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