Sunday, March 17, 2013

Geoje-do No More

Ben received word that he would be leaving Geoje and moving to Green River, Wyoming, for his next work assignment sometime in March.  So with that exciting transfer on the horizon, Stephanie decided they needed to make one last trip to Seoul.  The first Friday in March happened to be a Korean holiday and Ben's birthday, so it was a good time to be with us.  We enjoyed the long weekend together by doing some final shopping in the markets.  Our favorite stop was the Korean Folk Flea Market which I discovered a few months ago.  It is such a fun place to shop for Korean treasures and trash!  Like the flea markets back home, vendors purchase a space and fill it up with all kids of new and used items to sell.  From antique furniture, books and clothing, to jewelry, toys and sporting goods, they carry a little of everything.  When Thomas and Chelsea were here last summer, they searched to find a souvenir "Haechi" to take home.  The Haechi is the imaginary animal that guards the palaces and homes of royalty.  It has become the official symbol of Seoul.  It was at this market that I found one carved out of granite to take to them for Christmas.  I also found a pair of "Hareubang" statues carved out of wood for Stephanie and Ben.  They are the "Grandfather" statues which are found on the Island of Jeju and are typically made of volcanic rock like the photo below of one Bob purchased from Jeju.  The tradition is that if you rub the grandfather's nose, you will be blessed with a son.  (I guess Stephanie and Ben will have to try their luck . . .)  For Christmas, we also found some crampons for Bobby's boots when he is hiking and climbing in the snow.  On this particular visit, we purchased some wooden window panels for a traditional Korean house.  There was a set of four panels that we split, and gave two of them to Ben for his birthday.  Stephanie also bought some Korean "Celadon" (famous green colored Korean ceramic) pottery, and a couple of little wooden step stools for her girls.  My big purchase was two unique silver bracelets.  Fun stuff!

 A little playtime with the girls and some yellow cake with chocolate frosting and vanilla ice cream for Ben's birthday completed the weekend perfectly!

The following weekend, Bob needed to make a visit to the plant down on Yeosu, and also visit the Daegu Branch down south.  So he and I took a long weekend trip and worked in a visit to Stephanie and Ben for the last time.  In Yeosu we stayed at the "Most Valuable Life" hotel; a crazy sailboat shaped hotel with ever changing neon lights which light up the night sky.  (So Korean!)  While Bob was at the plant on Friday, I went to the new Aqua Planet Aquarium which was built for the Expo last summer.  It was too crowded during the Expo, so we were unable to go through it then.  I think it's one of the largest in the world and has a cool clear under sea dome and tunnels you can walk through.  They have performances throughout the day and some pretty nice exhibits.  Of course, I had to buy a pink penguin backpack for Emma - our "Pink Lady".

On Saturday, Stephanie and I took the girls to have a professional Korean photo session.  The place had some pretty cute backdrops, but nothing was cuter than Emma and Paige! Aren't they adorable?! (Stephanie found the pink and blue dresses in Namdaemun Market while shopping in Seoul.)

That afternoon we all went for a hike to a smoke signal tower at the top of a nearby mountain.  The weather was perfect for a hike, although the haze prevented us from taking in the amazing views from there.  Emma and Paige know how to handle those steep Korean mountain trails!  It's a good thing Stephanie and Ben are in such good shape.  Or maybe that's why they are in such good shape?

 Can you see why I've cried a few tears this week?  We will miss our best "Korean" buddies!