Thursday, October 22, 2009

Korea Day 7 - The view from here!

Here's the view from our hotel room, or half of it! It is about twice as wide as this really. Today we started slowly, had a swim and a hot tub, a leisurely breakfast, and then a stroll around a new neighborhood to the east of our hotel. It was colorful and full of working people getting busy with their jobs. At one corner we rounded a bend and found another gorgeous temple, all painted with people attacking demons, and lifting huge rocks over their heads, and fighting off a wide assortment of evils.

We returned to the hotel at 11 and once again met up with our guardian angel, Betsy (she is Wendy's adopted daughter). Betsy has been the most amazing helper, thinking of wonderful places to take us, bargaining with vendors and translating when necessary, and teaching us so much about Korean culture and language. She is brilliant and fun to be with and we are so lucky that she has taken time out of her busy life to give us some time with her. Today she took us to an upscale neighborhood full of gorgeous restaurants, shops, and galleries. It felt a bit like being in Carmel or Santa Barbara! We had a great lunch together before Betsy had to take off for work.
After she left us, we went across the street to the Korean Folk Art Museum, and the Gyeongbokgung Palace. The exhibit in the museum was so interesting and beautifully put together. It showed all aspects of ancient life in Korea, how people lived in previous centuries, with stunning artifacts, documents, maps, clothing, tools, and so much more. The palace was huge, but mostly a reproduction of what used to be something grand. The grounds and setting, however, were stunning! And we began to see the first autumn leaves turning.

At 5 pm we went to meet a well-known Korean fiber artist, Chungie Lee, whom Daniella knew about. She took us to an art opening, where a young fiber artist, Cho YeRyung, was having a solo show. Everyone there was so kind, and then suddenly they insisted that we must come along to their celebration dinner in a nearby Insadong restaurant. So we went, and had our first very traditional meal, sitting on cushions on the floor, drinking rice wine and another wine made of "red berries" (delicious), and eating many amazing and unfamiliar foods, beans, rice, chicken, fish, and so many more, bowl after bowl of stuff appearing on the table. Our hosts were charming and funny. The man who paid the bill was the brother of the artist. He owns a business selling industrial metals for architectural exteriors, and travels all over the world. He regaled us with stories of places like Uzbekistan and Holland, and his complete lack of love for Italy (imagine?!). There was so much we didn't understand, and Wendy and I got the giggles very badly and couldn't look at each other for the first half of the meal. Our legs were like badly folded sticks when we finally got to get up and leave. But it was unforgettable and so generous.
After that, good night!

1 comment:

MaryDakota said...

Wow! Just wow! Best travelogue ever!