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Happy Chuseok!

What a great 3 day weekend!   Chuseok is the Korean Thanksgiving holiday when the Korean’s travel from their apartments in the city out to visit the old timers that still live in the country.  Truly they are paying homage to their parents and even ancestors.  In the morning they visit ancestral burying grounds for rituals and respect, and cleanup.  After that it’s a harvest time celebration complete with a big ole feast, which Korean’s know how to do well! 

On Friday, Zoe’s school invited all the kids to wear hanbok if they had it.  Zoe was so excited to get her first use out of her new hanbok!!  This is one I bought off a friend before leaving Georgia; they had it for their daughter when living in Korea and she grew out of it.  I took it in a little, and it fits fine!  She loved wearing it and we drove to school because of the special occassion.  Later, I returned bringing my Yaki Mandu covered dish.  Parents were invited to attend and bring a Korean dish – I picked Yaki Mandu from the list at Zoe’s request.  It’s like fried little wontons or gyoza.  They are simple when you get a bag of frozen ones from Emart!  Avi even dressed for the occassion with a boy hanbok top that I had bought as dress-ups for W1000 ($1.00) when we were here last.  The Chuseok celebration was chaos at the school with parents and kids all over the place, and lots of food.  It was fun, though, and Bryan was able to pop in as it got started.  Its’ so nice to see him during the day!  Happens often here, and happened never in Georgia.  Zoe was adorable running around with her classmates and other little kiddo’s in hanbok.  I wished more had worn their outfits, but they are pricey when bought new. After all the food and sweet songpyeon rice balls they needed a while at the playground.  Avi and I left as the class headed outside.

So, with the mass exodus from Seoul on Friday evening and Saturday we didn’t really venture far with the car.  Bryan and Zoe, however, took the train INTO Seoul on Saturday which they reported as very empty.  It was Daddy-daughter day for them.  They visited the Seodaemun Natural History Museum!  I hear was great and had different floors for different time periods – starting at the top with the earths formations, the middle with Dino times, and the bottom with ancestral peoples.  There were dino fossils, dino replica’s and even a dino slide outside at the big playground.  Zoe also especially liked the butterfly displays – hundreds of pinned-on-styrofoam samples that she had Bryan take pictures of.  After that they spent the evening together, and stayed at the Dragon Hill Lodge.  The military hotel on Songsan Garrison; it’s the army post downtown Seoul. It’s super nice.  Sunday they played at the playground, and swam in the pool, and had a fun daddy-daughter time.

Avi and I got some work done.  Saturday morning I had signed up and rented my table for $5 at the monthly Flea Market.  It truly puts you in mind of a British Boot sale with people selling junk they piled into their cars and then half unloaded onto tables.  We managed to pack up 5 medium boxes of junk that somehow made the cut in Georgia, travelled in a boat for months over 2 oceans, and arrived in Korea only to be sold for a buck.  I made $120!  Good money for 3 hours of work.  And now we have a cleared out back mud room.  After that Avi and I attended the Kids Day Festival sponsored on base.  He mostly bounced in the bouncy castle and watched a crazy mime on stilts doing card tricks.  Naptime, then the playground, dinner and movie for our evening.

Sunday Avi and I went to Seoul Grand Park Zoo.  I remember taking Zoe here and it still impresses.  I ‘splurged’ on the W8,000 combo tix that included a ride on the cable car and tram.  That’s just under $8.00!  Avi had fun seeing the animals, riding in the stroller, getting some lunch, and then watching the dolphin show.  He was especially taken with the Insectarium, of course, and wanted to ride the camel.  We’ll have to go to Seoul Childrens park for that sometime.  He did get to pet and feed the deer and hold a snake!  Our drive up was uneventful and quick – this was Chuseok day, so all the Korean’s were enjoying family time.  By the time we drove home, however, I did hit some early traffic.   Noted: driving on Chuseok must get finished prior to 3pm.  It’s like being in State College during a football game…if you have the timing right you will have the grocery store and mall to yourself; if your timing is off, however, you will be in traffic for hours.  Even the Zoo was pretty empty until around 2pm, when a flood of families started to show up.  It was adorable; kids in hanbok, moms laying out picnics (which Koreans are so good at), and big brothers helping Grandpa off the chair lift.  Love it!

In the evening Bryan and Zoe returned home and we went over to a friends house for a Chuseok party; an American freind mind you.  So, it was Thanksgiving early for us… turkey, mashed tators, stuffing, mac cheese, and fun company.  The party was on their apartment roof so the kids mostly just ran amok while the grownups chatted.

Today, Monday, is a day off!  I suppose most Koreans will be trudging back into the city today so we laid low.  Slept in, called the fam on skype, and then went for a wonderful hike around the local mountain trails.  Bukansan.  The kids love running around in the woods and it’s so nice to live in a place with no poison ivy and no ticks.  So, they just run.  Or they workout.  You can’t have a trail in Korea without some workout equipment on it!   Beautiful days this week; 70 and sunny – I can feel fall in the air.  It’s so clear and crisp. Bryan went for a mountain bike ride and is now enjoying a cigar on our balcony.

FRIDAY! Zoe in her hanbok (traditional Korean clothes)
my pretty Korean princess!

Avi in his make-do hanbok… it’s really not properly done.  But he is cute

loading up plates


SATURDAY – at the train station for Daddy-daughter weekend in Seoul

Natural history museum

here is the view out the museum windows!  Korea is beautiful


Zoe checking out the taxidermy

oooo… dragonflies.  She learns about dragonflies in her Korean culture class.  They go outside with nets to catch them.  It’s apparently her favorite class.

one of the numerous butterfly pictures!

making a molded dino

the rooftop dino garden

T-rex is on the roof!

out in the dino dig yard Zoe and Bryan found a pteranadon

There is Bryan.  It’s the one pic he got of himself

carousel at the dragon hill lodge
SUNDAY – Mommy and son day at the zoo.  Watching the prairie dogs
This is the best smile he could muster.  He was much more interested in watching the water buffalo and eating.

This is the best bathroom I’ve ever used.  You get to watch the giraffe and gazelle enclosure while taking care of business.  Avi is doing well potty training
The mantis at the insectarium

My little bat!

orchids in the giant greenhouse

Avi was adopted by this family.  They taught him to count to ten in Korean while going up the steps, and then wanted their family picture with him.

yes, it’s another toilet pic in one blog.  It’s just adorable, though.

camel in my hair!

feeding deer.

Avi loved the red panda’s!


on our way back to the parking lot.

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