Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Arrival...Destination: Seoul (One Year Ago)

You remember that old adage "better late than never"?

While...I'm going to claim it as my own today.

While in Korea, between the jetlag, emotions, etc, etc, etc...well, I wasn't too great at the blogging. And since the main reason for this blog is to have a journal of sorts of my family, it's high time I get some pics posted and stories told.

The time machine awaits...

April 17, 2011

After that rocky beginning ...praying for a flight to get us to Korea...braving wind and rain...ticket agent after ticket agent, and wild cab rides...arriving in Korea was nothing short of a miracle.

And the stress of it all had certainly taken it's toll. I look a tad worse for the wear here...but the relief is quite evident on my face. The relief of arriving in my child's country.

Once our "limo" arrived, we climbed on the bus, and sat back for the hour long ride to the Gangnam area on the south side of the Han River. It was still so early and the sun was still working it's way up into the sky. The fog hung over the city and all the colors were muted.

There are so many people in Seoul...which also means there are lots of apartments. Every direction you look, you see highrises.

We passed by the Bus Terminal. Now that I know korean, I can read this sign in Hangul. Did you know that "bus terminal" is the same in english as in korean? Who knew?!?

Our flight got into Seoul a little before schedule, 4:30am to be exact. By the time we arrived at the hotel, it was a mere 7:30am. A far cry from the 4pm check-in time. The Renassaince Hotel was very accomodating and told us they would have a room ready for us shortly. You can judge a hotel by their lobby...and yep, this one was pretty nice!

Marble, giant chandaliers, shiny floors, and magnificent restaurants. We decided to try their Sunday buffet...knewing that if the lobby told us anything, it would be a little more expensive than we were used to. But, when you are in a foreign county with no where to go...guess what...you're willing to pay a little extra for some food while you wait for your room.

The buffet was out of this world. The presentation alone was amazing. They had everything imaginable...omelet station, pasta station, fresh fruits, salads, hot cereals, fresh squeezed juices, donuts, pastries...the whole nine yards. I ate until my heart and belly were quite content.

Then the bill came. Jason wouldn't even tell me how much it was...just kept telling me it was better that I didn't know. I can tell you from experience that that is never a "good" sign.

I finally convinced him to tell me what the "damages" were...that there really wasn't any way around having to eat there anyway, I mean where else were we gonna go?!? Turns out he was right...it would have been better had I been kept in the dark. Suffice it to say, it was over $70 for the two of us to eat breakfast that day. The following days consisted of donuts. 'Nuff said.

Once we got settled into our room and freshened up, we decided it was time to see the city once again. I still can't get over the fact that I have flown to the other side of the world three times now. Seoul was calling and we were itching to get out and explore.

Since it was April, the city had all sorts of colored globes hung up everywhere. Turns out they were celebrating budda's birthday. A month long celebration. For budda. I wish we celebrated Christmas for more than one day out of the entire year. If budda gets a month, I'm thinking we should not only match that, but maybe even double it. Celebrate Jesus' birthday for 2 monts. I'm so glad that my God is bigger that budda.

Never-the-less, the globes were pretty.

 First stop: Insadong. I'm always amazed at how many people there are at any given time at any given place. We walked the streets, took in the sights, and thoroughly enjoyed this little artsy street. We found some familiar shops and looked at some new ones too.

At the far end of Insadong, across the road, is a little park on 97 Jongno-gil street. It's called Tapgol Park. It's a quaint park quietly nestled in the hustle and bustle of the city.

It used to be called Pagoda Park.

This park was once the site of a buddist temple.

The word tap means "pagoda", and the park gets its name from the Wongaksa Pagoda, a 10 storied stone pagoda (which is a national treasure) located in the park. It's in the big glass structure in the background. You can't take pictures of it...it's that old.

The details...amazing.

The colors...brilliant. 

I can't even fathom how much time it took to paint all of this.

There's so much history in this city.

I would have loved to have sat in this park half the day to learn more

...and to people watch.

Isn't the calligraphy beautiful too?

I found this on the internet...it shows what the park looked like in 1904. The thirteen- story stone pagoda, which is seen at the back of the picture, was sent from China as a gift from a Chinese emperor to his daughter when she married a Korean king, perpaps in the twelfth century. Picture from Cornell University Library

While in Insadong, we stopped at the namechop shop. This is such a neat shop. The owner takes down your information and then hand makes your namechop in a few hours. They are marble and come with their own inkpads. Expensive, but well worth it.

Once we were done shopping, we headed to our favorite mandu restaurant. It's tucked away in a little alley behind the InsaArt building. First one on the left. Go if you are ever in that neck of the woods. You'll love it.

Jason ordered his "usual" manduguk. It's a tasty dumpling soup. However, they have added something to it since the last time we were there.

As soon as Jason pulled it out with his chopsticks, our converstion went a little something like this:

Me:  You're not going to eat that, right?!?

Jason: What is it?

Me: Seriously, you don't know?!? Look at it! Can't you see the tastebuds??

Jason: Whoa, is it really a tongue??

Me: If you are going to eat that, you have to tell me in advance, cause I'm getting nauseous just thinking about you chewing on it! I can't watch or I will be sick.

Jason: Ok, just a little taste...don't look.

Me: (covering my eyes and turning the other direction)

....a little while later, back at the hotel...

Jason: I have this aweful taste in my mouth...I just can't get rid of it. I've brushed my teeth like 10 times! What's the deal?

Me: Ah, Honey, it's...the...tongue... *eewww*

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