Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spectacular Post-Race Culture Compression!

After the Hadong 10K, Bishop's boss Cha found us. Susan and I asked if he could tell us how to get to the Green Tea Museum, because Hadong is the green tea capital of Korea, and the museum a must-see if you're in the are, and he told us to hop into the van. He would take us. This is so typically Korean--a Korean person really will ditch their entire day's plans to help somebody else out.

Cha played tour guide to Susan and me for four hours. First, we toured a little community of traditional Korean houses.
Susan and Cha amid the bamboo poles.

A market spread throughout the bottom half, and we looked at some of the items for sale. The people who sell their things there actually live in the little houses and shops from which they sell, which almost give you the feeling that you're encroaching on their lives, but hey--they're making money!
I thought this little boy was adorable--what a ham! He looks like he's practicing for Korea's Next Top Model.
Everywhere you go in Korea, you see women sitting like this, selling grains and greens from the red plastic tubs.

Next, we went to a literary museum, which was really just one small room in a beautiful building on a hill.

After that, we made our way to the Green Tea Museum. It was very amusing.

This tea comes from the oldest green tea plant in Korea, which is 1,000 years old. Tea from the plant has sold for somewhere in the thousands of dollars.

This was hilarious. Written by some wise, old Buddhist sage, extolling the virtues of green tea. Wouldn't he be impressed with the green tea movement today? According to him, the five effects of tea are: 
1. Helps one to absorb oneself in reading, and quenches one's thirst, 
2. Removes one's spleen in one's mind. 
3. Help one keep a polite rapport and a sincere relationship with guests. 
4. Remove parasites from one's body. 
5. Eliminates a hangover.

This one is even better, by the same Buddhist guru. These are the seven stages of tea drinking (all typos authentic): 
After the first cup, "the dried intestines are cleansed." 
After the second, "It's refreshing spirit seems to make me a Taoist hermit with superpowers." 
After the third, "My headache goes away." 
After the fourth, "I become grandiose and openhearted, and my worry and spleen fade away." 
After the fifth (and this is my favorite), "A sex fiend runs away in surprise, and I seems to wear cloud skirt and feather clothes." 
After the sixth, "The sun and moon come to my mind, and all things around me look to be the..." (uh-oh, I cut this part off with my camera!). 
And finally, after the seventh cup of tea, "A clear wind rises from the heart," and something about looking up at a mountain. 
This guy was cuh-ray-zee! 

After the museum tour, we wandered to the Tea Lounge, where we browsed the merchandise and sat and drank tea with some lovely Korean women.

The trifecta of Korean culture culminated in a trip to Sangaesa, a famous Buddhist temple. By this point, Susan's and my legs were a bit fatigued from the morning run and afternoon ambling.

And yet another adorable Korean child.

No comments: