Sunday, 16 August 2015

Sunday 16th August

So this morning we had great plans to follow Alex and Jane and their son Jan to this indoor park they like. They had planned on taking us to an outdoor park but decided that the air was not good enough - it seems it gets quite smoggy - I have been told though that Itaewon where we live has the freshest air in Seoul as it is high up. Well getting the show on the road was quite a mission especially as we were ready before them and were aware that delays in leaving were limiting the time we had before Seren's next sleep! Well they finally knocked on the door to say lets go. We went out only to discover that the very smart car had a flat left front tyre!! Much deliberation later we decided to cancel the outing - Luke put on this pin wheel spare tyre on which one can travel at 80 kph. I had arranged to go to the Shambhala centre in Seoul which meets on a Sunday so Luke took me down town to meet up with Mark, an American guy who co-ordinates the meetings. We had arranged to meet at exit 4 of the Sadang station - well easier said than done!! We were on cell phone contact trying to find each other - Luke and I were at exit 8 which Mark did not know - anyway we managed in the end and he hopped in and we drove to the Yoga centre where they meet. There were only 3 of us, a Korean guy called CMT - as is ocean openness or emptiness - his buddhist name which he had abbreviated to C (sea) MT (empty) - it seems that it is pretty easy to learn the Korean alphabet - the trick comes in figuring out once you can read it, how the letters translate into English!! Luke and Mel have pretty much mastered the alphabet.

So back to the yoga centre - we set up the shrine and mats and a chair for me and after a little chatting, got straight into the chants - very similar to what we do at Erin Hall. We then sat and alternated with walking meditation for two hours.  Fortunately there was AC as it was really muggy. I battled a little with the sitting as I had gone to sleep pretty late on Sat night - we watched a movie and I battled to get off to sleep. Anyway it felt good to be sitting again with a group and the chants were familiar. After the last walking meditation, Mark said they usually sit for another 40 minutes before doing  the closing chants. I immediately said that I wouldn't manage that as I was nodding off as it was!! So we agreed to close with the chants and then spend some time talking. They are both English teachers - Mark was a professor at some university but is currently between jobs. CMT is I think a high school teacher. We just chatted about Korea and South Africa and a bit about their sangha - it was very relaxed. I did learn, not surprisingly, that the ex-pat  life style was certainly not typical! Mark lives in a small apartment which he said is very hot and he is thinking of getting an awning - I mentioned that we have AC and he said yes so does he but its quite expensive to run.....He was in awe that they/we have a garden with parking inside for 13 cars and lots of trees and was amazed at the size of the apartment. So very interesting to get another perspective on their living here.

They then walked me to the subway - called metro rail here, where I bought a T card for 20 000  wan (about R 200) So I have now touched the money!!! CMT had said he would ride with me all the way which was great. I swiped my card at the turn style and off we went. He explained how to figure out which direction I was travelling and therefore which train to board. The trains and the subway tunnels and platforms are spotless with no grafitti. Every one has a phone attached to their hand and is texting or reading. There was very little conversation or talking in the train - just a few young couples holding hands and taking selfies and engaging, but usually with their phones - showing each other their phones and commenting on whatever it is they are looking at!! Most people were wearing ear plugs which further isolated them!! Once again, so different from Kathmandu where people engage with you all the time. I had many conversations on the buses - hard not to I guess when you are all sitting so close to each other!! .

Seren is awake - I can hear her gurgling on the angel monitor. Luke is back from a great cycle so I had best away. I'll publish this now but will add some pics that Luke took while riding.

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