Touring the Ramparts– Seoul, Korea

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Since my sister was coming to live with me in Japan I decided to do something nice, such as buying us tickets to Korea for a four-day weekend! I submitted a chit and once that was approved, I bought the tickets and sprung the surprise on her 2 weeks after she had arrived!

Two of my friends were traveling with us and one of them travels to Korea as often as possible, works with a missionary there and is pretty knowledgeable about where to go and what to do. We packed our small bags the night before and the next day as soon as work was over, we were on our way to the airport to catch our 45 minute flight to Pusan.

We flew with Korean air which was an excellent experience (I love all international airlines), we received a full meal during the 45 minute flight and we even got two free Kirin’s (beers) to drink. My sister and I were in the last two seats on the plane. It was great!

That night we took the train from Pusan to Seoul, barely catching the last one there and headed to our hotel which was located in Gangnam Korea, if you know Gangnam Style, then you will know that this suburb of Seoul is very up scale, even though we are not very upscale people. haha.

The next morning we woke up and met with a friend of our friend who would be giving us a walking tour of Korea! He was the nicest man named Tae Wook Kim and he was giving us a trekking tour for free except for our food expenses. What we didn’t realize was that trekking was more like hiking and we were definitely not prepared for that. My only saving grace is that I had decided to wear tenner shoes. Thank God!

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We stopped at the Korean National Theater for a brief on the plan, were given maps, and then we set off on our journey. Boy did we see Seoul in a day! We walked all over the place. Probably around 7 miles. We walked along the ramparts of Korea, which is like a mini great wall of China and we hiked up this huge mountain to see all of Seoul from the top. It was magnificent. We took many pictures and one of the hardest parts was choosing the pictures to show here.

We climbed straight down the mountain on the other side and walked to the Blue House which is equivalent to the White House in America. We went into the information center and took green screen photos with the President Lee Myung-Bak and his wife and we also sat at “his desk” and took photos there.

As the sun was setting we walked through the lover’s area where I learned an interesting fact about South Korea. Normally, men and women in Korea do not marry until they are in there late twenties early thirties, which means they start dating later as well. Which means South Korean’s are very romantic people and they go on my dates to catch up for lost time. It was very cute seeing all of the older couples in this area. We tried all sorts of new foods, our favorite being dough filled with cinnamon and flatted like a pancake on grease. Those were great!

This was the end of our tour.

The next day we went to a Korean Temple and Namdaemun a BIGG outdoor shopping center that sells everything and anything. It was great! I got part of my Halloween costume here (since I was being PSY) and we shopped all morning. We also bought the softest blankets ever.

Ben took us for an authentic Korean meal with Kimchi (picked cabbage) and a few other popular items and then we were flying back so we said our good byes to our friend and I headed to the airport. If given the chance I would definitely go back to Korea. It was a great experience!

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Tour of the East Wing of the White House: Thoughts and Facts.

In case you are unaware the East wing of the white house is the part that the president resides in. The West wing of the white house is where all the business is conducted (The Oval Office) and the North and South is the front and back.  Yesterday I was standing outside of the  South gate watching a security man and freezing in only my suit waiting to get in. We were waiting for my friends cousin P (a secret service agent) to find us so that he could give us the tour. He works at the white house at all different times and he also works at other buildings in downtown D.C. all of them not allowed to be discussed here.

Boy was it cold. I didn’t want to be bothered with a coat though and neither did the five people that I was with so we wore our suits and froze. I can’t believe how much they have already transformed the streets for the inauguration. Quite crazy. Bleachers have been erected everywhere and on all street corners in the surrounding vicinity and there are people moving things in, building different structures, and preparing things everywhere. A lot like bees I would have to say. When we found P (it turns out that we were at the wrong side of the gate and had to go to the North side) he used his security clearance to get us right in. I loved that.

We went through the building that they have set up for checking you for weapons and then down the ramp and back outside to enter the white house on the East side. yay! Walking in I immediately was mesmerized. There were two guards standing decked out in everything, guns clipped everywhere and they had M-16 strapped around their waists. Serious soldiers. P knew them and I walked up and said hello as well. They were actually very nice.

There is so much history in the white house you can practically feel it. I kept thinking of National Treasure and all the history they made up for the movies. I don’t know why? Moving down the first hallway I started stopping and looking at all of the many picture frames that had all sorts of different events encased in them. Frames dedicated to first ladies and all that they have done, different inaugurations at the white house for presidents and all of that good stuff. I read all of them, this stuff kind of fascinates me :).

Entering another hallway P said that this was dedicated to all of the first ladies. For some reason Hillary was hanging up on the main wall and then moving down there were pictures of various different first ladies that have lived here.

Fun Fact: George Washington is not the first person to live in the White House. He started the plans but died before the White House was finished. John Adams was the first president to live in the White House.

On the side we saw different parlors that they still use of course in excellent condition. On the right, was the White House library, where they have over 27,000 different volumes.

Walking up to the first floor we entered a huge room which is designated the gold room. Wow, The chandeliers were massive and everything inside of it was ornate and quite alive. All decked in gold. P said that the chandeliers are cleaned twice a year and an entire team of people come in and take each one apart a strand at a time to dip and clean off. Wow. He also said that civil war soldiers slept in this room to guard the president before the secret service came into being. They also had a picture of George Washington, the original that was in the first white house before it was burned down. They new they would be attacked so they took it out and it survived.

There are portraits of presidents everywhere. The portrait of JFK does not have his face showing. This is because the man who does all of the portraits of the presidents never saw his eyes before he was assassinated and refused to paint the picture any other way. I found it quite humorous the fact that they had JFK and Ronald Reegan in the same hallway across from each other. They might be good friends in heaven now but the Great Debate stated otherwise. They also have a picture of FDR standing up which is obviously peculiar, but apparently he was at the bottom of the steps and stood up to be transfered to a different chair and they captured a picture of it and made it into a portrait.

There was only one wedding in the white house and that was president Grover Cleveland.

The rooms are all sectioned by color. There is the Gold Room, the Green Room, The Blue Room, The Red Room, and the main hallways. In the green room P told us a peculiar story about a picture of Independence Hall that was located there. He said that someone was over in India and purchased the painting there for seven dollars. They then brought it back to the states (the story of how that happened is unknown) and it ended up at the white house. Now the painting is priceless and it was purchased for $7. Above the picture of Independence Hall is a picture of the coast and this painting is actually the first painting int he white house that was painted by an African American. I have a feeling it might become Obama’s favorite one.

The second to oldest painting located in the white house is the portrait of Benjamin Franklin and the oldest painting hangs in the presidents bedroom.

The history here is overwhelming and crazily we were able to walk out the South Entrance and stand on the steps. It felt good. Reallll good. I like it there.

After our tour was over we went down to the newly renovated Smithsonian of American history. We didn’t have time to check everything out but my focus points were science and technology, war, and entertainment.

Highlights from these sections: Dorthy’s ruby slippers, The puffy shirt form Seinfeld, World War II, Dumbo, the house of miniatures, and the Star Spangled Banner. How do they have the original Star Spangled Banner?!? No photos were allowed but it was pretty sweet.

Fact about that flag: One of the stars was cut off of it as a memorium in the 18oo’s.

I had a fun filled day of history yesterday and I enjoyed every second of it.

Confessions of a Writer<3

The Clearance Has Been Granted!!!

It’s official. My tour of the white house this Friday has a green light and I’ve got the in. How awesome. I was nervous because I heard that we might not be able to go since we hadn’t heard back from the guy who will be giving us the tour that we got our clearance. I was really bummed and thought that I would be sitting at the bookstore all day helping angry people buy college textbooks which they already don’t want to buy in the first place. Great. I’ve been dealing with them for ten hours a day this past week. blah blah. My friend told me that the chances of us being able to go now were very small because she hadn’t heard anything and it was Tuesday and we were supposed to be leaving for D.C. on Thursday. EEEKKK.

Happily I got a message on my phone when I was taking a break and it was a very frantic voice mail saying that P had called and he got all of our clearances and we were still going to be able to go.

I was already working extra hours at the bookstore so as soon as I got off I rushed home and M and I reserved a hotel. yay. Now I work all morning on Thursday and then I leave for D.C. immediately after I get off. I’m sooo excited. I’m sure all of the bookstore employees are sick and tired of hearing me talk about it but I can’t help it. I’m getting a tour of the East wing of the white house. Not just everybody can say they’ve done that, in fact I’d say I’m in a very small percentage of the people who have. I can’t wait to find out what its like. oooo. Afterwards were going to the newest Smithsonian because we are huge nerds and greatly enjoy nerdy things. At least M and I, can’t say the same for everyone else. ha.

Right now I have to run three miles and I have five to run tomorrow. Just because I’m going to D.C. doesn’t mean the marathon training program can wait because it can’t. I have to keep up.

P.S. After three months of obsessing over my new ski jacket (the one I knew I was buying but just couldn’t decide on) I have finally made a decision. From the beginning I knew it was going to be a 686. I love 686. I really wanted the smarty maven jacket in truffle by them. Unfortunately I could not find it anywhere. I searched every corner of the internet and I feel like it was discontinued because I could only find certain sizes for sale and the one that I did see was coming from Russia. Wayyyy too far.

I had my heart set on that one and was sort of disappointed so I kept putting it off and putting it off until finally I decided that I had to make a decision. The winter coat I’ve been wearing, I bought in the 9th grade. That is quite a long time ago. So I started looking at the other 686 jackets on the smarty line. They had this one jacket that was called the admiral smarty jacket. I looked at it and at first didn’t really like it but then it started growing on me. The fact that I am in the middle of my naval application really sold me to the idea since the highest rank in the navy is a four star admiral. Alright. I gave in. I bought the jacket. I have been obsessing over it and waiting impatiently for it to arrive since Saturday. Unfortunately the store I bought it from only ships M-F so I have been in even more agony then I could have thought. The only consolation I have is that it will definitely arrive by Thursday so I can hit the slopes ASAP! So Excited.

686-jacket[For some reason the navy one won’t upload so imagine this jacket in all navy no dots. ]

So I must go now but be waiting for an update on Friday or Saturday. EEEE. So Pumped!

Confessions of a Writer<3

Upcoming Events!?!

So my To-Do list is being knocked out left and right. It just can’t keep up with me. Love It! As a senior in college I have aspired to finish quite a few things before I graduate. Sort of like a bucket list except I do not plan on dying anytime soon. Woo. A few of the major items of the list were to visit the FBI academy. check. Run a marathon. In the works. Visit different people around the area. Mostly done. And best of all Visit the White House. Coming Up!

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I have been given many amazing oppurtunities because of one of my best friends and I only have her to thank for the FBI visit to Quantico Va and now the upcoming tour of the East Wing of the White House. (Where the President Lives) She has connections and a top secret security clearance so she was able to set this up for herself and five friends. WOO! Good thing were friends right?? haha. She was even more fortunate than me and got a tour of the west wing of the white house about a month ago and yep she got to sit in the oval office. There’s nothing like me bragging about her accomplishments like I’m her mother or somehting. ha. In case you were wandering, she is only a senior in college like me. She is the girl I am running the marathon with in April.

So, we are planning for this trip and we are both super excited. We’re going to be driving down to D.C., then we will get the tour, and then of course the true nerds that we are, we want to hit up the Smithsonian. She and I previously went to the Spy Museum in D.C. If you have never been there  I highly recommend it. So fascinating.

Overall I consider myself highly blessed and lucky to be given these oppurtunities. On an even lighter note I can’t remember if I already mentioned this in a previous post but I got the results to the Naval Officer Training Program back. After waiting for four weeks when my contact said it would only take one (Apparently their computer system was down or something. Freak Out.) he called me and filled me in with my scores. Yikes. Well, it turns out that I qualified for Intelligence. You’ve got to be shitting me. That is awesome. I do realize that this is only small and minute part of the hurtle into making this a realization but I can’t help but be excited.  Because of the highly competitive nature of these programs I still have a long way to go before I find out if I actually make it. That’s okay with me, all I can do is try right?

So as of right now, everything is going A okay. I’m having a great break and I’m just trying to get some balls rolling for my future. Let me tell you how big and heavy those balls actually are. wew.

P.S. I just completed week 2 of my marathon training program and I ran six miles. That is the most I have ever run consecutively. I have forteen more weeks to go and as of right now I’m still hanging on.ha.

Confessions of a Writer<3