Monday, April 14, 2014

Sokcho & Seorak

Well, this weekend it was back to the grind and back to the busyness. I'm so glad that we had last weekend to relax as a family!

On Saturday, I had a baby shower that I'd promised to make an appearance at and then Eric had his first baseball game of the season. Cade is still in soccer for a couple more weeks, so we missed the game to make sure Cade could get to soccer. It was a busy day running around, and I managed to accomplish very little.

As a result, I spent my Sunday making up for it, and unfortunately, I've been working on catching up on things that I've been putting off all year. It's already time for those end-of-the-year meetings, and I had plenty to do to get ready for them!

Otherwise, our week has been pretty typical--lots of soccer for me, lots of cooking for Eric. He out-did himself this week and cooked four nights. That definitely sets a record for his cooking in Korea--after almost 3 years, I think he's got it figured out!

The weather has been a bit warmer again and while all of the cherry blossoms are gone (and no, I didn't take pictures; I'm pretty sure they looked the same as last year!), the azaleas are starting to bloom. Things are green, and it's so nice after the long winter!

After our trip to Busan (we headed home early on New Year's morning), we were ready for something a little more relaxing. The next day, the kids and I introduced Travis to the jimjilbang--it was a nice, brief escape from the wintery weather outside.

We checked out all of the sauna and steam rooms for both genders in the main area of the Dragon Hill Spa. Then we had some bulgogi, dongkas, and rice in the restaurant before we headed down to the hot tubs.

Cade thoroughly enjoys his time at the jimjilbang (which is unfortunate because Eric doesn't like it and Cade can't go with me!), but Kennedy was not really a fan. She was not in favor of taking off all of her clothes or showering in a room with a 50 other naked women. We spent several hours there, so I think we got our money's worth, and Eric got some time to himself, which I'm sure he needed.

The next day we decided to go check out the Electronics Market. For some reason, I had been wanting to see this place ever since we moved here. To be honest, it was less than thrilling. Much of the place seemed to be shut down and out of business. It was evident that it had been a busy spot at one time, but that wasn't really the case any more. I know there are several buildings for various electronics and appliances, but we only checked out one.

There were floors and floors, but they all kind of looked the same. We checked out a lot of cameras and various equipment--I was on the lookout for a tripod. We also checked out some pretty cool projectors--we've been looking for one since we don't have a tv--and they make them so small now! Eric wasn't ready to shell out hundreds of dollars yet, though.

We ended up with just a pen drive, and the extremely unfortunate episode of Kennedy losing much of her Christmas money when her wallet fell out of her coat pocket. The poor kid learned a tough lesson that day about carrying around money. It was pretty heartbreaking. Afterward, we headed home for homemade bulgogi and another evening of cards.

The following day, we headed out to the National Museum. It is yet another impressive (and free) Korean museum. This one is quite large--you really can't do the whole thing in one day. It has some overlap with the other museums we take tourists--the War Memorial and the Folk Museum--but it covers the history of Buddhism in Korea, as well as Korean pottery, two of my interests.

As you can see, I don't have many pictures of the adventures I've discussed up to this point. We've been to the National Museum several times, and I wasn't feeling too camera happy on this particular trip, other than a couple with my phone that were on Instagram once upon a time.

We actually managed to get ourselves a babysitter for that evening--it was a Saturday night after all--so that we could all have dinner together. We went to Craftworks, one of the craft breweries in our neighborhood that's famous for its beers and its food. After dinner, I introduced Eric and Travis to noraebang.

I don't think either one of them were particularly excited about the idea of having our own room to sing karaoke in. They don't really enjoy karaoke anyway, so Eric especially, was not sure why having our own room to do it in was going to make it more enjoyable. Noraebang won them over! There is just something about the combination of horrible Korean dramas being played to nostalgic 90s music, complete with microphones, lights, and disco balls that results in a lot of fun! (Okay, there was beer, too.)

Our hour in the noraebang flew by, as it typically does at the place that I frequent, because they keep adding another 10 or 15 minutes each time we near the end of our hour, so it was probably closer to two. By the time we left, though, it was time to head home to relieve the babysitter.

On our way through Itaewon, Eric suggested that Travis and I go out for a drink (as they had already done earlier in the week), so he headed home while we went to find someplace new among the back alleys. We ended up at an interesting place where Travis ended up with the most hilarious drink. It was slushy, blue, and had a cookie in it. It was so funny to see that in his hand!

The pictures in this post (which may set a record for the longest ever!) are from our trip to Seorak, about a three hour drive from Seoul, which we left for the next day. A Korean friend of ours made reservations for us in a condo not far from an indoor water park, sledding, and hiking in Seoraksan National Park.

After arriving, we went in search of lunch in the tiny coastal town of Sokcho. There we found more fresh seafood, and Travis was not going to pass it up this time! He ordered some snails and crab and we waited upstairs in the "restaurant" for our food to be cleaned and cooked for us.

Above you can see the pictures of how our food was served to us--not exactly prepared, as one might expect, but it was cooked. We had some rice and side dishes, and it was a good thing because I think Cade out-ate us all in the crab department. I think he could have finished both of them himself if only he was a little better at getting the meat out!

After lunch, we met our friends at Waterpia, a pretty big water park and jimjilbang. There were several rooms, an outdoor section with hot tubs, and just about everything the kids could think of for a perfect escape from the winter cold.

The kids were pretty wiped out by the time we'd finished dinner--another interesting Korean experience. I promised Eric that I wouldn't post any of the pictures of that particular dinner, but let me just say that we were the only foreigners and that the owners were very hospitable. I'm pretty sure that they thought we'd just flown into Korea for the weekend based on our inability to sit on the floor and our lack of skill in cooking galbi!

And the adults, of course, continued our many rounds of cribbage. We made excellent use of Gretchen's cribbage board on Travis' trip! And yes, this place was considerably nicer than the nasty hotel in Busan. What a relief!

The onslaught of Q4 grading has officially begun, though soccer is winding down, so with any luck, I might be able to finish the pictures from his trip before we leave for the summer!

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