Downtown Seoul at Jogyesa Temple they have a huge Buddhist Street Festival for Buddha’s Birthday. We signed up weeks ago to participate in the special section for foreigners. So, still jet-lagged, we drug ourselves out of bed yesterday and rushed to catch the weekend train to Seoul. It was wonderful! The festival was gigantic and included all kinds of neat activities, from learning how to bow and drinking tea to face painting and mask making. The entire street was blocked off for two blocks with booths one either side. There were also alot of performances and people dressed up in traditional outfits. A large section of the festival was dedicated to Buddhism from other Asian countries as well, so we got to see neat clothes, statues, and traditions from other places as well…including some cool dudes dressed as Mongols! Anyway, the highlight was making our own lantern. Since we had signed up ahead of time we were in a special tented area where the local Jogye temple taught everyone to make large lotus lanterns. Bryan and I each made one and we brought the materials home for Zoe’s. Afterward, they were all judged and mine won the Most Beautiful contest with ten other lanterns. I got a very nice traditional Korean paper-crafted box…that we then carried around with our stroller full of lanterns the rest of the day. Unfortunately it started to sprinkle an hour before the BIG parade of lanterns so we found a restaurant with a second floor window seat to watch. We finished just as the parade started and realized the rain had let up, so we quickly walked back to the festival area to our special FOREIGNERS seating area and watched about an hour of the parade. Zoe loved all the cool lanterns and the giant float-like glowing lanterns. She especially got excited for the elephants and dragons that breathed fire (in addition to being on fire inside)! At one point she layed on my shoulder and said, “sleepy” so we knew it was time to go. The parade was supposed to continue until about 9:30 and then there was a party of sorts until about midnight…we were too beat to handle all that, so we went home on the train and were in bed by 11. Such a fun day; I’m so glad we went and didn’t just sleep in like my body REALLY wanted to do.
Today we’re recovering; Zoe just awoke at 11am!