Happy Hoelscher-days

January 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Weeks of December 21 – 27 & December 28 – January 3

My family touched down in Seoul on Christmas Eve. For the first part of vacation, I showed them around Seoul and we did some of the things I haven’t had time to do yet. We shopped the markets, went to the DMZ, the Palace of Shining Happiness, Seodaemun Prison, hiked Dobongsan, visited the Seoul Museum of Art, and ate lots of tasty meals in the foreigner district, Itaewon.  We celebrated Dad’s birthday with a cake in my apartment and the 3 of us kids got Korean-kid animal hats.

On the 30th, we took the train down to Busan, where we visited the aquarium, the Jagalchi fish market, and Busan tower. We took the Beetle ferry to Fukuoka, Japan the next day. Now, I know the Sea of Japan is notoriously rough but I was not expecting the roller coaster ride I was in for. The Beetle ferry is a hydrofoil, so it sits up above the waves, and I’m not sure if that is good or bad for seasickness but I definitely was seasick, along with many other people on the boat, including my mom.  Once back on solid land we took several trains to get to Matsumoto, a the foot of the Northern Japanese Alps. We traveled through Hiroshima and Osaka and got to see lots of beautiful Japanese landscapes. Matsumoto was lovely. The whole town is speckled with small shrines and temples and small freshwater springs, which are diverted into roadside springs or pools in front of homes or businesses.  On New Years Eve, we joined the locals at a temple for bell-ringing, prayers and the ceremonial burning of the old year’s good luck charms. We also visited the Matsumoto Castle and the Matsumoto City Museum of Art. I spent some time in the onsen (hot spring bath) in our hotel and ate lots of delicious Japanese food. After two days we went to Tokyo, where I only spent a few hours before flying home to Seoul.  It was a great vacation and really great to see my family.

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