Over the last few weeks I have been very busy but at the same time haven’t felt like writing a blog post. I was considering why this was and have come to the conclusion that I have truly settled in here making me process many of the everyday elements in hugely different ways. Combining this with the fact that I have been working more in my room as the term’s end is drawing nearer, I feel like these last few weeks have been more tame—but there is still a lot to say!
On the weekend of the 4th November I took part in a temple-stay arranged by our university, as one of the only remaining Buddhist universities in the world! Up early to get to university by 6:30 we took a five hour coach to Jindo island (funny as do means island so I’m writing Jin island island) which is in the very south west of the peninsula. It was wonderful to feel truly fresh air again and staying in a temple surrounded by mountains on a quiet island felt hugely fitting, relaxing and cleansing compared to the everyday bustle and pace of Seoul. We were taught to prostrate in the correct manner and undertook two hour-and-a-half meditation sessions, one before bed and one at 5am. There is something about waking up before the sun rises and stepping out into the icy darkness to be greeted by bright stars and silhouetted hills that is just so magical. I found meditation very difficult, as I didn’t quite know what state I was meant to be reaching—active thought or emptiness?—but it was relaxing and cleansing nonetheless. I couldn’t recommend this experience more, it was something really unique and a fresh contrast to my palette of city life.
Visiting a more residential outskirts area of Seoul to meet a friend was really interesting, in a lot of ways the area reminded me of my home in London. The quiet residential streets filled with community necessity and not of excess like a city centre resonated in the same way as in London, at least through my eyes. It’s funny that we can draw such comparisons between such distant places.
I also visited Incheon, a city very close to Seoul and housing the capital’s airport, which provided a very different landscape of a port-city containing a China-town. In the Chinatown I visited the world’s only Jajangmyeon museum (a much loved Chinese-Korean dish)!
The temperature has begun to drop, and last night saw the first of the years settling snow! As I haven’t seen snow in such a time I was quick to rush onto the roof of our building in my sandals and build the year’s first snowman!
As term draws to a close I have to finish solidifying my winter travel plans (as we have a two-month break from university, due to their academic years beginning in March). Thus far I will be travelling to Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and maybe more (currently looking at Singapore to potentially meet my dad there!). These are all hugely exciting prospects but are also ever so slightly daunting as I have never been travelling consistently for so long… but I’m sure when I’m in the moment that won’t be a problem as there’ll be so much to explore, experience and photograph/film!