Saturday, October 15, 2005


Friday we went up to the DMZ at Munsan, to the Unification Observatory. Despite some rain very early in the morning, the day was beautiful but windy. As we were leaving the apartment, I suggested to the women that they bring along coats. This turned out to be a good thing, especially when we were outside on the observation deck.

The Stumblers at the DMZ Posted by Picasa

You can see the North Korean "Promotional Village" over our shoulders in the photo above. The wind is demonstrated by Mrs. Stumbler's hair in my face. The water in the Han River ebbs and flows with the tide, and was near the low point as can be seen. The presentation said that at this point, the distance from South Korea to North Korea was just over 3km, only a 15 minute walk. Just a short distance along the river, clearly visible, the distance was 460m. This is my second visit to the observatory, and one thing different this trip is that both sides have stopped the use of loudspeaker broadcasts. I clearly remember on my last visit hear the sounds of "Oh Suzanna" being broadcast to the North. I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee....

Today's Konglish Sighting - a sign in the gift shop proclaimed "Don't Waste Wastes". We had to get SC to tell us the true meaning, which was "Reduce Waste".

After seeing all there is to see at the Observatory, we went to lunch in Munsan at a western "Family" Restaurant. The name was "Santarosas", and the interior decorations had a Christmas theme, and background music was Christmas songs. I finally concluded they got this from the "Santa" part of their name, although the food style was Italian, and they featured a map of Italy on their logo. After considerable deliberations over the menu choice (the Stumbling girls are too picky, even for western foods), we enjoyed a delicious meal. Next we drove around a nearby "artists village", admiring the very unusual houses and art galleries. Then it was home so the The Stumbler could have a rest before the evening dinner with The Chairman.

After a good rest, we proceeded to meet CH at The Chairman's home for a delicious dinner. Mrs. Chairman had reportedly been shopping and cooking since 1pm that day, and in hindsight that seems too short a time, given the incredible amount and variety of foods we were served. Fortunately, there was so much variety that even my the picky Stumbling Girls were able to find enough food to eat. Just considering the meats at the meal, we were served beef, pork, shrimp, squid, octopus and fish. I don't remember seeing chicken or duck, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was in some of the dishes. The only food I didn't try was the raw fish, but had I not been so full by the time it was served I would have tried some. The only thing I didn't like was some special drink made with nuts and grains - very thick. I was told it was an tradional beverage which many poor koreans would drink for dinner in less prosperous times past. Surprisingly, YS#4 enjoyed this drink.

Let me wrap up today's post with in interior design story. When John and I furnished the apartment, we enlisted the assistance of some professional designers (in a very loose sense). These ladies were given pretty much free reign to chose the styles of our furnishings, and John and I were very happy with the results. Fast forward to the present, and I can tell Mrs. Stumbler is not impressed with the decor. She would give me subtle hints, like telling me "I don't like your apartment decor". She must have thought all Korean homes were similarly decorated, because she commented with surprise how nice The Chairman's home was, and how it was decorated like a home should be. We will give the Korean home interior design award to The Chairman this year, I guess.

All for now. Today we head out to an Aquarium across town at the COEX complex, then it will be out to eat kimchi samgyeopsal (belly pork grilled on a rock)

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