This might be a bit of a long post, but there's a good reason. I saved up EVERYTHING we did during my family's time here, and I'm going to throw it all out here. I usually throw all my pic links at the end, but look for them throughout this post.
Also, you can check out my dad and mom's blog for another perspective on the trip. You can find dad and mom's blog here.
I won't type too much, as I'll try to let the pics do most of the storytelling, but get ready for the show!
The family arrived right on time, and Jeong Mi was at the airport to meet them with a call van. We got them back to their rooms quickly, and then went straight to the hanbok store. We had to get there quickly so we could catch the baseball game.
While there, my parents got measured and picked the style they liked. It all went smoothly, as my parents were also meeting Jeong Mi's parents again for the first time in a year.
We got out of there quickly to head to the baseball game, but the rain would take its first point from us, as the game was called off. You'll see the rain becoming a common, unwelcome theme throughout the trip.
We ended up just going back to my neighborhood to eat lamb skewers at my favorite place, and then we headed to Radio to introduce my family to my friends and the place where I spend the majority of my weekends.
Jeremy, Melissa and Alan had a morning and afternoon to rest, but Mom, Dad, Jeong Mi and I had to get up early-ish. We went to the wedding place to check out a ceremony, so my parents would have some idea of what was going on. Though they didn't need to know much, it was good to see.
After that, we went back to Yeonsu-dong and ate at a galbi restaurant with Pel, Kim and Popper. In an unprecedented event, they all decided to stay with us and join us for a trip to the norarbang. There are a million in the area, so we picked one and hit it. We had a great time singing and hanging out. We took a lot of good pictures and great videos.
Check out the June 24 and June 25 pictures here!!!
June 26 - Wedding Day
As I've been saying, if it rains, it might as well be a typhoon. And that's just what we got. A tropical storm blew through the morning of the wedding. While we were covered under tarps, the wind still whipped in and brought some splashes of water with it. To add to the fun, Pel and Popper got stuck in an elevator, and made it only minutes before the ceremony started.
Unfortunately, that means they couldn't carry me in, but Jun and Oson stepped in alongside Barry and Woo Min, and it was as really fun experience. While I was carried in, I was goofing around by peeking around the shade and generally just having a good time. Then Jeong Mi came in, and the wedding was underway.
The ceremony itself was short, but ours added other things on to stretch it out. We had a drum band play for at least ten minutes. Our fathers both tossed roosters. I carried around basically my whole family and her family on a piggyback ride. We also had the ceremony where the family members each come up and say nice things to us. Then we took a bunch of pictures. I also translated the whole ceremony through the mic. I didn't expect to, but I guess it was bound to happen. While fun, those things definitely tacked on time.
There was hardly any food left for us when we finished!
After that, a big group of us headed back to Radio for the after party. Woo Min really worked hard that day to help organize all our friends and then host us after the wedding. We had a blast hanging at Radio. We even got to do the Chicken Dance!!! A Bruckart wedding can't happen with that!
Check out wedding pictures here!!!
Keep in mind that we have a ton of wedding pics. This is just a first uploading. So if you keep checking back, there will be more and more. This will at least give you a taste of what happened that day.
June 27 and 28 - Gangwondo
While not yet a honeymoon, really, the days after the wedding provided us a chance to take a trip with Jeong Mi's parents as well as my family. We went to the northeast coast to the province of Gangwondo. It's my favorite place in Korea. It's all nature and beaches and mountains and trees and rivers. The air is fresh and clean, and it's just beautiful.
On Monday, we checked out a beach and a few different spots to catch a good view. We then got to our pension and grilled as much meat as two families possibly could. We also toured a South Korea ship and a North Korea submarine.
On Tuesday, we headed up past the 38th parallel to a lookout that is less than 5 kilometers from North Korea. From the mountaintop, we were looking straight into North Korean territory at some of its mountains and islands. It was an incredible site.
After that, we checked out the DMZ museum and headed over to Mount Sarak, where we rode the cable car up and hiked onto one of the peaks. What a beautiful view! I definitely want to go back in the winter time.
Check out the pictures from the Gangwondo trip here!!!
June 29 - DMZ
This day was another early morning riser. This day was special because we were going to the DMZ. We left our place at 6 a.m., and headed into Seoul. That's where we would catch the bus to the most heavily armed border in the world.
Just crossing into the civilian territory is almost surreal. Soldiers check IDs and passports, and they warn you not to take pictures. Though, if the barbed wire and armed guards weren't all over, the countryside would be just beautiful.
Unfortunately, rain once again reared its ugly head. But that didn't hurt our first plan. We went to the third infiltration tunnel made by the North Koreans. Once there, we strapped on our helmets and rode the tram underground. The tram tunnel was made by the South Koreans, but we soon stepped into North Korean-made territory. The tunnels were tight and small. An average person couldn't stand straight up. The helmets came in handy for a few people on the tour. It was interesting to think that these tunnels exist and were once used for terrifying things. On top of that, there could be many more tunnels around the DMZ.
After that, we went to an observatory, where we saw ABSOLUTELY NOTHING because of the rain and fog. Then it was onto Dorasan, the northernmost train station between North and South Korea. It was previously used to make cargo deliveries, but in recent years, trains hit that stop for some workers, and then come right back. It's another surreal area, almost like a ghost town.
Our last stop on the tour (besides eating) was Imjingak unification village. There was really nothing to see there. It's mostly set up as propaganda. I think the tallest viking in Korea is there (!).
That was it was the DMZ. The idea of it is scarier than being there. Of course, being there when a war is actively happening would probably be a nightmare. I couldn't imagine fighting in the heat and humidity and the heavy forests. And don't even start thinking about wintertime. Yikes.
Check out DMZ photos here!!!
Coming back in from the DMZ, we stopped at Jeong Mi's parents' place. We had a great meal at a Jajangmyeon restaurant, then went to their house to watch some of the DVDs and picture slideshows her dad made for us. It was really fun.
June 30 -- Wolmido and Baseball
We woke up Thursday morning late, because it was a planned rest day. But seeing as the weather was nice, I wanted to do something relaxing. So we headed to Wolmido! Wolmido is my favorite place in Incheon. It's the site of the famous Incheon Landing, and is now home to an awesome boardwalk with rides, drinks and fun.
We got there around 4 p.m., which is a bit unfortunate, because the place really starts rolling at night. Also adding to the bummer factor, is that they are now doing construction on a large chunk of the boardwalk in order to expand it into the sea area.
We still had a good time, because almost all of us got on the slingshot. It's a wonderful ride that does what it says and shoots you into the air. Though we all only paid for one trip, business hadn't really started for them yet, so he gave each of us to big rides. It was a great time. Even Jeong Mi and Dad got on the ride.
Then, since the weather was holding out, we got to go to a baseball game!!! This was really exciting for me. Baseball is a really different experience here. So we sprung for tickets almost behind home plate, got our thunder sticks and enjoyed a really great game.
We got on the jumbotron a bunch and mom even won a free pizza for a dance contest. We even saw an almost-fight between the first-base coach and the ump. Incheon lost, as usual. I'm sure me being there hurt us. But it was still a great time.
Check out Wolmido and baseball game pics here!!!
July 1 - Seoul Bus Tour
Just like last year with Mom and Dad, we took the family on the Seoul Bus Tour. It's a great tour that is only 10,000 won per person, but takes you to basically every big spot in the city. This year we went to Gyeongbokgung (Sejong's palace), Seoul Tower, Itaewon (only for lunch!) and Insadong.
This was really the only time we got to spend in Seoul, but it's a cool trip and worth a day on anyone's schedule. I didn't take too many pics, but mom has a bunch more in her blog.
Check out Bus Tour pics here!!
Saturday was really just a day to relax. We went to Outback for some actual good food, and then I took Jeremy shopping a bit. Melissa and Alan came over to our place and hung out. Then we went to Radio for a couple hours to hang out and wind down. Woo Min and Jun surprised my parents and family with some very nice gifts. I have some great friends here, and I'm glad my parents got to meet them all.
July 3 - Farewell
We woke up early-ish on July 3 to meet Jeong Mi's parents for one last meal. We went to a nice meat restaurant in the neighborhood, and they got to chat (through me) one last time on this trip.
We then loaded into the van, and headed to the airport. For the second year in a row, I watched my family take off from the airport and head back to The World. It's always hard watching them leave, especially when I don't yet know what my own future will hold.
We had a really incredible time and things went fairly smoothly. Unlike last year, where a day of translating would force me to take two recovery days from mental and physical fatigue, this year was a piece of cake. What a difference a year makes, huh? I only needed my dictionary a couple times at the DMZ, but it was mostly in my ear hole and out my mouth hole without even stopping to think anymore. And it didn't wear me out at all. It felt pretty normal.
I'm so thrilled my family could make it out for my traditional Korean wedding, and that they could see a glimpse of my life over here. Any of you other teachers -- or anyone living here -- who has a close family, get them to come out and spend a week with you. Even though it can be a bit stressful, it's totally worth the time and effort.
As for the rest of my family, we look forward to partying with you guys back home and celebrating American-style as soon as possible. Anyone who stuck with this through the end, thank you so much! Keep checking back for picture updates.
Once more to my family, Jeong Mi, her parents and my friends: I love you guys! Thank you so much!