At the start of October I found out the day before (a common theme in Korea) that I would be going on a hike and then out for dinner with the school for a traditional meal. Each month I pay into a teachers activity fund which allows all the staff to meet together which I assume will be every month.
I knew the day we would be going would be raining out, fine by me. I brought all my clothes to change into, at the last minute I was told that we would no longer be going for the hike and we would be still be going out for dinner. I went out with my co-teacher Sang Ho, Dillon (never told me his Korean name) and another teacher. We went out for coffee and some pastries before heading to where we would have been going hiking. We pull into the parking lot and I see the largest sitting Buddha I have ever seen. This thing was huge! Buddhism is still a prevalent religion in South Korea at about 23 percent, higher than both protestants (18%) and Catholics (11%). I received a short lesson on Buddhism and how the religion is declining with the number of elderly South Koreans passing away.
From the temple, we moved onto the restaurant. We began by taking off our shoes and sitting on the floor. My first traditional meal. My co-teacher and Dillon were exceptionally excited about the meal because it takes so long to prepare food like this, and how their wives are not as good of cooks as there mothers.
The meal consisted of a stew with some meat and different types of mushrooms. A whole bunch of side dishes, lots of rice, plus some delicious reeds that I have never seen before. One which I was sweet, and crunchy. Quite good.
After dinner we went out for coffee again, to Angel-In-Us “The World Best Coffee”. Guess they shouldn’t have used Google Translate for that one. I talked with a few of my co-workers for about an hour. It included taking about the South and North Korean conflict, and politics in Korea and Canada. I was told before coming to Korea that Korean people would be very offended if I asked about certain things or even slightly portrayed being disrespectful. This is an absolute lie, I call bullshit on that. I am interested about the culture and the history, plus the opinions of others. If you do end up coming to Korea, try to develop a relationship with the people around you and ask the serious questions, my coworkers were more than happy to give their opinion. I found that asking these questions has aided me in terms of the amount of respect they give me. During our discussion they asked all kinds of things about Canada and the either positive or negative things that they have heard about our country. I took no offense to this as I feel exactly the same way as them with the media twisting facts to fabricate a better news blurb.
All in all the night was fantastic and it has opened up a lot of new doors with my coworkers, I feel like I am less of an other and more included in the conversations, when they are in English of course.