Sunday, October 26, 2014

Adventures in Korea

The last few weeks have been quite the whirlwind. We spent 9 days in South Korea, came home for 6, then I headed out to San Francisco for 7. 

And you guys, I am DEAD. 

But first thing's first, Korea. 

From the minute we landed in Incheon until we set foot back on American soil, we were whisked away and treated like kings. Harim's family was amazingly generous, and showed us every square inch of South Korea. It is a stunning country. However, I am certain that I have never hit the ground running this hard in my life, and with a baby, that did not come without a price. But everything we saw was beautiful, and we were so grateful for the experience. 

We were also relieved to find a Burger King in the mall on our last day. So there's that. 

Trying street food everywhere we went

Seoul Tower

Cable car ride to the top of Seoul Tower :: This day Michael rented us a car and driver for the day to take us around Seoul

The Asian Games were in Incheon while we were there, and Michael got us passes to a handball game. 

What I wish the entire trip consisted of: listening to Harim play the piano for hours

Seorak Mountain

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Pet Cafe with Harim

Silkworm larva is a delicacy in South Korea, woof

A temple in Gangwon Province

So down to business...

How was the flight? Actually, better than expected. We had heard that 4 months was the only window to travel internationally with a baby, and we agree. 15 hours is long no matter what, but I will be a lot less anxious about flying with Rowan from now on. She did great.

What was my favorite thing about the trip? Seeing Harim and all the places he talked about while he lived with us. I'm also glad we saw both urban and rural places, so I felt like we got a good feel for the landscape of Korea as a whole.

What was my least favorite thing? The schedule was really tough while we were both jet lagged, and then added a jet lagged infant just for fun. I think we could manage ourselves, but convincing a baby to swap her days and nights was just as terrible as you'd imagine. Which left us with not a lot of energy for the daily rigor of South Korea.

What was the weirdest food option? Red beans in ice cream, slices of raw fish at the table as a side dish, silkworm larva, dried fish, fermented octopus, the list goes on. I still have anxiety. Also, I brought 18 Cliff Bars, and by day 3 I was having to ration. Poor Patrick forgot to bring his own snacks. 

Biggest surprise? Babies come with a lot of stuff, from strollers to diaper bags to toys. And wherever we went, each family member took something off of our backs to carry. So one person would push the stroller, one would carry Rowan's diaper bag, one would carry our camera, etc. It made it so much easier on us every day to have everyone pitch in. 

But, DID YOU SEE GANGNAM? YES. And you guys, Gangnam is the coolest place in Korea. The streets all cross in unique directions, the architecture is crazy unique, and it is just beautiful and vibrant. We ate dinner at the Ritz in Gangnam, and I felt every bit as upscale as you can imagine. I borrowed a few Gangnam pictures from Google, since mine were terrible:

Huge thanks to Michael and Sook for being gracious hosts, Harim for still being every bit as perfect as we remember, and for Rowan hopefully forgiving us for dragging her across the world to see and experience something new. We've kept thorough notes for her counselor when this experience comes up later in therapy.