Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Our Korean Adventure!

Following Golden Week, I had to work on Wednesday and Thursday and then Touma and I were off to Seoul, South Korea. It was a very spur of the moment trip (plans were made AFTER our tickets for the Golden Week holiday had been made!), but it was necessary.

My very dear friend, Ji Yon, was getting married on May 10th and I really wanted to be there. Having spent most of the last 10 years in Japan it means that I have missed many weddings of friends and family. This year seems to be a banner year for both of those things and I was going to try to be at a few if I could. So... Touma and I were off on an evening flight to Seoul.

We flew out on Korean Air from Haneda. I have to sing the praises of Korean Air. The flight attendants were wonderful about Touma - one even filled out the majority of our customs forms! And even though the flight was less than two hours, we got dinner! I would recommend them to anyone. :-)

First up, was the wedding. We arrived Thursday evening and the wedding was Friday evening. We spent the day with Ji Yon's good friend Sunny (she was the perfect tour guide!!) who showed us around a bit and made sure we got to the wedding venue in one piece. At a Korean wedding, friends of the bride go and see her and take pictures before the ceremony begins.

In the midst of taking photos!
Touma was a good date, but since he's only 1 we had to explore the venue thoroughly. It was on the Han River in Seoul, so we had to check that out too!

Checking things out!

My handsome date!(Look at the hydrangeas!! Gorgeous!)
After the wedding, we actually got a ride back with Ji Yon's older sister and brother-in-law, which meant that we didn't have to climb in the back of a taxi. The taxis (the actual cars) are nicer and newer than Japanese cars, but the actually driving had me a little nervous - red lights seem to be optional! Eek!

The next day we had a very low-key morning and then headed out to Yongsan station to meet Colleen. Her husband is stationed in Seoul with the military and she's been there a year. Our connection is funny... we've known each other most of our lives and to top it off she married, Pat, who was a neighbor of ours growing up! Ha! And we finally meet after many years in Seoul.

 Colleen got advice from some friends about where to take us and we ended up at the Korean National Museum. I was very impressed that the museum was free and had a children's museum. It was so great!
Exhibit of different types of bells. Touma thought he was spinning the wheel all by himself!
The kids museum was wonderful for Touma. He even made a little friend at one point. After all that running around, he crashed and we were able to get some coffee and chill for a bit.

That evening we met my friend, Sam. We had been in the same program in Hawaii. He was on his last semester when I entered the program. He actually took a teaching job at a university in Seoul and has been there ever since. We met him and found a nice Korean restaurant and made an evening of it. One thing about Korea that is a stark contrast from Japan is that even if there aren't baby seats or provisions for little ones the staff and restaurants are all welcoming of babies and kids. Even though there was no seat for Touma, no one seemed to be bent out of shape when he started making noise and not being able to sit still.

After dinner we walked around a bit, saw a few of the sights downtown before getting Colleen to her subway and bidding her farewell.

Two Alaskans in Seoul.
The last day we spent the day doing all the "Seoul" things we could. Eating lots and going to a new museum, the Museum of Modern Korean History. This one also had a kids section. Though it wasn't quite as interactive for Touma's age. We also saw some of the famous sites in Seoul.

Touma and Sam (kind of), this is the only pic with Sam in it. I'm so bad at taking pictures these days!
And we also saw the statue of the King (or Emperor, not sure the title!) who "invented" Hangul. I'm thinking that there were some other scholars involved, but he gets all the credit.

I really want to sing Korea's praises on being a kid friendly place. Even though they have a very low birthrate, much like Japan, the people everywhere were much friendlier. From college kids to grannies, everyone was wonderful. If anyone wants a quick getaway (quick from Japan anyway...), Korea totally has my endorsement!

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