Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Insadong Forever

The four of us have been having so much fun together that it hurts! We are laughing our way through the days and nights , and having what sometimes seems like a two-week-long slumber party in Korea. We do pull ourselves together when we go out into the streets, although hilarity is likely to break out at any moment (more on that shortly). This morning the Waxworks ladies made a giant art-supplies purchase, loading up on brushes, ink, and quantities of gorgeous hand-made papers. Wendy's fabulous daughter, Betsy, handled the negotiating, and watched with a hawk-like attention as the stacks of purchases were tallied and readied for delivery to our hotel apartment. (Did we mention that each of us brought an empty suitcase along just to carry home art supplies?)

When that was complete, we had a wonderful spicy lunch, and then headed out for more exploration in Insadong, our neighborhood. Today we headed in a new direction, and noticed more and more Buddhist monks strolling around in their fabulous grey outfits and pith helmets. We rounded a bend in the road, and there before us was the magnificent Buddhist central complex for Korea, a series of many buildings centered around a temple. A ceremony was in progress, with chanting, gongs, and many people worshipping, so we walked around the outside and admired the incredible beauty of the buildings, and the high spiritual vibe that was unmistakable all around us. We had a wonderful interaction with an artist who had built a giant sculptural installation outside the temple. We tried jujube tea and some kind of cookies that were kind of a cross between popcorn balls and rice krispy treats in the temple tea room. A little hilarity broke out in there, as we were all uncertain how to behave in what was billed as a "traditional tea ceremony", and Wendy inadvertently dropped her cookie into her tea and had to fish it out. Nobody seemed to be paying much attention, but we were doubled over once again with great gales of laughter. Below are some photos of the temple complex, painted so stunningly!

We have developed a kind of mantra as we explore. One of us will turn and say "I'm Goin' In" when we decide to turn down a dark, winding alley, or enter a store of unknown goods, or taste something mysterious from a street sample or restaurant dish. The next person usually responds with "She's Goin' In", and everybody follows with much laughter! It's great that we all enjoy drifting and letting the moment take us, no agenda necessary!

Later in the afternoon we strolled back to our hotel. We saw this cheery shop entryway
and these carved figurines in a shop that sold clothing only for monks (!?)
and a woman stirring her kimchi pots
and this carved stone, which is exactly how we feel about this part of our new favorite city! Insadong Forever!


MaryDakota said...

I am having such fun reading your blogs and looking at your pictures! Thanks so much for sharing!

Ravenelle said...

WOW, how overwhelmingly beautiful, so exotic, all those colors, the food..this is great!!!