This past weekend was Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving. Koreans travel from all over the country to meet with family, usually at the grandparents home. For us, it means we get a long four day weekend. We heard that most people in Seoul leave the city to go to family’s homes so the city is far less crowded than usual. Also, there there are big names such as Van Gogh and Monet on exhibit at the Seoul Art Center this month. We decided to head out early (and by early I mean 5:40 am) Saturday morning to beat any holiday traffic there might be. Thank goodness I have the gift of being able to sleep anywhere and got a nice long nap in on the bus.
Our first stop was the art museum. It was so amazing to see paintings that I have admired for so long in person. Pictures truly do no justice to these pieces of artwork.
They have really tall ice cream cones in seoul (and Jeremy took the time to show me the “correct” way to point)
A short side note. Starting the Wednesday before we left I started not feeling well. This was the first time that I have been sick since we have arrived in Korea (pretty impressive I think). I took some aspirin before I went to sleep one night but I made one mistake. I took it on an empty stomach. If you’ve never done this before, I highly suggest against it. It feels like a mix between someone punching you in the stomach and feeling like you’re going to vomit. Not the best scenario when you have to be upbeat and energetic teaching kids all day. Thankfully I only had to go one day of teaching before the weekend. I felt a little better before we headed out on Saturday so we decided to still go. As the day wore on, I felt worse. After talking with my mom and finding out that something as simple as an antacid would help me feel better we headed to the pharmacy. No medicine is sold in convenient stores or grocery stores here. You have to go to the pharmacy. We got a very small amount to last us on Saturday and didn’t think anything else about it. The next day, Sunday, we went to the pharmacy to get some more medicine. Little did we know that all pharmacies in Seoul are closed on Sundays. Apparently Koreans have some secret to not getting sick on Sundays. Wish I knew it. All turned out well though. After a few hours we came across a popular indoor mall with an open pharmacy. The pharmacist inside probably wondered why we were so excited about getting an antacid.
We traveled south of the Han River which divides to city to the Bongeunsa Temple. It is over 1200 years old and the country’s leading training centre for Buddhist monks specializing in zen meditation.
Twice a day monks perform a percussion ceremony on four instruments, each designed to awaken and save beings on the ground(drum), underwater(wooden fish), in the sky(cloud drum) and under the ground(gong). We were fortunate enough to arrive at the temple just in time to see the night ceremony. Once entering the temple, you could feel the silence begin to surround you. You didn’t dare make a sound for fear of breaking the humbling silence. Even though we were alone walking the grounds, we still talked in hushed whispers.
This was in the pavilion of the dharma king. it houses 3,300 miniature statues of gwanseum bosal which glorify the essence of the buddhist spirit.
There are two main theme parks in Korea, one, Everland, being significantly larger than the other, Lotteworld. We figured that if there is only one substantial park in the country you’re in, you have to check it out at least once. During the Chuseok holiday there is a big discount for foreigners since all Koreans are typically with their families that morning. Another plus about going during Chuseok…no lines. we were told the average wait for T-Express is a few hours long, we waiting 30 minutes.
The main square and view of t-express roller coaster, the steepest wooden roller coaster in the world at 77 degrees.
Posing with the theme parks featured characters all dressed up in hanboks (Korea’s traditional wear).
After leaving Everland we caught the first bus back to Geoje. As nice as it is to explore the island that we live on, sometimes it’s nice to be able to have a little city getaway.