This week we began to explore! We are still living in the beautiful Dragon Hill Lodge. After nine days here we are calling Elliana the Korean Eloise after the books about the little girl who lives in the Plaza Hotel in New York. The children have learned to take turns pushing the elevator buttons, about tipping waiters, and that it is not OK to play merry-go-round with the revolving door. We have become friends with the ajumma that cleans our room each afternoon. She made my day Friday when she gestured around the room at my kids and said “happy family.” That meant a lot after nine days of uninterrupted family togetherness. Every afternoon this week we headed out exploring. To get around we ride the post buses. It took me several days to figure out the on post bus system, which has four lines, involves a lot of math in public and uses military time. The kids have decided that the very back of the bus is the coolest because it sits up higher than the other seats. I discovered it is not a good idea to let them sit there when we are on our way back from the grocery store. (Sorry to all the poor soldiers sitting on the aisle who got whacked in the knees with grocery bags!)
We found two parks, the put-put golf course, the bowling alley, the PX and the commissary. Then, on Friday we were finally ready to venture off post. We rode the bus to the gate, got stuck in the computer monitored gate and then, after nine days in Korean we finally set foot on Korean soil. We ventured forth boldly into uncharted territory, and then about 100 yards off post found an awesome park and had to stop.
That day we also learned how to cross the street in Seoul. See, they don’t have many sidewalks over their major roads. Instead they have subterranean pedestrian pathways. So, to get across the street you enter the subway, walk along and exit where you want. For us it was like playing whack a mole from the mole’s perspective. We went into the subway knowing where we were headed but were never sure where we would pop up.
Saturday Kenny was off so we went as a family to I’Park mall, one of Seoul’s tourist attractions. The reason we went was not a love of malls but simply because the kids and I had figured out how to get there on our Friday explore. There we learned that malls in Korea are about as attractive to us as malls in America. Also, that Korean malls are laid out like a three dimensional puzzle and have no benches for resting. Instead of floor by floor maps, their directory is arranged by product and they have huge seven story department stores that are impossible to escape. We visited E-mart then spent three hours looking for the children’s play area. We found it next to a sign that read 15,000 w admission. That’s $15 a kid, $45 for our family. So, we settled for ice cream and walked back to the park.
We are all really enjoying the simplicity of this time sequestered as a family. I am being spoiled by the lack of cooking and housework, and Kenny is enjoying all the free time for the family. It’s fun to take a break from everything and be able to enjoy family without distractions. Kenny taught the kids how to make lightning with spearmint life savers (the whole family in the bathroom with the lights off crunching enthusiastically.) Dallas built a spa and insists I get my hair brushed every evening. A few nights ago he and his assistants even washed my feet and walked on my back. I told you I am being spoiled! Last night was family night so for something special we let Elliana chose and run the activities. She and I went to the hotel basement and ordered pizza, bought popcorn, and rented a movie, and then we all snuggled up on the couch for Brave, pizza, popcorn and pocky. I hope we are making memories and tying strings between our family members that will last into the future.