Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dad's visit - Day 1 : Prisons, Palaces, Museums and Baseball

I had a great time when my dad came to visit - so much so that I'm going to have to post pictures in installments so they aren't too huge.

On Friday, we tried to fit in as much history as we could. We started at Seodaemun Prison, which was an important site during the Japanese occupation in the first half of the 1900s. It was interesting to see some of the (very graphic) representations of what was going on, since it's not something I knew much about.

After that we headed over to one of the old royal palaces - Changdeokgung. The trees were just starting to bloom, so it was very nice :

Changdeokgung has one of the largest palace grounds, including the "Secret Garden," which is a huge section of nature on the side of a mountain :

By the time we finished at the palace it was just after noon. Then we went to the War Memorial Museum, to prepare for our next day's trip to the DMZ. The whole Memorial area was ENORMOUS. I was shocked - I was expecting a building, and maybe a monument or two, but it's huge! Outside there are a number of monuments, a huge plaza area, and a ton of war 'things' - ground vehicles, airplanes, missiles - just about everything you would need in a war.

Inside the museum, they have a complete history of peninsula - from the earliest humans to various dynasties and conflicts, to the War, and even information about Korea's involvement in other conflicts (like Vietnam).After that, we headed toward the baseball stadium. But, on the way, we took the opportunity to do "Doctor Fish." In a nutshell, you stick your feet in a pool of fish, and they eat the dead skin from your feet. Here's us trying it :

I couldn't stop freaking out, and we ended up only using about five of our twenty minutes. Dad called it "unnatural," but the strangest part to me is that this all happens in a coffee shop-type place, so there's food and drinks and then you're supposed to have fish eat the skin from your feet. Ick. But at least we tried it.

Our last stop on Friday night was the Twins baseball game - the LG (electronics) Twins vs. the Doosan (construction?) Bears. Teams are all named after companies, and both the Twins and the Bears are based in Seoul. It was a good game. The fans of Korean baseball are very participatory - there are chants and cheers for every player and situation, cheer (and chant-) leaders. We had great seats right in the front row on the first base line.

Dad watches the game with his new Korean friends.

The Bears fans cheering

Next up : The DMZ/JSA

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