Our first Saturday, both Don and Chris took us on another “tour” lasting nine hours! It was one jam-packed day, brimming with visual and culinary delights, deeply affecting (in a positive way) both my emotional and physical well-being.

We began at the Jungmyo Confucian Shrine. Here we embraced a shoeless, floor-sitting experience, learning about the burial rites for royalty dating back several centuries. I was struck by the similarities in their time-honored traditions, and my own “rituals” after someone close to me passes. I was much weepy, yet cleansed, and completely centered in gratitude.

After such a spiritual experience, we all went for dark, 74% sweet/bitter hot chocolate and an equally decadent truffle. Then, revitalized, we sat in quiet meditation at a nearby Buddhist Temple. It was filled with candles illuminating the giant golden statue of Buddha, flanked by an only slightly smaller golden king and queen.

The yin and the yang of the day was only just beginning, and yet I was already conscious of the extreme juxtaposition of nearly opposite emotions.

We ate a lunch of Cornish game hen and rice, and pickled this and that. Not one of us liked the kimchee (present at every meal), or the tiny dried fish, and the strips of eggplant got only one taker, who discretely spit it out. Nevertheless, the meal was good, and filling, and we headed off for the afternoon well-satisfied.

After a short subway journey, we walked through a traditional “hanok” neighborhood, where the small homes are uncomfortably close together, but often contain beautiful courtyards and doorways that are intricately carved.

When we passed a Presbyterian Church, I said aloud that I was a card-carrying member, and the young woman in the archway of the adjoining hanok echoed “Presbyterian.” I nodded and she motioned us to come inside. It was actually an annex to the church, and we took off our shoes and sat on mats, and were treated to a traditional tea service at a table no more than 6” above the floor.

Refreshed, we wandered the area, up one street and down the next, checking out crafts made mostly by local university students. Chris bought an enamel/cloisonné necklace, a steam punk watch, and a drawstring purse. I was looking for an earring/necklace set, but didn’t find exactly what I had in mind, so didn’t buy anything.

We took the subway back to a main downtown canal area and walked some distance (as if we hadn’t walked enough already today!) along the water, down on one side and back the other enjoying from every perspective the amazing three-dimensional art set out on stone blocks among the ripples.

I was really glad to get back to the apartment, and for the quick and easy dinner of bongousse (like mongoose with a B), which is like a burger, only the “bun” is pressed rice, and the filling of chopped meat (mine was duck), lettuce and assorted veggies are pressed into the middle.

After a day like this one, I was totally ready to put my feet up!