A Weekend in Seoul

When Stella turned 4 months old, she was up for her second round of immunizations.  I switched over her Tricare insurance plan so she could be seen at Osan AB, where a pediatrician is on staff. Osan AB is north of Kunsan and is only about 30 minutes from Seoul, so we figured it would be a great opportunity to see the city.  Stella should at least get to have a little fun if she has to be poked and prodded, right?  Of course, the clinic on base is only open on weekdays, so Bobby decided to take a Monday off and we spent the long weekend together.  On Saturday, we went to the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (air show), we walked around and saw the sites on Sunday and poor Stella received her shots on Monday.

The Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) was located at the Seoul Airport and had demonstrations and booths from 48 countries.  The United States had the most static aircraft on hand by far and a pilot from Bobby’s squadron actually flew a F-16 up to show off to spectators.  There was also a live air show with a Korean F-16 two-ship, an American F-22, American C-17, American U-2, American C-130, American Apache helicopters, the Korean Black Eagles demonstration squad and the RAF parachute team, just to name a few.

We set off at 0530, which Stella wasn't too thrilled about (neither was mom!)

We set off at 0530, which Stella wasn’t too thrilled about (neither was mom!)

I always love to see blimps

I always love to see blimps

Apache helicopter

Chinook helicopter static display

The F-16 from Kunsan

The F-16 from Bobby’s squadron at Kunsan AB

Bobby and some of the Panton (his squadron) maintainers

Bobby and some of the Panton (his squadron) maintainers

We were a little disappointed in the F-16 show.  The Koreans flew in circles a few times and shot off some chaff and that was about it.  :(

American F-18

American F-18

Korean Black Eagles demo team

Korean Black Eagles demo team

Bobby with the Black Eagle maintainers. He got them to "Push It Up" (his squadron's slogan/hand sign)

Bobby with the Black Eagle maintainers. He got them to “Push It Up” (his squadron’s slogan/hand sign)

The Black Eagles are the Korean version of the Blue Angels or Thunderbird demonstration teams.  They fly a small Korean trainer (I’m not sure what it’s called) and while I think the American teams have tighter formations, the Koreans did draw some pretty pictures in the sky. :)

Black Eagles

Black Eagles

Black Eagles

Black Eagles

Black Eagles

Black Eagles

Stella and Dad "Pushing it Up!"

Stella and Dad “Pushing it Up!”

The F-22s

The F-22s – They were heavily guarded, so this is as close as we could get

RAF parachute team

RAF parachute team

He weasled his way into an F-35 simulator. Lockheed Martin was on hand to show it off to other countries in hopes of selling more aircraft

He weasled his way into an F-35 simulator. Lockheed Martin was on hand to show it off to other countries in hopes of selling more aircraft

We caught a parade of some of the Korean military members.  I’m pretty sure the last guy in line wasn’t supposed to be carrying his lunch in formation. Ha!

In Seoul, we stayed at the Dragon Hill Lodge, which is on Yongsan Army Garrison.  It is probably the nicest military hotel I’ve ever been to, complete with several restaurants, a delicious on-site bakery and a pool.   The base is right in the center of Seoul, so we actually walked to see all the sites.  Stella was a trooper; she stayed in her stroller for about 8 hours and 10 miles of walking!

Our first stop was at the Nadaemun (gate) and the market across the street.  This gate is one of 8 in the old fortress walls, which surrounded the city in the Joseon dynasty.

Namdaemun Gate

Namdaemun Gate – a blending of old and new

Another view of the gate

Another view of the gate

Although the market is typically “closed” on Sunday, we still found many vendors open and selling their goods.

An awesome sock collection

An awesome sock collection

I think President Obama would be happy

I think President Obama would be happy to know he’s right up there with Gangnam Style

Market street

Market street

Clever waffle cone

Clever waffle cone

We didn't get one, but they look decent

We didn’t get one, but they look decent

The Korean "sportsy" pants. EVERY Korean wears these as their "active wear". I'm not kidding.

The Korean “sportsy” pants. EVERY Korean wears these as their “active wear”. I’m not kidding.  Good thing they have variety.

Yes, those are larvae.

Yes, those are larvae and people eat them.

On that note, lets go on to my favorite part of the day – our visit to Jogyesa Temple, which is considered the center of Zen Buddhism in Korea.  We happened to visit during the annual Chrysanthemum Flower Festival, which was absolutely amazing and a wonderful photo opportunity.  They made two fake trees out of the flowers, created a maze garden, shaped pig and cow bushes and were hosting a children’s watercolor workshop while we were there as well.

The chrysanthemum tree

The chrysanthemum tree – don’t pay attention to the weird warped photo / oddly shaped people. It is a panorama and that’s the only way I could capture the entire thing!

The chrysanthemum pots were wired into the tree limbs

The chrysanthemum pots were wired into the tree limbs

These figures were on the gate into the temple gardens. They are made of many cut steel plates, creating a relief.

These figures were on the gate into the temple gardens. They are made of many cut steel plates stacked on top of each other.

See how thick they are? Amazing craftsmanship!

See how thick they are? Amazing craftsmanship!

And they were rather large too.

And they were rather large too.

Jogyesa Temple garden filled with chrysanthemums

Jogyesa Temple garden filled with chrysanthemums

Beautiful shapes made from the flowers

Beautiful shapes made from the flowers

This white pine tree is estimated to be about 500 years old and said to have been brought by an envoy from China.

This white pine tree is estimated to be about 500 years old and said to have been brought by an envoy from China.

Jogyesa selfie

Jogyesa selfie

The chrysanthemum garden maze was beautiful

The chrysanthemum garden maze was beautiful. I liked the fake bulbous tree, too!

Jogyesa Temple courtyard with kids' watercolor workshop

Jogyesa Temple courtyard with kids’ watercolor workshop

The kids were really talented. A lot of their work was better than most adults!

The kids were really talented. A lot of their work was better than most adults!

The flower cow

The flower cow

Flower/bush pigs

Flower/bush pigs

The temple is gorgeous outside and in

The temple is gorgeous outside and in

Inside of the temple

Inside of the temple

It is an active temple of worship

It is an active temple of worship

Beautiful lanterns on the ceiling

Beautiful lanterns on the ceiling

Next up – the Changdeokgung Palace.  It was the principal palace for many kings of the Joseon Dynasty, and is the most well-preserved of the five remaining royal Joseon palaces.

Changdeokgung Palace

Changdeokgung Palace

The colors were amazing

The colors were amazing

I was enamored by the roof patterns

I was enamored by the roof patterns

Painting this would have taken forever.

Painting this would have taken forever.

Daejojeon Hall (the queen's palace)

Daejojeon Hall (the queen’s palace)

We wrapped up the day by trying to indulge in a little American fare.  We went for some Chicago-style pizza and while it looked really good, it was a little too sugary for our liking.  Stella had a combat diaper change in the pizzeria booth as well, so that was fun. :/

Stella was ready for some pizza.

Stella was ready for some pizza.

To her dismay, she settled for some milk.

To her dismay, she settled for some milk.

After Stella’s shots at Osan AB on Monday, we were about halfway home when we heard a pop and then our car’s back end started to wiggle, a sure sign of a flat tire.  We pulled over into the shoulder and sure enough, our back left tire was completely shredded.  Have I mentioned we drive a 90s model Daewoo Leganza complete with rusted doors and blue tint on two windows?  Yeah, it’s fantastic.  We called USAA, the base and the embassy, and not a single person could give us a name of a reputable towing company.  (The car was too close to the road for Bobby to safely change the tire on his own.)  The embassy finally suggested we call the police, so we did and after a few minutes of scrambling to find someone who spoke a little English, we finally got word to someone that we needed help.  The Koreans had a public service truck that came out to change our tire for us, but little did we know, our wheel was literally rusted to the car.  After about an hour (seriously an hour!) of the two Korean men hitting, banging and tearing at our wheel, they finally called a tow company because the tire literally would not come off.  We got towed to a tire place about 40 minutes away, had a 15 minute change and got to leave with 2 fresh tires.  We decided that we didn’t want to chance it with the other back tire either, thus two instead of one.  Stella, luckily, was sleepy from her shots and slept almost the entire time.  We arrived back to base about 3.5 hours later than expected, but we were just happy that no one was hurt!

Stella wasn't bothered by the fiasco at all

Stella wasn’t bothered by the fiasco at all

This was literally one of the translations Bobby wrote to the Korean roadside guys who tried to change the tire

This was literally one of the translations Bobby wrote to the Korean guys

Comments

  1. Carrie! I can’t believe I never saw you while you were in Seattle, but since we were both pregnant, I kind of can believe it. :) I have so loved catching up through your blog and getting a taste of what our future holds….looks like we’ll be neighbors soon!

    • TheFlammias says:

      Hey, if you are around in mid-January, maybe we could get together. I’ll be in Seattle for about 3 or 4 weeks before moving to AZ! I hope you are doing well. I hear you now have a little girl on your hands to balance out all that testosterone! :)

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