I was packing our bags for this trip with Logan watching me. “Are we meeting Daddy?” he asks. “Yes, we’re flying to South Korea but we have to keep it to ourselves again until we get there.”
And then he starts geeking out on me. “ARE WE STAYING AT THE DRAGON HILL LODGE?!! I cannot believe it Mom. I’ve always wanted to go to the Dragon Hill Lodge!! I’m so excited, I’m so excited!”
“Logan, where have you heard of the Dragon Hill Lodge?”
“On AFN Family Mom! The commercial always comes on when we are watching cartoons.”
And there lies the power of marketing to young minds. I had to laugh at his enthusiasm. We don’t have cable here in Japan so the only non-Hulu or Netflix shows they are exposed to is the Armed Forces Network- Family station which only promotes public service announcements and commercials for military-specific lodges in the Pacific region.
I wasn’t planning on going to this port call. Something about South Korea just didn’t appeal to me. Perhaps because I knew little about the country except for its notorious neighbors. At the last minute we booked plane tickets to visit hubby as he pulled in to port. (Funny side story, the night before they pulled in, hubby was diverted for weather and since they couldn’t land the planes back on the carrier, they were to head home. Luckily he was able to pass the plane off and head to the hotel where we were waiting for him. That would have been just our luck to have him back at home while we traveled to Korea to see him. )
Seoul has now become one of my most favorite cities…and you know how much I hate cities. The Koreans had a wonderful mix of qualities. If you took some of the best qualities of the Japanese and some of the best qualities of Americans, you’d have a Korean. They were always willing to give up their train seat to the boys. They never feared the language barrier and would come up to us to make sure we weren’t lost, or to help when the train turnstiles wouldn’t let us leave. They’d offer to carry suitcases up stairs or let us into elevators ahead of them.
We originally wanted a “staycation” of sorts just at the hotel. I had visions of staying at the pool all day with kids and sleeping in for a change while hubby took the kids to the playground. We stayed at the Dragon Hill Lodge on the military base and I guess I should have done my research on the hotel before making expectations of activities there. It’s your basic military lodge. The rooms were fine, nothing special. They had a wonderful playground for the kids but the pool was simply a lap pool without any chairs and no kids pool. So my dreams of lounging by the pool faded away and we scrambled to find some activities that would get us out of the hotel.
One of our favorite activities was the Korean Folk Village. You can find directions on their website. It’s about an hour away I believe by train and bus.
This guy had the kids cracking up. His horse got away from him during his demonstration and spent the next 3 minutes or so chasing it around in a circle trying to get it to stop.
There was something special about the dirt on this pathway. Perhaps healing? You could take your shoes off and wash your feet then walk along the path barefoot. There was another fountain to wash them at the end of the path before putting your shoes back on.
This will be a cherished memory of mine. Brayden was done with his flute and wanted to learn how to play it. So the man that was helping him told him to ask the lady sitting down to show him. So bravely he walks over to her just as she had gotten up from her seat and starts wandering around a bit just to stretch her legs. B starts following her from behind and doesn’t say a word. I just sat back watching and smiling until she turned around a bit startled to see him and starts laughing and patting his head. He quietly asked her to show him how to play and she spent the next 5 minutes giving him a little private lesson until he could mold his lips on the flute in just the right way to make a sound.
Another day we did the hop on hop off bus that picks you up right outside the base gates. This ended up being a wonderful experience and gave us the opportunity to visit some places we had no idea existed. We stayed away from the more modern areas we could have gotten off at. We didn’t have an interest in seeing the fashion districts, etc. So these pictures are from the day on the bus.
The famous “Blue House”. Similar to our nations White House. It’s the executive office and residence of the President of South Korea. The blue tiles are so beautiful to see in person.
Around Seoul Tower. The haze was so bad that we didn’t venture to the top of the tower to do the 360 degree view this time. I think these were the grounds at Changdeokgung Palace. These were the jugs that held fermented beans. And one of our last adventures was the river boat cruise to see the Banpo Bridge rainbow fountains. The river area is beautiful and relaxing. There were people everywhere enjoying the gorgeous day.
It was dark and late by this point, but this shows you the stark difference between my boys. One sitting calmly and the other…well I’m not sure what he is trying to destroy with his teeth. We unexpectedly got to see some of Incheon too. We had to switch hotels the night before our flight back home since the Dragon Hill didn’t have a room for us and we thought we were booking a hotel “conveniently connected” to the airport. By convenient they mean take a 30 minute bus to the airport from Incheon. Which was a bummer because our last afternoon with hubby was a goose-chase trying to figure out where this hotel was. On a side note, Incheon Airport has an ice skating rink. How fun is that?!
B had his 4th Birthday on this trip. Here’s to the
terrible three’s being behind us!