Sunday, August 9, 2009

Parents' Arival and Jeju-do, Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

I guess it's about time I poured some much-needed life into this desert island of a blog. My extended absence from the world of web logging has been mostly due to the exciting arrival of my parents in Korea. But now that they have gone back to the states, I would like to update you all on the exciting first week of our adventure.

Mom and Dad flew into Busan the evening of Thursday, July 30th and were pleasantly surprised to find that jet lag never truly hit them. They were a little tired for some time on the second evening, but handled the transition like pros. Though I only got to spend a night with them in Busan, Korea's second largest city, we took some time to appreciate the nightlife and have dinner at a local Pizza Hut. I figured I would leave the traditional food to the traditional-oriented Andong. It astonished me to find that both of my parents were immediately enamored (and maybe a little overwhelmed) with the culture I've now gotten used to.
Arrival in Andong
Upon finally getting to the Capitol of the Korean Spirit (Andong), I checked my parents into the highly disappointing Hotel California. What was supposed to be the chic downtown alternative to the Andong Park Hotel (the most well-known of Andong accommodations) quickly turned into an exercise in futility, since the nightly air conditioning didn't come on in the day or night, several of the room's amenities didn't work, and hot water wasn't turned on until 8 o'clock each morning. My parents insist that everything was fine, but they spent the rest of their Andong tour at the Andong Park Tourist Hotel.

Regardless of the hotel situation, our two day stint in my Korean hometown was well-spent. We explored the area near the Andong Dam, toured Andong's charming downtown area, and sampled some of Korea's finest dishes in the local restaurants. Without a doubt, the biggest surprise of our first few days was that Mr. Larry "please bring a fork along" Williams is actually a chopstick champion to be reckoned with.
My parents introduction to Andong was short lived, though, as we set off for Jeju island, often referred to as "Korea's Hawaii." On Jeju, we stayed in the luxurious Hyatt Regency Hotel, where we were pleasantly surprised to find that our ocean view room gave us both extraordinary views of the ocean:
and the mountains:
We spent half of our time enjoying the posh ameneties of our five star hotel, such as delicious western breakfast with a gorgeous backdrop:
and a drink or two in the calming, lobby-set cafe:
The other half of our time was spent climbing, clawing, hiking and otherwise killing ourselves through the island's many walking tours.
We visited the black sand beach near our hotel, which was set against stunning cliffs.
And climbed our way down through one of the island's parks in pursuit of glistening waterfalls.
Dad was slightly unhappy when we thought we were going back to the parking lot, but instead wound up at a very sudden dead-end.On our final day in Jeju, the entire crew (me, mom, dad, Sara, and Linda) trekked out to a Buddhist temple and mountain grotto that was purported to have some of the finest views in all of Jeju. Our guidebook simply said the path would be a climb "...about halfway up Sanbang-san mountain." Enter Sanbang-san:
Still, we braved the steep climb:
And arrived at the breathtaking grotto, where we drank from a cistern filled with fresh, cold, and clean mountain water, flowing directly from the rock itself. And the book was right, the view was to die for.
Stay tuned in the coming days for the second update from mom and dad's trip to Korea!


  1. "The other half of our time was spent climbing, clawing, hiking and otherwise killing ourselves through the island's many walking tours."

    Hahahaha- so true and well said! I completely left that part out of my blog when blogger started rejecting my endless picture uploads. I'm glad you captured it. And your ocean view picture was amazing- those clouds with the ripple of white on the waves at the shoreline are very beautiful.

    Oh, and your dad with the chopsticks. Your mom dove right in like true spirited soldier but we never thought your dad would join the war. Who knew he'd be so adept. Bravo!

  2. Awesome pictures! Thanks, Sheryl

  3. Great job Scott! Your pictures are the best. I look forward to reading more.


  4. YAY!! Happy your parents got to come out!! :) :) :) Sweetness. High-five! Does it make you feel MORE homesick, though?