Right now I have probably the worst case of spring fever I’ve ever had. After a record breaking cold spell in Seoul this past winter, the recent sunshine and relative (14 C today) warmth have me jumping out of my skin to get out of the classroom and go walking about.
And this past weekend, there were very few places I didn’t walk.
In the spirit of spring, I’ve got romance brewing in my life, and met up with someone special on Saturday afternoon for what I remembered as a hike, but turned out to be more of an arduous walk, to a Buddhist pavilion overlooking Goyang City. When I had gone with my co-workers in the late summer, the ground was muddy and the temperatures high and we ended up getting to the temple we were searching for after closing. Turns out, we didn’t miss much.
At first we thought the building was closed despite it being the middle of the afternoon but it was just that only some of the doors were unlocked. We stepped into the lobby and were ignored by the ajummas chatting at the front desk, looked around at some lotus lanterns and gold Buddha statues, then were at a loss for what to do. There was a flatscreen showing a room with 2 people in it and enormous gold statues but sadly Buddha TV did not include instructions on how to get to that room. Not knowing what else to do, we walked back outside and examined stone stacks and Buddhist statuary and stood inside a gorgeous pavilion enjoying the artwork and sunshine for a bit before heading onwards to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Lake Park.
Sunday was a special treat because my friend Kerry, who I met on my trip to Beijing, was up in Seoul for the weekend. We’d been talking about visiting the Central Asian district of Seoul for awhile and finally, the time had come for us to venture into the land of milk tea and Cyrillic.
One of the first things we saw was this:
The mix of hangul and cyrillic was just a total mindfuck for me and consequently, my pictures of this area are mostly signage. We spent about two hours just wandering up and down alleys, weaving in and out of “Mongol Town” and the Dongdaemun shopping district before heading into Cafe Uzbekistan for a phenomenal meal of rich bread, a vegetable/beef/noodle soup topped with fresh herbs, enormous dumplings filled with a tangy mixture of meat and onion and drizzled with yogurt, and lamb kebabs. I think I drank nearly a whole pot of tea myself and was too full to eat again until Monday morning.
After that followed my third visit to Gyeongbukgong Palace, which I still maintain is the most beautiful man-made thing I’ve ever seen (Grand Canyon is most beautiful natural wonder in case you’re keeping tabs). I’m amazed that I’ve even though I’ve been there three times, wandering for hours on each visit, I still see new things every time I go. I also finally got to visit the National Folk Museum of Korea which was incredibly well put together and guided visitors through the life of a Korean person (ancient to present day) in each season.
After a few warm-ish days spent outside, I’m more than ready for winter to take its leave and enjoy my first spring in Seoul. This weekend I’ll be helping my friend and co-worker Diana celebrate her birthday with galbi and dancing in Hongdae and next weekend, it’s off to Geoj-do Island for the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival!