Sunday, April 12, 2009

An oasis in the midst of the chaos

One of my favorite places in Seoul (aside from the department stores) is a neighborhood called Insadong. There area is about 30 minute subway ride from my apartment and I first explored it when I went to a knitting store there. Insadong is known for it being more of the traditional/old Seoul. The Seoul before the war and all the globalization. Here is where you will find the houses that are about 100 years old and the "crafty" items Koreans are known for. If you are ever in Seoul and you need souvenirs, this is where you need to go. Since it is one of the few areas that still has that cultural feels, it is very touristy. But the tourists in the area don't really get to you because it is just simply charming. There is a main road that is for the most part a pedestrian road. Then off that road there are all sorts of little winding alleys that have restaurants and traditional tea houses. I have been here a couple times to just look at the shops and pretend I could buy some things. 

The last time I went though I decided to walk down another main road. As I was walking I came across the first post office that had a little museum in it. I took a spin around in there and then found a small fountain to sit by and read. After awhile I decided to take off my headphones (which I do not do enough) so I could listen to the water. As soon as I took off my headphones I could hear chanting. So I started walking in the general direction till I found a HUGE temple. 

There were people filing into the temple. I walked around the outside till I 
came to the side which was all windows. Inside was full of people chanting and meditating in front of 3 huge golden Buddhas. The chanting from outside was being amplified to the outside. Also, there were paper lanterns strung all over the courtyards. The lanterns had little paper tags hanging from them (prayers maybe?) and they were fluttering in the wind. The noise sounded like birds flapping or the rustling of leaves. So I found a bench in the courtyard and sat and read. Enjoying the chanting and rustling papers. It was one of those moments, not often experienced, where everything just feels perfect. I am so happy that I have found this lovely area that I am sure I will be back 
to visit often, an escape from the city right in the middle of it all. 

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