I may have to fly to Asia every year at Christmas time. It is definitely the place to escape the holiday.

As I have written here, it seemed to me that Christmas had permeated everything because of lights, signs, nutcrackers, carols, and even gas station attendents wearing Santa hats. Turns out that all amounted to a whole lot of nothing. Thankfully.

Christmas here seems just to have been appropriated exclusively for commercial purposes. The iconography is there, but only I think to trigger (or perhaps to create) a Pavlovian consumerist response. Almost everything was open on Christmas, fruit sellers, auto repair shops, dry cleaners, liquor stores, supermarkets, coffee shops, restaurants. All of the important things in life. Plus it was a warm day, perfect day to be outside.

Usually on Christmas I like to go to the movies. But the only think I wanted to see was the post-apocalyptic film I am Legend, and hell, I bought that on DVD form a street vendor before it was even in the theares. Nice letterboxed version too. I did have to pay 3000 Won though (3 bucks), kind of pricey for a street DVD, but it did save the day for being outside...

What better thing to do on Christmas than visit a Buddhist temple? So we went to spend the day wondering around a temple complex on the south side of the river. It is a beautiful temple on a wooded hillside that is totally surrounded by huge, glass encased skyscrapers. The COEX mall and convention center are done there, it is a very busy and slick area.

Here is a view

I'm not much of a landscape photographer, but you get the idea.

We did happen on the Bob Dylan bar, which is on the corner of this big building.

So you walk through all of this to get to the temple, which is nestled in between. Once you are in, however, it is very quiet and peaceful.

Here is the front gate.

Here are some lanterns hanging outside the main temple building, which has three gold Buddhas. These are quite a big smaller than the Buddhas at Jogyesa.

There was something about the combination of the silence of the temple, the colorful lanterns, the grey sky, and the tall buildings in the distance that made the whole experience very serene. Pictures don't remotely capture the feeling.

A central feature of this temple is the huge concrete Buddha on top of the hill. Not quite as striking as thr one in Songnisan since it is not gold, but still extremely impressive.

In front was a large marble area where people removed their shoes and knelt in prayer. To either side are little huts where there are pillows to sit on. By the evening (these pictures wer taken around 5 or so) it was chilly, and walking on the cold marble with no shoes must have been quite cold. Some people were there for some time.

Overall, a good way to pass a Christmas day.


Burro Hall said…
Sounds perfect! Feliz Navidad, amigos.

Frank and Laura
nunalmama said…
to daniel, I am A BLOGOPHILIAC

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