Friday, November 8, 2013

Chuseok Holiday

Koreans celebrate a three day harvest festival called Chuseok, which is similar to our Thanksgiving celebration.  It is a time for them to gather with families, eat a big feast, and visit the burial sites of their ancestors.  This year the holiday was September 18-20, and since Bob works for a Korean company, he had that time off work.  We decided just to stay close to home and avoid all the busy roads as much as possible.  On Wednesday, we decided to go for a hike on Bukhansan mountain once again.  We think we were on the Bibong course, but we never seem to know for sure.  As usual, along with wildlife and beautiful scenery, we saw temples nestled in the hills as we climbed some pretty steep trails.  We found an area where Korean troops would hide and watch for attacks on the city below.  We were surprised to find President Song - president of the Seoul Korea Temple - on the trail with a friend.  At the top of a peak we took a break and shared snacks with them.


On Thursday we pulled our bikes out of storage and headed out (via subway) to ride along the bike path on the south side of the Han river.  We made it to Yeouido when my front tire bulged out of the rim and the tube popped.  So, we just relaxed at the park a while and then managed to maneuver our bikes up and down lots of subway stairs to get back home.  Later that night we went for a walk around Namsan mountain and came down near the newly reconstructed Namdaemun Gate which was just completed in August.  The original southern Seoul city gate was set on fire in 2008 by a mentally ill man, and it took almost five years to rebuild the gate using the same primitive methods by which it was originally constructed and painted back in the 1300's.

An appropriate activity for Friday was to go visit Donggureung, about at hour northeast of Seoul.  This is the home of nine Josean Dynasty Imperial Tombs, and it is really a very beautiful area to visit.  When entering the park, there is the ground keepers home, where there were some traditional games set up in the courtyard for people to play.  Crossing over the creek there is a pathway built around the park leading you to the tombs you are interested in visiting.  I just love the Korean tradition of forming big round topped mounds over the tombs of their loved ones.  We see small versions of them, with varying degrees of formality, all along the hillsides as we drive across the country.  The Imperial Tombs, are huge, and generally are surrounded by an impressive guard of stone figures and fences.

We really enjoyed our Chuseok holiday.  It was even nice to have a day at home on Saturday to prepare for our Sunday meetings.  But I guess we'll have to wait until later to have our big harvest feast with family . . . 

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