Sunday, November 4, 2012

Seoul Lantern Festival

Today was probably one of the best Saturday's I've had in Korea. I was productive, got out of the apartment, but I was not stressed out or in a rush or hiking a mountain. This is a particularly good feeling, since the last few Saturdays I've felt were wasted by having to do one thing or another, rushing here or there, etc. Today, I allowed myself the luxury of no alarm, waking up gradually, as my body allowed. It was bliss.

I finally woke all the way up and showered. As I got ready for the day, I talked to Michael for a while. He is so busy these days, we don't get a whole lot of time to just talk. It was nice. I left to meet Tab in Itaewon for some food around 1:15. When I got to Itaewon, Heather called and it was the perfect time to meet up so I could get my new shoes my mom sent me. I've been waiting on these shoes a while, and they could not have come at a better time. It's getting so cold, and these are some lined Toms. Not the most industrial shoe, but very good to work in, and warm enough for the walk to and from work.

After this, Tab and I decided to go to Richard Copycat's All American Diner. We'd been once before for breakfast, and thought we would try it for lunch. It was a taste of home, with the country music, comfy oversized chairs, and forks. (There's not much Koreans can't eat with chopsticks, but I'm no Korean.)  I had boneless buffalo wings and Tab had a burger. My wings were not too warm, but the taste was so good I didn't even complain. Incredible, huh?

The next few hours were spent perusing Itaewon Market and the street vendors. I only broke down and bought 1 thing: a big fat knit infinity scarf that will work wonders on keeping my neck and lower face warm against the cold wind on the walk to work. It was in such a fabulous color and a great price, I couldn't resist.

We found a couple really good stores that had super cute clothes, but we both agreed the prices really warranted true need. We resisted the temptation of expanding our wardrobes and instead decided to go to a local bakery to satisfy a real need: PIE. I found this place online and seeing as I don't have an oven or anyway to bake, I felt that a hot baked-good was something that could definitely cheer me up out of my post-test funk. Tab and I shared a small Pumpkin Pie a la mode. It was PHENOMENAL. The place was so cute too! We sat outside in the brisk fall (almost winter) air, and shared the warm treat. 

After this, I set off to a new part of Seoul I hadn't been before: Cheonggyecheon Stream. I met up with Michelle and we walked down the stream. While I was waiting for her to arrive, a few hundred cops came running by me, unloading at a steady pace out of a large bus. They ran over to the far side of the sidewalk and started lining up 5 across. When I saw Michelle, she told me that she heard there was some kind of protest. I was very curious as to what was being protested, and to such a degree that so many police were called in and lined up like they were. 

That says "Seoul Lantern Festival" in Korean...
My curiosity was forgotten as soon as we turned and saw the entrance to the Seoul Lantern Festival. I hadn't realized it was going on and that we were going to see it. It was opening night, too. There were tons of people, but since my idea of a crowd has gotten some alterations since the Fireworks Festival. There was quite a line, so we decided to just walk along the top, since the stream is kind of underground(ish). You have to walk down and there are sidewalks right along the stream there. We got to see some of the lanterns, which were in the shape of traditional Korean peoples from an ancient dynasty (maybe?). 

While it would have been cool to go down and walk along the stream, I was rather glad to be out of the crowd for once. Why am I always going to these crowded places?! (Oh yeah, because I'm in Asia?!) We didn't get to see everything, and I hope to go back sometime and do more of the crafts that are (apparently) available, but I got a few photos!

Lanterns coving a bridge over the Stream. 

Awesome decor in Agra!
We set off in search of food, and settled on Agra, a chain Indian restaurant I had been to in Itaewon with Heather&Co. We had to wait, but it was so nice to be with a friend and able to vent about work and our thoughts about everything going on at work. We both had a curry and the atmosphere was so cute. It was certainly a good "date" place. Michelle even told me she could tell that many of the couples were on blind dates! Apparently this is a very common practice in Korea, and almost the only way to meet a potential boyfriend/girlfriend; one must be introduced and that usually occurs in the form of a blind date. I told her that in America, we kind of laugh at blind dates and just meet our boyfriends/girlfriends in a bar or in line at the grocery store. She was astonished.... cultural differences.

After lingering around for a while, enjoying the atmosphere, company, and conversation, we decided to head back out in search of some wine. We found one wine bar, but the prices were extortion and we opted instead for the "Texas Ice Bar" across the street. With a Heineken instead of a glass of bubbles, we continued our girl-bonding time. I seriously love this girl. I can't believe that I move to Korea and meet someone so amazing as her! How have we been apart all these years! On opposite sides of the world... Crazy.

We headed back to the subway station after our drinks, as the smoke in the bar was too much to handle and we were both quite sleepy. When we walked down the stairs to the trains, Michelle stopped to check the map and I instinctively said "Oh, it's the left one." She looked at me and laughed, "You know the subway better than me now!" I laughed at the thought. I just know what to look for to make sure I'm on the right train. :) But, pretty neat that I am so confident!

It was all-in-all a great day, relaxing and yet productive and not boring at all. Michelle and I agreed that Sundays are sad since we know we must go back to work the next day, but I am determined to enjoy my Sunday this week. I need to get some groceries and clean a bit (Sundays are turning into Cleaning Day). Mommy is coming in just a few weeks, so I must get everything ready for her! Maybe I'll even convince her to be a guest-blogger! ;)  Who knows!


  1. Wha....? Guest blogger!?! Who, me?

  2. Yeah, Abby, I think that is a GREAT idea.
    Your Saturday sounded like a good day. The pie looked SOOOO good. After your Mom gets back I have to pick her brain and then make my reservations around my 1/2 marathon and my Belize trip. Who said retirement gets boring. Not for me.

  3. Impressive! Love you!


Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner