Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Day 43: Bongeunsa and COEX

I had a fun day today!

Today Cori and I had planned an adventureful day! We'd made plans to go to Bongeunsa (봉은사), an old Buddhist temple built during the Silla Dynasty, and also visit the famous COEX mall since it was close by.

I took this picture while waiting for the elevator, because I felt super cute today, before meeting Cori down in the lobby.

Since today was the day of 추석 (Chuseok), the usually lively subway where pop-up stores line up was completely empty!
I think we could not have picked a better day to go. Today's weather was great! It was clear, sunny, and hot. Look how beautiful the river was as we crossed it.
We decided to enjoy the weather while we could and go to the temple first in case it would get colder later in the day. We didn't know the exact direction to walk in but tried going one way. We ended up going waaaay too far. But hey! That just meant more time to talk in and we discovered that we had a lot in common when it came to studying Korean, our hobbies, and how we both wanted to go to a K-pop concert. A great frienship was made that day.
It was interesting to see the ever-bustling Seoul so devoid of people.
We found some modern art and decided to take pictures with it. At this point we were still heading in the wrong direction but soon found out and headed back.
And we arrived!
To the left of the gate was a statue where people had placed small offerings such as flowers and water bottles.
Inside the gate, to both sides, were these windows into small rooms where some important-looking figures were kept. Whenever people passed them on their way into the temple, whether old or young, they bowed to these figures. Each time 3 deep bows with their hands joined in front of their body.
This old gentleman went all out. He'd just finished bowing to the figures on the other side and was on his way to bow to the figures we were standing in front of when I took this picture.
There was a tranquil atmosphere. People were walking calmly and you had to be pretty close to other people to be able to hear them talk to each other.
There was a small pond with a Buddha statue where people wished. We observed a mother and her son throw a bunch of single coins each while wishing. We made our wishes as well.
Then we entered the temple ground!
As you can see, they were doing some sort of construction work but there was no noise from that either.
These people were just relaxing in the shadow~
Offerings were made to the statues and the air around them were filled with a pleasant scent from the candles.
In the distance we heard bells. There were building like this one where only actual monks were allowed to enter.
A map of the entire place. The area ended up being a LOT bigger than I'd originally thought.
We followed the Koreans and went deeper into the area and up these beautiful stone stairs.
These stacked pebbles were on both sides of the stairs. Cori and I both took pictures of them and discussed how we could have easily missed them hadn't be stopped to take in the scenery. There was something about the atmosphere today that made both of us a lot more aware of our surroundings. We shared great conversations too.
At the top of this staircase lay a cat in the shadows, sleeping. In the bushes was a box and some bowl with food and water.
Something I really enjoy here in Seoul is the mix of old and new. You have these incredibly old historical buildings around you but if you look further, you see the modern day Seoul with its fancy modern buildings.
This woman did several full-body bows where she stood up and slowly sat down, leaning forward until her forehead touched the ground. Then she stood up again and repeated the bow.
Further to the left was a big open space-
with a GIANT Buddha statue!
People were sitting on this big, slightly lifted square. Pay attention to how none of them are wearing shoes.
A father was enthusiastically taking pictures of his sons doing the same deep bows as the woman in the picture before.
It was an impressive sight.
We heard bells from in here too and it sounded like a monk in there was reciting sutras.
We walked back to the place we'd first come from, where we'd smelled the candles, to check out the other buildings there.
You can do temple stays at Bongeunsa - a temple stay is where you sleep at the temple for a night or two or so - so we discussed whether this was possibly where people slept if they did. Both of us really wanted to do a temple stay so we'll probably go together somewhere, if not Bongeunsa, in the future.

Our trip to the temple was over as we made a quick stop in the souvenir shop before walking back towards the COEX mall, which was surprisingly closer than we'd thought!

On our way, we'd noticed an underground food court that we went down to look around in. Most of the places there were closed though so we decided to instead push lunch a little and go straight to the mall.
Look how beautiful the overhang outside the food court was~!

We found the mall and a big mirrored staircase where we couldn't pass the opportunity for a picture or two.
Aaawh ♡
Inside the mall we found a BIG library/reading area and, by chance, I found this book with illustrations I recognized from having seen on Facebook.
One floor up from the library was the most beautiful cafe with the prettiest cakes.
Facing the reality of being but poor students, we decided to not eat here either but instead go back to the entrance later where we'd first come through (where the mirrors were) because Cori had seen a pizzeria there.

Before that, however, we stopped by the SM Town part of the building where I showed Cori how the names of some of SMs artists were hidden in the wall mosaic.

Aight time for lunch!
We were placed at a table and given a different menu card - one in English - before making our order. The one we decided on, a sunny side up potato pizza, had a pretty long name in English and it was only made worse when they'd tried to write the English name for the pizza in Hangeul (Korean letters). We decided that trying to read out this long, English name but with Korean pronunciation would possible just confuse them so when a guy, a pretty cute one, came to take our order, I said the name in English. That moment, something inside him died. He didn't understand what we said and for the rest of the time we were there, he looked terrified whenever him and I made eye contact. Poor guy. 
The pizza was fine but it didn't feel too much like a pizza. There was no tomato sauce and the amount of cheese was sparse. But I really like eggs on my pizza and both the meat and potatoes were completely fine! The vegetable, whatever it was, was a lot more fresh than my pizza vegetables usually are unless I order a salad pizza.

The pizza marked the end of today's' journey with Cori and we returned to the dorm together.
In the night, Celine and I met up with Sulli (순리) and went to Hongdae to watch Kingsman 2 (it's really worth a watch!!). I've only gone to movie theaters that were either ground level or inside shopping malls so it was an interesting experience to have to take the elevator to the 10th floor of a building to be able to watch a movie.

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