My dad came to visit us in Seoul a few days ago. It was a quick trip, less than a week, but we were glad to have him come and stay with us. He seemed to have a good time as well. I rode the subway to the airport to pick him up. Having flown from the US, he was tired from the long trip, but we enjoyed some good conversation on an airport shuttle bus back into Seoul. We took a cab the remaining distance from the shuttle bus stop to our apartment. Luckily, I spoke enough Korean to tell the taxi driver that I knew he was going the wrong way, and that he needed to turn around. Of course he gave me some excuse, that was supposed to sound logical, but he saw that I wasn’t buying it and made a u-turn. As a side note, I had been warned by my Korean teachers and classmates from my Korean class at Seoul National University that taxi drivers here in Seoul will try to take you on a long route if they think you don’t know the city–they get a nicer fair that way. Good thing I remembered what I learned in class, both in street sense and language.

Since my dad was only in town for a short time, we had to make every day count. I hope that my dad didn’t think that we were just trying to wear him out. I guess we wore ourselves out each day, but it was fun enough that we went for another round the next day. Our first stop was Namdaemun market, one of the largest markets in Seoul. It’s incredibly diverse, you can walk for hours from one merchant set-up to the next and almost never see the same thing twice. Marquita and Dad with Maya on his shoulders

Prices are low if you are going to buy, but it is also fun just to walk around and see what’s on the racks. Odds are, unless you are incredibly disciplined, you will find something that you “need” there, and end up coming home with it.

Our next stop was Yongin Folk Village, which is actually a short bus ride out of Seoul. This was our first time there as well, so we couldn’t tell my dad what to expect. We were all glad that we made the trip. The village is a huge complex full of traditional Korean practices and artifacts; I think it is supposed to give you the feeling that you are strolling the streets of a Korean town a hundred years ago or so. There are many old fashioned buildings, and lots of people dressed in traditional Hanbok clothing. Many of them are there ready to show you how Koreans used to make spoons, or prepare food, or celebrate weddings, among other things.

Soon after we got there, we watched men perform the quintessential Korean farmers dance, complete with long head tassels, drums, and bright colors.

As usual, my camera ran out of batteries in the middle of the show, so I didn’t get pictures of the best part of the dance at the end. One of the men unfurled a doubly long tassel and started getting down to the drum beat. It’s amazing the precision these guys had flicking those tassels. I’m not sure how traditional it was, as I thought I sensed a hint of break dancing in there, but it was cool, and it got the crowd going wild. OK, I know, you zoomed in on the picture and saw that the majority of the crowd was elementary kids, but we thought it was cool too.

Next we checked out the seesaw performance and tightrope walking. yes, she is upside down

I’m not talking about your typical third grade seesaw, where it was fun to try and bounce each other an inch or two off the seat–these women were getting serious air. The woman in the above picture was in the middle of a flip. Sorry about the tree in the way. The seesaw is traditionally a womans performance, and definitely something you should see if you are interested in Korean culture.

Apparently a few of the elementary kids had been assigned to try and talk to foreigners while on their field trips, because we had several kids come up and ask us to sign their papers. These girls caught us just after lunch, and they thought Maya was sooo cute. She was literally surrounded, but played the part well. She doesn’t know how to sign her name yet, but she knows what to do when you give her a pen and paper.

The Folk Village also has a small amusement park to the side, probably as an additional lure to those school kids who are not as enthused about Korean history as they are about having fun with their friends. Actually, I think it was the first amusement park that Marquita and I have taken Maya to, being the boring parents that we are. She wasn’t big enough for most of the rides anyway, but the merry-go-round came through.

Maya didn’t trust those fake looking horses very much the first time. She had a look as if to say, “what are you doing to me,” the whole time. She got used to it after a few different rides and really enjoyed the water and train rides.