These past 2 weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement and exhaustion for me. I flew home to the states for my brother’s wedding and back to Korea within only a few short days. I somehow mustered up the energy to travel to Seoul for the Lotus Lantern Festival this weekend. The Lotus Lantern Festival is held annually in honor of Buddha’s Birth. There were festivities happening everywhere in the city, which made for a very eventful time. Here’s how my day went according to my camera:
Korean fried chicken
Seasoned spicy chicken to the left and garlic fried chicken to the right. When Koreans fry their chickens, they fry the whole shabang sparing no parts of the chicken. So no special requests for white meat breasts or dark meat thighs, it’s all good here! Each plate seen here is one whole chicken that costs nearly 18,000 KRW. Was it tasty? Hell yes. This meal actually held me over for hours until dinner, but I do have to say that I was slightly put off by the garlic they just threw on top of the plate on the right. I love garlic, but I was hoping it would be integrated more into the actual seasoning of the chicken and not just sprinkled on top for presentation purposes.
Sheep Cafe in Hongdae
Before coming to Korea, I had heard about the strange cafes but I still hadn’t made it to one until yesterday. Yep, that’s a real sheep. There were actually 2 of them, but only one of them was willing to pose for me. The sheep actually stay outside the cafe while spectators come and go admiring their fluffiness. I didn’t even buy any coffee from the cafe, I just came for free looks.
Hongdae Free Market
Hongdae is the hipster neighborhood of Seoul with university students giving the place its cool artsy vibe. I checked out the Hongdae Free Market which had tons of unique finds handcrafted from local artisans. The market was bustling with visitors and every where I turned, someone was making and selling their crafts. It would be a great place to buy gifts and souvenirs, but I’m positive I’ll be back often. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s mesmerizing to walk through and watch an artist at work!
This guy engraves jewelry in one minute tops and the engraving is free with the purchase of any piece.
Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns: Jogyesa Temple
Lanterns, lanterns everywhere! We came here to do quick walk through to check out all the lanterns on display. It was the perfect prelude before the much anticipated parade.
3 golden Buddhas inside the temple. I always wonder if these are gold-plated or entirely made of gold. They are huge!
I love seeing this happy baby Buddha statue. It just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy looking at his smile.
Eoulim Madang (Buddhist Cheer Rally)
Lantern parade participants, arrayed in their traditional hanbok costumes rallied together dancing before the start of the lotus lantern parade. We caught them minutes before they wrapped up.
Reunited with a few of my favorite girls from the EPIK April Orientation last month. Finding a familiar face in Korea is always a challenge especially when my iphone battery is always dying!
I was almost ready to go to the parade! But first….let me take a selfie!
The Lotus Lantern parade was the festival’s main event and I was so lucky to squeeze past the crowds to the front of the main street. The parade lasted for about an hour and a half. These are just a few of the pictures I took, but no picture can capture the full essence of the parade. It was a beautifully organized event with countless parade participants and spectators. People were so happy to be there. I was surprised to even hear Koreans shouting “WOOOOS” in the crowd cheering on the people in the parade. All of the colorful lanterns, beautiful outfits, extravagant floats, and smiling faces brought such a vibrant energy to the city. The movement of lanterns only got better as the sun went down. As the night grew darker, the crowds became less visible and all I could see were lit lanterns prancing in the the streets.
There was more food, but we devoured most of it by the time I pulled out the camera to snap what was left. We were hungry and this Korean bbq place in Hongdae hooked it up! It was the best bbq I’ve had so far in Korea. Too bad I can’t remember the name of it….or much else of how the rest of my evening went. This was the last shot on my camera but the night surely didn’t end there. You’ll have to catch the rest of the day’s footage on the vlog!
The weekends just keep on getting better and it’s awesome to finally have something to look forward to during my work week. After years of always having to work on weekends, it feels so damn good to have those days back. I guess you could say I’m making up for lost time and welcoming the Buddha that’s within me!
Find your inner Buddha guys, he’s in there somewhere.