My last full day in Seoul was Wednesday. Laurie planned for us to do a little more sightseeing and shopping. Most shops don’t open until 10am. However, we were able to visit two Korean Treasures located in a public park. The first was the Monument of Wongaska Temple. The monument is Treasure No. 3. The monument is a large granite turtle with lotus leaves carved in the center of the shell. The lotus leaves provide an area for the marble monument to be inserted. The stone monument was a tribute to the lantern festival held in 1465 at the Wongaska Temple.
The second treasure was a ten-story marble pagoda. Due to the amount of weathering the pagoda has endured, it is now encased in glass to prevent further deterioration. The ten-story pagoda was also located at the Wongaska Temple.
The temple was destroyed and the land has been turned into a beautiful public park.
Besides the two Korean Treasures, the other highlight was having a conversation with an older Korean gentleman. He approached us as we were leaving the park. His English was excellent. We enjoyed a brief conversation. He shared with us that he liked Americans and had visited Hollywood. At one point, he held up his hand and I thought he was going to give me a hug. No, instead he exclaimed to Laurie how tall I was! Haha! He was very nice and it was a pleasure talking with him.
After our visit in the park, we went to our first shopping area. It was a cute area of Seoul where there were lots of shops with local crafts and pottery.
I bought a few small bowls with little koi in the bottom. I think they will be a nice addition to our sushi dinners. Perfect for soy sauce!
After shopping, we went to visit a nearby temple. The temple was still decorated from Buddha’s birthday on Tuesday. There were so many lotus lanterns hanging and there was a prayer being led inside the temple. It was absolutely beautiful. Considering all the temples I have visited in Japan, this experience was like none other. It was so peaceful, beautiful, and serene. I told Laurie she out did herself with this celebration during my visit!
Laurie picked us another great spot for lunch. It was tucked down a side alley. We arrived at 11:15 and it opened at 11:30. By the time it opened, there was already a line!
While we waited, I posed with a couple giant kimchi pots!! Can you imagine how much kimchi would fill these pots!
Promptly at 11:30 the restaurant opened and we were seated. The restaurant is known for their Korean dumplings. We each ordered a lunch set. Laurie ordered the pork and dumplings, I ordered the dumplings and traditional pancake.
The highlight occurred when the polite older lady came over and literally showed Laurie how to eat her lunch. She used her chopsticks to pick up lettuce, pork, and kimchi to make a small lettuce wrap. It was hilarious. Complete how to each your lunch tutorial!
After lunch, we continued our shopping adventure around the city. We walked to my very favorite- the Daiso! I knew we had to go when Laurie told me it was eight stories! Along the way, we passed three sections of the Berlin Wall. Germany gave the sections to Korea because it remains a divided country.
During our walk, we also passed a LOVE statue just similar to the one in Philadelphia. I was saddened to read that morning that Robert Indiana had passed away at age 89.
There seemed something poetic about seeing both statues within a few blocks from one another. The world needs less walls and more love.
And clearly, more Daiso! Check out the size of this building!!
I enjoyed shopping and looking at all the options. I kept things under control because I knew I would have to get it home. One thing did give me a good chuckle. Check out this toilet seat! If I find one in Japan I might have to buy it. “Find joy in the ordinary 💩.”
We made one more stop on the way home. We visited a very crowded shopping street that was adjacent to National Treasure No. 1.
National Treasure No. 1 is Sungnyemun. It is a large gate located in the middle of the city.
Sungnyemun is one of the four Great Gates of the Seoul fortress or the Seoul wall. We saw this same gate the previous day when we were walking along the Seoullo 7017. As our afternoon wrapped up and our arms were tired from carrying our packages, we headed home. I can’t express enough how envious I am of the location of their house. They are right in the middle of Seoul. When you want to go home, it’s a short train ride. Compared to our 1 hour and 15 minute train ride to Tokyo. Maybe more depending where you want to go. I’m so glad I took the chance to visit Laurie and her family. It was such an easy flight and the city was fun to explore. I hope she has the chance to travel to Japan so I can reciprocate the hospitality. Military families have an uncanny ability to find each other and pick up right where they left off. It’s a pretty special bond. Cheers to you, my friend! Thank you, again. My VIP experience was first class! Arigatōgozaimas!