Time for the weekend photo dump!
Here is Seoul Tower, seen ominously through the cloudy sky after the big snow we had last night. Shane and I took a cable car up and it totally rocked our socks. We were worried with the wind and blowing snow that it might not be a good day to see the sights, but it was beautiful to watch as we slowly rose up the mountain, and over all the newly snow-frosted bare trees, like jumping over a really, really big herd of moulting caribou in a blizzard. Poetic n'est pas?
Here's the deal with Seoul Tower— it's a big sham! The structure itself is not especially impressive as far as towers go, but they've skirted the demands of architectural achievement by building their shit on top of a mountain. That's right, in the tourist literature and on various merchandise in the gift shop, they show it as ranking next to the Eiffel Tower, the CN Tower and the other vertical feats of the world, because they count the mountain as part of its height! Is it just me, or is that totally cheating?
Nothing too special here, just a nice, snowy pavilion on the top of the mountain. There was a cadre of business types having a group photo taken nearby, and I wanted to run down and join in but I figured my fate to follow would have involved a barrel and that caribou herd we jumped to get there.
I insisted we eat lunch at the grand-sounding "Restopia" but it was mediocre at best.
Here's Shane next to one of the tallest standing Buddhas in Korea, ironically situated across the street from the country's largest mall.
One of the various buildings of the Bongeunsa temple complex. There was something overpoweringly calm and peaceful about this place at dusk. We walked around silently and listened to a monk pound away at a giant outdoor drum. The gray clouds, bright lanterns and echoing rhythm of the drums all created such a powerful ambiance. We were maybe a hundred feet away from one of the busiest streets in the city (the tower on the right is the Seoul World Trade Center) and you couldn't hear the slightest suggestion of traffic. The wind was rustling through hundreds of paper prayers hung on hundreds of paper lanterns. The sky was dark and the insides of the pavilions were golden with candlelight and polished statues. The only things to suggest that we weren't hundred of years in the past, were the full parking lot, and the face-mask on the drumming monk...
I was dumbfounded when I saw this sign, as Shane and I wandered through the newly renovated portion of the COEX. I took a few pictures before one of the saleswomen ran out and crossed her hands at the wrist in an "X" meaning: "No pictures!" Seriously guys, if you advertise your clothes as being "made by Jesus" you'd better expect some due attention. I'm still baffled by the rationale behind the sign. Was it a mistranslation? Some kind of attention grabbing mad-lib with names of shocking significance? Maybe the store was owned by an expat Latin-American designer named "Hey-zeus." I have no answers for you, but feel that "Christ Couture" may make a sudden, and significant explosion in North America. Be ready.
A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.