Archives for September 2011

Under the Sea

Yes, I did just make a reference to the little mermaid. But how can you not sing along to that soundtrack when you’re scuba diving? This post is a little rewind to scuba diving in Bali. Partially because I miss it and partially because it’s starting to get cold here. We went to Bali with the intention to scuba dive once or twice. That was before we found out how ridiculously cheap it is! At 30 bucks a pop we were able to go a whole lot more than we anticipated!  scuba diving, baliscuba diving, bali
Kind of kept expecting them to form animals or words.
scuba diving, bali
scuba diving, bali
If you open your mouth then these tiny shrimp start to clean your mouth.
scuba diving, bali
scuba diving, bali
scuba diving, bali
scuba diving, bali
scuba diving, bali

We were able to dive a ship wreck right off the coast. The USS Liberty was an american cargo ship that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in WWII. Too expensive to haul back to the states, it was decided to beach the huge ship. Then in 1964, Mt. Agung volcano exploded, over 10,000 ft tall, killing a thousand villagers. the lava made it’s way to the beach and pushed the beached cargo ship into the ocean. It now sits at a 90 degree angle on it’s side and goes from 3 meters deep down to 30 meters deep in the water. We talked to our driver who was born and raised in the town and he said that his grandparents witnessed the volcano exploding. Not having any cars in the town at the time, they had to run to the next town to seek safety.They were also able to do a night dive of the wreck!

 

While the boys were diving one morning, Alissa and I sat and talked with one of the workers at the hotel. She gave us great insight into the traditional Hindu lifestyle of Bali. It started by her asking about Alissa’s baby and when she was due. We then found out that she had been trying to get pregnant for 10 years now with no luck. She said that it is getting more and more difficult in Bali to get pregnant, and many people have the same difficulty as she. She told us that she was starting to get worried because if a woman does not have a child or does not produce a boy, then the husband sometimes goes and marries another woman. He can continue to marry different woman until he has a boy. She went on to tell us that it is very hard to find work. Sometimes her husband works a few days in a row as a boat driver but then can go weeks without work. Many women carry water pots to earn money but at the end of the day they have to split the money they earned with their “boss”. She said that some bosses were so cruel that if you were cooking and did something wrong they would take the boiling water and pour it on you. My heart went out to this woman and her obvious day to day struggle. It made me so humbly aware of how good we have it. Not having to worry about hubs leaving if I can’t have a baby or if I have the wrong gender, having a good job with a great boss. There are so many things that we take for granted in our day to day life. Sometimes it’s good to get a little wake up call from others.

Chuseok Holiday

This past weekend was Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving. Koreans travel from all over the country to meet with family, usually at the grandparents home. For us, it means we get a long four day weekend. We heard that most people in Seoul leave the city to go to family’s homes so the city is far less crowded than usual. Also, there there are big names such as Van Gogh and Monet on exhibit at the Seoul Art Center this month. We decided to head out early (and by early I mean 5:40 am) Saturday morning to beat any holiday traffic there might be. Thank goodness I have the gift of being able to sleep anywhere and got a nice long nap in on the bus.

Our first stop was the art museum. It was so amazing to see paintings that I have admired for so long in person. Pictures truly do no justice to these pieces of artwork. 

seoul museum of art

They have really tall ice cream cones in seoul (and Jeremy took the time to show me the “correct” way to point)

A short side note. Starting the Wednesday before we left I started not feeling well. This was the first time that I have been sick since we have arrived in Korea (pretty impressive I think). I took some aspirin before I went to sleep one night but I made one mistake. I took it on an empty stomach. If you’ve never done this before, I highly suggest against it. It feels like a mix between someone punching you in the stomach and feeling like you’re going to vomit. Not the best scenario when you have to be upbeat and energetic teaching kids all day. Thankfully I only had to go one day of teaching before the weekend. I felt a little better before we headed out on Saturday so we decided to still go. As the day wore on, I felt worse. After talking with my mom and finding out that something as simple as an antacid would help me feel better we headed to the pharmacy. No medicine is sold in convenient stores or grocery stores here. You have to go to the pharmacy. We got a very small amount to last us on Saturday and didn’t think anything else about it. The next day, Sunday, we went to the pharmacy to get some more medicine. Little did we know that all pharmacies in Seoul are closed on Sundays. Apparently Koreans have some secret to not getting sick on Sundays. Wish I knew it. All turned out well though. After a few hours we came across a popular indoor mall with an open pharmacy. The pharmacist inside probably wondered why we were so excited about getting an antacid.

Bongeunsa Temple, seoul

We traveled south of the Han River which divides to city to the Bongeunsa Temple. It is over 1200 years old and the country’s leading training centre for Buddhist monks specializing in zen meditation.

Twice a day monks perform a percussion ceremony on four instruments, each designed to awaken and save beings on the ground(drum), underwater(wooden fish), in the sky(cloud drum) and under the ground(gong). We were fortunate enough to arrive at the temple just in time to see the night ceremony. Once entering the temple, you could feel the silence begin to surround you. You didn’t dare make a sound for fear of breaking the humbling silence. Even though we were alone walking the grounds, we still talked in hushed whispers.

Bongeunsa Temple, seoul
Bongeunsa Temple, seoul

This was in the pavilion of the dharma king. it houses 3,300 miniature statues of gwanseum bosal which glorify the essence of the buddhist spirit. 

Bongeunsa Temple, seoul
We were also able to witness a buddhist ceremony for the chuseok holiday. it was held in the heart of the temple. sakyamuni buddha is in the center with amitabha buddha and the medicine buddha on either side. 
Bongeunsa Temple, seoul
Bongeunsa Temple, seoul
Bongeunsa Temple, seoul
Bongeunsa Temple, seoul

There are two main theme parks in Korea, one, Everland, being significantly larger than the other, Lotteworld. We figured that if there is only one substantial park in the country you’re in, you have to check it out at least once. During the Chuseok holiday there is a big discount for foreigners since all Koreans are typically with their families that morning. Another plus about going during Chuseok…no lines. we were told the average wait for T-Express is a few hours long, we waiting 30 minutes.

everland theme park, seoul
everland theme park, seoul
everland theme park, seoul
everland theme park, seoul

The main square and view of t-express roller coaster, the steepest wooden roller coaster in the world at 77 degrees.

everland theme park, seoul
Posing with the theme parks featured characters all dressed up in hanboks (Korea’s traditional wear).
everland theme park, seoul
everland theme park, seoul

After leaving Everland we caught the first bus back to Geoje. As nice as it is to explore the island that we live on, sometimes it’s nice to be able to have a little city getaway.

Tanah Lot-Bali

We rented boats to take us out for a sunrise boat ride on our last day.
sunrise boat ride, bali
sunrise boat ride, bali
sunrise boat ride, bali
sunrise boat ride, bali
It was the perfect view of Agung Volcano
sunrise boat ride, bali
sunrise boat ride, bali
sunrise boat ride, bali
sunrise boat ride, bali

Our second hotel that we stayed at with a full breakfast served in the alcove to the left. It was a scuba diver’s paradise with full service scuba training center and just a short walk to the beach for a dive.

Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 15th century priest Nirartha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-island’s beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the balinese sea gods.

The Tanah Lot Temple was built and has been a part of balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each of the sea temples were established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-western coast.
At the base of the rocky island, poisonous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. A giant snake supposedly protects the temple, which was created from Nirartha’s scarf when he established the island.

tanah lot, bali
At high tide you cannot see the strip of land connecting it to the mainland. It looks as though it is sitting in the middle of the water. 
tanah lot, bali
tanah lot, bali

 Pura Batu Balong, another temple in the same area. both temples are within eyesight of each other.

tanah lot, bali

tanah lot, bali

tanah lot, bali

The Mother Temple of Bali

Over a thousand years old, Besakih temple is known as the “Mother Temple of Bali”. Perched on the slopes of mount agung, at 1,000 metres (3,000 feet). besakih is the biggest and holiest of all the balinese temples. Named after the dragon god believed to inhabit the mountain, it’s said to be the only temple where a hindu of any caste can worship.
mother temple, bali
mother temple, bali
mother temple, bali
mother temple, bali
mother temple, balimother temple, bali
mother temple, bali
Lake Batur. As the mountain grows through frequent, minor or not so minor eruptions, it gradually enlarges its base at the expense of the lake, which is slowly shrinking in consequence.
lake batur, balilake batur, bali
You can still see the lava flows that go right into the lake and the small roads that were carved out in the lava flow.