I know we have posted about this hike before and if you’ve visited us, we’ve likely taken you on it. It is one of our favorite things about our location here in Seoul: That we can hike, on a small mountain, to a temple right behind our school and end it at our favorite BBQ joint. We would do this weekly, all year if we had the time and the weather was as beautiful as it was today. The photos below are actually a mix of two hikes.
We returned from this hike today and began packing for summer. Cannot wait for hikes around Sewickley, on the Outer Banks, exploring Whidbey Island and wandering the neighborhoods of Seattle this summer!
On Lauren’s birthday weekend we attempted to head to the Seoul Zoo. Colin was not feeling 100% but wanted to go. After over an hour or navigating the subway he began to look/feel worse so we reversed and headed home. The following weekend we made a second, very successful attempt. If you get up early in Seoul, nothing is crowded, including the zoo. It was a lovely day. Only one animal photo here as most cages were pretty dirty or the animals were in the process of, well, you can look at the photo. As is often the case here, the journey was more interesting than the destination.
Every time we plan a trip like this, we head out with the clear understanding that it may be our last. It’s difficult to believe we have access to these places and are blessed with the time and resources to make these trips happen.
This trip began as if it were our first, with some bad luck and rookie mistakes. The trouble started at the baggage carousel late at night in Phuket. The moment everyone is thinking about as the bags go round and round: Lauren’s bag never showed up. We filled out the paperwork and headed to the 24/7 Airport B&B (quirky, yes, but not as sketchy as it sounds). We then quickly realized we did not bring any money except for a few Thai Bhat we happened to have and we had left our US ATM cards (the ones that work overseas…Korean ones do not) back at home. It was a stressful beginning to our visit. But, the next morning we headed to Khao Lak, and spent a couple afternoons at ATM’s, currency exchanges and on the phone with our US credit card company (“Yes, it is actually us attempting to take out cash at various ATM machines here in a small town in Thailand.” Apparently that raises red flags.) and finally we had enough money #firstworldproblems. Lauren bought a back-up $10 swimsuit in record time. Really. I don’t think a woman’s swimsuit has been purchased faster. I was so proud.
We stayed at a nice resort right on a wide, flat beach covered in silky soft sand and deliciously warm water. Our first morning we got the great news that Lauren’s bag was found and on its way. It arrived 5 minutes before we were picked up for our snorkeling trip. This was a huge relief as Lauren now had among other things, her swimsuit. We spent the day on a speed boat visiting various reef sites around the Surin Islands and experiencing what might be the most amazing snorkeling I’ve ever seen. The fish were amazing and everywhere you looked. We saw huge moray eels, parrot first and even got to wander through a mangrove forest while baby black-tipped reef sharks swam all round. Check out this video. Or this one for a close encounter!
While waiting to be picked up for the trip to the airport on our last evening, we headed out to the beach one last time to release a traditional Thai lantern (Here is the video). It was a wonderful trip, a great time to just be together as a family and relax, one of those moments when everything just stops and you have the capacity to enjoy your many blessings. Now we are back home in Seoul enjoying the various bits of coral and pinches of sand that fall out as we unpack. We’re rested and ready for our final trimester of teaching/learning this year!
Ever since we left Seattle to teach in Vietnam in 2010, Colin and Trevor have not only shared a room but also, by choice, one large bed. This unusual but wonderful arrangement has created a closeness between these two that has amazed us daily and we are so blessed by their relationship. It has also meant numerous photo opportunities:
It was only a matter of time, however before the question arose: “When can we have our own rooms?” It did a couple weeks ago. Surprisingly it was Colin who asked it. He practiced sleeping in the TV room and waffled a bit when asked how he felt about the idea. Trevor, the teenager, helped move things along with, “If you’re not going to pull the trigger, I will.” So, it came to pass that this last weekend we made the move. Both boys were very excited and we all worked together to transform our little apartment to accommodate a third bedroom.
I will miss this chapter. For this first time this morning I woke the boys up (neither of whom slept well they reported) in separate rooms. It was strange; Appropriate, but strange. Parenting, as my mother reminds me, is a series of “letting go.” This letting go fills me with an odd combination of pride and sadness, I guess. Hopefully tonight we’ll all sleep better. Colin has already talked about the possibility of occasional “sleep-overs” with his brother–and Trevor likes the idea.
You may recall Mike’s post about Colin’s acting debut in his comedy role as the Humbug. Well, this evening, Mike performed his first ever stage role as Prince Charming, husband of Cinderella, in our SFS Panto, Once Upon a Time. This was SFS’s return to a faculty tradition of years-ago, a hilarious British-style Pantomime, complete with audience participation and cross dressing. Mike was perfect in his role of bumbling, arrogant prince and played a great drunk scene. The boys sold pizza and Krispy Kreme donuts before the show and during intermission. The show is a fundraiser for our schoolwide effort to support Dongdaewon, a tuberculosis clinic for multiple-drug resistant tuberculosis patients in North Korea. They sold out 480 tickets and are full again tomorrow afternoon.
Not being so good about this whole “microblogging” idea so far. Life has a tendency of getting in the way of posting about it.
In a nutshell, we flew home to surprise Mom for her 70th birthday and Christmas. We spent quality time with family (including Lauren’s parents and cousins from Australia!) in the living room, the dog park, climbing wall, and just about anywhere there was strong coffee or delicious IPA.
As always, it was wonderful to reconnect and spend unrushed time with people we miss so much. Now we are back in Seoul and knee-deep in jobs we love and a community we cherish.
Life is good.