The long awaited blog entry about Nana’s visit is here!!
We were so busy and having such fun I just couldn’t get online to blog while she was visiting. Plus, our internet has been flaky lately.
Regardless….we did a lot!!
Saturday – drove up to get her and the kids were so excited when she finally walked out of the secure area at Incheon. It was a fun, quick (1.5 hr) drive home as we sped along showing Nana what Korean cities were all about – high rises and red crosses.
Sunday – Easter. The kids each did a scavenger hunt for their baskets. For brunch we went onto base to eat at the Oclub and showed her around the town. The kids showed their biking skills at the park. Time to relax and settle in. I believe this is the day Sue fell asleep on the couch watching Pirate Fairy; which she did not remember when we watched it again a week later.
Monday – Nana played with Avi in the morning while Zoe did her school lessons. Later, we got her base pass situated. Took Zoe to specials, took Avi to playgroup, and came home for quiet time and afternoon lessons. This was our ‘normal day’ day.
Tuesday – This day, Nana taught Zoe’s language lessons then we biked into base for specials, played at the playground, checked the mail, and did our volunteer time at the shelter on base! It was fun to show her the animals. Quiet time found me packing for our camping trip. In the evening we went back into school for STEM night (Science, Technology Engineering Math). Nana walked around with Zoe to do experiments at the different tables and see the starlab – a blowup planetarium. Avi hung out with me, but mostly watched the “egg gets sucked into a bottle” demo and played with the tuner the music teacher had. He was bummed our planetarium show did not include a visit to Jupiter.
Wednesday – Finally, Bryan joined us!! He took leave for the rest of the week so we drove out to the east coast to camp at Seoraksan national park. It was beautiful and some of the cherry blossoms were still out up on the mountains. We pitched our tent in a near-empty campground, took the funicular to the top of a cliff, and walked to the temple grounds. Nana seemed very awed by it all, and likened it to Yosemite which is a good comparison. It is beautiful!!
Thursday – Started with a quick trip to the beach. Water was freezing cold, but it was enjoyable to see the East Sea. We did a hike in the south part of Seoraksan along a canyon valley with huge cliffs. The highlight of the hike was our lunch break along the river. Zoe and Sue poked around at a big pod of still-egg-sacked tadpoles while Avi tossed things in the river to watch them run the rapids. He, as we would expect, fell in and wore Bryans shirt like a toga for the remainder of lunch while his clothes dried on the line. At the end of the hike we all put our feet in the Korean foot bath before taking a snoozy drive back westward to the Ghanyeon park in Wonju. We camped here for the night to show Nana where we often go. It’s Zoe’s favorite place and she was excited to show it off for Nana.
Friday – In the morning we had a leisurely hike along the defunct railroad tracks at Ghanyeon. Both kiddo’s love this and especially like to hide in the tunnel crevice’s where it’s pitch black, and then jump out at us. We packed up the camping and drove into Seoul by lunchtime. Hit the noon rush at the food court and left in time to be caught at a traffic blockade – President Obama had just landed. Bummer we missed seeing him at Osan, but kinda cool he was now up at Yongsan Garrison where we stayed for 2 nights. After check in we showered. ahhh, feels so good. In the evening we went to Namdaemun – one of the ancient city gates that is also the landmark for a huge outdoor/indoor market area. From there we road a crowded bus up Namsan (the mountain in the center of the city with the tower on it) for views as the city lights came on. Taxi home and sleepy time at the Dragon Hill Lodge.
Saturday – The kids were up and adam early so we went to the (cold) pool at the hotel and then got some breakfast. Took a taxi up the Gyeongbukgong – the primary palace of the 5 in Seoul. Its a huge complex and Sue was surprised at all the gardens, land and walls-within-walls of buildings. We spotted the Blue House out the back gate, and then walked through the ‘traditional upscale crafts’ part of town – Insadong – where we joined the trendy people and each got an ice cream in a trumpet-cone. After dinner at a deserted Pita pit, we found our way through the gathering crowds to the “Foreigners Reserved Seating” area for the highlight of the day: Lotus Lantern Parade. This parade marks the beginning of the week-long-ish celebration proceeding Buddha’s birthday. It’s incredible as most temples across the country send representatives; it’s huge. We are always impressed, and Nana was not let down with a great selection of fancy and plain lanterns this year. A bit more somber of a tone, less music, to may respect to the students killed in the Sewol ferry sinking. We even joined the parade toward the end and marveled at the sheer size of the crowd – Sue commented on how fun it was to do things amongst such crowds (SOMETIMES)!
Sunday – Looked like it was going to wash out, but the rain held off so we ventured back to the Lotus Lantern Festival where hundreds of tents line the street out front of the Jogyasa temple – Buddhists from many different countries come and share their traditions, Korean temples bring food, activities, crafts for fundraising and just for enjoyment. It’s awesome. We wandered the international area, tried our hand at making a traditional lotus lantern, ate some temple food, and enjoyed the festival. In the evening my good friend Jiyoung had us all over for dinner at her apartment!!! This was a huge Korean meal and amazing!! She is such a great cook, and it was so kind to have us all over. Sue raved about the bulgogi and the whole meal for all the next day. From there we finally went home.
Monday – back to work for Bryan. The kids and I showed Nana around town, and especially took her to Kids Kong. It’s one of the many kid cafe’s here. Great places for kids to run and play while mom eats lunch or shops (if its in a store). Don’t know how I will get used to normal shopping back in the states when we return.
Tuesday – Market Day! Sue did Zoe’s morning history lesson and then Zoe took her to the 4/9 market. They came back with strawberries and candy and carrots and a rose bush and more. Zoe was a good hostess and knew the route to the market, but I guess she got a bit nervous and turned around at the market. Good think Nana was paying attention! I had a meeting to attend, and took Avi. Nana thought the market was awesome, and just too cool that it’s all close walking distance from our house. It is super close and nice to be able to just walk or bike to the store. I think she really really liked that part of staying with us for a while. In the afternoon the kids played in mud and we went to the park to play and ride bikes. Nana helped Zoe figure out roller skating, too.
Wednesday – Today Zoe wanted to go to specials and stayed for lunch while Avi and I got sushi and went to the playground. Sue spent the morning on her own exploring our downtown shopping area for some great gifts and souvenirs! In the afternoon the kids dyed eggs and made cupcakes with Nana. Then we treated her to a visit to the cat café. It was a bit later than usual and ended up being crowded; the workers were a bit on edge about the kids, but the cats seemed as into canned food as usual. It’s a really odd neat purely Asian thing that is a must-do! In the evening, the kids treated us to a song and dance show after Daddy came home.
Thursday – This was a big day, but super fun!!! We spent the morning playing at home and then rode bikes into base for library story time. After that, we got lunch to go and enjoyed it at the playground. Avi showed off his hide and seek skills while Zoe mostly read her ivy and bean book…can’t seem to pry her away from those!! From the playground we rode down the hill to the bike path where Avi showed off his bike skills. This goes right along the flight line, so we picked a nice shady spot to sit and watch as Bryan was set to takeoff! Our timing was perfect. We got to watch him taxi, arm up, and takeoff. It was so great for Sue because the bike path is quite close to the flight line and she had not seen Bryan fly so up close before. After that adventure we biked home and loaded into the car for a nap-tacular ride up to Everland. No traffic! Everland was a bit crowded; I had wished for shorter lines. Still, we had a blast. Nana rode with Zoe on her favorite coaster, and followed her in the fun house. She rode with Avi on his dragon coaster and enjoyed Flash Pang Pang. We watched the Moonlight Parade – a long big light-up parade and even caught a final ride on the water rapids with no line. To finish off a perfect day we grabbed snacks at the Evermart on the way out; kids asleep in the car!
Friday – Nothing. Glorious nothing. Playing at home, messing in the garden, and Bryan came home early. I took the kids to a NEO practice. In the evening Bryan and I went on a date while Nana put the kids to bed. WoW!!! how amazing is free babysitting?
Saturday – DMZ tour. Bryan and Sue took the ITT DMZ tour; it was a pretty sunny but kind of chilly day. They went to the 3rd tunnel, Dorasan station, the Dora observation tower, another DMZ observation point, and the JSA. Sue said it was fascinating. And a little creepy, I think. The tour guide was really good. The kids and I worked in the garden, did laundry and cleaned house….seriously cleaned house. I went through and got a whole carload of donations from closets and stuff we’d been putting away on the balcony. Spring cleaning day!
Sunday – the sad goodbyes. very sad. It all seemed to go too quickly. We drove Nana to the bus terminal so she could take the comfy bus to the airport: with Children’s day and Buddha’s birthday during this long-weekend-for-Koreans the freeways are crowded and unpredictable. A friend was also going up and taking the same flight, so he helped her out a bit at the airport.
All are welcome to Korea – the place where people are friendly and willing to help, where we run into friends everywhere, and where we live!!! I hope Sue had a great time. We had a wonderful time having her!!