Thursday, May 24, 2007
We had the day off from school today so we headed into Seoul to take part in the Lotus Lantern Festival to celebrate Buddha's birthday.We went to the Bongeunsa Temple by the COEX mall and the Samseong Subway stop (Line #2). The temple was packed with tourists and worshippers. The main attraction at the Bongeunsa Temple was the paper lantern displays. They had some very artistic designs that were really beautiful. The first one we noticed was a phoenix. Throughout the grounds they had paper lantern deer, cranes, tigers, frogs and of course lotuses. They transformed one of the temple buildings into a display for some of the more elaborate and delicate lanterns. We had a very nice tour from an English speaker who was working temporarily at the temple. She was from Trinidad and Tobago. The lanterns were really neat. Our guide told us the story of Buddha and the symbolism behind each of the lanterns.Outside, we watched a ceremony and traditional choir. We walked the grounds to check out all the different types of lanterns - most of which had prayer requests pinned to them. The colored lanterns are to honor people who are still alive and the white lanterns are to honor those who have died.We watched worshippers indoors and out. It was a neat atmosphere.After the temple we went for lunch in Saigon (a Vietnamese noodle soup place). Either the food was delicious, we were starving or a it was a little of both.