Monday, August 13, 2012

Parents' Visit Week - Day 2

Day 2 – Sunday

                We enjoyed a lazy morning and got out and about around 10:30, which is actually a horrible time to be looking for breakfast in Korea.  Nothing is open!  Korean bars don’t close until the sun comes up, so since the guesthouse is in a University area, it’s virtually a ghost town at that time of day.  Even in normal areas, food isn’t served until at LEAST 11 or 12, often not even until 1 pm.  I finally ducked into a GS 25 (convenience store) to buy some triangle gimbap (regular tuna and spicy tuna) for breakfast.  Mom and Dad gave them a brave try... Mom ended up liking it and Dad was apathetic.  We finally found a Dunkin Donuts that served breakfast sandwiches and split a couple of those as well.  It was definitely a fusion Korean-American breakfast!  

                On the subway, there is specific seating for old, pregnant, and/or crippled people.  Because of his goatee, which has some “very light blonde” going on, Koreans think my dad is reeeaally old.  Every time we hopped on the subway, some younger Korean would give him their seat (remember, Korea is a Confucian society where age influences most social interactions).  What really cracked us up was when the older Koreans would think that Mom or Dad qualified for the special seats on the subway.  This particular morning, we headed off in search of an updated free Korean Travel Guide, cause my copy that I sorta lifted from a hostel is out of date.  Anyway, we hopped on the subway and Dad was invited to sit next to the kindest old Korean man.  He spoke perfect English and said something about “old guys like us” to Dad, but it turns out that he was EIGHTY!  This guy had around 30 years on Dad, but thought they were roughly the same age.  Kekeke!  He told us his incredible history: his father was a conscripted officer in the Japanese military in World War Two, as a result of the Japanese “Black Umbrella” over Korea at the time.  He was killed in action in the only battle that Japan fought against the USSR at the very end of the war.  Our new friend was born in Tokyo, but moved back to Korea after his father died when he was just a child.  He shared pictures of his son and his family and joked about having opportunities to travel to the US because his daughter-in-law wasn’t strict with the family budget.   

When we reached our stop and said goodbye, we headed to find the Korean Tourism Organization.  Mom and Dad particularly “enjoyed” the long walk in the fabulous mid-day heat and humidity.  Along the way, a high school student stopped them for a picture with an upside-down world map, which she needed for a school project.  We also passed a Texas bar!  We tried to take a group shot with the sign... Anyway, we finally found the tourism place, but my new 2012 guide isn’t as great at the 2009 that I’ve gotten so many miles out of.  Oh well.  

Next, we headed to Gyeongbokgung, one of the “Big Five” Palaces in Seoul.  It’s so beautiful this time of year!  A complete 180 from the weather last time I was there in February!  As we were leaving, we happened to run into one of my Korean friends from work who was visiting the palace with her family!  She actually lived in College Station, TX becuase her husband worked at TAMU for a bit.  We even lived on the same street at one point.  I mentioned her in this post afew months ago.  Anyway, it was neat to run into them and meet her Aggie husband!  Gig’em.  
At the end of the day, we headed out for a baseball game!  We got tickets to see the Doosan Bears play the Lotte Giants.  Instead of team names by city (aka Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, etc.), corporations sponsor teams for each city.  For example, my local team in Gwangju is called the Kia Tigers.  The Doosan Bears are one of the Seoul teams and the Lotte Giants are out of Busan.  Baseball isn’t necessarily a Korean thing, but boy have Koreans have made it their OWN!  Baseball games over here are worth a trip if you ever make a visit to Korea.  Mom and I bought those gel-coolie neck ties in the Bear's colors, so we were both festive and cool :)  We had beers and gimbap and other yummy Korean snacks while we watched the game.  The beer guy walking around actually had a KEG in a backpack device and poured draft beer right there at your seat.  How cool is that?  We had pretty terrible seats on the first row, right behind a concrete wall that really made it hard to see for us short folks, but one of the perks of being a foreigner on the front row is that you attract a lot of attention!  People thought it was pretty hilarious to see a foreign ajusshi and ajumma (older man and woman), cause most foreigners around here are either 20- to 30-something English teachers or military.  Thus, my parents were quite an anomaly!  Several people made an effort to visit with us, like the cute couple behind us and this funny girl who kept asking me questions during the game.  Korean fans do baseball so much better than we do at home!  Thunder sticks are everywhere and there is a ton of chanting and cheering as a group throughout the whole game.  We took a ton of pictures and had a bit of fun posing like Koreans.  My parents are so cute ;)  If you’re ever bored in a given inning, just look for the cheerleaders (yes, cheerleaders at a baseball game!) and mascots.  They’re sure to be doing something entertaining for the crowd!  If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see The Wave.  I saw it at a Kia Tigers game a while back.  (I've heard that once in a while, they'll even do a Slow-Motion Wave.  That's something I'd love to see, and it's definitely unheard of at MLB games; Americans don't have the patience and/or we-are-all-one attitude for that!)  The one I saw went around 6 times before something exciting happened on the field and distracted the crowd, but it didn’t just stop from boredom the way it always does at Astros games!  Go Korea!  Unfortunately for us, the Bears lost.  We still bought t-shirts.  (Mom wore hers to an Astros game Friday night and at least the Astros won!)

Here are some pics to go with the stories!  Enjoy :)

End of Day 2!  Stay tuned...

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