I am writing this from Nepal, where Cary and I are enjoying the peace and quiet of the Prakriti Organic Farm Resort in the foothills of the Himalayas in Shivapuri National Park.
Who would have thought that I would have to go to South Korea to get a pair of reading and distance glasses? For three years I have been unsuccessful with any of my doctors in the U.S., but found an optometrist in Seoul, thanks to San Yi, a student of Dza Kilung Rinpoche, who is also Cary’s Tibetan Buddhist teacher.
Geun Oh Song, the owner of the glasses shop, found the secret to my problem. It was a hoot to read the letters in both English and Korean, and gave us a great many laughs, but we couldn’t have navigated it all without the excellent translating of San. The price of the examination, and two pairs of glasses and frames, was $150 and the next day I was given another pair by San’s mother Hyejo Gong, who had come with us to the store. This was a most unexpected, and very much appreciated gift! Koreans are known for their generosity!
If you are in Seoul, and need a pair of glasses, you can find them at Yonsei Glasses, 4th floor, Tong-il building, 77, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul.
Cary and I, San, Hyejo and Yujin Seong, also students of Rinpoche, spent a delightful afternoon together. They treated us to an excellent restaurant with a banquet of traditional Korean food, none of which, alas, I could eat, but which Cary greatly enjoyed. (More on my food adventures with spicy Korean food in my next post…) Afterwards, we had delicious traditional Korean herbal tea in a tea shop snuggled in a magical little forest in the densely built up Insadong district.
It was wonderful for Cary to spend this time with San, as well as her mother and Yujin, all of whom organize Kilung Rinpoche’s Korean sangha, and help fundraise for the Kilung Shedra in Dzachuka, Tibet. Cary and San also work together on dharma texts.
We made other new friends during our visit. In our previous post, we mentioned Lhamo Owser, Shawo’s friend, who met us at the airport. We had dinner at a Mongolian restaurant for some not-too-spicy, but definitely hearty and heavy Mongolian food. Lhamo and Cary had fun interspersing English with Dutch as Lhamo is fluent in Dutch from her years of living there. She currently is taking a gap year and working in Korean restaurants to earn money to travel. We hope our paths cross again!
Yokan is a Japanese sweet made of red bean jelly that the Koreans love. It is exquisitely packaged in special boxes wrapped in fabric. In Insadong there are stores that sell these artistic boxes, elegantly displayed. One of Shawo’s Korean friends, Jieun Yi, gifted us with one of these boxes filled with 6 little packages of red bean jelly of different flavors while we had tea at the same Korean herbal tea shop we visited with San. It was so special at night that we wanted to revisit it during the day.
Offering these red bean sweets, opening the fancy wrapping and carefully slicing the jelly treats to share, is a special Korean tradition we were delighted to experience.
After our tea party and red bean treats, Jieun was our tour guide to a big street food market, and that brings us to more about food, which is the subject of our next blog post!