On Friday, I took my first sick day. (Don’t worry Mom, I’m fine.) I went to the International Clinic at the Ulsan University hospital. It was clean, efficient, and utterly dull- there’s no need for drama or charades when everyone speaks English!
On the way home, I stopped by Ilsan beach for a little marine therapy. The sky was blue, the sun was warm, the ocean was calm, and little boats bobbed quietly in the harbour. Ilsan beach is next to Hyundai Heavy Industries, and for a while I watched enormous cranes move all sorts of things around.
Suddenly, over the waves I heard the sound of gongs, squeaky horns and chanting. I got to my feet and was startled to see a long line of people coming towards me. At the head of the line were several gray-clad Buddhist monks chanting and banging gongs and wooden bells. Behind them followed an elderly man playing a long, skinny horn that sounded a bit like a cat being skinned. Behind him came 75-100 people – women, men, and children. They paraded past me, walked in a large circle a few times, then headed back up the beach.
I followed them.
By the time I caught up, everyone was settled peacefully under tents watching beautiful ladies dance with lotus flowers.
What was going on? I had no idea but I didn’t want to get much closer. Members of the press were there, and with my luck I’d end up on the evening news.
It is true that the beach was on the way home from the hospital but only if you went in a really twisty, roundabout kind of way. And while I was thrilled to have stumbled upon this random Buddhist celebration, I didn’t relish explaining my presence to my school. 😀