The Great Wall… of Korea

Standard

One thing on my bucket list when we found out we were moving to Korea was The Great Wall of China. It’s not a super easy trip to take with an active toddler so we haven’t made it there yet. There is a big fortress nearby so I wanted to see if Clarissa could do that before we took the time and money to go to China.

Camp Humphreys CYS took a field trip to Suwon Fortress on Saturday, June 9. For $10, we could take the bus and not have to worry about trains, buses, or parking.

The bus dropped us off near the palace. It wasn’t a large palace and the architecture looks a lot like Gyeongbokgung in Seoul. Clarissa really enjoyed it. She thought it was interesting to see how the castle looked for the king and queen. She also liked looking at their different rooms. The entrance fee was 1,500 won for adults and Clarissa was free.

Next, we headed to the entrance of the wall. We stopped for lunch at Burger King on the way. Clarissa had plenty of energy after lunch so she was ready to climb. She did really well on all of the steps. She enjoyed looking at the different monuments and seeing the city from the wall. She was especially excited to see a big bell because Tim has a small version of this in our apartment. You can get to the wall at several different spots and it costs 1,000 won for adults. Military and students receive a discount so they can pay 700 won.

There are toilets marked along the wall so you can stop if you need to. Several places also show where you can get off to buy snacks at convenience stores. Clarissa was excited that they had an archery class. But you have to be 7 years old to participate. It costs 2,000 won for 10 arrows. The class happens multiple times per day. It seemed like most of the day it was on the hour and at the half hour.

If you don’t want to hike the wall, you can also take a trolley or bike taxi from the palace. It will take you on a tour of the wall and the different sites along the fortress. I am not sure of price and I don’t know if any of the tour guides speak English. But if you just want to see things and not walk, you can pay for that instead.

After we finished the wall, we headed back to the palace area. There is a Cultural Foundation to the left that has an artsy street which reminds me of Insadong. We found some cute handmade jewelry. You can buy a personalized stamp with your name for $20. There are wood crafts that can be personalized as well.

We had a great day together. Clarissa did very well. She walked the whole wall (3.57 miles) with some breaks. I think she is ready for a China trip now. Though she said she doesn’t want to do it again! She said the Great Wall of Korea is good enough for her.

 

Mr Toilet House Field Trip

Standard

A few months ago, someone posted pictures from what they called “the poop museum.” Clarissa saw the facebook pictures from their adventure and immediately wanted to go. Tim wasn’t super interested, so when our homeschool group planned a field trip there Clarissa and I planned to attend.

Mr Toilet is in Waze. The Waze directions can be confusing because the exit numbers are incorrect sometimes so our 45 minute trip turned into closer to 90 minutes. Thankfully we were riding with friends so the ride wasn’t miserable.

Mr Toilet House has two parts. On one side of the road is a giant building that looks like a toilet. The person who brought western toilets to Korea used to live there. It is a museum to the history of toilets now. It was actually closed for renovation when we visited.

Thankfully the outdoor sculptures were still available. It was interesting to see some of the old versions of toilets. Each sculpture had a wooden sign that was written in both Korean and English so that everyone could learn.

Across the street was a Culture Center. Behind the building were a few pretty toilets and urinals.

If you go upstairs to the fourth floor, you can look out and see the big toilet and giant poop sculpture.

On the second floor of the Culture Center is a playground of sorts for the kids. Clarissa and her friends had a great time going down the toilet slide. There were also a few games like putting a ball through the digestive system and watching it come out the other end. There were many displays about poop as well. Again, most of the displays were in Korean as well as English.

We were in and out in less than two hours. The kids had a great time! I think they would enjoy going back again. Admission is free. Like many museums in Korea, Mr Toilet House is closed on Mondays. They don’t sell food there but there is a drink machine outside the giant toilet so plan accordingly.

Another Seoul Adventure

Standard

Is it really the last week of May?

The house is mostly set up the way we want it.  Never found the screws for furniture.  We have since ordered some online though they have yet to arrive.

Clarissa had her first flu.  At least I think that is what it was.  She had a fever and was generally miserable for a couple of days.  But we got plenty of snuggles in.

image

Tim was sick too, just not as long. Thankfully I stayed healthy. It seems like any time I try to wean her, she gets sick. I guess we will be nursing for a while!

We went to the last PWC of the semester. Clarissa didn’t cry when I dropped her off at the nursery for the first time since we moved to Korea! At the end, her teacher gave her the Elmo that I thought we lost at our first PWC two months ago (have we really been in Daegu that long?)!

This weekend we went back to Seoul. This time we stayed with friends instead of at a hotel. Clarissa loved playing with their dog!

On Saturday, we went to a folk village. It was neat to see the traditional houses but we didn’t stay long because they looked a lot like the palace we saw last month.

image

image

image

Clarissa’s favorite part was the fish!

image

We had lunch in Myeongdong, which has a lot of shopping. Then we headed back to the apartment for Clarissa’s nap. Tim and I were able to go on our first date since moving to South Korea. It was a pretty big deal since Clarissa’s only babysitters so far have been grandparents. But Tim has known these friends for ten years so this is the closest we get to family in Korea.

Clarissa had fun and we really enjoyed our time together. We went back to Coex mall to really explore since Clarissa was getting tired last time. Tim bought a Gundam model that he really wanted. We tried Vietnamese for dinner and it was delicious.

On Sunday, we headed to Seoul Forest. It wasn’t what we expected but there were some beautiful flowers.

image

There was also an awesome playground for Clarissa.

We headed to ipark in Yongsan for lunch and explored an awesome toy store there. It was almost dinner by the time we got home so we ended up staying home for the rest of the evening. We did play in the playground at the apartment. Clarissa is really confident in climbing steps and going down the slide now.

On Monday we headed to Suwon to meet up with Minnie. She brought us to a Korean fusion restaurant. She said it had some western things but it seemed pretty Korean to me!

image

image

They brought out two different courses of food. It was a communal meal where we all used chopsticks. There were several things we had never seen before and we would ask Minnie and she usually didn’t know the translation because it is not something you would find in America. We tried it all and really enjoyed it. We sampled a few flowers, roots, mushrooms, and even octopus. There was also pumpkin soup and pureed leek. Clarissa had some noodles but mostly stuck to rice.

We then headed to Hwaseong Fortress. We were going to take a train to see around it (Tim and I did the full three hour hike in 2012) but it was sold out. It was a national holiday, Buddah’s birthday.

We did get to see the city from a different angle on our walk.
image

image

Driving around we saw a man walking backwards. Apparently it used to be very popular in Korea as they believed it was good for your feet.

Minnie then took us to a small petting zoo. Clarissa was excited about the rabbits and birds. Then she got to feed the goats.

image

We went to a park at one gate (there are four) of the Fortress. Clarissa had a great time running around. Her favorite part was looking at bugs and playing with grass. Tim got some pictures of the Fortress from different angles.

Before we left, we walked down a street that reminded Tim of Insadong. There were food stands and craft shops. Tim and Clarissa bought some candy they were making on the street. They had samples to try. I didn’t care for it but they liked it so they bought some bear shaped candy. I tried some chocolate covered banana. It was different than I expected. At home, my mom would freeze or refrigerate the chocolate so it would harden. But it was 85 degrees outside so it was really fondue because I was able to dip it myself. Still tasted great.

I think we will go back to that area when Clarissa is older. They had several craft stands. The kids were making things out of beads and leather.
I thought it was hot in Seoul this weekend, but then we came home and it was 90. A few times this weekend we would tell a Korean that we lived in Daegu and they would tell us that it was very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter because of the bowl effect of the mountains. Before we moved here, I looked up the average temperature year round and it didn’t look much different from Virginia Beach. It will be interesting to see what the weather really is like.