For the past several months, Stephen has been tutoring some students online. We met two of them in Seoul and toured the palace grounds together. We went with an English tour but lingered behind the group and had more fun exploring on our own. This is Adrienne posing with Sun Ryun to her left and Jeong Yi to her right. Sun was really interested in the temple because she majored in Korean history.
Jeong Yi has been Stephen's student for about six months, but this was the first time they met in person. Since they had been talking through Skype for so long, they were already the best of friends. V is for Victory!
A mural at Inwangsa temple depicting the birth of the Buddha. According to legend, when the Buddha was born he took seven steps, raised his hand and pointed to the sky, saying: "I am chief of the world, eldest am I in the world, foremost am I in the world. This is the last birth. There is now no more coming to be." A lotus flower bloomed under each footstep.
Above Inwangsa temple, stepped paths lead up the side of a mountain to a number of famous rock formations and other sacred spots. Some of the rocks are thought to resemble monks in meditation.
Inwangsa temple is home to a mix of Buddhism and indigenous Shamanism. Walking up, we passed several people who were performing rituals and libations to nature spirits. This woman is in the middle of a series of bows in front of one of the sacred rock formations. Also a favorite spot for pigeons to hold ceremonial gatherings.
An indoor-outdoor fruit market in the typical Korean style. Across the street from this market, we had a delicious multi-course sushi dinner featuring many Korean side dishes: a spinach pancake, spicy soup, rice bowl with seaweed and fish roe, oysters, shrimp, acorn jelly cubes, corn and crab salad, edamame... a special New Year's feast.