Friday, July 1, 2011
Second, we ate a lunch of temple food. This was a hope, but I wasn't following it actively today. After the bookstore, we obtained subway passes and put extra money on them (pretty much the same process as in any city with mass transit and computerized ticketing, except the passes are purchased in convenience stores, another way Korea is like Italy). We went to Insa-dong and while looking for a tofu reataurant recommended by the tourist information staffer, we found a sign, "Sanchon, Temple Cooking." I had read about and seen on KBS this cuisine, based on wild and simply cultivated foods, vegetarian, and hoped to try it. This is a famous temple food restaurant, one which was reviewed even by the New York Times. For 22K won (about $22) each, we dined well, and the food was beautifully presented. Check out Sanchon on line: there is some sense of its aesthetic and the devotion which goes into all they do. It was cool in the restaurant; so we took our time in the heat of the day.
Strolling past the shops, we headed toward Changdeokgung (palace), site of many dramas we watch. Jim found this image of Brahms at a pub along the way. The palace is beautiful and quite impressive: easy to imagine the scholars of (probably) the Sarim faction lining up before the towering throne hall [image at top] to protest some government action. We lingered near the Crown Prince's study, a building up on columns, similar to the Confusian academy study hall we had seen near Daegu. There was an apricot tree and we rested in its shade.
Returning to Insadong, I purchased a box of brushes for a certain young scholar we know, and, at Myung Sin Dang, had a seal made while we waited, in the cool shop. A number of famous visitors have found their way here, and the artist is a very skilled designer: she wrote my name in Korean (as my teacher had) and designed and carved the seal which has a rabbit carved on top. I gave her my card and she seemed pleased. I like it very much, and hope it will grace the new map pieces I make. I saw apricots in the street for sale, and taking it positively since its tree had provided shade, purchased them from a woman more intent on the video drama on her phone than on fruit sales. She didn't tell me the name but showed me the heroine. I smiled and indicated I like dramas too.
It is very hot here. We really ducked the heat in the south coast, with temperatures overnight hovering around 20C, and with the rain and breezes. When we returned to Daegu Thursday, it was 31C and it's not quite that hot in Seoul, but it is exhausting because it is dryer, actually, than that wet weather can be. This morning, I finally had enough coffee at breakfast and was able to dry my hair sufficiently to have the first not bad hair day since I arrived. We greatly enjoyed the KTX between Daegu and Seoul, and hope the President can get us started on high speed rail asap, for it is very convenient to have it.