Monday, October 22, 2012

Nami Island

The last two weeks of October are prime time to see and photograph Korea's gorgeous fall foliage.  There is a small moon shaped island in the middle the Han River to the east of us called Namisum or simply, Nami Island.  Because it is supposed to be one of "the" places to go in the fall, it is an extremely popular place for "Seoulites" to go. It is smaller than Yeouido Island to the west, with a circumference of 5 km, and is named after a young Korean General by the name of Nami.  It has become somewhat of a tourist trap in recent years due to the filming of a Korean drama there by the name of "Winter Sonata".  The one and a half hour drive to Nami actually took us about three hours each way.  As usual, we were one of thousands who had the same idea last Saturday!  (Note to self:  Don't drive anywhere around Seoul on Saturday ever again!)  To get onto the Island, you take a 5-minute ferry ride for 8,000 won, or you can soar across the river on a zip line for about 38,000 won.  We opted for the ferry and were greeted by a "mermaid" and some dramatic autumn colors.


It didn't take long to walk the perimeter of the island and take in some of the sights, including General Nami's burial mound, swan paddle boats, grass huts, and a variety of artwork.

  The most predominate work of art was an amusing statue found in the center of the Island.  The artist also had a small studio nearby exhibiting an array of humorous characters that made us laugh out loud.

 There were bikes of all kinds, including a pedal powered roller coaster ride, and couples and families were everywhere enjoying a perfect fall day at the park.

Nami Island featured several tree-lined lanes, including majestic pines, to yellow leaf ginkgo and colorful maples.

 We just enjoyed lying on the grass, watching the crazy looking squirrels, and witnessing mother nature clothed in her finest colors.

"How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days."
 ~John Burroughs

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fireworks, Everland and Natural History Museum

October started out with a bang, as the Seoul International Fireworks Festival took place on the Han River.  Bob and I decided to take the subway down to the river to enjoy the show with friends.  However, we waited in lines for the subway for an hour, and after multiple attempts to board trains completely stuffed full ofpeople, we gave up and went to "Coco Curry" for some dinner and then returned home.  Apparently, all 22 million of our best friends were headed to the river along with us!  Fortunately, we were able to secure a view of the fireworks from our balcony and enjoyed a really amazing show from our apartment.  There were barges on the river with rows of cannons shooting fireworks with synchronized motions which created stunning visual effects in combination with coordinating fireworks high in the sky.  I wish I could have captured it on my camera before the battery died!  It was fun to see the sky light up and illuminate the city's high rise buildings such as the 63 Tower.  What a beautiful show!  (Don't you just love my artistic touch - ie, shaky hand?)

Stephanie, Ben and Emma came to Seoul last weekend and we spent Friday at a big amusement park called "Everland".  The plan was to entertain Emma and Grandma and everyone accommodated us quite well.  I think we nearly caused Stephanie to go into labor with the miles of walking.  Unfortunately, she was not able to enjoy any of the rides, but we were all entertained by an exciting "Madagascar" show that was quite a production!  And the zoo animals were almost as fun to see as watching Emma enjoy herself on some of the rides.  But I have to admit that my favorite activity was riding the T-Express giant wooden roller coaster with Ben.  We abandoned Bob, Steph and Emma to stand in line for 2 hours just to ride the crazy thing.  No question - it was worth it!  (At least for Ben and I.)  Check out the vertical drop - the steepest in the world.   It is also the world's ninth fastest, fourth tallest, and sixth longest wooden coaster, and was ranked as the world's best wooden coaster in 2008 and 2010.

Early Friday morning Stephanie and Ben departed for their tour of the DMZ - the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.  They have joined the ranks of the few who can say they have actually been in North Korea.  Grandma and Grandpa decided to take Emma to the Seodaemun Museum of Natural History.  Emma clung cowardly in fright when she first saw the huge skeletal remains of dinosaurs in the main hall.  But after her ascent to the third floor, where she was "taller" than the all, she regained her courage and was even excited to see more of the "dinosaur x-rays".  We giggle at her very intelligent observations, which transport us into the mind of a child.  On our way home, the GPS voice in our car warned of a "frequent accident place", to which Emma responded, "that is where we have to change our panties"!  Emma has a seriously amazing memory.  While driving past Namdaemun (a market near our home) and the rows of little shops that lined the opposite curb, she said "hey, I just saw the building that is on the way to the market where mommy and daddy bought their glasses and I saw the penguin toy."  How many times have I walked that street, and still could not point out or recognize that obscure storefront?  I realize I am not keen to observe my surroundings, but for her to know just where she was in this confusing con flux of buildings was absolutely brilliant to me.  Anyway, outside of the museum was a very long dinosaur slide which Emma climbed and slid down all by herself!  She immediately headed up the stairs to go again, but retreated from the crowd of children pushing their way to the front of the line.  What a brave little adventurer!  (I apologize for the poor quality of photos - this was not one of our better picture taking days!)


Sunday was our day to watch General Conference and be edified and instructed by the Prophet, Apostles, and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  You can watch, listen or read their inspired messages from here:  This is always one of my favorite weekends of the year and I am so grateful to have an understanding of the gospel.  It give me purpose and direction in my life, and brings me such satisfaction and joy!  We are grateful that our son, Michael, is in Peru sharing the gospel with the people of that humble nation.  I hope to be able to help others discover and become converted by the simple principles that are revealed in the restored Church of Jesus Christ.  Peace and comfort can be had in these troubling times as we understand and cling to these God-given eternal truths.

Emma enhanced her conference experience with a few creative endeavors.  She has the most vivid imagination and has definitely inherited her mother's creativity and her father's engineering mind!