game changer. To be honest, my offer to accompany Elizabeth and Kevin was mainly fueled by the promise to repeat that delicious meal. We arrived around 1 pm and I was hungry, but there was a small part of me who worried that the restaurant wouldn't be open, I recall being the only visitors on my first trip, but hoped my worries would be wrong. Unfortunately, they were right, doors locked and no one in sight, just the start of the bad luck we'd have this day.
The only other nearby option was a Chinese restaurant, but we decided to instead grab coffee and hope the restaurant would open its doors by the time we were done visiting the temple. Despite having been to this temple three times previously, I was happy to be back again. My first visit coincided with the week of Buddha's Birthday, which meant an ornately decorated temple and lots of visitors. This time the temple was also decorated, but for a different occasion, Lunar New Year. The decorations weren't as numerous, however there was a "wish tree" near the entrance where you could hang a wish or hope for the coming new year. The three of dropped our 1000 won in the donation bin and hung up our wish, here's to a happy and fulfilling 2020, year of the rat.
We were moving slow, reading others wishes, taking loads of pictures, browsing the gift shops and Elizabeth and I took a walk through the temporary Labyrinth. We weren't even halfway through all the buildings and things to see when Elizabeth looked up from her phone and said "Oh, crap!". Kevin, her boyfriend, was leaving Korea the following day, but she had mixed up dates and set the check-out date of their AirBnB to that day. The owner had been messaging her, asking why they hadn't yet checked out. Unfortunately, they had to cut their visit short and rush back to the city to clean up the apartment and move out, bad omen number two of the day.
I decided to enjoy my afternoon at the temple, having left my house (a rather big accomplishment in and of itself) and trek the hour and twenty minutes by bus into the mountains. I felt bad for Elizabeth and Kevin as they were unable to see my favorite feature of the temple, the giant Buddha statue located on the South side of the grounds. I took a few minutes to warm up inside the "International meditation center" and was happy I made the visit as there was some impressive artwork on display - another reminder that I was to re-visit the Daegu Art Museum.
Had the temperatures been a little bit warmer and my stomach not aching with hunger I would have stayed much longer, but instead I chose to leave, fingers crossed I'd be able to soon fill myself with delicious noodles. Like I said though, the day was cursed so of course the restaurant wasn't open. There was a silver lining though, the bus back to the city was pulling up just as I approached the stop, so at least I didn't have to wait longer. On my the way back to town my thoughts centered almost exclusively on what I should eat, so I decided to check in with Elizabeth and Kevin to see where they were at and if they had eaten or not. It turns out they had been busy moving and also hadn't had time to eat, so we chose to meet up at a Korean buffet near our apartments.
I was starving, and thus ate way more than I probably should have, but at least the majority was vegetables, right? While eating Elizabeth seemed occupied with her phone again, and quickly shared bad luck number three of the day. In their rush to get out of the AirBnb they had left Kevin's Ukulele behind, so she was in the midst of trying to contact the owner and figure out how to get it back before Kevin's departure the next morning. After finishing our meal Elizabeth invited me to join them to the art museum, and while I've been meaning to visit, as previously mentioned, I much preferred to retreat to the safety of my home. Little did I know that the biggest problem of my day was awaiting me there, but that's a whole other story, one that involved an immediate visit to the dentist.
Those born in the year of the Dragon - a strong sense of breakthrough and determination that will push you to the end. Those who think and act big, without hiding themselves. I hope to [continue] to embody the expectations of my Chinese Zodiac, and while I don't put too much value in horoscopes and the like, it doesn't hurt having these positive words describe my character. Here's to hoping the rat is kind to the dragon this year.
Where to start. After living in this country for three years I have memories, experiences and stories galore. I'll now always be a bit partial to the Land of the Morning Calm. Filled with delicious foods, beautiful nature and friendly people, I'm always happy to return.