Tag Archives: Palace

Ryan’s Parents Visit: Weekend in Seoul

We had been excited for some time to have Ryan’s parents come out to visit us and it was finally here! One of the most fun parts about it all was that this was their first trip to Asia so there were a lot of first times to be experienced and we couldn’t wait to do that with them! We went to pick them up at the airport – we had signs and everything (I wish I had snagged a picture but I assure you they were cute) and we were so happy to see them! We drove back to our apartment and CeCe and Tim were asking about whether we got snow here or not. Ryan and I told them that it is a very rare occasion on Geoje island, but sure enough, we woke up to several inches of snow on the ground!
View from our front & back windows in our apartment on the snowy morning

View from our front & back windows in our apartment on the snowy morning

As cool and crazy as this was, it complicated our weekend plans a bit because we needed to drive to Busan but we made it there in the end with no worries. We had a few hours to kill until our train, so we got some dinner at a Pho place…this was another first for Ryan’s parents because they had never had Vietnamese food. We took the high speed KTX Train or as Ryan and I call it, the Seoul Train! (to the tune of the song Soul Train - get it?! We’re so clever. ;) . We got on the train to Seoul and of course, I was asleep in minutes (if you’ve read the posts about our trip to Japan, trains lull me to sleep in no time) and woke up once we got there. We maneuvered the subway and made our way to our hotel so that we could get some rest before our early morning trip to the DMZ in the morning. We got up early to head to Camp Kim for the USO DMZ Tour (we have done this before and really wanted to go again with Ryan’s parents). The funny thing about Korea is that there are no restaurants open early – 8 AM is a stretch and most don’t open until  9 AM. No worries on a normal vacation day, but we had to be there ready to go by 7 AM, so we had no choice but to grab some breakfast munchies at the corner store – yet another unique Korean experience. The DMZ tour was great as usual…we all had a wonderful time and can now say that we have stepped foot in North Korea TWICE!
In the JSA on the North Korean side of the building

In the JSA on the North Korean side of the building

The DMZ Tour is almost an all day affair, so we went back to the hotel to rest up;  Tim was still feeling really jetlagged so he continued to rest up and the 3 of us went out to dinner in Itaewon. This is one of our all time favorite spots in Seoul and one of the main reasons we love this city so much. This is the international area and has lots of wonderful restaurants and a great energy about it – it’s a really neat mix of expats and Koreans which is fun. We found a Spanish restaurant – this was another first for Ryan’s mom. Who would have thought that she would try Spanish food for the first time in Korea?! We had some great food and wonderful Sangria!! Then, we hit up an Irish pub for some beers – great end to a wonderful day.
Delicious Spanish food & Sangria in Itaewon!

Delicious Spanish food & Sangria in Itaewon!

The next day, we went back to Itaewon in the morning to go to a breakfast restaurant. Going out to breakfast in the states was one of our favorite things to do and we don’t get the chance very often here in Korea so we took advantage of doing this as a family here. Once we were fully satisfied with eggs benedict and breakfast burritos, we went to one of the palaces.
We walked around the Gyeongbokgung Palace which is the largest palace of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty. According to the guide books, it’s the best palace to visit if you only have time for one. We had a really nice walk around and then ventured back to the train station to catch a train back to Busan.
Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Two Mrs. Kendricks in Seoul

Two Mrs. Kendricks in Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace with Guards

Gyeongbokgung Palace with Guards

We were so happy that we were able to make it up to Seoul to explore and we had such a great weekend!

Bangkok – Sight Seeing!

The next day, we went down to the water ferry to go to see a few of the famous Bangkok sights! The ferry is funny because you are crammed on there with lots of other people and then you travel down the river to various stops in the city. Traveling alongside you in the river are these river taxis that are long, slender boats that have a giant engine in them – very iconic Thailand.

We went out onto the front of the boat to take pictures and saw the Temple of Dawn which was really cool!

As we got off the boat on our way to Wat Pho (the Reclining Buddha), we passed several street vendors selling freshly squeezed juices and fruits. We got some fresh pomegranate juice and some fresh pineapple which were both delicious! We walked to Wat Pho, got our tickets and went to see the world famous Reclining Buddha. I don’t even know how to describe what I thought when I was there but something about it felt magical. It was so impressive – the big, gold statue was just so cool.

The feet were engraved with mother of pearl, too which was beautiful.

Afterwards, we walked over to The Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha. As we were walking in, they told us that we would not be able to go in if we were showing our knees. They had sarongs and pants for rent so Ryan and I rented a pair so we could go into the temples. These snazzy additions to our outfits certainly added to our pictures (see what I mean in the pic below?).

On our way back to the ferry, we passed some stalls selling food. I passed an older woman selling mango and sticky rice which is my absolute favorite! It was 50 Baht (about $1.60) and it was as fresh as it gets. She peeled the mango in front of me, pulled out some sticky rice, covered it coconut sauce and nuts and put it in a to go container. It was hands down the BEST mango and sticky rice I had ever had!

In the afternoon, we headed to the Chatauchack Weekend Market; it was about an hour away on the Sky Train which was a pretty awesome public transport system – complete with air conditioning which was very refreshing as Thailand is super hot and humid! The market is absolutely gigantic – it’s over 35 acres and it has anything you could possibly want. We spent quite a bit of time wandering around and found a few souvenirs that we liked. The best part of our afternoon was meeting up with Ryan’s friend, May. She is from Thailand and had worked with Ryan in Houston. We had the best luck because she was going home to see her family during the same time that we were there, so she met us at the market and then took us to her favorite restaurant. It was great to see her and to eat such delicious, authentic Thai food!! :)

The next day, we took it easy and walked around the city a bit and went to a great restaurant for dinner. It was called the Blue Elephant and the food was delicious!

Early the next morning, we headed up to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand…

Summer Palace

On Sunday, we decided to go to the Summer Palace in the northwestern part of Beijing. We hopped on the metro (super convenient and crazy cheap) and headed there. As usual, it was extremely packed – over 58,000 people were expected to visit there that day. At the entrance, you could already see parts of the temple up on the hill – it was a stunning palace! We couldn’t wait to hike up to the top! It was nestled in the hill and there was a walk up to the top…it was a really neat hike because you were walking through rocks and really beautiful palace buildings!

First view of the Summer Palace

There was a waterway than ran in front and around the palace

A palace at the top of the hill – lots of green and yellow tiles!

At various spots along the walk around the palace, there were people who sat with a stack of cucumbers and would peel them for you for 1 Yuan (about 15 cents). My dad and I both love cucumbers, so we got some.

The view from the top – such a beautiful place!

This is another view from the top and it was a little hazy but you can see the water out on the distance…

Ryan & I at the Palace

The majority of the Palace is water so once you get to the top, you walk down to the huge lake below.  We grabbed some lunch and then decided to explore the water. There were a ton of boats on the lake – lots of paddle boats but I decided I wanted to go on the dragon shaped boats…this is China afterall! We got tickets and then got in line – we were first in line and made sure to keep it that way so we could get the best seats! Once our boat got there, we ran on the boat to get the seats with the best view. :)

We stopped at a little food stand by the water to grab some delicious noodles! Yum!

Dragon Boat!

My mom & dad on our dragon boat ride on the lake

The view from the lake – such a neat place!

Seventeen Arch Bridge

We decided it was time to head to our next destination for the day, so we got in line for the dragon boat back to where we had started. While in line,  the family in front of us turned around and were so excited to see Americans! The parents immediately started pushing their sons in our direction and they started speaking English to us to practice. This happened to us on several occasions but this one was particularly funny.  The proud look on their parents’ face was priceless…we were happy to leave a positive impression of Americans on them. :)

One of the other funny aspects about the trip was the fact that many Chinese people wore t-shirts that had English phrases on them – they were often phrased in a way that I would never say, but I guess they make sense….while in line, we saw this gem of a t-shirt phrase: “Think Less Stupid More.” – Great advice, haha.

We had been riding the subway quite a bit while in China but we never once were able to get a seat but on the way back from the Summer Palace, my mom and dad scored a seat!!

We took a detour on the way home from the Summer Palace to see the Olympic Stadium from the 2008 Summer Olympics and that was really neat. I spent my whole life wanting to be in the Olympics and it was really cool to see the place where the games took place.

The stadium was really crazy to see in person and Ryan walked around to see some of the US medal winners that were engraved on some of the stones in the area.

Swimming Results – Michael Phelps won gold in 2008 here in Beijing; it’s carved in stone as proof

On the walk back, we had another encounter where we noticed that people were obviously trying to take pictures of their son with us in the background. It was important to us that we are good ambassadors for the US and so we walked over to take a picture with the boy. They were so excited about it! As we did that, Ryan took a picture of the encounter.

That evening, we went to the Legend of Kung Fu show – it was action packed and an excellent end to a great Sunday in China!

The Legend of the Kung Fu Theatre

Cast from the show

To finish off the night, Ryan and I learned some Kung Fu…

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