The 5th Season

Korea and other pacific regions are known for a season unlike any I've experienced. Monsoon season. Beginning about the 1st or 2nd week of June the forecast started looking a little bleak. Rain was in the extended forecast for as long as we could tell. Despite a few random days with little showers, we didn't get any relief for almost a month. And I'm talking washes of rain for the whole day, not just sprinkles or showers here and there. Last week it didn't rain at all and we're sure making up for it now. I've tried to find reports that show the amount of rainfall, but I know one day we had at least 13 inches of rain. In the past 16 hours we've received a constant deluge or rain this time accompanied with thunderstorms the whole time! I decided you needed to see the madness firsthand.

These pictures are from my window. Can you tell how hard it's raining? It's been like that for hours and hours. It's 10am and all the street lights are still on.

Sidewalks are flooded (along with the roads, I'm just avoiding them today)

So I finally caved in and bought rain boots because you are soaked within an instant in these rains and it's no fun having wet shoes, socks and bottoms of your pants! And of course an umbrella comes with you everywhere, though yesterday when I was outside my umbrella turned inside out twice b/c it was so windy! Thanks for the memories monsoon season! :D


So for a little while now you're going to hear me say "A year ago...."

Because a year ago the first of our movers came! You can click here to see some of our posts from the beginning of the big move!

In ways the time has gone fast but in other ways not so much. I still feel like I'm adjusting to Korea and getting to different levels of 'settled' that I reach much faster in the States. But nonetheless we are having a Korean adventure and enjoy adding all of these experiences to our lives! Thanks for coming along the ride with us!

Seoul Tower- at night!

We wanted to do something different this Saturday, but had a church activity in the middle of the day. Since we put our kids to bed around 6:30-7:00 it didn't leave much time for anywhere out in Seoul and didn't want to just go on base for the umpteenth time. We finally brainstormed up a genius idea to go to the Seoul Tower at night! We hadn't done that before. We gave the kids a late nap and left around 8pm.

We had a great time. The kids were well behaved and it wasn't super hot or rainy. However, this trip turned out to be quite the learning experience. We learned that:

  • The light show doesn't happen every night :(
  • Our kids don't stick out as much in the dark (though we still had a Korean couple hold our kids hands up the hill to the Seoul Tower)
  • If you want to go to the observatory at night, on a Saturday night especially, you may have to wait 40 minutes to go up and 40 minutes to go back down. You might then decide at 8:48pm that it's too late to wait that long
  • Coldstone ice cream smooths over the tears from not going up the Seoul Tower
  • 1000 won ($1) gets you a pretty good press coin souvenir!
  • Cade loves taking pictures
  • There are 3 Namsan Tour buses, not just one.
  • If you get on the wrong one, you can just get off on a stop near a subway and take the subway the rest of the way home.
  • After taxiing, busing, subwaying, and walking all night, you will get home at 11pm and your kids will sleep in for the first time in years, but you have church the next morning! :D

We had a great time. The best part for Cade was that we let him go around with our point and shoot digital camera and take pictures.

Here's a slide show of Cade's adventure at the Seoul Tower!

Seodaemun History Museum

We went with the Seoul Searchers group (friends from church who explore Seoul) to the History Museum. I've already posted pictures from the first time we went there, but wanted to post a few cute shots I got that day!

Sunday Best

Just wanted to share some sweet pictures of my boys just before church. Cade wears this every Sunday and wants Alex to look 'as handsome' as him!

Samsung Children's Museum

I've been wanting to go to this museum and finally had the chance to last week. I posted on facebook to see if anyone wanted to come with us and we ended up with 10 kids and 3 adults! It was definitely a true Seoul adventure, trying to find our way there, the way into the parking lot, and keeping the kids from killing themselves. I'm constantly amazed at the Korean preschool groups we see at all these museums. There's usually 1 adult per 20-30 kids. They say one phrase and all the kids get in a line right away and move to the next area without tears or complaint. Compare that to us with our 10 kids who reminded me of the lemmings game. They would follow eachother OUT of the building (while we were trying to pay), never mind the busy street right outside. They "didn't have an elevator", so taking the kids up the stairs proved to be a difficult thing to do as well. (They finally let us use an elevator that 'we sometimes let people use' and it let out right by the kid's stuff, so i'm not sure why it wasn't available for everyone. C'mon we had strollers and new babies with us!)

Once we got paid and up to the top floor to work our way back down, the kids had a blast. There were lots of hands-on activities and an area just for 4 and under.

There was a water area. I loved the little smocks they got to wear.

Here's the ball area. Not as cool as the one at Everland, but still lots of fun.

On the next level there was a construction area which the kids had a lot of fun in, but my pictures didn't turn out very well. There was a working crane, pulleys, and the walls could be filled in with various foam bricks.

Then there was a music area. The room pictured below is something that I thought would be fun if I ever have a big house and can dedicate one room to be a play room. It looks like a kitchen but it's all stuff they can bang on!

The pots and pans and mallets were attached to the wall

Here Cade was experimenting with soundwaves and the volume of his voice

That's my Cade!

We had a good time and the kids were all worn out by the time we got home. I always consider it a successful trip in Seoul if we got where we intended to go, had fun, and made it back home.

By the way, for those here in Seoul, if you park at the Home Plus parking lot and you show them your museum receipt, your parking will be free!

A trip up North

Sorry for my slacker blog style right now. I'm still doing posts about Dan's parent's visit 2 months ago! But here is a post you don't want to miss. We took a trip up to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) which is at the border of North and South Korea. No kids under 12 were allowed so we left them with a good, and obviously patient, friend for almost the whole day.

The tour was sponsored by the USO, so we met there and took a 45 minute drive north on buses. We were briefed in a conference room/lecture hall and signed our lives away. From the very beginning the tour was extremely structured and they were seriously serious about you not breaking any rules. You had to wear your tag on the left collar, don't point or wave at anything/anyone, no pictures in certain places, walk in single file lines, don't cross this line, etc.

After the 20 minute briefing, given entirely by memory, we went over to our first destination. I'm sorry, i'm terrible with remember names, so the name of this building escapes me, but this is where meetings between the countries take place. The Korean soldiers take their job here very seriously and make a huge sacrifice serving up at the DMZ.

These blue buildings straddle the border and it is here and only here that North Koreans and South Koreans meet.

This is a picture of a North Korean Soldier

This is a picture of him looking back at us.

Apparently they only come out during the tours. Not sure what they're looking for. Creepy thing was that we were standing in a horizontal line and i moved from one end to the other. When I got to the other end I couldn't see the North Korean Soldier any more. A few seconds later he moved back into my view and pulled up his binoculars again. Maybe he just thought I was cute. ;)

Here is a physical border outside between the buildings.

You'll notice these soldiers strategically placed outside the buildings. They stand so they can still see the other side's movements, but can quickly take cover if needed. They are also armed and do not move.

Here is his lookout, there to relieve him if necessary and to act as a second set of eyes.

This is the inside of the blue buildings. We all filled up the small room and the tour guide told us that these markers on the table act as the border between the countries, so half of us were in North Korea and the other half in South Korea. We had a few minutes to take pictures and put ourselves in North Korea before being ushered out.

Here we are in North Korea.

A view of the soldier from inside the building

A statue of grasped hands, symbolizing a unified Korea

Kijongdong- Propaganda village. World 3rd tallest flag pole flying a whopping 600 pound North Korean flag. All of these buildings are empty and floorless. All day long they would pump propaganda through the speaker system and give illusion that people were living there. When these were built they were meant to look modern and desirable, and make the South Koreans think the North Koreans were living the fine life.

These are the posts you find along the 38th parallel/border between North and South.

Copy of armistice signed between North and South Korea, not a peace treaty.

Bridge of no return- Both North and South Koreans were given a chance to choose which Korea they would live in, with no chance to return to the other.

There have been several incidents since the armistice of North Korea instigating attacks on South Korea. A famous one is call the Axe Murder incident. The link will tell you the whole story, but basically the SKoreans were just trimming a tree and NKoreans crossed the border and began attacking them. The SKoreans were extremely outnumbered and it was a gruesome ordeal.

These hats belonged to Captain Bonafas and Lt Barrett who were slain in the Axe Murder incident.

The tree that was innocently being removed which spawned the brutal attack.

Barbed wire from along the border.

One of the stops had a little museum that we had only 10 minutes to breeze through.

TIMEOUT: There's a section of the tour that was probably my favorite, but we weren't allowed to take any pictures. There are several tunnels between north and south korea that have been discovered. The latest one was found in the 90s which really isn't that long ago. They've uncovered 4 and believe there to be many more. By the pattern of dig strokes and other such evidence, the tunnels were obviously dug by North Koreans to infiltrate South Korea. You can find more information here. We were able to go down (and I mean down) into one of the tunnels. It was just neat to be in there and think of what could have been and what might happen somewhere else. Several thousands of troops could make their way into South Korea very quickly and easily if there are truly tunnels that haven't been discovered yet. Eerie.

Here we were allowed to look through the binoculars to see into North Korea.

See that yellow line? That's where you could take pictures from. That basically meant you could get any quality pictures unless you had a high powered camera.

The last stop was at Dorasan Station. This is as far north as you can get by train at this time. It used to connect into North Korea but other 'incidents' occured causing the trains to stop running between both countries. I'm pretty sure the trains only recently were suspended, in the 90s.

Inside the station they have a map of all the trans eurasian railways. It's just amazing how 'trapped' the South Koreans are, when they are so close to being connected to other countries.

On our way out of the train station I saw this road sign that just summed up the eeriness of the whole tour. The only way you could go from there was Seoul, it's your only option. Both countries dream of a unified Korea, but their definitions of unified differ extremely. The North Koreans are suffering at the cost of their leader. Millions are starving and dying. All manner of trials devastate the land, yet they blame the United States for it all. I wonder how it will all pan out, and I just hope it doesn't while I'm so close!

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Our family

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