Thursday, April 24, 2014

Nic & Brad Take Korea: Days 2-3

Today we're continuing the guest post series from my houseguests! They've conquered jet lag, but they're not here for very long so we are packing a LOT into each day! I sent them off to my favorite fortress on Day 2, then we went to a busy area of the city for dinner, and by the time the day was over, they were too tired for Brad to finish his Day 2 review. Days 2-3 got condensed, with very little info about our afternoon out in the Hanok Village (which is my FAVORITE thing about Jeonju! Come on, Brad!) ...maybe I can write about that later, when life slows down... HAHAHAAAAAAaaaaaaa slows down... when might that be?


Fun fact: Brad and I both LOVE dad-jokes. Enjoy!

Gochang Eup Seong and Jeonju Hanok Village South Korea - Days 2 and 3


We're not sure if our previous world travels have advanced our international skills or if Zara's brilliance at pointing first timers to Korea in the right direction is what has made for a seamless transition to a time that is 14 hours ahead of our own.  It's probably a combination of both but the short version of our first few days in South Korea is this:  we got this.  Neither of us are jet lagged in the least and our day trip to the Gochang Fortress could not have been any less drama.  Granted, Zara's exuberance for her home away from home coupled with her keen eye for detail has made the South Korea portion of this trip so incredibly easy and that, in turn, makes it easier to enjoy.  However, six years ago when Nicole and I began our voyages, even with instruction, we would not have masterfully caught a taxi to the bus station, purchased tickets to a city outside of home base, toured a site, and done the same in a land where they don't even use the same alphabet.  uh uh - ain't no way.  Nicole and I were discussing this when I looked at her and said, "Now I can call you Virginia Slim."  While waiting on her usual laugh to my outrageously corny humor all I heard were crickets.  I said, "You know, You've come a long way baby!"  More crickets.  Later when I ran this by Zara her response was...yep, you got it - crickets.  Ya'll, I realize I'm not old but traveling with a hip chick in her 20's and a groovy chick in her early 30's can make a dude in his 40's feel like the crypt keeper.  

Our day trip to Gochang was so perfect and the azaleas in full bloom made for some beautiful photographs.  The traditional Korean architecture has lived up to my expectations as well but what I had no way to prepare for was the Korean people.  They are truly the friendliest of any country to which I've ever been.  Granted, me and Nicole stick out pretty well so when we look confused, people literally dash over to help us out.  This is true at the airport, bus stations, on the bus, etc.  Since Brad and Angelina are Brangelina the bald Brad and tall blond Nicole have now been dubbed Baldilocks.  And boy does that elicit some stares.  People almost always try to speak a few words of English to us without our ever having opened our mouths.  In fact, while at the Fortress, a school group of kids about 5 years old were about 50 yards from us and one little boy saw us and began waving and shouting at us, "Hellloooo!  Hellooooo!"  It was so sweet and that's when we realized that America's Baldilocks could be picked out of a crowd 200 paces away.  Not long after that older groups of school kids saw us and collectively began shouting to us "Hellloooo Helllloooo, What is your name?  Nice to meet you!"  Shortly thereafter  we ran into the same group where one kid remembered my name and called to me "Brad!!!" as if I was a friend he hadn't seen in years.  It was so endearing.  Later when we were waiting for our return bus, an older gentleman sits down next to me and I see him eyeballing my watch.  Now, in other countries, including my own, by this time I'd be up and moving somewhere else.  I'd already begun to develop a trust for South Koreans so I didn't flinch when he took my arm and held it up getting a better look at the watch.  I don't travel with anything but cheap watches for obvious reasons so I was perplexed by his fascination with it.  He took his off and compared it to mine and finally decided his Seiko was better so he put it back and asked me a few questions about my watch.  Not knowing how Wal-Mart translated into Korean, the exchange ended abruptly but pleasantly.  Just then a boy on a scooter races by, stops when he sees me looking at my ticket  trying to match the symbols to determine if it was the right bay to catch our bus in.   He doesn't speak English but we charaded our way to figuring it out and he disappears.  Moments later he appears with a jump rope and proceeds to parade his jump roping skills by us and disappears again.  Before we knew it, he was back with a tennis racket and giving us his best rendition of Andy Roddick on the tennis court.  Putting on the variety show that Sonny and Cher could only dream of pulling off as successfully, he returns again for the grand finale.  He breaks out in song and belts out every note to at least 2 songs in the movie Korean.  He was probably 9 or 10 years old and he wouldn't let me take his picture but he had no problem grabbing Nic's phone and taking a selfie.  I love the picture and can't wait to paste this paragraph into a scrapbook page next to it.

Throughout our walk in Jeonju Hanok village today I observe everything that I mentioned in the previous paragraph and smile.  I told Nicole and Zara tonight that I expected to like Korea but I never expected to fall in love with it.  I like reporting during travels when my heart is moved as much as I do the zany, quirky, and flat out crazy that we encounter.  There hasn't been much of the latter but after Seoul on Friday and Saturday, we fly back to Beijing for a few days.  That's when all the bragging will come to a screeching halt I'm afraid.  ;-]

hugs and love,
Virginia Slim and Lazarus

Gochang Fortress w/ azaleas... sigh!! 



Jeonju Hanok Village

Traditional games 

Gimp on a walk 

Punammun Gate

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