The Land of the Rising Sun – Kyoto Part One

Bobby and I booked a hotel in Kyoto for five days, but made it six when we accidentally left Tokyo by train a day early.  I must say in all our hotel stays, that was a first. Luckily, our “sold out” hotel had an opening for the additional night (for 150% the cost, of course), so we didn’t have to search out somewhere new to stay.  Six days may seem like a lot of time in one city, but Kyoto was a good one to have a little breathing room. I think you could stay in Kyoto for three months and not see all the temples in the city.  There really are *that* many…. [Read More]

The Land of the Rising Sun – Tokyo Edition

The 3 lanterns

Before leaving Korea, we made a short list of places that we would like to visit.  Although we won’t complete it in time, we marked a huge one of my dream list by traveling to Japan two weeks ago.  We can’t really travel like we used to – changing hotels and cities every day or two – because we have a baby in tow.  We have to respect some semblance of a routine for Stella or we will be in for a difficult day, so we made the decision to base ourselves in two places -Tokyo and Kyoto.  We flew in to Narita International Airport and one of Bobby’s friends, who is currently stationed in Japan and lives in Tokyo, picked us up.  We spent 2.5 days in the capital city.  Even though I expected Tokyo to be just another big city, I was pleasantly surprised.  We ended up really enjoying ourselves and preferred Tokyo over the Korean capital city of Seoul…. [Read More]

A Weekend in Seoul

Jogyesa Temple garden filled with chrysanthemums

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…. [Read More]

CNN’s 50 Beautiful Places to Visit in Korea

The most famous view from the stone bridge across the pond

While doing some research on places to visit while we’re in Korea, I came across an ex-pat’s blog that proved to be very helpful.  She listed the sources she used to find travel ideas, one of which being CNN’s 50 Beautiful Places to Visit in Korea.  I’m always intrigued by lists, as they generally provide a clear cut “check-list” of things to see and do and it’s easy to keep track of what you have seen and what you haven’t.  I must admit that my Korean geography is pretty sketchy, so I had to look up most of the locations to see how far they are from Kunsan AFB. Of course, I learned a lot along the way, which is always nice.  I found three places on the list that are within a two-hour radius, a “must” if Bobby doesn’t want to take leave / ask permission to be gone.  So, we started there.  The three places seemed to be pretty close to each other, so we set off early in hopes to see all of them on one Sunday afternoon…. [Read More]

Jeonju Hanok Village

:)

Hanok Village in the town of Jeonju is home to more than 800 traditional Korean “hanok” houses and represents the largest cluster of hanok in Korea. It’s a bit like walking back in time because while the rest of Jeonju is pretty modern, Hanok Village stays true to historic Korean culture and customs.  In fact, many people rent traditional garb and walk around in bright, colorful period outfits/dresses.  It is quite touristy, with small trinket shops and street food vendors lining the roads, but I believe we were the only people from the western hemisphere in sight. We spent the day perusing the village, looking at the architecture, tasting some of the local treats and people watching (my favorite!)…. [Read More]

The Baekje Cultural Land and Naesosa Temple

This was actually my favorite structure in the complex (it's not the actual temple. This houses the large drum)

When Stella and I finally got on Korean time, we were ready to take our first trip (albeit small) to some of the neighboring temples.  Our first jaunt was to the Baekje Cultural Land near Buyeo.  A fellow Air Force spouse had mentioned this complex and considering it wasn’t a very long drive (just a little over an hour), we decided to check it out.  Our second trip came the following weekend to Naesosa Temple in the Byeonsanbando National Park, south of base…. [Read More]