Day 3: A Day of Rest at Yangdong Folk Village
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011-12-06
Today was a day of rest. The toe nails of my big toes had turned blue, probably because my shoes were too loose and my feet were sliding into the front of the shoes. But my left knee, which had been banged in a fall, gave me no pain when I walked to a little convenience store/restaurant at the entrance to Yangdong Village.
A gentle rain was falling as I sat on the red plastic chairs outside the store and ate instant shrimp noodles, a red bean bun and a bottle of soy milk for breakfast. The tour guide, BYC, who had been such a help to me the day before, explained to me how to catch a bus to the city of Angang, where I planned to buy bandages for my big toes and go to a public bath (Jimjilbang).
BYC explained to me how to catch a bus to Angang, and on my notepad I had instructions written in Hangul, Korean characters) on the places I wanted to visit – the pharmacy and the baths.
But I couldn’t find a pharmacy. One person gave me instructions, but they led me nowhere. When I next asked for directions, one man took me personally to the pharmacy. In the pharmacy I asked where the jimjilbang was and without hesitation, the middle aged woman pharmacist asked me outside to her car and drove me there.
Jjimjilbangs are unique Korean institutions. Sex-segregated public baths, they are cheap and offer several large pools of water of varying temperatures, a sauna and a cold pool as well as massages. I sat in the hot pools of water and felt the aches and pains melt away.
The Buddha taught that the body is important and on this pilgrimage I am getting to know my body. The Buddha said “In this one-fathom long body with its perceptions and thoughts, is the world, the origin of the world, the end of the world and the path leading to the end of the world.”
He rejected extreme asceticism after almost killing himself from starvation and chose instead the Middle path in which he responded to his body’s needs without indulging it.
After the Jjimjilbang I walked to a bus stop and asked a lady waiting there whether a bus stopped there for Yangdong Village. She spoke no English but understood Yangdong and flagged down a bus for me. I spent the afternoon writing the blog and when Christopher and David returned, quite late, we went to one of the restaurants in the village and, after guidance from BYC, ate some delicious noodle soup, with onions, potatoes and seaweed before going to bed.