I got up around 3 a.m. because I just couldn’t go back to sleep knowing I had to be up at 3:50. I washed up and wandered around in my temple clothes. At 3:49 I could hear the beating of the gourd and a procession of monastic voices floating out of the darkness. It was spooky.
Everyone else in the temple stay woke up, and the wranglers took us to the Buddha room, where we went through the prayers. Basically it was like bringing a newbie to a Catholic mass.
“Oh, I’m up? Now I’m down. Now I bow. I’m up again. Down. Bow… no down again.”
We finished, bowed to the Buddha one more time and left to another building. In this one, we had to do our dreaded 108 bows. Seong Eun, the intern who has been the interpreter, was also doing the temple experience with me, and she explained a little of the reasons for the 108 bows. Each bow is to remind people of certain tenets of Buddhism. Basically, be excellent to each other. I was given an English version of what each bow stood for. Even with the handy list I lost count quickly. These were full stand up, get on the floor and prostrate, stand up again bows.
Individual drops of sweat were making spots on my mat by bow 70. When we finished, we meditated for a good ten to twenty minutes. Then we had a thirty minute break before Baru, the Buddhist eating ritual. Seong Eun and I both felt like we had rubber legs. We could barely walk, and using stairs was a new experience.
The Baru I found cool. I had learned about this years ago, but I had never actually done it. We get four bowls stacked inside each other with various cloths for cleaning and wrapping. There are a lot of steps in this ritual. I think half the time is spent cleaning and re-cleaning each bowl. But I liked the food.
After going through the eating and cleaning ritual we had to untie the bowls we had just tied and wash them for real in stainless steel sinks. After all that, I think we were pretty much finished. I did a little part about my impressions for the camera, along with a few walking shots, and we were done.
We went to a place to get breakfast breakfast. A group of restaurants outside the complex specialized in sanchae, mountain vegetables. I got a sanchae bibimbap, and it had a runny egg just like I like it. And the banchan was all good. They even had myongi, that leaf from Ulleungdo that I like so much.
Next was a long drive to the home of cherished tragic author Lee Hyo Seok. It was a good couple hours of museum shots. We had lunch of buckwheat noodles and headed to Yong Pyong Resort for some recreational scenes.
At Yong Pyong two of the crew members and I rode ATVs. I had never ridden one. My mom always said they were dangerous. And after my first run around, I could see why. We went up the mountain from where they rented the ATVs to where the camera crew was. From there, we did a lot of stunt driving for the cameras. I swore I came within six inches of the ground hovering camera in one pass.
After all that, the last shot was me coming in behind the other two and stopping in front of the camera, turning off the ATV and talking to the camera. It took a few takes to get all that down right. On the final take, I went around to get my place in line with the others. As I sped up, I saw a narrow but deep ditch that was camouflaged by grass. I couldn’t stop in time. The front of the ATV slammed into the edge of the ditch, and I almost went flying off the vehicle. The handlebars caught me–in the stomach. So I got bruised up all over. But I just went ahead and did the scene, and it was a wrap.
Next was the mountain coaster. It’s an update of the summer mountain sled ride I knew as a kid. But instead of a concave concrete track, they were nice and secure on a monorail. You couldn’t flip over in these. But believe me, I tried. I went down fast and found that even though the coaster was secured on the track, I may not be as secured in the coaster as I’d like. We did three shots of the coaster, and it was a lot of fun.
The final scene was to highlight gudul, a type of ondol, or under-the-floor heating. We went to a little village that specialized in it, with displays of different types. We did a scene with the village chief and then I helped lay down some mud and bricks for a furnace.
After cleaning up was the dinner scene. Great food. Todok, country doenjang and very herby jeon.
I was designated to sleep in a special hut meant to demonstrate the gudul system. They had already heated it that morning. But they wanted a scene of me with the chief stoking the fire for the already heated floor. So I’m now sitting in a hut that is about sauna temperatures. I’ve opened the one tiny window, and the bugs are quite happy about that–not letting a little screen block their way.
We just have three main things to do tomorrow, and one of them is paragliding.