Saturday, May 20, 2006

Jeju-do #2: waterfalls

Day one in Jeju-do: Waterfalls and more waterfalls. We started the morning at Cheonjeyeon Falls. It was just down the road from our hotel. Actually, it was a series of falls, which meant a lot of hiking down and up stairs.
Our next stop was Cheonjiyeon Falls. For those of you paying attention, that's right, there is only one letter difference in the names. Imagine trying to hear the difference, especially when you have a hard time hearing the nuances in spoken Korean as it is!
Claire was asleep when we arrived at the 2nd set of waterfalls. But she woke up before we made it to the end of the trail. There, she and Sam entertained some schoolchildren on a field trip with their teacher (she's in the blue shirt, wearing a hat).

Claire and Maeve stop for a quick pose

Our final tourist stop for the day was at Jeongbang Falls. Just as we left the parking lot and started down the entrance steps, Maeve's reaction was, "ANOTHER waterfall?!" This one's claim to fame was that it emptied into the sea.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Jeju-do #1

We flew to Jeju-do for a short vacation while Grandma Mun and Papa David were visiting. "Do" means island in han-guk (Korean). We spent 2 full days seeing the island and enjoyed great weather. The only bad weather we had was the evening we arrived and then it started to rain a bit the morning we left. After getting off the plane, collecting luggage, and finally getting our rental van, we were off to see Jeju-do! Our first stop was the Dragon's Head Rock. Claire fell asleep so she and Sam missed it. Sam had already seen it so he stayed in the van with her. The rest of us trooped down to the shore to view it. The wind really started to gust and it started to sprinkle on us before we made it back to the van. Then, we drove to the south side of the island to find our hotel. It rained and then we found ourselves blanketed in fog as we drove over the mountain to get to the southern side. Fortunately, the weather cleared by the next morning.

While at the Dragon's Head Rock, we saw a woman by the water's edge, squatting down and obviously doing some sort of work. Mom climbed down the rocks to see what she was doing down by the water. Was she catching something from the water?

No, she was washing dishes.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Maeve's han-bok

I posted a picture of Claire in her han-bok some time ago. Maeve finally wore hers while Grandma was here. She liked putting her hands in her sleeves and walking around like that.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Korean Folk Village

We spent a Saturday at the Korean Folk Village in Suwon south of Seoul. While Papa David, Grandma Mun, Sonya and Claire saw the tradition side with the different houses and exhibits, Maeve and Sam experienced the amusement park side with all the rides. After leaving the Folk Village, Sonya managed to miss the entrance to the expressway so we spent a tense ride home hoping we were going in the right direction and would be able to find out our way home.

Sam and Maeve in the food court area getting lunch

Maeve riding a pony

Traditional farmers' dance

Traditional wedding ceremony

Claire strolls along with Sam in her wake

Friday, May 05, 2006

Roadtrip: homestretch

I'm not really sure why I took this picture of a service station on a two-lane road, but here it is for your viewing pleasure. On the expressways here, the rest areas are large, well-kept affairs with convenience stores, restaurants, cafeterias, and stall-type food vendors with the full-service gas station located some distance away from the main area on your way out of the parking lot back toward the expressway. This is not a picture of that.
Sam had to return to work so he took the train from Busan back to Seoul. That left me to do the rest of the driving! The next day we set off for Donghae, on the east coast of South Korea. It rained the short time we were there. One of Mom's brothers lives there which is why we were there. I took this picture of Donghae from our hotel window. It had stopped drizzling for a short time but was still gray and overcast.

As we left Donghae, it really started to rain. Then, because we had to drive over mountains to get back to Seoul, we encountered thick fog. I knew there was a truck in front of me because I'd seen it pass me in a tunnel. However, as soon as we emerged from the tunnel, the truck completely disappeared into the fog! I was just a little stressed by this driving experience. Eventually the weather began to clear and we descended into lower elevations. By the time, we stopped at this rest area where the girls could play on a small playground, it was warm and sunny and you'd never guess what I'd just driven through!
Of course, no drive back into Seoul would be complete without a traffic jam. Sure enough, there had been an accident and we were at a complete stop on the highway as we came close to the city and were trying to get on the main expressway leading into the city. So close and yet so far!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Roadtrip stop #3: Busan

It was dark, cold and rainy when we arrived in Busan. It continued to rain while we were there.

We met Mom's youngest brother and his wife. They took us to the Busan Exposition and Convention Center (BEXCO). Lucky for Maeve, there was a Barbie exposition at the time. I've never seen so many Barbies. I even recognized the one from my childhood that my sister had managed to remove its head.

After viewing Barbie in all her forms, Maeve and I joined the rest of our group for lunch. There was a very good buffet at BEXCO that my mom is still raving about.

After lunch, we went to Dongbaek (Camellia Island) and walked around in the drizzle. But we weren't the only fools walking in the rain! There was quite the line when we found our way to the APEC building and received a tour of the site where leaders around the Pacific (including our own Pres. Bush) had met for an economic conference.

Roadtrip stop #2: Gyeongju

We left Daegu and drove through Gyeongju on our way to Busan. Two things we wished we known before setting out: (1) it was the worst day for yellow dust so far; and (2) Gyeongju set records that day for sheer number of tourists coming because of the cherry blossoms. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper. As we tried to leave Gyeongju on our way to Busan, traffic was so slow that a group of bicyclists passed us twice.

Our first stop in Gyeongju was Anapji Pond. It was a beautiful place to get out of the car and stretch our legs. It was easy to see why the king who built it enjoyed it so much. I wish I could share more pictures but both my camera and mom's decided this was good place to have their batteries die.

Some of the famous, crowd-drawing cherry blossoms

Just down the road from Anapji Pond is a park with the large mounds of royal tombs and this ancient observatory, Cheomseongdae.

We left the city of Gyeongju and headed for the mountains and the Buddhist shrine and monastery of Bulguksa. It was late afternoon by the time we arrived. We missed closing time by only an hour or so. It was an uphill hike to the entrance and then another uphill hike to the actual shrine.

Roadtrip stop #1: Daegu

After driving from Seoul, we arrived in Daegu in the late afternoon. The first thing we did was hike up a hill to Apsan Park ("san" apparently means mountain in Korean) where we then hiked the walking/exercise trail at the base of Apsan. It was getting late and both little people and big people needed to be fed so we decided to go back to the hotel instead of taking the cable car to the top of the mountain.

L'il Sis and Mom coming off the trail

The next day, we found the hotel where my sister was born. (I tried to post a picture but it kept appearing sideways.) We had lunch at a kal-bi house. For some insane reason, we opted for sitting on the floor, so Stretch probably limped for 10 minutes after leaving the restaurant. Then it was off to Dalseong Park where mom used to take me when I was 2. There was a small zoo there and the cherry blossoms were beautiful. The girls each got a balloon but Big Sis somehow commandeered them both before it was over.