Friday, February 21, 2014

Amnam Park

Oh my. This has been one of those weeks. Nothing really went wrong, but nothing really went right, either. Let's just say that I'm glad it's over. Yesterday was a ridiculously long day of conferences, again. I was completely slammed between the hours of 7 am and 4 pm, when I blocked myself out for the last hour, so that I could go home and get the kids and bring them back for Kennedy's conference. I was exhausted. That's a whole lot more hours than I'm used to working (and talking) in one day.

Kennedy did a great job hosting her conference. The elementary school does student-led conferences in the spring, so the kids get an opportunity to teach their parents about their school routine. She was a great little teacher, and I was so impressed with how much she's learned this year. She's in the last reading level, is a very enthusiastic reader, and her comprehension is really high, as well. She's also been working hard on her addition and subtraction facts.

Today, after my soccer practice, we took Cade to his first organized soccer practice. One of our Korean friends helped a group of us get involved in a soccer program for preschool age kids. We picked up his shin guards last weekend, and he has been wearing them every day after school since. He was beyond excited to go today. He was only shy for about 5 seconds after we walked up to the indoor gym and found the soccer balls. He had a blast! All four of us went, because Eric and I were also really excited to see this. It was probably the fastest 45 minutes I've experienced in a long time!

I was really going to get started on this post shortly after I finished the last one. It is, after all, the same day. Then life happened, of course. I don't think this week was particularly busy--not any more busy than future weeks. Maybe I was just lacking motivation. My students turned in essays this week, too, so I have a stack of work to do, but I haven't even started them. I must rectify that today. After blogging, of course.

So, after our disappointing lunch at Lotteria, we decided to go for a walk. We still hadn't seen anything except the outside of the fish market and a glimpse into BIFF Square. There was something that Eric had seen on the map that he wanted to check out, so we headed out.

To be honest, I don't even remember where it was that he wanted to go, I just remember that he was in the lead on this little jaunt. For those of you who have never traveled with a Butler, it's important to note that we like to be in control. We pride ourselves on our sense of direction (although my brother thinks mine is virtually non-existent, and most of the time I'm pretty confident that Eric doesn't have the sense at all), and we find it imperative to orient ourselves repeatedly and know exactly where we are planning on going. It's a real joy for those around us, I'm sure.

This time, I stayed completely out of the loop. When Eric has a plan, I try to just let him take care of it, then he can't blame me if anything goes wrong (or when we get lost). All I remember is that we walked a really long time.

Cade got tired. Kennedy was bored. I kept myself busy with my camera, but we all got cold.

We eventually reached a destination. I don't think it was exactly what anyone was expecting, but we made it and that was the important thing.

There was some nice light and water, and these strange tetrapods that none of us had ever seen. Not much to do, though.

So, we were off on our next adventure. The boys had also found a park on the map that they wanted to check out, but after all of the walking we'd done, we were ready to taxi, and thankfully were able to find one pretty easily. (It was pretty surprising actually, because there wasn't much around where we were.)

We made it to Amnam Park without much trouble, and the drive from where we were was pretty and scenic. It would have been a very long walk, so I was glad we'd agreed to taxi.

As soon as we arrived at the park, the boys began walking up a steep hill. Cade actually ran up, and the boys just followed. Kennedy turned around and said, "Mom, I don't want to go hiking. We've already done so much walking."

Now, I'm not saying that I was thinking the same thing, but I certainly wasn't going to force her to go up that hill just because her brother had already run up.

So, we turned around and went to check out the little restaurant that was there in the park. I was ready for a warm place to sit (that wasn't moving), and maybe something warm to drink, too.

While we sat, I did some research. See, it's one thing being in the middle of the city, finding a taxi, and having him drop you off at a park outside of town. But, from the moment we stepped out of that taxi, I'd been trying to figure out how we were going to get back. I'd gotten the feeling we were not on a normal "empty" taxi route. Remember that time we took our young kids hitchhiking because there were no buses or taxis to be seen? I had been imagining this scenario.

In my research, I found out that there was a bus app for Busan, and there was a stop just outside the park. I figured that was a step in the right direction, at least. I also found this article: City Awesome--2 days in Busan to help with our planning. We had already done much of the suggested itinerary for day one in Busan, so we figured we should follow his guidance for dinner, too. (I wish that I'd read it before we left, as I realized in Busan Station that I couldn't load my T-Money card in the machines, and I had to buy a card specifically for the Busan subway station. It turns out you can use the same card as you do in Seoul, but you can't load it in the stations there. Grrr.)

By the time we'd received our drinks, the boys had arrived and had to order their own. After warming up for a bit, we all agreed that we would follow the blog author's advice and head to the Kyungsung University neighborhood for dinner. So, we were off to the bus stop. There was only one bus that seemed to stop there, and I'd figured out which direction would get us back into town, so the only question was "where were we going to get off?" The only thing I knew was that we needed to get to a subway stop, so I figured we would just watch for a bus stop near a subway stop, and that's what we did. It was quite a long ride, but it was cheap.

We made it to the university district and had no guidance from there. Typically in Korea, you look through alleys for restaurants, so we exited the station and headed down the first alley we found. I was determined to get galbi, though there were many other options. We ran into this place (pictured above) and decided to go for it. I think it was the best galbi restaurant I have ever been to. Seriously amazing. The meat was good, the banchan was excellent, and the service was amazing.

It was pretty late by the time we got back to BIFF (by kid standards, anyway), but the kids had gotten naps on the bus ride back to town, so we followed through on an earlier promise to get them ice cream. Eric took them to McDonalds while Travis and I went to find the longest lines for street food to find out what all the excitement was about. It turns out that hotteok (a little pancake with sugar, cinnamon, and nuts inside) is worth waiting in line for. We both got in different lines, each ending up with two of the same thing. If you're going to wait in line, you might as well get two!

My blogging pace will, no doubt, be a bit slowed during the next several weeks with soccer eating into my spare time, so bear with me. I'll get to it when I can!

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