Thursday, August 13, 2009

Backtracking, again...Seoul, Korea

We're back! And after being blocked from Blogspot in Taiwan and China, I will pick up where we left off in Seoul -- what at this point feels like a month ago! A public thank you to my husband, Hank, who tried to let everyone know that we were alive and well, albeit in a more highly controlled environment.

The day after our alumnae and family event in Seoul we spent some time with a couple of consultants in the morning and early afternoon. We enjoyed conversation with them and feel that we learned a lot about the lives of Korean students. One of the consultants also runs an "academy" (after-school or summer-school programs to teach English, primarily, and SAT / TEOFL prep). By coincidence, she had the English Dept Chair from Deerfield teaching for her this summer, and so we all had lunch together at a wonderful restaurant nearby. It was interesting to hear what his experience had been like this summer and to learn more about these "academies" in Korea from an American educational perspective.

Our late afternoon and evening was spent with our student Moon Jung and her family. Moon Jung took us to a beautiful imperial palace right in the middle of Old Seoul, an area we had not yet seen and were happy to visit. Suddenly gone were the big business buildings we'd grown familiar with on the other side of the river, and everything looked more like what we expected from an old city such as this.

Chungdeokgung Palace was a wonderful place, filled with all kinds of interesting views and insights into the life of the Korean royal family. We walked around the grounds for several hours, and I just kept clicking away. Both the buildings and the grounds were beautiful. It was hot, but we persevered, and saw most of what was there:

We went from Chungdeokgung Palace to a charming area of Old Seoul with antique shops and a charming tea room where we each enjoyed a bowl of unique (to Andy and me) tea. It was all delicious with an order of some rice pastries, and we loved the ambiance of the place.

Once done with the tea, we sauntered along the street, entering shops that appealed to us. Andy and I bought a few gifts for family members, and we were on our way to meet Moon Jung's parents and interpreter for dinner.

Moon Jung and her parents thought we might like some familiar food, having now been in Asia for some time. We therefore dined in a beautiful Italian restaurant that was a part of a hotel, and it was perfect. Despite any language barriers, we enjoyed lively conversation, lots of laughs and a wonderful meal. Moon Jung's father was very kind in offering us gifts for our husbands as he figured they were lonely at home without us. That was just so sweet (and both husbands really appreciated being thought of!). Her mother was as good an audience for her husband as we were, and we all would hang with anticipation on the translator's words as he told another good story or joke. Here we all are, fully sated:

Many thanks to the Choi family for a wonderful memory of Old Seoul and fine Italian dining. Gansa Hamnida!
(I'm not sure why the writing is suddenly blue and underlined, but I can't seem to change it...)

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