Friday, August 28, 2015

Seoul Part II: Shopping

Our first day in Seoul continued with lots of walking. The outdoor market in Insadong feels like a never ending road. That feeling is compounded by the frequent stops to explore the little stores. 

After lots of walking, I noticed that most of these stores sell very similar touristy items. Mother of Pearl boxes and cases, clothing, and other little knicknacks. I did find some cool items for family members, but unique and touristy do not go well together.

I think I enjoyed the people watching much more than the shopping. I just wish the market was better suited for people watching. Besides a few stone benches, there was really no where to sit. If your planning on a day of shopping in Seoul, wear good shoes and take lots of breaks. Some preemptive ibuprofen wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Seoul Part I: Exploring Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace is an awesome place to visit if you don't have much time in Seoul. 

Our goals for the day were simple. See something historically unique to Seoul, eat Korean food, and go shopping. 

Gyeongbokgung Palace definitely fit the mold of historically unique to Seoul. We knew we didn't have all day to explore the full site, so we opted for the 1 palace ticket. After seeing the grounds of the one palace, I think we would have needed a few days to see all four palaces and the museum and enjoy them all.

The palace was packed with tourists and tour groups. As you move further back into the grounds it opens up a bit and people spread out more. If you don't like crowds, move through the first few courtyards quickly to get to the more open grounds.

As you got deeper into the grounds, you felt much further from Seoul. The atmosphere was quieter and the mountains seemed closer than the skyline of Seoul. These small ponds were filled with blooming lily pads and fishes skimming the surface for bugs. 

The additional palaces we opted not to purchase were located on the North side of the complex. They looked amazing from a distance and I'd definitely like to come back and see them. 

On the west side of the complex, we found the pots used to make kimchi and other fermented foods. All this talk of food was making us hungry. So we jumped on the Seoul subway to head over to Insadong for food and shopping. 

The Seoul subway was really easy to use and very clean. 

Coming out of the subway, we were greeted with the long shopping street of Insadong. If your going to shop here, wear good shoes.

We picked a restaurant off the main shopping road. The food was delicious and plentiful. I really liked all the side dishes and enjoyed mixing the flavors up in my rice. 

That's it for this blog post, I've got tons more photos of shopping for the next post :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

First Day in South Korea

Flying from Denver to South Korea is a head trip. I have flown to Europe over the Atlantic before. This was my first trip West over the full Pacific. It was odd because the sun never went down during the entire flight. Everyone had their window shades down, but I could still see that light peaking through.

The long flight wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The in-flight entertainment was free. So I finally got to watch Furious Five. I watched another movie right at the start of the flight, but for the life of me I cannot remember its name. I kept falling asleep at random times during the 12ish hour flight. So the entire flight felt like a dream.

After arriving in South Korea, I stood in line for a good long while at various desks. When I found the Army people, I had no idea what I needed to do. So I used my tried to true senses to find the NCO with the clipboard and ask them. Problem Solved!

When we got to our lodging for the night, I was fading fast. I knew I needed some food and the shopette was nearby. I wandered over there and all I could focus on was my need for delicious crackers. Ritz and Triscuits ended up in my hands at the register. It didn't matter that I hadn't eaten a real meal in 20ish hours. Crackers are delicious and my sleep deprived mind was very satisfied with the choice.

My bunk for the night was set up in a way that only military people will understand. It was a small bay with no air conditioning. We had a huge industrial type fan with one speed blowing air down the middle of the bay. The lights were on at all times but covered with red film so you could see but also sleep.

I was given my linens and a bunk assignment for a top bunk. So of course I grabbed the last lower bunk and threw my sheets over the well worn mattress. This was no time for hospital corners. I laid down and ate some of my crackers. I put my headphones in and put on my trusty sleeping playlist. I didn't know what time it was in Denver or Korea, I just knew I was exhausted.

I woke up several times in the night. Looking over at my fellow travelers, I noticed this was not an odd occurrence. The Air Force NCO closest to me was trying to read. Another Army NCO had claimed the top bunk which had originally been mine. I could see the light of many smartphones throughout the bay.

After many more sleepless hours, I decided it was time to try and hunt down some internet. The common room claimed to have wifi. But in order to find working wifi I would need to go a little bit further.

Good Morning, South Korea! The nearby shoppette and food court had reliable wifi. But it was closed for several more hours. So here I am, sitting on the patio being eaten alive by mosquitos and writing this blog post.

I think its time for me to hunt down some real food though. I am almost out of crackers. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pictures of the FOB Union III, International Zone, Baghdad, Iraq

As it is my two year deployment anniversary, I decided to pull out some of the pictures I never shared on this blog. Above is the famous Hands of Victory in Baghdad, Iraq. For most of my deployment, I was stationed on Victory Base Complex, but I was able to visit the International Zone in downtown Baghdad near the end of my deployment. Part of that visit included a short tour around the International Zone, which brought me to the Hands of Victory.

To backtrack just a bit, I thought I should mention that we were driving around the International Zone in an up-armored Volkswagen Jetta. The Jetta looked like any other Jetta but the doors were deceptively thick and heavy. Also, the front windshield was cracked and when viewed at an angle, showed the thickness of the ballistic glass. As our driver first started up the Jetta, dust came flying out of the A/C vents which were set to high. The four of us pushed the doors open as quickly as possible and did combat rolls out of the Jetta.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Shimer Graves in Old Zionsville Cemetery, PA

Old Zionsville Cemetery

Old Zionsville Cemetery is located less than a mile from Shimerville, Pa. John Seip Shimer and his decedents are the namesakes of Shimerville and many of those decedents are buried at Old Zionsville.


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