I never have enough time to sit down and blog like I hoped I'd be able to, but I have a few minutes so I thought I'd give you a quick update on our Korea trip.
We're having an absolutely amazing, but completely EXHAUSTING trip! I've never been so tired in my entire life! I'm not sleeping very well because my body is all messed up by the time change and then we get up in the morning and go go go until late at night, when we crash back into bed.
Yesterday we took a tour of Seoul with a tourguide from the agency and we walked around Seoul for six hours. Then we got back to our hotel completely exhausted and Jin-Ha called and said that she had something fun planned for us. It was about 6pm at that time and we were so tired, but we want to take every opportunity we can to go out and do things while we're here, so we told her we were up for the adventure.
First she picked us up and took us to her house for dinner. It was so much fun to spend time at her house and see what family life in Korea is like. Then she said that she was taking us to a festival of lights at a local park. I was SUPER tired, but it sounded harmless enough, so we agreed. There somewhat of a language barrier with Jin-Ha, so I don't always understand exactly what we're doing until we're doing it. The other thing you have to know about Jin-Ha is that she has energy that would wear our the Energizer bunny. I don't know when she sleeps because she is always on the go!
So she drove us to the park, which is called Sky park. Do you want to know WHY it's called Sky park?? Because it's basically on top of of a mountain so you feel like you're in the sky. Oh yeah, and you have to climb the mountain to get up there. What did I get myself into, lol?? We had already done a walking tour of Seoul that day and it was after 7pm when we started our journey up the mountain. It was easily over a mile and it was straight uphill. Jin-Ha was marching up there like it was no big deal and I seriously thought I was just going to lay down and die about 50 feet into the walk.
We DID eventually make it up the mountain and I didn't collapse and die (yay me!) and when we got up there the trip became TOTALLY worth it! Every year they have this festival at the park and tons of people were there. It was dark outside and they had tons of big lights that moved in rythym to music. They had a live performance by a group who played traditional Korean instruments and sang traditional Korean music. It was really beautiful and such a wonderful cultrural experience. It was a beautiful night and I really enjoyed the lights and music. Unfortunately when it was over we had to walk back down the mountain, which fortunately I managed to live though. :)
Today we had an absolutely AMAZING day!! We got to spend the whole day with Clarissa!!! Jin-Ha knew that I really wanted to visit the DMZ so she planned a whole day trip and invited Clarissa and her foster mother along! The DMZ is the demiliterized zone between North and South Korea. It's the buffer zone between the two countries. I've been really interested in Korean history and especially in North Korea, so I really wanted to visit the DMZ.
But before we went to the DMZ we all joined Jin-Ha for church. Her brother is the pastor of a Korean Baptist church in Ilsan and her whole family goes there, so she was really exited about us meeting her family. We're not Baptist and we don't speak Korean, but Jin-Ha has been so wonderful to us that we really wanted to meet her family and experience her church. We may have had quite a language barrier there, but it really was a really great experience. Koreans are some of the nicest people I"ve ever met in my life and the people at that chuch couldn't possibly have been more welcoming. They were just amazing. We had the church service and then they served lunch afterwards. Getting to experience such a real slice of Korea away from the usual tourist spots was such a wonderful exprience that I will never forget. I have grown to love the people of Korea more and more every day that we've been here.
After church we went to the DMZ, which was really neat to see. At the South Korean side there is a beautiful park, called Peace Park (I think) and it has a little amusement park, restaurants and other fun things. There's pretty much just razor wire and a small river that seperates North and South Korea, so you can walk up a big platform and look right into North Korea. There's not a whole lot to see, it was pretty much just hills and trees, but it was amazing to see it. I never thought that I'd see North Korea.
After that we drove out to the countryside and visited a little farming town that was the most beautiful place EVER. A friend of Jin-Ha's family owns a dairy farm there, so we stopped and visited the farm. Oh my gosh, it was the greatest place ever. I want to live there really bad! It was so scenic and beautiful and peaceful. They sell fresh milk and cheese and we got to eat cheese that had just been made. It was so good! We also ate Kim Bap, which is a common food in Korea that looks a lot like sushi, but with no fish. It's rice and vegetables wrapped in seaweed. I'm a super picky eater who doesn't like to try new things and I've actually eaten seaweed twice today. I can't say that it's my favorite food ever, but while I'm in Korea I'm eating like a Korean! Jin-Ha is a wonderful cook and has made us a lot of delicious Korean food!
After the farm we drove home, but it was a pretty long drive back to Seoul. It was an interesting drive back because we could see North Korea from the freeway all the way back to Seoul. On the side of the freeway there is a razor wire fence, a river and then North Korea on the other side of the river. Every so often there would be a guard tower on the side of the freeway with soldiers with machine guns standing there. It was eerie, but SO interesting to see.
We just got home and I sat right down to blog before we go upstairs and crash.
So all day long Clarissa was with us and it was wonderful!!! We got to spend so much time with her and she's finally warming up to us. I got to hold her during the church service and she fell asleep while I was holding her, which was pure Heaven. I've been waiting to snuggle with her for SO long and I cherished every second of it. I can tell that the foster mother is having a really hard time letting Clarissa go, but she's been wonderful to give us time to bond. All the time we've been able to spend with Clarissa on this trip is going to make the transition when we finally take her for good so much easier. I hope!!
So now I'm on my way upstairs to crawl into bed and relax. I'm completely exhausted. Tomorrow we're switching hotels, which is going to be kind of a pain, and then we're meeting Jin-Ha, the foster mother and Clarissa for a picnic. I'm looking forward to it!
This trip has been an absolutely amazing experience that I will never forget. I have so much more to say but unfortunately not enough time to say it. Once I get home and settled with Clarissa I may revisit some of these stories and tell you more about our Korean adventures, but for now I'm off to bed!