Our last full day in Seoul had all of us feeling nostalgic for the many things we've come to love and admire here. We took a day of revisiting special places, soaking everything in as best we could, and just taking a long, final, look around us. We hardly took any photos all day, just gazed and admired, and sighed at the wonders of this city. First thing was to take a subway, at long last, back to Domdaemun Market. Even though the signs throughout the subway system were clear and in English, people came from all directions to help us with the process of getting the right tickets, finding the right gate, finding the right exit, and bestow the usual Korean kindness on us. One man even went out of his way to take us to a special machine where he put each of our tickets through for us, at the end of the ride, and we each got a 500 won refund! Cost of each ride, less than $1. Both stations and train were spotless.
At the market, we went to the "toys and stationery" buildings, then to "shoes", then finally back through some of the apparel buildings. Each of these is literally blocks long and teeming with activity. We read that 400,000 buyers visit this market every day, not surprising. We bought a few odds and ends, then came back to Insadong, where the four of us separated into two pairs for the first time since we arrived here, and went off our separate ways.
Daniella and I had a scrumptious dumpling soup lunch, then wandered through the streets. We ended up once again at the huge Buddhist temple, where a funeral was in progress, the participants all dressed in rough white garments and hats, a small bier being carried around, behind a large photo of the deceased. When that had passed by, we went inside the temple for the first time and sat at the back. It was full of worshippers, mostly women, down on their knees on pillows, bowing repeatedly. The monks circulated around and there was continuous ringing of small bells, wooden gongs, and deep, sonorous chanting. The atmosphere was so peaceful and spiritually uplifting. The building was stunning, with the three giant golden Buddhas up front, and every inch of the huge room decorated in hanging red and green lanterns on the ceiling, walls painted in all the temple colors, stacks of fruit and books in front of the statues, golden alcoves lining the back walls, and so much more!
We reconnected with Wendy and Judy for a bit of a shopping frenzy later in the day. Korea has the most amazing women's clothing designers, many selling out of small alleys, with their goods hanging along the walls and perhaps a closet for trying on things (perhaps not). All four of us have indulged in buying some of these designer clothes, and we feel like a million bucks walking around here lately wearing them! We visited a couple of gallery openings (here the galleries change shows every week, and every opening is a big party!), and loved a textile show put up by a bunch of delightful young graduate students.One more "chicken and beer" dinner for us just hit the spot at the end of this wonderful day, then home to contemplate how to pack all of our stuff. Wendy began the process by packing one entire large suitcase full of paint brushes. One of my suitcases will be mostly filled by a carton of india ink. We have a huge box of paper, as one of our pieces of luggage. All of us are holding our breath about that ink and flying around the world with it......
This afternoon (Thursday here) we fly for home at about 5 pm Korea time, and we arrive in San Francisco on Thursday at noon! It feels like a science fiction event, back to the future - very strange indeed! Can't wait to see all our left-behind loved ones! Annyeonghi gaseyo.