Friday, April 27, 2012

Mom's visit!


I have been waiting SO long to write this blog post, waiting for Mom's arrival.  We had such an amazing week, experiencing the differences in Korean weather, expensive shopping districts, the "knock off" shopping districts, varied cuisine from Turkish to Korean, and even seeing the reason why we are here...the DMZ & North Korea.  

Waiting for mom to arrive in the airport built up SO much anxiety, but the best kind :o)  I had to work and right when we got off we jetted to the airport.  It was a bunch of emotions picking her up but I was so overwhelmed with happiness.  

She took a TON of pictures while she was here but here are just a few that summarizes our/her visit...

One of the neat things about her visit was that I was able to see things I had either not seen in over a year OR was experiencing for the first time with of the things being to tour the largest palace in Seoul- Gyeongbukgong palace.  It is a palace that the King(s) once lived on long ago.

Our tour guide is the woman in the pink/blue traditional Korean dress.  She was really good and spoke really good English, which made the tour much more enjoyable (ha ha).

One great highlight to the visit was hiking Seoul Tower (Namsan).  It is quite a ways up there but was so beautiful and throughout your whole walk you get peeks of Seoul.  Thankfully, the cherry blossoms were still in bloom and she got to see the amazingness of them in person besides in pictures.  Pictures can't capture how amazing they are!

On our way to begin the hike...downtown Meyongdong 

We are so close!

One of the neatest parts about the trip was our trip to the DMZ.  It was so informational and gave me a whole new appreciation for why Mike is serving here and the risks we take each & every day living here.  Here are a few pictures & I'll explain more in detail what they mean underneath them...

This picture sort of begins the tour.  Right past this building is a look-out point, looking at the DMZ...beyond that, North Korea.

This was taken with a South Korean soldier at Dorasan station.  Dorasan station used to connect North and South Korea but was closed not too long ago because of confrontational issues.  It is now restored and open for tourists.  This soldier had only 8 months left of his 2 year mandatory service in the ROK (Republic of Korea Army).  He was excited :)

This picture serves a TON of significance.  The U.S. Army (on the left) is telling us about the significance of the room and of the South Korean's pose.  From where mom and I are standing, we are actually IN North Korea.  The room goes past the North Korean "line".  The room is a U.N. room used to hold peace talks, which is rarely used these days.  The South Korean soldier has to stand at attention with his fists clenched for 6 hours a day, for 2 years.  They are wearing sunglasses (both in and outdoors) so they do not get into staring matches with each other, having caused previous issues in the past.

If you stand too close to the Korean guards, they will smack their heels together and put their fist in the air, fearing it could cause potential distractions if a North Korean were to act in any way. 

The S.K. soldiers at the DMZ are the tallest, largest, and are triple black belts amongst the people that serve in the army.  The white-ish building straight across is North Korea.  Typically, their soldiers stand outside too but since it was raining, I guess they just decided to stay into their little roof.  If you notice, the South Koreans by the blue buildings are standing half behind the wall and half out.  This is because if any shootings were to break out, they would have a quick reaction time.

If you direct your attention to the soldier by the doorway, he is looking at us with BINOCULARS.  Just to keep tabs and I guess make sure nothing weird was happening?  It was intimidating but awesome all at the same time.

This is what we call "propaganda city".  Some of you might have heard of this.  That is the largest flagpole in the world, which the North constructed to "out-do" South Korea's.  The flag alone weighs 600 lbs & is speculated to take around 60 soldiers to take down.  It is called propaganda city because no one actually lives in the "city".  The buildings are hollow with speculations of the windows & doors being painted on.  The U.S. soldier told us everyday they hear the propaganda on loud speaker from there, announcing things to a village that doesn't even exist.  TOO weird!

The most annoying Korean pose that literally everyone does here, including my friends and their children BUT this is my first time doing it and Mom convinced me lol!

View of Seoul while we were riding the subway.  It was such a great, clear day and we explored everywhere!

I could post & post about our visit.  It was by far my best week in Korea so far.  I learned & experienced so much and laughed even more while doing it next to my mom.  Even though it was SO hard to see her go I write this with a smile on my face and memories that will last forever!  

Hope this blog helped you learn a few new things about our "home", Korea :o)

Love you all!!