Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why Would You Ever Leave Spain: Part 2

Nearly a year after my Dad visited me in Spain and asked me the question "Why would you ever leave Spain?"  he made the trek to Korea to visit me in Seoul.  Because of some unfortunate bad luck I think he still feels that way.

After the long flight from San Francisco he arrived in Seoul late Thursday. We had a good Galbi barbeque dinner near my school before calling it a night. We had tickets reserved for 7 AM the following morning to tour the DMZ and JSA. This was the only day that we were going to be able to make the tour so that is why we went so soon after his arrival.

The DMZ was quite interesting and I think we both enjoyed it quite a lot. There was a lot of waiting on our tour but seeing the North Korean guards facing down the South Korean guards and stepping into a room that is technically in North Korea is an experience worth the wait. The rest of the tour was interesting too but not nearly as much as actually being so close the the North and seeing the guards. The rest of the trip consisted of a huge tunnel that was dug by the North Koreans years ago and a train station that connects the North and South. The entire tour made it very clear just how much posturing and propaganda is going on and how little any real danger anyone is in. One example we were given was that the flag pole that is up on either side of the DMZ caused a lot of trouble and there was an 11 hour meeting about which side was going to have a taller flagpole. Eventually it was agreed that the North Koreans could have the taller flagpole. It is the tallest flagpole in the world and holds up a 600+ pound flag. You can see it through the fog in my pictures below.

The rest of the weekend went very well too. We had a great time in Seoul visiting places like North Seoul Tower and traditional markets. North Seoul tower overlooks the city and really gives you a view of just how massive in size and population the city is. From the top of the mountain you see a never ending sprawl of high-rises.

We had some very good meals including an absurdly expensive Hanjeongsik. Hanjeongsik is a huge traditional Korean meal that came with about 20 courses including meats, fish, seafood, many vegetables and even raw beef and raw crab.

The next morning (Monday) is when things turned for the worse. My dad had been sitting next to someone who was sick on the flight over and by Monday he felt like he had the flu. To make a long story short, he ended up getting very sick with flu, asthma and pneumonia. After many visits the the Korean doctors and hospitals he had to call the visit short and head home.

We had a great time for the first weekend so everyone was disappointed that he got sick but these kinds of things happen when traveling and I am just glad that he is healthy now. Enjoy the pictures and I will try to not wait 6 months before my next update.

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