I am sitting at a desk in our hotel suite looking out at a three panel long panorama of Seoul, South Korea. The view is wide, but shallow, because the ever present, opaque, grey fog only allows me to see Young Son Garrison, spread out nine stories below me and the very first line of Seoul’s sky scrapers. The rest of the city and the craggy layers of mountains beyond are still hidden- like the sunrise. Here the sun’s entrance is just a humble blush in the fog. As the day progresses the fog will retreat, unveiling more of the city, but it hangs in the sky all day long.
We arrived in Korea two nights ago. The flight that brought us here was about 15 hours long. The boys set a family record by playing ten hours straight of video games. Elliana and I tried BeeBimBop with pickled cucumbers and sea weed soup. Everyone got a little sleep. By the time we landed Elliana could say hello and thank you in Korean and had decided to become a flight attendant when she grows up. The army kept us waiting about five hours between the time we landed and the time we reached a hotel, but it really flew by. Once we traversed the baggage claim and customs I took the kids to a Korean snack shop where I saw ice creams and snacks I remembered as a kid (Will and Kaitlyn, pictures to follow.) Then the kids made friends with another newly arrived army family whose boys were about Dallas’ age. Five over stimulated kids was a bit crazy in the airport and on busses and while were trying to carry bags, but the kids had fun. We are staying in Dragon Hill Lodge, the garrison hotel for military personnel. I used to visit this hotel when I was a kid. I remember the stone lion-dragons outside the front door, a panel of rock carving depicting Korean history, the waterfall in the garden, and the ceiling and fans of the hotel restaurant (funny the things you retrain as a child.) Now, though, the hotel also has a huge children’s area with traditional children’s garden and playground, and the hotel restaurant has been changed into a food court with about five restaurants. There is also a market wing where you can buy everything from souvenirs to a car. Yesterday, our first full day in Korea, the children were up at five, thanks to jet leg. We ate pop tarts from the in PX exchange in the lobby and did school all morning. After lunch with Kenny we went to the hotel pool for nearly three hours. The kids seemed to be doing great but when we sat down for dinner jet leg hit. David literally fell asleep waiting for his food and almost tumbled out of his chair. Elliana ate then climbed in my lap and fell asleep faster than I have every seen anyone. Even I ended up passed out on the couch before 8 pm and then we were all up bright and early at 6:30. So, we are not quite adjusted yet but the kids remain up beat and that makes all the difference. I have learned that our trio doesn’t get whiny when they are tired, rather they become extremely hyper, and lose all judgment. This has resulted in some interesting situations, such as when Dallas attempted to pick up a Korean woman thinking she was one of our suitcases, or when David nearly lost his hand playing “Elf” in the revolving door. Understanding that it is their way of expressing the grogginess Kenny and I both feel we have left off lectures (and in fact feel sort of bad about them,) and are making sure the kids get plenty of attention. It was amazing the difference in their ability to think after just half an hour of our undivided attention. I am sure there must be some principle in child psychology there but I am just glad to know what I need to do. There are other things which require an adjustment period, besides just the time. Korea smells- I can’t say bad because I am sure it smells just fine to a Korea, but it is going to take some getting used to. Also, the food, whether Korean, or American made by Koreans, just doesn’t taste like anything we are used to. For example, lasts night’s bean burrito contained boiled potatoes and plain pulled pork. It was weird. Thankfully, a banana still tastes like a banana so we are stocking up on fruit and veggies. Even the cartoons here are weird- the kids just spent the past hour watching a show about flatulent bugs- no really! Exploring a new culture is so much fun and I can’t wait to get off post and explore Seoul! Kenny is restricted to government property until he finishes in processing on Monday, so, we will use the weekend to adjust and then dive in to our new country!