I spent my day in my favourite little French bakery in Hongdae where I feel like I now have my own established seat each time I pop in for a coffee and some free wifi! I ended up working there for hours just trying to make a little plan for my last fortnight before meeting up with Sara again in Bali! I eventually left with a route sorted and a job lined up in Busan in a little language cafe (how exciting!). In the evening I made my way down to Itaewon where I was yet to explore and strolled through its streets of antique furniture stores to an art class. I had been recommended an app called Meetup by a girl in my hostel and followed the directions on one of the events posted there to a tiny studio above a dentists surgery! The class was awesome and two hours of life drawing went in a flash! The class was focussed on practicing drawing fabric so instead of a nude model we had this lovely Malaysian lady who posed in the traditional Malay Muslim baju kurung for us. I left feeing super satisfied and after a day of planning and organising, unsurprisingly felt more like myself with projects to accomplish and places to visit now on the horizon! I was also back on a relative healthy food kick having had a beautiful butternut squash salad in a vegan cafe called Plant for dinner. Although Korean food definitely has much more of a veg presence than in Japan it is all to easy to fill up on tempura batter and fried foods so something fresh was VERY welcome!
I made an attempt to head to an early yoga class in the morning but it was literally cancelled as I hopped on the subway to get there! Instead I decided to try and see more of Itaewon so re-directed and found my way there. It was beautifully sunny and the tiny winding white walled streets seemed almost European. The area its self seems to be the melting pot of all of Seoul’s non-Korean communities and is home to a wonderful mix of Turkish, Greek and Indian mini-districts to name just a few! I grabbed a little lunch box of salad from this amazing fresh salad bar and strolled for miles down to the National Museum of Korea to perch amongst pagodas and eat! I could hear classical music coming from the main plaza space and discovered a full orchestra performing for the museum visitors. I stayed to watch some brilliant west end musical and operatic renditions before heading back to Itaewon for dinner! I grabbed another beautiful salad at Plant and chilled there to catch up on some blogging. In the evening I headed out to meet Nadia, my new Finnish pal, at a lantern festival we had heard about. I turned up and was greeted by thousands upon thousands of people parading through the streets and eventually found a spot to watch from the equally densely populated pavements. This was clearly a big deal in Seoul and I was soon witness to hilarious sights as the lantern bearers were a rather diverse mix. From old Korean ladies in casual hiking gear and visors waving like the Queen out to the crowd with their lantern free hand, to a parade of babies in prams behind a huge float of a baby with a TV for a face, to classically dressed monks, to traditional dancers, to huge floats with full woodland scenes, to mechanical fire breathing animal shaped floats, to drummers, to men in giant pom-pom hats it was ridiculous! Eventually the compère for he evening announced it was time for the after part and invited amazing dancers, ninja style drummers and opera singers on stage. Soon as the music picked up there was a sort of organised mosh pit that formed and out of nowhere cannons of confetti to resemble cherry blossom petals began to be fired into the crowd. This was a true festival atmosphere and Nadia and I definitely made the most of it, dancing into the night with the thousands of revellers.
Photos; Burrito bowl at Plant, the orchestra, national museum, national museum plus another yum salad, street art of PSY, my art class, rooftop view from the bathroom window in Plant, Plant squash salad, National museum, 1-9 images from thee lantern procession and performances, Nadia with this amazing Korean couple!