Bongeunsa & Coex mall in Seoul, Korea

After a very busy first day in Korea, which involved a lot of sightseeing and partying, we got off to a pretty late start and arrived at Boneunsa, Bongeun Temple, just after 3:00 PM. In our defense, we did wake up early (around 10:00 AM) to eat breakfast, go for a jog in Hyochang Park (right near my house), and then have lunch at home as well.

At Bongeunsa there were lots of opportunities to donate, but no one collecting money for us to get in (although it looked like we’d have had to pay at the parking lot attached).

I think Bongeunsa is something you really have to see while you’re in Seoul. There are several very nice structures including one with thousands of small Buddha statues inside. We also saw part of what appeared to a ceremony for deceased ancestors in which people took turns bowing and offering food and drink to their ancestors while a monk chanted and rang a bell. There’s also a very large stone Buddha that should impress most people.

We were told that pictures were fine, but decided only to take pictures from outside the temples. Inside the temples (it’s best to enter from the side – no one enters in the center because that would mean walking straight toward Buddha) we would just grab a cushion, sit, and take it all in.

Around 4:30 we headed across the street to Coex mall, which really starts getting crowded around 7:00. From bookstores and game rooms to coffee shops and people watching this was an interesting experience. The mall also has a reasonable aquarium that’s a bit pricey and a movie theater.

Eating at the upscale Coex mall is generally going to be somewhat expensive but we probably found the cheapest option, a small kimbab place, where kimbap (vegetables and rice wrapped in dried seaweed) and soup runs 3,000 won (about 3 US dollars). The menu is in Korean and the people there didn’t speak English. They have Ramyeon noodles or kimbab (vegetable – ya chay, cheese – chee jeu, kimchi, tuna – cham chee, or beef – so go gee). The romanization of the Korean is all wrong but it might help you order something there if you want kimbap. More expensive places have English menus.

The plan for tonight was to watch a Korean movie on DVD with English subtitles but when we got home around 8:00 or 8:30 PM my friend needed a nap. It’s 11:30 as I write this and he’s still napping…

All in all, the first two days of our Korean tour have been really good. On day 1, we had the palace, the museums, the open market shopping, and the bar/club, and the karaoke room. Then we followed that up with something different on day 2, a temple and a fancy shopping mall. My friend is getting to see many different aspects of Korea – too bad that has sapped all his energy…

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