Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Weekend Adventure [part 2]

Holy Moley!  It's taken me forever to actually finish part 2 of this post.  The reality of it all is that everything that happened is just too incredible for words.  If you need to be caught up, you should probably read this little diddy here

So, where was I?  Oh yes.  We hiked our tired behinds up an entire mountain until we eventually came upon a hidden Buddhist temple teeming with Korean housewives.  How they all got up there?  We'll never know.  I'm thinking they have a camouflaged helicopter that shuffles them up and down the damn mountain because seriously, the hike was intense. 

We reached the temple while there was some sort of ceremony or service going on.  We could see and hear women and Monk Mook Sul chanting.  There were also women running around preparing some sort of meal.  After asking if we could help and being refused, we decided to stroll around and take some pictures.

We snooped around and played with the puppies for a while before the service came to an end.  We were then greeted by everyone and told that we were to have a meal.   We sat down to a HUGE spread of food.  We had everything from rice, to sesame and vegetable noodles, a fruit platter with sweet acorn dipping sauce, rice cakes, kimchi, Korean vegetable pancakes, and seaweed soup.  There was so much food it was ridiculous.  We were all a little unsure of what to eat since we learned at our temple stay that you're supposed to eat everything that you take.  I was full just on eating all of my rice alone.

As you've probably noticed, there was no meat on the table.  Buddhist monks traditionally refrain from eating anything that comes from an animal.  They also refrain from alcohol or anything else that will alter their state of being.  Regardless of the lack of meat, the meal was fantastic and just what we needed after our grueling hike.

Chris, Mama Staudinger, and I were seated at a table with Monk Mook Sul, the senior monk of the Bogyeonsa region.  No one we had previously met that day had spoken any English and I expected Monk Mool Sul's English to be limited as well.  I greeted him with the traditional, "Annyeong Hashimnika" and he just looked and me and chuckled and said, "Oh hello.  How are you? I speak good English".  Ha.

Now it was Sue, the mysterious woman who sent us on the quest, who told us that Monk Mook Sul was a special monk.  We had no idea what made his so "special" beside the fact that he lives in a temple in the sky.  We showed him the e-mail that was sent to us and we asked him why he was so special.

He told as that he had no idea why Sue thought him to be so "special".  Monk Mook Sul had a very reverent ambiance about him.  He's historically brilliant and very educated.  We learned that he's done a fair amount of traveling in his life and he really enjoyed talking about his time in India.  He asked us a lot of questions as well.  We got, "Do you drink alcohol?", "What's your favorite kind of alcohol?", "Do you think Korean women are pretty?", and "Who do you think is the prettiest woman here?".  I should have taken these questions as some sort of hint as to what I'd experience later in the day.  Not something your monk would typically ask, non?

After chatting and relaxing we were treated to cake (more food) and copious amounts of tea.

After eating and drinking to our hearts content we were invited by Monk Mook Sul to meet him down the mountain for some more conversation and more food.  I could've sworn that he mentioned something about crab but I wasn't sure in what context and what he really meant.   Now as some of you may know, I dont particularly enjoy any kind of seafood.  I like canned tuna.  Yep, that's about it.  Lucky for me, monks don't eat meat.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Lies.  All lies.  Apparently that's what sets Monk Muk Sool apart from other monks.  This guys loves crab.  Seriously.  He took us to a restaurant where we were served a steaming plate of THIS!

HOLY CRAB BATMAN!  Just a plate of death really.  That's exactly how it was served too.  Steamed crab with a side of radish kimchi.  Normally it would be served with a few bottles of soju, but monks don't drink.  Ohhhh waaiiittttt.  Monk Mook Sul is "special".  He does drink.  Man, that monk can drink.  That is one monk that likes to get drunk.  A drunk munk thats kind of a hunk.  I normally would have taken more pictures from that night but in all honesty, I was kind of ridiculously intoxicated.  Everyone knows that it's impolite to refuse a drink when an elder or someone of higher social status offers you one.  Monk Mook Sul is a very generous monk and loved to offer us shot after shot... after shot.  The boy was conscious enough to take some video of the monk practically proposing to his mother and of Paul, the monk, and himself exchanging "I love yous" all while stuffing raw fish wrapped in lettuce in each others mouths.  Our party of 6 somehow ended up into a party of 12 and I love the fact that our Korean is limited and hardly anyone could speak a word of English but we still managed to have an amazing time.  The soju might have helped. 

The boy said that he'll make a little teaser of our day (and night) out with monk Mook Sul.  Seriously.  How many people do you know have gotten drunk with a monk?  I know, it's fun to say.   To sum everything up, none of us really remember how we got home.  We were taken in separate cars and we all arrived safe and sound back at our respective homes.  We met a ton of awesome people and everyone was so generous.  None of us spent a dime, even with the crab feast of death and Monk Mook Sul somehow acquired Paul's cell phone number and has been calling him repeatedly asking him when we'll meet again.

Just another example of how the unexpected can be such a pleasant surprise.  Thank you Sue (wherever you are) - for the great scavenger hunt.  We all hope to meet you someday.  If you have any other treasure hunts for us, please send them our way. :)

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