Buddhas, penguins and creepy crawlies
01.08.2006 - 31.08.2006 30 °C
Having unpacked and sort of organised ourselves it was time to go out and face the music -although Maja & I were to dance to the opposite tune to Nick's. While he was straight to work doing long hours and getting used to the fact that things are never black and white here we were quite the opposite -the feeling of not having to be in any particular place at any particular time was fantastic and ever so easy to get used to. We knew that our utopia wasn't going to last forever (Maja would soon need to carry on with her nursery routine and I would have to start working to earn my keep) we opted for the active daily schedule.
August is one of the hottest and most humid months of the year and you are better off anywhere else but outdoors. After 5 minutes of being outside we would be dripping with sweat and gasping for water, so we tried to look for things to do indoors. We didn't need to look too far as the world of children's entertainment was at our doorstep.
The first few days we spent looking closer at what was around us and decided to walk around with the map and visit all the nearby attractions. As mentioned before we are surrounded by skyscrapers and office buildings so didn't think there would be that much to see but it was still good to get to know the neighbourhood.Crashing against the waves of suited bankers, businessmen and other office workers rushing to work we would eventually find a piece of greenery - a little park with some royal tombs, pagodas etc. Lovely place to come and spend the morning walking around and hiding under the trees with some pack lunch once it got hotter.
Another peaceful place we discovered was Bongeunsa Temple originally built in 794 but reconstructed after it was burnt down in 1939. Situated right opposite the very modern COEX complex and being the contrast to the speedy financial district I bet we were not the only ones pleased to find this place of peace and tranquility right where it is. As it was the first Buddhist temple we had visited we were not quite sure what were the customs for ordinary passers by but we found a leaflet in English informing that although there were prayers and chants taking place in various temple buildings around (there is 11 of them just there) we were welcome to walk around and observe or join in if we wished so. Not knowing what we were going to see we wandered around and suddenly we saw a huge Buddha face "poking out" through the tree trunks. We couldn't believe the size of it and that was just his head! We quickly chaged our walking pace into a sort of curious run as if we were about to discover the 8th wonder of the world! Forgot to mention that it was late in the evening and candle lit which definetely built up the atmosphere.
We had followed the path amongst the trees and after a few minutes we came to a wide open space with the 23 meters tall Buddha standing in front of us guarded by two lion statues.
Despite our attitudes towards different religions (mainly not being able to understand it all) it felt very special to be there. Maja wasn't sure what to make of this "giant man" but understood that he was important to people as they kept on coming and going, bowing and paying their respects. We've been back to see THE BUDDHA plenty of times since then!
During the summer holiday COEX exhibition center was packed with children's exhibitions, theatres, activities etc.
The first was a Bugs' Festival where kids were invited at the entrance to hold a stag beetle on their arm ( as found out later stag beetles are being sold as house pets here).It was packed with all sorts of insects alive as well as stuffed and small reptiles.
We were able to see how the silky cocoon expands to become a beautiful butterfly.
Apart from observing the creepy crawlies, kids were getting a paint tatoo (Maja's choice was a pink butterfly) as well as could take part in a drawing competition, where Maja represented London quite well.
We didn't have to go to any exhibitions to be able to see cicadas
(cicada |səˈkādə; səˈkädə| noun a large homopterous insect with long transparent wings, occurring chiefly in warm countries. The male cicada makes a loud shrill droning noise after dark by vibrating two membranes on its abdomen) that seemed to be everywhere around us. Their size could be that of the middle finger and they made the noise that gave you instant goosebumps.I would have never thought that I could be brave enough to walk under the crowns of trees that were giving shelter to hundreds of them! Check them out
Next visit was to meet 1 of the most popular kids cartoon characters -Peroro and his friends. Although Maja wasn't familiar with the story she had lots of fun and is now very fond of the little penguin and his gang.
Before you start thinking that all we did was kids' stuff I must quickly add that we have also visited some adult friendly places:
The National Museum of Korea
The Family Park
This month we liked:
"Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of food, your closet full of clothes - with all this taken away, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That's not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating." Michael Crichton
"Korea- a walk through land of miracles" by Simon Winchester BRILLIANT, A "MUST" IF YOU'RE COMING TO KOREA
"The King and the Clown" - moving, informative and very funny!
Asia-we were taken to the posh Japanese restaurant serving sushi, where every type of sushi had its own designed chef preparing it in front of us - fresh, colorful, tasty little masterpieces definetely won my heart although I did enjoy sucking on the crab legs too, Nick and Maja kept on going back and forwards for more and more of the other little dishes called "desserts"