Today I didn’t really do much.
Went on a mission to go find some protein for breakfast, as I’ve been sick of eating pastries and over-priced coffee. Normally I have eggs each morning in Canada, and I was really missing that. I decided to go to McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin. After the 10-minute walk there, and some charades/pointing to the egg mcmufffin photo on the menu saying “Eego juseyo!” (“I would like that, please”) repeatedly, I reached into my purse and realized… I’d forgotten my wallet 😦 I think the cashier understood the sad look on my face as I reached into my purse and pulled nothing out, so I looked at her really apologetically and tried to mime coming back to pay for my meal.
15 minutes later, I was dripping in sweat from the heat and from fast-walking, but was determined to get my McMuffin! I triumphantly pulled out the cash from my wallet, and was happy to see that the cashier had even put aside my meal for me so that it was waiting for when I got back.
As I took the first bite into that greasy deep-fried hashbrown and that wonderfully familiar McMuffin, there was no doubt in my mind that it was worth it. After washing it down with some tangy “oranjee joos-uh”, I was on my way back to the hostel to shower. Not that it mattered. This humidity rendered showering somewhat futile, as I was sweaty all over again just after walking for 5-10 minutes outside.
But shower I did, and I was soon back to my breezy, air-conidtioned refuge of Coffine Gurunauauanaua or however they spell it.
I tried finding some museums to visit, but it appeared that all were closed on Mondays. I realized that it would’ve been a waste of a day to spend any more time on my computer in that coffee shop, so I decided that I would go to a Buddhist temple. Maybe a stretch from my initial hopes of somewhere with AC, but in the hustle and bustle of Hyehwa I felt I needed to “re-charge” somewhere away from all the traffic, neon lights, and stinky garbage.
I decided I’d go to Hwagyesa Temple, and began to walk back to the hostel to deposit my laptop and grab my camera. However, Mr. Bong was there and suggested that I go to a temple called Gilsangsa instead. “It’s not very famous” he said, “But very beautiful. Used to be a… salon… kind of a restaurant with drinking”. I smiled and nodded, and he offered to hail a taxi for me. But I was a hungry girl, and wanted some kimbap (Korean sushi) as fuel beforehand. I thanked him and told him I’d figure it out, but he had this worried look on his face and insisted again that he help me. I politely declined again, and went on my way to have some kimbap.
The kimbap was really good, and the taxi was no problem at all (I’d written down the name of the temple in Korean after Googling it, but the driver even understood me without reading it). After driving 10 minutes up this large hill, winding in and out of side streets and some suburbs, I arrived scratch-free at Gilsangsa, and for only a $4 cab charge to boot!
I walked in through the gate and was stunned. This is why I’d come to Seoul… it was an urban oasis; the only sounds to be heard were the trickling of a stream flowing through the grounds, the cool hush of the wind gently blowing through the trees, and the soft chanting of prayers from the monk inside the temple. I felt utterly relaxed. I sat on one of the benches facing the main prayer hall and felt thankful that Mr. Bong had recommended this place to me. There was no “AC” but the shade from the trees and the cool wind blowing acted as an all-natural substitute. Here I was completely “un-plugged” – no WiFi, no laptop. It felt good.
It appeared that the temple was a common place for families to come; there were a few there with their young children running and playing. Many people appeared alone as well, walking around and quietly reflecting or sitting on a bench or rock and reading. It was sort of like a park here.
After some time exploring and taking pictures, I caught a taxi back to the hostel and crashed. Now I’m writing this blog from the common room at Bong House, and will soon head down to the the Bong Bar to have my free beer 🙂
Several hours later….
Aaaaand what a night! I just got back from drinking with some new friends I met at the hostel. We grabbed dinner and drinks at the Comfort Zone, an awesome restaurant near Bong House, then grabbed some beers and played pool at Bong Bar, then went to the noraebang (karaoke room) with a bunch of other people from our place.
The typhoon is supposed to hit by 3:00pm Korean time tomorrow. I will be staying indoors – reading, blogging, and eating!! Don’t worry, I will be safe.