Occasionally, the Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education (DMOE) organizes free events for EPIK teachers. These events include activities like day-trips and group dinners. Last weekend, the DMOE invited us to a tour of a peach orchard and a Buddhist temple in Gimcheon (김천). Space was limited for the trip, so my friends and I were lucky to get spots on the tour.
The weather was prefect all day. We didn’t spend the entire trip sweating because the temperature has finally started to drop. I’ve heard that Daegu has a very short window of good weather in the fall, so it was great to spend a day outside. Our first stop was a peach orchard. The orchard wasn’t particularly exciting, mainly because it wasn’t a giant expanse of trees that the word “orchard” brings to mind. Instead, it was a typical Korean farm – a small area packed with crops and covered with a plastic greenhouse.
Though the orchard wasn’t visually impressive, the peaches were. They were absolutely huge. Each piece of fruit was wrapped in a piece of paper; I assume it was a defense against some sort of peach-eating bug. We were instructed to choose four peaches each, so we hurried in and began searching for the best ones. After choosing a few, and realizing that they were all too big for the containers we were given, we began to search for the smallest peaches.
None of the peaches felt ripe, so I had trouble choosing my four. Eventually, I decided to grab the biggest ones and hope for the best. After a few minutes of searching and picking, we were all asked to walk outside. The farmers had set up a table and were cutting fresh peaches for us to eat. I was amazed by how sweet they were. Though they didn’t look or feel ripe, they tasted as good as any peach I’ve had in the US.
After eating peaches, we hopped on the bus and drove to a nearby temple called JicJi (직지). The first hour was spent wandering around and looking at the various buildings and gazebos in the temple compound. Though most of the buildings were rebuilt in the last 60 years, there were some beautiful old statues.
My favorite thing at every Buddhist temple is the colors and the paintings on the outside of the buildings. JicJi had some of the best wall paintings I’ve seen yet. One of the oldest buildings, near the entrance, was decorated with some art that really caught my attention.
After exploring the compound for an hour or so, we went to the main temple building for a traditional Buddhist meal. The senior monk and the priest taught us how the complicated routine that monks go through when eating a meal. We learned quickly that everything had its place, and nothing was wasted. Each bowl was placed in a specific spot, and everything was served in a specific order. Most importantly, no food was wasted – not a single grain of rice. At the end of the meal, we used warm water and a slice of yellow radish to clean the bowls, chopsticks and spoons. It wasn’t until after the meal that I realized this was how they always cleaned the bowls and silverware. So if I get some mysterious disease – it probably came from the temple.
After dinner was finished, we did some arts and crafts. We made lanterns using Dixie cups and colored paper. They turned out surprisingly nice – I did not expect mine to look so good. Unfortunately, because I’m a moron, I managed to make my upside down, so the Dixie cup portion didn’t fit on the lantern. When we carried our lanterns outside to a gazebo for a traditional Buddhist tea service, I had to concentrate hard on making sure my lantern didn’t tip over and catch fire.
Although a few parts of the temple tour were a little bit boring, the trip was a lot of fun overall. It was a great way to spend a Saturday, and we got to see some really cool things without spending any money. I will definitely sign up for the next DMOE event.
Until next time.