May 14, 2013
Even though they celebrated Buddha’s birthday last week from the 11th – 13th, actually Buddha’s birthday falls on May 17 this year. Someone had told me I should go and play down at the Cheong I Chong river sometime. On Tuesday I decided to go to the art museum at City Hall which is near the river with a friend and stay late and play for when people got out of work. Actually I had never played at City Hall during the week. It was my favorite place during the weekend, but what would it be like during the week. I started playing around 5 pm. Actually it wasn’t so great. People were mostly rushing home after working all day. Around 7 pm I decided I should try to go to the river.
It’s a funny story about this river. They say there used to be a stream in the middle of Seoul a long time ago, like the 1920s, but that it got covered up when they were building the city and finally it went dry. One of the things that I myung Bak the conservative president whose term was up in 2013 did when he was mayor of Seoul was “resurrect” this river. Actually its sham. There is no river. It’s a giant fountain in the shape of a river. It is an artificial river. The city pumps tons of water every day to give the illusion of a river. It’s a very apt metaphor for today. People in the city don’t have time to see nature anymore, so with this they can get off the subway and visit an articficial “clean river”. There is no mud, no bugs, its all concrete. Yet the people can enjoy the sound of running water. I saw some ducks swimming along and people gathered around and took picutres. The ducks were posing like celebrities on the red carpet. Kind of sad that seeing a duck is such an event these days.
The river is decorated with lanterns of all kinds, some in the shapes of Buddhas and Buddhist stories. All the beautiful lights gave a peaceful cheerful feeling around the river. The lanterns would be there until the end of the week, so I decided to come back. I started out on the bridge over the river, but later I decided to go down to the actual river and sat on the steps to play. It was a nice atmosphere though I played only a short time.