Monday, November 15, 2010

Lantern Festival

Saturday night was my first trip into Seoul and I think I might've fell in love a little! I am on the subway line to get into Seoul but it is a long trip in. It took about an hour or so to get to the area where the Lantern Festival was (don't ask me what it was called). But as soon as I stepped out of the train and into the chaos that was Seoul on a Saturday night I was buzzing with excitement.

The Lantern Festival was a collection of huge lanterns, made in different shapes and sizes, dotted along a man made stream just below street level, called the Cheonggyecheon. There were 1000's and 1000's of people there, and the lineup just to take a peak at the collection of lights was enormous. My friend Lana grabbed us a few coffees and the lineup was a great opportunity for people watching and soaking up everything going on around me.

I checked the website out before I went and a little guy called HAECHI caught my eye. He is Seoul's mascot and the cutest thing ever (he kind of reminds me of Pokemon!). So my hidden agenda was to find him and strike a pose, and my mission was accomplished. Aside from Haechi though, all the lanterns were intricately detailed and beautiful to look at. Not even all the pushing and shoving, especially from old Korean ladies, took away from it.

We spent most of the evening wandering around where the lanterns were and then made a quick pitstop at Kyobo, Korea's version of Indigo. There was a massive english section and I think I found a little slice of heaven right there. I have been reading my small stash of books from home one word at a time, at a turtles pace, in fear of finishing them without having any backup. So Lana brought me a few, and I picked up a few more at Kyobo and though my purse was a few pounds heavier my conscious was a LOT lighter knowing I could go home and guilt free plow through some new books, oh the excitement!!!

From Kyobo, I went out for my first Korean meal. I have been eating Korean cafeteria food everyday at school and am so impressed that I've loved almost every bite so far. Our meal out was simple but great. We had the typical slew of a million side dishes with soups, tofu, kimchi and an assortment of other unidentifiable things. As our main we split a tuna bimbimbop and some dumplings. Bimbimbop is a popular dish made in many variations. Ours came in a pot with rice, tuna and a huge selection of greens and other veggies all mixed up. It was yum yum pop! After a quick bite and another short wander around we slowly headed back to the subway for the packed (think rush hour packed) train ride home. Lana left me a little before my stop cause she isn't from Osan and I was pretty confident making my way back. My train stopped way before it was supposed to everyone got out and the train went lights out. After a brief moment of panic I managed to piece together the subway had closed for the night and get myself into a taxi and back to my place. A 25 minute taxi ride cost me less than $10 (the subway ride into Seoul was $1). Oh, and dinner was $12- FOR BOTH OF US!!!! The cost of living is definitely dirt cheap in Korea!

So even though it was a brief outing, it felt great. Seoul was buzzing in that big city way that I love. I can't wait to get back and start exploring (and shopping!) As each day passes I am feeling better and better about my decision to come here. I am so happy and excited at everything going on around me. Once Garry shows up I think my world will be complete!

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