Well—hot dog—guess who’s posting again in less than two weeks! Put on your party hats, people! No, seriously. Put them on and read about my glorious four-day weekend during which I did All. The. Things.
I had a really wonderful four-day weekend May 3rd to the 6th. It started off with a staff dinner on Friday evening. When we were all done with our last lessons, all of the teachers and our boss went out for a popular Korean meal called Samgyeopsal. It’s really delicious—they basically cook pieces of uncured pork (it looks like thick bacon, but it’s not) on a hot plate in the middle of your table, along with kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage—massively popular here) and then you cut it into little pieces and put it on a piece of lettuce along with whatever else you want from the other dishes, and basically roll the lettuce like a taco and eat it. It’s kind of overwhelming (especially since my chopstick skills are still pretty sub-par), but it’s absolutely delicious! On Saturday afternoon I met up with a few people to do some cultural stuff. We stopped briefly by Gyongbokgung or Gyongbok Palace where they had some festive re-enactments of assorted stuff going on (unfortunately I have no idea of the significance of the events). It was really crowded due to the holiday, so my companions didn’t want to actually go into the palace so we didn’t stay long. We had some really good Indian food for dinner, and then I went off to do some more wandering in my own. I actually got super lost for a while, and stumbled onto Cheonggyecheon Stream which was lit up with the most amazing lanterns I’ve ever seen. The stream is probably one of my favorite places I’ve been so far. I guess it was covered up by a massive highway for a long time, but in recent years Seoul has been doing a huge urban renewal project to make the city beautiful again (there’s a ton of history to explain this, and I’ve only just dipped my toes into that pool. It’s super fascinating, but it’s way too much for me to explain at 1:09am as I write this). The stream was uncovered, made beautiful, and reopened again just in 2006. On Sunday I went to called Bongenusa Temple. It took about an hour to get there on the subway, but it was so beautiful. The lanterns were (once again) amazing, but what was even cooler was the hiking trails in the woods behind the temple. They weren’t extensive, but it was enough to block out the city for a little bit. It felt so good to just be surround by nature again for a little bit. I stayed in the woods wandering around for a couple hours. On my way home (and by on the way home I mean completely not at all on the way home) I went to check out a bookstore that I heard had big English books section, called Kyobo bookstore inside Gwanghwamun Station. I walked into this bookstore and, you guys, Oh. My. God. I made an actual, involuntary, and audible sound that I’m pretty sure consisted entirely of vowels. It is the biggest bookstore I have ever seen. Because of the holiday there were approximately 7-billion Koreans there, so I didn’t couldn’t peruse as much as I wanted to, but I picked up a guidebook because (shockingly) I didn’t have one, and made a mental note to go back (about a million times).
On Monday I was craving sunshine and relaxation, so I flipped open my handy new guidebook to find a park. About an hour later I found myself at Yeouido Park where I promptly stretched out in the sun and just hung out for about an hour. Yeouido Park is another part of the urban renewal project—the stretch of land was turned into a park in 1999, before that it was basically an asphalt plaza that doubled as an emergency airstrip. It’s got some amazing walking/biking paths, and a huge area for kids to ride bikes and rollerblade, etc. The walking paths are—get this—squishy. Not like really squishy, just squishy enough that you could walk on them forever and your feet wouldn’t get tired. In case that’s a problem. After the park, I decided to go back to Gyeongbokgung (where we’d been so briefly on Saturday) because I really wanted to actually buy a ticket ($3) and go into the palace. It was still crowded, but not too bad, and was absolutely amazing. I was there for about four hours, and probably only so about half of the palace. I’ll have to go back again, for sure. And a few pictures from the plaza in front of the palace. And Tuesday I met up with my friends again and we all just recounted our weekends and relaxed. Wednesday-Friday we had a short week at work, I spent most of it administering speaking tests to my elementary students (I sat with each student individually and asked them some basic conversational questions and graded their responses) and grading their writing tests. Some were good, some were bad, and some were hilariously bad.
This last weekend I just relaxed. And it was glorious.
That’s all for now. It’s now 2:07am, so I have a very important appointment with my pillows.
As always, love from Seoul!