Sunday, March 27, 2011

Korea, day three

Can I just say that this hotel and it's big American breakfast every morning is the only reason I survived this trip.  On my first trip to Korea I loved the food, but on this one, well I just got unlucky with several meals or we skipped lunch all together so I've needed those breakfasts to last me all the way through the day.

I started day three off with a little bit of butterflies, tomorrow would be the big day, but knowing I would have a full day ahead to keep me busy I got ready and pushed on.  We headed out that (very cold) morning to go see several things on foot.

First we headed over to Cheonggbokdung palace that had inside of it a Secret Gardens, when we got there however we found out that you can't just view the palace or the gardens on your own you must take a guided tour, and the next guided tour in english wasn't for over two hours.  So we did a little shopping in their gift shop and walked on over to a park.

On our way to the park we walked back through some what we would call alleys, and looked at several of the old hanoks that remain in the area.  A hanok is a traditional house, that are square in size, originally you would have walked through the front door into a courtyard and then onto the house, they have traditional tile roofs, are one story, and each house is connected the house next door to it.  These alleys though very tight at times would often have motorbikes driving down them at full speed and occasionally at the ends, cars.

While walking down the alleys we came upon several stores mixed in with houses, we also saw some hanko guest houses, which are like a bed and breakfast that you can stay at, Kyle is determined that our next tip to Korea we will be staying in one of those.  We also happened upon a Buddhist temple, that is still in use today, we were able to walk around it but didn't go inside not knowing the protocol.

When we finally got to the park, I really loved it, it gave me a glimpse of Korean day to day life.  Older gentelmen, I assumed retired, were gathered at that park playing a game that resembled checkers (or Kyle says it resembled pente, but I have no idea what that is).  There was probably about 50 men there playing, each game seemed to require two players and there appeared to be some kind of tournament that was going on.  An audience gathered around to watch and a lady seemed very happy to see some Americans and insisted on having her picture taken with me, which freaked me out a little because Koreans have never acted like that with me before, they seem very reserved and private and hardly even taken inquisitive looks in our direction.

We then walked over to Bukshan market, where they appear to sell household items that the locals need, it was definitely not aimed at tourists.  They had the food section, which was amazing and similar to every other market, in that there would be 10 fish stands next to each other, and 10 fruit stands, and so on.  In the middle of the market were people cooking and selling nukta (which seemed the same as Korean potato pancakes), and other fried food items, like fish, or vegetables, of these meat pies.  The rest of the market had stands with each of the following: blankets, pillow cases, light bulbs, electronics, jewlery, and hanboks.

We bought a nukta for the two of us to share and ate at the food stand where we bought it, the food stand had heated seating (I'm telling you Koreans love heat!) which was covered in foil, Kyle just loved the heated seating as it was really cold that day, but I'm not much for heating my butt :).  It was then that I hit my daily wall and needed to go home, so Kyle got us a cab even though as it turned out we were really close to our hotel.

Back at the hotel I had some time reading and really if it was up to me would have done that the rest of the day, but Kyle had other plans.  He invited over our new friend who lives in Korea and he went out with us to do some shopping (I know who would of thought you could shop so much) in Insadong (which is where our hotel was).  After about an hour or two we finally finished up all our shopping and went back to the hotel to put down the bags.  Our friend wanted to stay in for dinner (and I was so happy that I didn't have to suggest it) so we ordered some very expensive pizza from Pizza Hut.  It was so nice to have time with a Korean person, we probably asked him 50 questions each, but I really felt like I got a better understanding of Korean culture and traditions I need to incorporate in our family culture with raising Jack and Chloe.

We went to bed too tired to be nervous, but excited that tomorrow would be the day to meet our daughter!


thewonderfulhappens said...

Girl, you need to get on board with the butt heaters. The Koreans know where it's at. While we were there, I found a heated toilet at the post office and never wanted to leave!!!!!!

Mary Ellen said...

New reader excited to read your blog! Our son is now 12 years old but we travelled back to Korea 2 years ago to visit & plan to go again 12/11. Am loving your pictures and can't wait to keep reading! mew