Sunday, April 19, 2009
Cherry Blossoms on Easter Sunday
Happy Easter! The weather was fantastic and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom so we had a wonderful Sunday. We went to Yeouido in Seoul. It is famous for its cherry blossoms and it has one of the largest churches in the world - so it was the obvious choice for Easter.
We got there pretty early in the morning and headed off in search of the Yeouido Full Gospel Church. We found the Congress building instead. No big deal - the church has eight services every Sunday so we were bound to catch one of them. So we decided to wander the streets and view the cherry blossoms in all their glory because they only last for a week or two.
We were not the only ones in Yeouido on Easter morning - not by a long shot!!
The cherry blossom is a Japanese tree and the Japanese planted them all over Korea as a sign of dominance when they invaded. So, as beautiful as they are, they are still a little bit of a sensitive issue for the Koreans. Actually, at one of the palaces, they cut down trees as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of liberation from the Japanese occupation. Anyway, there were still hoardes of people out wandering and snapping photos along with us.
In Japan, so I've heard, cherry blossom viewing is like a competitive sport and you have to be fierce in order to get the best pics, so many Japanese come to Korea during the season to have a more relaxing time . . .
maybe just a tiny bit more relaxing . . .
On our journey around Yeouido we happened to find the church we were looking for so we wandered on in. The Yeouido Full Gospel church has the largest congregation of any church in the world. Every Sunday they have eight services with multiple overflow buildings set up to catch the people who don't fit in the main sanctuary. The church has 800 000 members. They had a full orchestra, a massive choir, and some really incredible solo singers. The service was instantly translated into 7 languages through headphones in the 'foreigner section'. We took a couple of photos about 20 minutes before the service started - just before a sign when up "No Photos Please". We were lucky enough to attend the one service that the founder of the church, Rev. David Yonggi Cho, was preaching at. You should check out their website: http://english.fgtv.com/ - The church has quite the interesting history.
After the service we went out for some more walking. I was a little hungry so we opted for a little bite of street food. Some BBQ chicken on a stick for 2000Won ($1.80) and a can of beer. I couldn't be happier!
What a lovely day we had!!