Friday, August 21, 2015

Jeju Island

Baseball is back in our lives, so I'm taking advantage of the few quiet moments I have since Eric and the kids left and before Reece wakes up from his nap. Not surprisingly, I've been working on this blog post all week and am still far from finishing.

The past week has finally allowed us to fall into some semblance of a routine. Reece has been sleeping through the night for a couple of weeks...nope...not gonna say that. It's bound to end once we say it out loud.

Last Friday night, we went out for dinner for our anniversary. It may be the fact that we went minimalist this year; our only plan was to go into Itaewon for dinner at a steakhouse that we'd been hearing about for years, but the evening went off without a hitch. It really isn't even a story worth telling to the world. After four years of "exciting" anniversary dinners, I think we were entitled to one that didn't involve adventure. (Here's one from a couple of years ago, if you're up for reminiscing.)

We'd known that with the prices at this particular restaurant, we didn't want to bring the kids, so we'd been waiting for the right occasion. Apparently, our anniversary was it. We spent almost $200 on dinner, similar to last year, in spite of the fact that we didn't order the $85 bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay (can you believe that?!), but this time we left the restaurant full. And that makes a big difference. It will probably be a long time before we return, but the Butcher's Cut delivered in terms of food and ambiance.

And since I no longer document our everyday happenings (unless you keep up with my Instagram!), these pictures our from our trip to Jeju at the beginning of the summer. We crammed a lot into a short trip, so I'm going to cram a lot into a (short?) blog post.

Eric has known that basically as long as we've been in Korea, I've wanted to visit Jeju Island. Everyone talks about how beautiful it is, and with regular, cheap flights between Seoul and Jeju, it's supposed to be an easy trip. The singles like to take weekend trips down there, and I didn't want to miss out. One of those "Korea bucket list" things.

So, when the middle school decided that the 8th grade would do their Week Without Walls down there and they needed someone to go down and scout it out, he volunteered us. All of us. The weekend after school got out. The weekend before we moved. And then flew to the States. Yup. Good timing.

The upside, of course, was that we didn't have to pay for his flight, we didn't have to pay for our accommodations, we didn't have to pay for transportation (and we had a personal driver!), we got to see a lot of the island, and we didn't have to pay for most of our food. How can you turn down a trip like that?!

So, we went. We In two and a half days. Holy whirlwind. The 8th graders will be down there for five days, and we did it all in half of that time. Granted, it meant we didn't have to do the 10 mile hike with all three kids in 80 degree weather, but we still did a lot. Thankfully, we got to do just about everything for free, too!

There's no way that I could possibly remember now everything we did while we were there. It's a good thing that Eric took good notes, because he had to remember it all! It's a good thing that I took a lot of (iPhone) pictures, because otherwise I wouldn't remember anything that we did!

We had to get up at about 6 am the day we left because the trip to the airport was almost twice as long as our flight. Thankfully, aside from the ticket agent not printing Reece a ticket and the fact that I left my wallet with my Alien Registration Card (needed for all international travel) in our kitchen cabinet (I still don't understand that one...chalk it up to moving), the travel part was uneventful. Does that count as uneventful? I guess in our world it does!

And then we hit the ground running on our arrival! We had the famous (in Korea) Jeju pork for lunch, which was our first experience eating Korean food with Koreans in Korea. They ordered everything for us and taught us a few new things about how to eat our Korean meal. The pork was really good!

In the afternoon, we checked out Maze Land, but didn't get to do the mazes, Sunrise Peak, but didn't get to do the hike, Jeju horses (miniatures), but didn't get to ride them, and finally stopped for McDonalds before crawling into bed at 10pm. A long day for all of us! (Oh, and they did actually get to ride the go-karts that we went to check out!)

The next day we were up early-ish for breakfast at the hotel and then into the van for more driving. We visited a senior center and an orphanage. We went to a tangerine picking farm (where we watch pig sliding!), Eric and the kids rode on a submarine, we checked out the haenyeo, and we visited one of Asia's biggest Buddhist temples.

We made it back to the hotel a little earlier this time, but we still had to eat with our tour guides as Eric worked with them to nail down the schedule for their trip this fall. We ended up having our late evening decompression in the bathroom while the kids fell asleep in the room. There's nothing like traveling with kids!

And the next morning, we were off on our return trip to Seoul to finish up the last minute packing. I think it's safe to say that we're all a little jealous that he gets to go back and spend a week actually doing all of the things that we just saw. But, would I want to go back with 85 8th graders? I don't know.

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