Saturday, June 08, 2013

That's the LAST time we're takng directions from a squirrel

BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) We visited a toilet museum today. It took us 5 hours to get there and 1 hour and 40 min to get home.

***Note*** If you are squeamish, don't like potty photos, don't have a warped sense of humor or are easily offended you'll want to stop reading when I prompt you. 

We had one full day left in Seoul and I asked the kids what they'd like to see. I laid out the options...a couple of amusement parks and this museum. They opted for this museum. The thought is we can find amusement parks around the world, but Haewoojae (AKA Suwan City Toilet Museum) is quirky and unique to Korea.

I could have stuck to tour guides. We could have stayed on post....but the kids wanted to visit this spot in a place called Suwan City.  I may blog later but a big part of this trip has been me facing fear....I had hoped a friend could  go with us and when she couldn't come I spent a bit of time in prayer. I felt it important for us to go ahead with our plans. Our family word of the year is "courage."  I researched.

We headed out this a.m. with a subway map, "Please help me find the Suwan City Toilet Museum," written on  a card in Korean, a list of possible buses from the Discover Seoul desk from the Suwan City to the Dongwon High school,  and enough won to make it across Seoul.

In the midst of loving the subway, we made our first mistake of the day. The desk didn't tell me we'd need to transfer and I didn't realize though the number of the line we were on stayed the same, the line branched. The detour cost us 30 min...During the delay we met a beggar who  attacked the vending machine we were standing by and then we met a nice elderly lady who was going beyond Suwan and  took us under her wing.

It was lunch time when we arrived at Suwan station, since we had a bus and a walk before we reached the museum, we opted to find some lunch at the station. This was a good call. I've discovered a nutritarian does better with street food than most restaurants.....cups of fruit, veggies....but we saw Burger King.....and I agreed.  You can't see the words but it's advertising a "Beauty," a "Beast," and a "Beauty and the Beast" special.

I was happy to find the corn healthy as I could find at a Burger King.

This alarmed us...why????? Do they reuse the cups? 

 I was feeling confident at this point! THEN the directions from the blog just didn't make SENSE. No one seemed to know WHERE this place was - and I know they knew the name of the place I was trying to reach as they were reading the Korean card.  We eventually found the bus platform. I DID ask an employee and he directed us to a bus.  We got on. I tried to confirm we were on the right bus. It cost W5000.  A lady behind us read our card and began speaking loudly to the bus driver. He pulled over and told us to get off the bus. I was perplexed. He opened the door and said, "You, off!" and pointed across the 10 lanes of traffic.

As we were walking off Arielle  and Stacia began singing, "I knew you were trouble when you walked in..."  We walked across the street. We checked the route. We asked a lady. We got on another bus. We were kicked off that bus as well...the girls sang once more. 

As we sat at one of the bus stops I began to feel panicked. I knew the kids wanted to see this museum and had a sinking feeling I wasn't going to find it. I looked up and saw THIS.....

The beautiful windows showed Jesus with sheep....and I began to pray, "Jesus, I know you leave the 99 to find the one. I hope I'm not eternally lost here, but I'm lost. I need a shepherd. Please help us find this place by 3:00 p.m." (It was 1:30 p.m.).

The kids were troopers...we got on the bus....we were kicked off the bus again. ::snort:: The girls sang. I must say buses are amazingly terrifying in Korea.  They drive like taxi drivers....but they're huge. ::snort::
 I think this is the point when we tried to get a taxi, but we may have tried another bus route. We kept going one direction and then the other...showing our little Korean script to everyone and being sent back and forth. 

I figured since we  had to feed the fare machine W5000 each time we changed buses it would be cost effective to find a taxi which could take us to the door.  Our taxi driver insisted he knew exactly where we were going. I was getting motion sickness from the various buses.

I began to suspect something was wrong with our driver's sense of direction when the GPS began squawking and the screen flashed a blinking danger sign.... I was praying well at this point....we drove by another church with a mural on it's door of Jesus with the lost sheep. "Ok, Jesus, I'm going to trust this is the right thing to do."  We  drove by Paldalman area and many other fascinating looking spots. Our driver dropped us off and told us to go to the building across the street. It sure didn't look like I expected the toilet museum to look like.....and it wasn't. We were at a very nice museum in Suwan -  "Hwaseong".   The ladies were great and gave us a brochure and map. They also wrote another script. This one told the driver exactly where to take us..... and we continued to see paintings and glass windows with Jesus and sheep.

We found another taxi....and finally....5 hours later... we arrived at Haewoojae (Suwan City Toilet Museum).  At 2:55 p.m.

***Note*** If you are squeamish stop reading now. Please do not complain if you don't like what you see; you've been warned twice. I DID leave many of the photos out. We think this is funny. 

One of the kids asked, "Do you think this is it?" We were in a neighborhood. I looked up and started laughing...yep...I think this is it.

Stacia said, "What DID they eat?" ::snort:: 

Mr. Sim Jae-duck was born in his grandmother's toilet. Growing up his nick name was "Dog Poop."  He grew up fascinated with toilets and sanitation around the world. He changed his name to "Mr. Toilet," and among other things became the mayor of Suwan City.

Mr. Toilet built this toilet shaped house and has left it to the city as a museum to the "Toilet Culture Movement." ::gasp::  In the center of the house  is a glass walled toilet.  Mr. Toilet wanted to be able to meditate and look at the garden while in the toilet. He wanted toilets to be clean and pleasant. There was a button you could push to slide a wall down for privacy. 

Nothing says nature like garden  poop markers

Bird's Eye photo of the house

It cracked us up to follow the Yellow Poop Piles

 Here's the glass-walled bathroom 

These signs were hilarious....try to note the country and symbols. We laughed hard. We were so relieved to have arrived and ready for fun. I laughed so hard I cried. Others loved that we were so tickled.  We aren't 100% sure how they arrived at these symbols. 

Really don't get the Korean peeking over wall? I'm very paranoid now about using a public restroom in Korea! 

Mr. Toilet contributed to his community in a variety of ways. He also served as the President of the World Toilet Museum. He was instrumental in the area beautifying their toilets in advance of the World Cup in 2000. 

There were many photos, paintings, sculptures and even an artist's exhibition....and many of the titles had us in stitches again.  The "brown medium" is a bit too realistic, isn't it? 

Snake is shocked by pee

Bigger pumpkin than mine

 Too funny - "The Giving Tree"

 Sister waiting for me at the outhouse

Eating rice is power

 A giant squatty potty

Gherkins in a honey bucket

Some look like they are in down-right agony

All were disgusted to see this - especially when I confirmed it was true

 Kids' Toilet

Public Restroom 

In keeping with the them of improving the toilet culture....the public restrooms had soothing music playing, wall paper and artwork on the walls/doors. The little lady banging on the door sort of ruined my reflective mood. 

As we left, Zander said, "Dad would LOVE this place." ::snort:: 

The museum is FREE. They do have a donation box if you'd like to be a "toilet angel." They raise money for clean water and proper sanitation in poor countries. They were wonderful. They called a taxi for us and told us the closer station was "Sungkyunkwan Univ Station."  They said coming to Suwon station was the longest way....and the taxi drive would be was. Five minutes and we were on the subway back to Seoul Station. I did ask a few folks to be sure we were on the right line.....the day had already been long. 

The subway was PACKED on the way back into Seoul Station....these two played a game to see who could travel the farthest without holding on to anything. Arielle fell asleep. She refused to take my seat....she rode this way for over an hour....and then a man insisted she sit technically Nolan won the contest....but you know she was being polite or I'm sure she would have matched Nolan....stubborn  wonderfully determined kids.  

We got off at the right station....we began to look for the way home. I wanted to be sure we didn't walk the wrong way so I showed someone the card that says, "Please take me to Gate 1 by the War Museum." The first lady was SURE we needed to head one way. We did. Nothing looked familiar. Another lady was SURE we needed to go another way. When we happened upon Gate 17 and the USO we knew we were in unfamiliar territory.

  I stopped a taxi which drove us to Gate a direction no one had told us to go.  Nolan commented, "That's the last time we're taking directions from a squirrel," and I laughed hard. I told the kids I knew it had been scary but I'd learned a lot about courage and facing fears. They thought it all funny. Seems they'd been saying this line to each other all day. Arielle had even counted the squirrels and reports I asked directions from a total of 33 squirrels people.

I'm so glad we did this for many reasons. They needed to see what to do when it looks like your totally lost. Zander needed the life lessons about initial reactions to "bad" changes. We made great memories. I'd been wondering if I'm too old to parent the younger four as well as we seem to have done with the older five...and seeing the depth of their character during our five hours of lost wandering proved they are amazing kids...and really....I'm far more courageous than I was 28 years ago. LOL

We had hoped to go swimming but didn't get home in time to make it. We enjoyed chocolate in memory of PWOC Asia Region Board 1....I showed the girls how to savor the chocolate so I could relive the memories.

We came back to the room to watch a movie. Stacia talked us into watching the kids one again. We're still watching and it's 11 p.m. I swore we'd go to bed early so we could get used to the early a.m. before Tuesday's roll call..... tomorrow we'll get up, have breakfast, pack and head to Osan AB. I had toyed with taking the subway to Osan as it is much cheaper than the base shuttle...but in the end it will be nice to KNOW we'll end up where we want to be. We'll have to find a local hotel and may not have Internet until we're home in Misawa on Tuesday. Don't worry if you don't hear from us.  We'll check in tomorrow if we can. Believe me Skype is our link to Michael, we'll do our best to find Internet.

Choosing Joy!
©2013 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...


Jennifer said...

Too funny! I love how adventurous you guys are, even when it's difficult and challenging.

Debbie said...

Oh, my, you are so very brave, but what an adventure. I totally loved the toilet museum and my family would be laughing there heads and making rude jokes for a week after that place. Thanks for sharing! :-)

Unknown said...

D, that was marvellous! I never knew...not sure I needed to know....but so glad to share the adventure with you! When I read the book "Everybody Poops" to my grandchildren, I will always think of you and your brave Gherkins at the Toilet Museum!!

Anonymous said...

This is a day I would have loved to be with you. What an interesting story and OH how funny the toliets etc are. Enjoy being back in Misawa and looking forward to seeing you in July!.