Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Exuberant Knudsens

If you're coming home from a long vacation and you, like me, really dread the post-vacation blues, I recommend scheduling a visit from Koryn and Jeremy. I suppose you could also schedule a visit from someone you know personally. But you might enjoy hanging with Knudsens regardless.

The only thing that got me through my week alone {Noah had to fly right back out for work} was the promise of these two arriving at our place on Friday morning. I really couldn't sleep the night before. I got up and went to the gym. Yeah, I was THAT restless.

We had the most delightful visit with my beautiful sister and her wonderful husband. Their visit also marked the last Furniss/Riley sibling to visit our humble abode {though we do have two siblings-in-law who still need to grace us with their presence}. What a treat to share our city with the Knudsens. They were such gracious guests.
Koryn and Jeremy requested tasty eats and treats recommendations and some off the beaten path neighborhood wandering. Done and done. These are two of my favorite things to do in New York. I think we hit nearly every neighborhood on foot and were sure to get in some delicious meals and sweets in the process.
 {Pretty gal - pretty street.}
I really love that my best friends are my siblings. I just can't imagine spending a weekend any more wonderful way. Thanks for your visit, Knudsens!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


This is the last post about Korea, and then we can all get on with our lives.

Oh, of course that's silly. It's a little narcissistic of me to think my words have any sort of effect on the pace of your lives. No, no. What I mean to say, of course, is that this is the last post about Korea, and then I can get on with telling you about the rest of my life... yeah, I hear it.

I thought living in New York had somewhat inoculated me against being awestruck by large cities. But Seoul is just so vast. It's amazing. We spent an afternoon at Seoul Tower and from its perch above the city, we had 360 degree views of it all - the metropolis sprawling in every possible direction.
A familiar sight - "locking" one's love and symbolically throwing away the key. Although, this time, accompanied with a cautionary tale...
Because you just never know :).

I'm finding it hard to wrap up this experience - a retelling doesn't quite seem to do it justice. Also, I know how much my parents adore blog updates (yours especially, dear sisters and Lee/Barlow cousins. almost every conversation with dad begins with, "have you seen {enter your name here}'s blog site?" i'm particularly fond of the fact he calls them blog sites).
Thank you for your sweet examples, Mom and Dad, in accepting this call to serve and engaging in such a worthwhile work. Thank you for your incredible generosity in sharing this experience with us. Love and miss you so much! 당신이 그리워!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bless My Seoul

Yeah, there's plenty more where that came from.

Seoul claimed its spot on my list of cities I'd call home. What a beautiful and exciting place. We hit the sites one might expect (Gyeonbok Palace, Namdaemun Market, Seoul Tower) and also enjoyed some spots off the beaten path.

And I take it back. THIS is my favorite picture of little B from the trip.

Noah adds a little special something to this Pace family shot...
Those sweet parents of mine. Doesn't my mom's smile just make your day? It makes mine.
And when we move to Seoul, mark my words, we will live in Sam-Chung. This area had special significance to my dad, as it was the first area he lived when he was in Korea in the 70s. We were able to visit the home where he lived as a young man - it's still being used as a mission office for the Seoul mission.
Marionettes in Sam-Chung.


One of the most fascinating stops on our trip was the DMZ, or demilitarized zone, between North and South Korea.

Truth be told, I don't know how to describe the feeling in this two-mile border between the countries. Perhaps it was all these seemingly incongruent feelings trying to co-exist. Perfectly safe, but somehow a bit unsettled. Sympathy and suspicion.

I believe it is most evidenced in our apparent confusion about how one is to smile or not smile in pictures along this most heavily militarized border in the world.

Our tour included a walk down into one of the incursion tunnels {wikipedia - anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information}, four tunnels dug through the DMZ, believed to be planned military invasions from the North.

We also visited Dorasan Station - the northernmost train station in South Korea. Before this visit, I'd never thought about the trade and logistics implications of the divide. Without access to the rest of Asia through North Korea, South Korea is essentially an island. If I understood correctly {allison's blog - she can write anything she wants on any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information}, after one test run, North Korea put the kibosh on trains coming from the South. So for now, this station is completely deserted.

Another stop was the Dora Conservatory, from which you can actually see the North Korean town of Kijong-Dong. This town was an especially interesting, if not just really sad, glimpse of North Korea. This town is apparently just concrete shells of buildings. Our guides said there are actors hired to pretend they are happily living life in this fake town. It's heartbreaking to think of a government draining resources into smoke and mirrors while its own people are starving and oppressed. We didn't actually see the town, so we'll have to take our guide's and the interwebs' word for it. Thanks to a heavy fog, this was our view of Kijong-Dong:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chickens and a City Wall

There are so many memories in this series of photos that melt my heart. The one of little B smiling into the camera has to be my favorite picture of the whole trip. He was such a great traveler - just the sweetest little guy. Which is why it's tied for a close second with the moment he and Noah are sharing in the one below. Too sweet.
This Korean folk village was such a beautiful spot. Mom and Dad were so gracious to take us to all these places they've visited before (and will likely visit again!). It turns out road trips in Korea are a lot like road trips out West when we were kids - Mom had the cooler of healthy snacks in tow. For now, she's trading in the apples and oranges for "beh" and Korean melons. So we always feasted thanks to Mom's kind preparation. (Mom - I saw Korean melons at Whole Foods the other night and they almost made me cry. I blame that reaction partly on it being 11pm and me being really tired.)
We also made an evening visit to the city of Suwon. The city and its walk-able city wall were stunning.
Markets are pretty high on my list of favorite things. Ask Noah - I can't help myself, I love wandering through stores. Not so much department stores, but little grocery stores and markets. It's not that I even buy anything, just something about the scene that I love. The sights, the sounds, the life. So much going on. The little guy clearly agrees.

Outside a little restaurant that belongs to a woman in my parents' church congregation. I think this is a nice picture of everyone, but it's gorgeous of Ashley. Honestly. What a fox.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Seoul Sisters

One of the sincerest delights of this trip {so many! how to narrow it down?!} was traveling with the Paces. I really think we're on to something here. Ashley sent me a note a week out, "let's do lunch next week. say, Seoul?"

Ashley and I are only 18 months apart, and that made for some "two cats in a duffel bag" moments when we were younger. And by younger, I mean 16 and 17 and should have known better, but were still fighting over clothes and drooling in each other's mouths. Okay, that only happened once. And it wasn't entirely on purpose. One had pinned the other and was laughing so hard and it just kind of happened. I won't say who was the pinner and who was the pinnee... 

Since we wisened up and realized that it's actually super awesome to have a best friend who shares your DNA, we've been thick as thieves. 

These pictures sum up a few of my favorite moments with the Paces, and also the cardiovascular highlights of the trip. We visited a Korean folk village and Ashley and I were reacquainted with an old friend: the Chinese jump rope. {I just googled that to be sure it's really called that and that I'm not somehow racist, and one of the results was a YouTube video with the caption, "Ever caught daydreaming about Chinese jump rope, but you just don't know how to play?" That's just ridiculous. Nobody has ever been caught daydreaming about Chinese jump rope. Jake Gyllenhaal in Source Code, maybe. But never Chinese jump rope.}
The others are from Daedunsan Provincial Park. The Koreans are for realsies about their hikes. And their hiking apparel. We didn't dress as smartly, but we did master the varied terrain of the hike. Different sections of the hike included stairs crafted out of stones, bouldering, a suspension bridge and a seriously steep ladder that proved me wrong - turns out, I am a little scared of heights.

We're so glad it worked out to share this experience with Ashley and Justin. Lunch, next fall, Rome?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gapsa Temple and Thousand Buddhas

In addition to the sights and sounds of my parents' part of town, we took in some of the beauty of the surrounding area. The first day, we drove by rice paddies and fields on our way to Gapsa Buddhist Temple and then to the 1,000 Buddhas - a park with many different iterations and representations of Buddha. And the kind of buttery evening sunlight that makes me wish I lived my entire existence in this lighting...


Korea - The Daejeon Chapter

My dad lived in Korea as a young man. It's common in our faith for young men and young women to devote 18-24 months of their lives sharing a message and a testimony that is near and dear to their hearts. I say "common" - but I sometimes discount how truly exceptional it is.

Decades later {I won't say how many, Dad :)}, my parents are back in this beautiful country. They've been asked to serve, or volunteer, for three years overseeing the missionary effort in this area. It's a sacrifice on a lot of levels - missing the birth of new grandson or precious time spent with aging parents - but one they are cheerfully and wholeheartedly engaged in.
It was such a treat to spend time with my sweetheart, my parents, my sister and her wonderful husband, and their sweet little guy in a place that has such a special meaning for our family. 
The time spent in and around Daejeon, their city, was priceless. It was so fun to catch a small glimpse of their lives there - hitting up their usual restaurants {the babe was a hit - I don't think we held him at all as he was passed from table to table}, morning walks with Mom around the town and nearby campus, and strolls through neighborhood alleys - Dad interacting with the little old ladies who graced their paths.

While Korea held a lot by way of new sites and adventures, an absolute highlight was experiencing a bit of their routine and meeting a few people with whom they frequently associate. And as Koryn put it, picturing where they are when we speak on the phone :).
{I adore this picture of my dad - great catch, Noah.}