I don’t post on this blog as much as I post on Instagram. It’s a simple fact that it’s easier to pick the best picture of the day and share it quickly on social media. But I don’t want all of my adventures to go undocumented, so here’s a small compilation of the other things I’ve done in and around Seoul from the last couple months.
Sudeoksa Temple Stay
On the weekend of April 16th, five of my female friends went on a trip to a temple stay. I had no idea what to expect, but the trip was really fantastic. We arrived, changed into our temple stay attire, and met our monk, who then gave us a tour of the temple and its grounds. He told us about the four guards of the temple, and the common practices of the monk lifestyle. We also learned that Buddhist monks eat in complete silence, and we attempted to do the same at dinner, but a bunch of Korean tourists came in and talked loudly throughout the dinner. Whoops.
That night we performed the 108 bow ceremony and made our beat necklaces/bracelets. It was a truly unique experience. I don’t remember feeling so much overall fatigue, while also working to complete something (the beads). It also rained the weekend we visited, and it only made the trip more peaceful. After the temple stay we went to an apple orchard and made apple pies. An all around pleasant experience.
Doosan Bears Baseball Game
The following weekend I went to my first Korean baseball game. It was the Doosan Bears vs. the Hanwha Eagles. Doosan won, and my friends and I had a good time in the cheap seats, cheering them on. Korean baseball is massively different than American baseball. I was disappointed at the lack of food in the actual stadium, but the game had the feel of a minor league game, which I prefer back in the states. I didn’t even realize how much I knew about baseball until I was surrounded by people who had never seen it before. I will probably go to another game, but I will try to sit in the cheering section to get a real feel for the personality of Korean games.
Lotte World Adventure
The next weekend I went to Lotte World Adventure with my friends June and Kea. We got a massive discount thanks to June, and rationalized that we could spend more money than normal because we saved so much money. (hAh save your money kids). In any case, Lotte World Adventure is a famous theme park that is just down the street from me. It has a giant castle just like Disney World and really attempts to mimic the park to the T.
The three of us had a lot of fun going on all of the indoor rides (which were way more impressive than I expected from a mostly indoor theme park). We also went on Atlantis, a wildly fun roller coaster, but didn’t get a chance to go on many more roller coasters (we’re getting old!).
We caught a few surprise performances, including a children’s parade, a show involving Peter Pan and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and a KPop concert. It was funny to see foreigners who were not in the country as teachers, and I wish I had a chance to talk to them about their lives in Korea. I’ll admit we played a lot of claw games, and ate a lot of junk food. It was a really good time, and I was so exhausted afterward I passed out as soon as I got home.
May the Fourth be With You – Konkuk University
During the week I went to a local university to celebrate May the 4th. I was so pleased at how decked out the space was for Star Wars. There were several booths with small fan shops selling their creations, and a lot of the proceeds went to the Make-a-Wish foundation, which was really cool! There was also a lot of free swag, and who doesn’t love free stuff? I got a cool poster, and some stickers for the great price of zero! Hell yeah!
This weekend I went to a Lantern Festival in the heart of Seoul. Buddha’s birthday is next weekend, and they celebrate it as soon as possible. Korea does lanterns beautifully, but I will admit that the parade was a little long.
My favorite part was the pre-parade chant. We went with a Meetup group and watched all of the parade groups get together in the University’s stadium to practice the songs and dances for the parade. It was so colorful, and there were so many cultures represented at just this one event. My favorite was the Vietnamese group, which we sat next to.
On Sunday my friends and I went to a beer festival at a local mall. We got delicious food, and oh my god, there was hard cider! I was beyond elated. I even got a Woodchuck’s glass as a souvenir. Afterward, we walked around the corner to go to the Bongeunsa Temple to see the decorations. They did not disappoint. The visit immediately reminded me of my temple stay, and I felt instantly calm and ready to relax at home.
The white lanterns surrounding the shrine itself were my favorite. Insense filled the air, and as the wind blew through the lanterns we heard the paper prayers flicking back and forth in the temple. Just delightful.
Surrounding the Buddha were some handcrafted lanterns, and the two above were my favorite. I wish I saw them lit up, but perhaps that will just have to wait until next time.
Two lovely ladies in these beautiful hanboks let us take their picture. They really were so cute! And of course, here is another Korean temple ceiling that I cannot get over. They astonish me every time with their colors and designs. I wish my own ceiling was so elaborate.
Every weekend in South Korea is packed with activities. This is partially because I do almost nothing during the work week, but also because Seoul just has so much to offer. Every moment of doubt I have here is recounted with another exciting experience just waiting for me on the weekend.
Til next time!