Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Rocking the ROK

We went on a full day of tours today. I doubt we'll do it again - BUT  - it was a great way to see a LOT of things in a short amount of time. We discussed the trade off between going ourselves and spending the time we want and having a guide so we don't waste time looking for things AND we are taught more about what we are seeing..... Our plan tomorrow is to sleep in a bit, take taxis (as those blisters are RAGING now - NEVER wear a new pair of shoes when planning to hike down into an infiltration tunnel at the DMZ) instead of walking and try to visit another museum and an aquarium.

Today we visited Jogye Temple, Gyeongbok Palace (where we saw the changing of the guard), National Folk Museum, drove by the Blue House, ANOTHER amethyst center, a Korean restaurant, Korean Folk Village (where we saw three performances) and a Ginseng center. The amethyst and ginseng center are basically profit centers. They herd you in and try to get you to purchase expensive things....I've resisted.

Our tour guide today made quite a few comments about the Japanese Occupation....and every time we saw one of these cool, older looking buildings we were told - "See the western style? The Japanese built that during the Japanese occupation of Korea."  I love the mixture of styles in downtown Seoul.

The roof work of Jogye Temple. This temple is the main headquarters of the main sect of Buddhism in Korea. Korea is 55% Christian and 40% Buddhist.

Baby Buddha  - The TREE is what caught my fancy. It's a National Treasure and is approximately 500 years old. It's a WHITE pine tree. The bark is white - and it's rare. 

Misu insisted on taking this shot...note the sunglasses Stacia purchased at Itawewon yesterday. 

White lanterns are used for death - sobering photo

This is the Chinese Scholar tree. It is "Seoul Protected Tree #78."  It is about 450 years old. At one time the area around the temple is thought to have been surrounded by a forest of Chinese Scholar trees.

I loved the lanterns in the tree

 Another ceiling shot

The Blue House  (as in White House in  the USA)

 Gyeongbok Palace - the last of the last dynasty lived here  - loving the shades

The changing of the guard was quite impressive. Nolan, Zander and Stacia said this was their favorite part of the day. 

Because my blisters heightened my awareness of foot ware! ::snort::

The music sounded a bit like bagpipes to's a sample of the sounds. 

Note the three pathways...the center one is raised and is for royalty to walk one else. 

Misu was the guide for the whole day....

 Caught my eye - all the colors were shades of five colors which were to ward off evil spirits...only royalty had houses with red and green and blue...the other traditional homes look military brown.  

Throne room 

Haven't a clue but it's pretty! 

Regardless of appearances, traditional Korean homes were single story. They heated from beneath the floor and  that floor was most often raised from the ground.  These doorways were to load wood in and burn. 

The King and Queen's quarters - interesting that even in commoners homes the men and women of the house slept in separate rooms. We heard many colorful tales of court life. Misu told some of the same stories in the afternoon as she told in the morning. I found it interesting to hear the responses from the Americans compared to the response from the Egyptian. 

Misu loved to take family photos - I'm not sharing ALL of them. LOL 

 We left the palace to visit the National Folk Museum... Stacia went into the toilet and left her new sunglasses sitting on the ledge inside. We turned around, went back and they were already gone. She is  acclimated to Japan. She went to the info counter and asked for her glasses which she'd left in the bathroom. Sadly, they weren't there. She was shocked and put out that someone would take something that wasn't even their's rather than leave them for her to collect or turn in to the info desk. A life lesson.

We dropped off three families which were only doing the morning tour.

Lunch was  us five at an authentic Korean restaurant. It was mostly veggies - in fact I didn't find a speck of meat in my dish and that suited me perfectly! ::snort:: I have discovered that Koreans like their food HOT and that the red squirt bottle is CHILI PASTE and not ketchup.

In the afternoon we picked up two gentlemen. It turns out they were both here for an ENT Convention which ended today.  One was from Egypt. The other man was from France. After a few minutes the Egypitan turned to the other man and said, "You are from Palestine." He denied this at first. The first man rebounded with, "I recognize your accent, you are a Palestinian....." which it turns out he was. Thus began a fascinating afternoon with me, an Egyptian male, a Palestinian male, four kids and a Korean tour guide. The conversations were fairly open free for alls...and we covered Korean economy, North Korea, homeschooling, politics and faith.  It was INTERESTING to hear the views of an Egyptian about the recent revolution in his country. It was fascinating to hear faith discussed from a Christian, Buddhist, Islamic perspective.  AND the tour was good as well.

We drove towards Busan - but I don't think we reached Busan - and went to the Korean Folk Village.  We saw three shows...a traditional dance show, an acrobat, and a horse "dance" performance.

The traditional dancers were FANTASTIC. Here are a few of our man shots, followed by a quick clip.

Gherkins with Egyptian Friend

This is well worth watching....

This man seemed frighteningly old to be doing this - but he was great. 

Finally, the horse "dance" performance. This was Arielle's favorite part of the day. 

See the flower in the foreground? She held one in each hand and they whipped them out of her hands. 

Gangnam style - hilarious

Random photos from around the village

Bags of rice

Checking out the chickens

About 20 degrees warmer in Korea than Misawa, Japan

For food storage

Can you guess what these are? 

Shoes made from rice straw

Our Palestinian French friend
We were dropped off at the gate, walked to the hotel, grabbed Subway sandwiches and salad (I was dying for some GREENS), then spent an hour in the pool/hot tub. All are in bed...and I need to join them. Tomorrow will be another full day of exploring Korea. 

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