Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Parent's Visit Week - Day 1

Day 0 - Friday

            They arrived in Korea safely and on time!!!  Mom’s phone did not work, even though it was supposed to cause she got an international app downloaded by Verizon.  Liars!  Oh well, she met a nice person at information who let her borrow a phone to call me.  Meanwhile, I was supposed to be on a bus out of Gwangju to Incheon International Airport to meet them, but it turns out that the bus ticket that I’d purchased a few days in advance was for 3:30 AM, rather than PM.  AM.  Whaaa?  A few frustrated tears later, I was on a bus to Seoul, and the parents were on a bus from the airport to Seoul all by themselves and by God’s grace we all made it safely to the guesthouse!   All’s well that ends well!  They beat me there and waited for a while while my bus sat in the Friday afternoon Seoul traffic, then waited a little longer while I hopped on the subway from the bus station to the guesthouse.  Then... REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD!!!!!

And they are pooped after a long flight. Night night!

Giant care package from home!!! Hooray!

Day 1 – Saturday

            Mom got up around 5:30 am.  I was not too thrilled with that!  That’s what happens when you fly completely to the other side of the world.  Oh jet lag!  Mom’s coffee making made plenty of noise with the water cooler in the little kitchenette in the room.  We were staying at my favorite guesthouse in the family room up on the 8th floor.  It’s a really sweet room with a double bed and single trundle set, with its own bathroom and a kitchenette and a nice tv and a computer, not to mention a spectacular view of the Hongik Ipgoo area, or the Hongdae University area in Seoul.  Dad sat at the window, taking in the view and checking texags online, while drinking some of the delicious fair trade coffee that I brought with me from Gwangju.  I know how important coffee is to this family, so I borrowed a coffee pot from a friend to use for the week.  It took up a bit of room in my traveling backpack, but was worth ever square inch of inconvenience!  We were a well-caffeinated bunch the whole week.  Mmm coffee!  We looked for the Olympics on the TV, but I hit a button on the Korean remote (all in Hangul, not a bit of English) and the screen went blue.  Oops.  I found some websites that gave updates on the Olympics, but NOTHING is available over here on the usual streaming websites for US Olympic highlights.  “This video is not available in your streaming area” is one of the most annoying messages to see when you just want to watch some swimming!  In spite of that, it was a nice, slow morning while we got ready for the day.  

            We headed over the the Gwanghwamun subway station, checked out the schedule for the bus tour around the city, then asked the tourist info booth where a good place is to eat some yummy Korean food.  She led us to find a great little bipimbap restaurant a block away.  It was delicious!  They got to try kimchi for the first time and they decided it was "interesting."  Heheh.  We hopped on the Seoul Bus Tour and hopped off at the National Museum of Korea.  Prehistoric stuff looks pretty much the same on every continent.  There was sooo much to see, but we only looked at one floor of the museum cause we were on museum-CliffsNotes-mode and wanted to get as much in as possible.  We then headed over to the Korean War Memorial and checked out as much as we could about the Korean War in 1951-1953.  We loved looking at all the planes and tanks outside, as well as the memorial statues.  We also happened to walk up on a South Korean military drill team, doing rifle drills in the plaza outside the museum.  This always happens to me over here!  There are so many cool performances that I’ve just happened to walk up on, just in time.  It’s great.  Anyway, they were cool, but they ain’t got nothin’ on the Aggie Ross Volunteer or Fish Drill Team (whoop!).  Inside the museum, we focused on one floor again, keeping to our CliffsNotes method of operation.  They had some INCREDIBLE, interactive technology at the exhibits!  Who has two thumbs and is a major history nerd?  THIS GIRL!  I was all geeked out about them :):)  I took tons of pics... someday when I finally get to teach US or World History, my students are gonna have some ROCKIN’ slide shows to watch!  Mom made a note that it was “so hot today” – really it was hot the whole week!  Korean July and August are really freaking hot and humid, a lot like the Houston area... the big difference is that in Houston, everywhere you go is blasting some major a/c!  Here... not so much.  If you’re used to working at camp, you’re probably fine.  If you’re used to staying inside in the summer, you’re not.  

            We hopped back on the bus tour and hopped off so that they could glance around Itaewon, the big foreigner district that grew around the US Army base in Seoul.  It’s got a ton of restaurants and shops, so we cooled off with some Baskin Robbins and hopped on the bus tour again.  We stopped for a couple of minutes to see a traditional Korean village, then headed back to guesthouse.  I fiddled with the tv in the room a little more and fixed whatever I had hit!  We watched a bit of Olympics after that, mostly Korean things like archery, judo, and Park Tae Hwan swimming events.  

            For dinner, we headed out to find galbi and ate at a place that our guesthouse recommended.  It was full of locals (always a good sign) and we were the only foreigners around, which means that they took great care of us.  Customer service in Korea is incredible!  The food was freshly cooked right at our table and tasted delicious!  I love me some galbi.  After dinner, my parents thought the bar names were hilarious and they wanted to say that they’d had a beer in a place called “Wa Bar,” so we stopped in there for a couple of beers and secondhand smoke.  


End of Day 1!  Stay tuned for the next installment of the Parent's Visit Week adventures. 

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