|DON'S ESL ADVENTURE!||
My weeklong trip to South Korea back in November of 2015 just wasn’t enough. Sure, I explored popular cities like Seoul and Busan on what seemed like a non-stop tourist vacation, but with so many wonderful attractions at every turn, I just couldn’t see and do all that I wanted in that short amount of time.
Yet and still, I did manage to explore many a number of banging destinations during my stay. Much to my surprise, for instance, I had a chance to attend two remarkable festivities in Seoul: The 2nd Seoul Kimchi Festival and the 2015 Seoul Lantern Festival.
It was November 5th –my 2nd day in Seoul—and I woke up around 11am in my cramped hostel room situated in Dongdaemun. By noon I arrived at Gupo Traditional Market and was surrounded by a wide collection of herbs, fruits, vegetables, fish, spices, nuts, and of course, elderly citizens whishing back and fourth in every direction.
After awhile I made my way to Gwanghwamun Gate and stumbled upon the 2nd Seoul Kimchi Festival, where I tried some delicious Kimchi for free, drank some local wine, and caught a few entertaining performances.
After about an hour I made my way into Gyeonbokgung Palace and caught sight of some traditional Korean temples and architecture.
As I exited the palace, I caught wind of a few advertisements for the 2015 Seoul Lantern Festival and found out that it would be taking place in the same area, just down the road. HAL-LE-LUJAH. HAL-LE-LUJAH! Did you see the bright light burst down through the clouds too? With about 2 hours left until sunset I hopped on a subway to check out the 63 Building—a gold-clad skyscraper and landmark on Yeouido Island—and, from its observation deck on the 60th floor, laid eyes upon some stunning panoramic views of Seoul I had ever seen.
As night fell I made my way back to Gwanghwamun Gate to catch the lantern festival.
The 2015 Seoul Lantern Festival was held at Cheonggyecheon Stream, and boy was it a scene. From the ground level I could look out over the ledge and see all of the marvelous lanterns settled down below.
Likewise, I could look up and situated in the background was the bustling downtown area of Gwanghwamun that was brimming with towering skyscrapers and neon lights.
It was truly a remarkable sight to see!
At the entrance to the stream was a small waterfall and large crowd of pedestrians walking along the pathway lining the stream. And with that, I immediately whipped out my camera and started course.
The lanterns appeared beautifully crafted and colorfully decorated in the darkness of the night.
They were all types of sizes—big and small, long and short—and were designed to represent everything from structures, symbols, and characters of local and international regions, to logos, abstract designs, and even philosophical phrases.
As I toured to Seoul Lantern Festival I couldn’t help but try to think of anything in the States uniquely equivalent to the annual tradition, which is actually a common event amongst many countries throughout Southeast Asia.
I could only think of the Rosebowl Parade in Los Angeles, the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, and the New Year’s Ball Drop in Times Square. Can you think of any?
Exploring the 2015 Seoul Lantern Festival was definitely a great reminder me of why I chose to teach English abroad; after all, it was one of those culturally rich experiences in an unfamiliar country that I always wanted to discover and learn more about. If you’re thinking of making your own trip to Seoul, I suggest hitting it in November to check out the lantern festival. It’s awesome!