I had heard through Reddit that Hwagyesa Temple in Seoul has a Sunday Dharma class in English. So I booked a ticket to Seoul via the Korail (Korean Railroad) app on Friday night. I had to pay with my NZ bank card, but I had thought that you could pay with T Money (the loaded card for the subway and buses). For some reason, I couldn’t book a ticket for the return journey that evening – there was no link beside those trains on the app.

So after arriving at Seoul Station, I took Line 1 to Sinseol-dong, from which I transferred to a much smaller train. I got in and could see right down the line – there was no driver!

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No driver! Automatic subway train in Seoul.

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I made my way to the temple and had some time to look around first.

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Hwagyesa Temple

and made my way to the top floor. A Ukrainian man instructed us how to do Korean Zen (Seon) meditation. We then started. My back started to hurt quite quickly so the Ukrainian man got me some additional cushions, which worked. It was intense though! We had three half-hour meditation sessions, each one punctuated by ten minutes of slow walking meditation around the meditation hall. Afterwards, a nun came and gave a talk about the basics of Buddhism. She was part way through a lecture series but she did a recap for the newcomers.

After we had finished, I made my way back to Dongdaemun, intending to visit the Pyounghwa Clothing Market. When I got there (around 4:30pm on a Sunday), it was closed! I got some things at the Dongdaemun Daiso, and then took the train back to Jonggak, where I got a bath towel at the Jonggak Daiso (the very first Daiso I ever visited in Korea) and had some dinner at Lotteria. I made my way back to the station where I got a coffee and sat down with my tablet to wait for the train.

The ticket was ‘standing room only’, but there’s a catch – the standing room cars actually do have some seats, but they’re either subway-style seats along the walls or a bench along the window with a very small ledge to place your laptop/tablet on. I went down to the platform about 20 minutes early and the train was already sitting there. I got one of the subway-style seats for the whole journey back to Pyeongtaek.

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Subway-style seats and a small bench in the standing room car on the intercity train.
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Standing bench in the standing room car on the intercity train. You can use your tablet while standing at the bench.

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