And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Monday, November 30, 2015

Korea Day 3

Our 3rd and final day in Korea; all good things must end!  The flight wasn't scheduled to take off until 4 pm, so we had an entire morning and afternoon to take advantage.  The Dragon Hill Lodge where we were staying had a huge Korean War Memorial just down the road and each time we passed it either TJ or I would exclaim, "we really need to check that out."  Since the boys were still pretty exhausted from two days of walking we thought that the war memorial was just the thing to do! 

My grandpa was a Korean War Veteran so I was really excited to go and see the memorial.  When we went to the war memorial in Okinawa I thought it was really interesting to see the war from the opponents perspective.  On the opposite side, the Korean war was a bloody war where Americans stood by the Koreans by means of protection and preserving their great nation.  The war memorial showed the Americans to be equals and friends.  The Korean war is a modern day demonstration of a mortal man with too much power and the evil that he can bring to pass. Millions of people had to die because on man wanted to be immortalized; so sad!!

Initially we thought that an hour would be plenty of time to check out the museum in its entirety.  However, between the plane/tank/boat/missile display outside the museum itself, and the 3 floors of war artifacts and information we could have easily spent all day perusing the museum. 

Unfortunately we only had a few hours before heading back to the hotel, packing up, and heading to the airport.  The trip was ending and I was so sad!  Korea ended up being such a great trip; one that I dragged my heals at taking.  TJ usually knows me better than I know myself and I'm so glad he booked the trip.  We not only had a great weekend as a family, we were able to spend some quality time with great friends, in a beautiful country!!
Everyone has to go potty before we leave...D loved the potty that was "just his size."  Notice that he didn't put the seat down...

Our hotel decorated for festive!!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Korea Day 2

Today was the day that we were touring the DMZ and I could not have been more excited!  I'm ashamed to admit that prior to our booking the trip to Korea I knew surprisingly little about the contentious nature between North and South Korea, as well as the DMZ that divides them.  Now I can safely say that I know a little bit about the situation and that I have firsthand seen and toured the two parts of a very divided nation.

We started the tour on a bus that picked us up right outside of the base gates.  The bus was blinged out to the hilt and provided some sparkly entertainment for all of us.  The seats were comfortable and we had the "fantastic" seats in the back (as told by a very easy to please 5 year old).  Near to the end of the bus ride we could see the barbed wire fences and the desolation that led into North Korea. The first stop on the bus was a look out point and the peace ribbon wall.  This is the northernmost point in South Korea before the DMZ begins.  We were able to see all the ribbons that families have tied to the fence trying to send messages of love and hope to their families in North Korea...As well as walk across the bridge that will hopefully one day join North and South Korea.  While we were checking out the sights the weather turned a little brisker and it started to snow!!!  Dominik had waited all fall for the snow and now that it was snowing he exclaimed, "I didn't want this snow!  This snow is horrible because it is freezing!"  At this point we went and grabbed some hot chocolate and snacks before we headed back to the tour bus to defrost. 

The food in Asia will never cease to amaze me...just a giant roasted squid and some seafood pancakes...ummm...yummy?!

After the first stop we headed over to the DMZ.  This is the Demilitarized Zone on the Korean Peninsula that demarcates North Korea from South Korea.  The DMZ is 150 miles long and follows the 38th parallel.  The zone is a cease fire zone that was put in place at the end of the Korean War and is protected by the United Nations.  During the 70's, 80's, and 90's the North Koreans developed 4 series (probably more) tunnels under the DMZ to try and infiltrate South Korea.  They were discovered before havoc was wreaked and today people are able to tour the underground tunnels.  This part of the tour was an exploration of the 3rd tunnel.  The tunnel was 25 stories underground and then about 1/4 mile long.  We were able to wear hard hats and had to duck almost the entire time. The actual tunnel itself is about 2 miles long, however after 1/4 mile there are barricades put in place by the UN to prevent the tunnel being used again.  The hike down into the tunnel was long, and the hike back up felt even longer.  Parker saw the tunnel through the back of his eyelids and was merely dead weight as I carried him asleep through the entire thing.  I was bummed that we couldn't take pictures to prove to him in 10 years that he did in fact have parents that took him to awesome places despite his best efforts to sleep through it all!

The third stop on the tour was to Propaganda Village.  This is the lookout point within the DMZ where North and South Korea borders can be seen with the naked eye.  North Korea has constructed a village called Propaganda Village that looks like a fun little village with all sorts of businesses and night life.  Unfortunately this village is completely fake and only there to entice the South Koreans to cross the borders and join with North Korea.  No one actually lives there and there it is definitely not indicative of the actual lifestyle in North Korea.  North Korea also constructed a flagpole that is 60 meters taller than the mere 100m tall flag poll of the South Koreans.  South Korea is all about working hard and working together, whereas the North Koreans are all about power and appearances.

The last stop on the tour was to the train station that was built as part of the trans continental railway.  The train has actually never left the station, but stands as a reminder of the hope for peace and unity that it will one day be a representation of.  The South Koreans come here to make wishes that will hopefully one day reunite North and South Korea and bring the nation together.  Such a beautiful reminder that God is mindful of the North Koreans and the oppression that they face.  Just like so many walls that He has brought down before, the wall between North and South Korea will soon be brought down and He will reign supreme. 

At this point in the day we were all pretty exhausted...and cold!  TJ and I decided that a break was in order and then we could go back out and experience the Seoul night life together.  We napped, swam, and bundled back up to head out into the cold night.  We headed over to the market that is supposed to be one of the best markets in Seoul...and it didn't disappoint.  Apparently 80% of the worlds clothing passes through this market...and I can't imagine that the statistic is wrong.  There was wall to wall garment pieces of everything you could imagine.  We all enjoyed seeing it for a few vendors...but there was blocks upon blocks of clothes and it got quite boring after a while. 

After shopping we were all starving and TJ and I were CRAVING some Korean BBQ.  We just happened to see one just outside of the market and decided that it was the one we were going to try.  Pretty risky due to the fact that we had no idea what we were ordering, nor the price tag that it entailed...but we were starving and decided to "come what may."  We ended up lucking out big time because the food was AMAZING!!  We have found some delicious Korean BBQ places in Okinawa, and this one was definitely just as good...if not better!  Dominik wasn't too thrilled about it and when TJ and I were finished up Dominik asked if he could have some pizza.  We thought it was a random request until we looked over and saw that the two cooks were sitting at one of the tables taking shots and eating pizza.  They saw Dominik eyeing the pizza and then asked him if he wanted to join them and have a slice.  He more than happily agreed!  So cute to see him hanging out with his new buddies!!!  Another amazing day in Korea!!!

Another long day...Dominik again proved to be quite the champ...walked all of it (55 floors!!) with no complaint!!!