It's 5:30am Friday local time... we've been up for hours already, thanks to another weird sleep pattern day.
After the last weblog entry, we met up with another couple and took a shuttle northward to Ilsan, where Holt Children's Services operates a live-in community for the disabled. Our tour guide was a Korean-American adoptee from Michigan who is volunteering at Ilsan Holt Town for six weeks. She took us around the property and told us about the work they do there to care for the 300 residents, all with varying degrees of mental illness and physical disability. This is also where the Holts themselves are buried, so we got to visit the gravesite of the American couple whose post-Korean War efforts to help the Ameriasian war orphans blossomed into the wonderful public service organization that has allowed Rhonda and I to form a family. When you're standing there, you can't help but imagine the ripple effects their lives have had. Amazing.
We were back in Seoul early afternoon, and Rhon and I did some more aimless city wandering. I finally found a video game store. Spotted a PlayStation logo on a corner and followed it down into an underground mall zone. The store was closed when we first arrived, maybe on a lunch break? So we did some circles and came back later. Outside the store was a vending machine with the most awesome little toys in it, including a set of WarioWare figurines. Of course, you have to have 500 Won coins to use it, and we had none. So back at the hotel I made change out of a 5000 Won paper and we're going to head back to the game store in a little bit. The toys you get around here in vending machines are well above anything you find in the States, finely detailed and well crafted. I'm buying plenty.
Almost picked up Nintendogs, the DS puppy simulator that isn't available in the US yet. I'm afraid the game will have too much Korean text for me to handle, so I grudgingly passed. Saw the Korean version of Katamari Damacy on the shelf.
We stopped in a CD store... that also sells a ton of cassettes, oddly enough. We were specifically looking for traditional Korean baby music, and we were able to converse enough with the clerk to find something. We're going to show it to the foster mom and see if she can tell us if there's anything on there Clark already may know and like.
Related sidebar: during our first meeting with Clark, we saw how the foster mom sung to him in Korean. So when we were alone with him and he grumbled a bit, we thought maybe we should sing too. But being as our minds were still stalled from the whole overwhelming experience, the only thing I could summon up to sing was the opening humming lyric from Katamari. Haw!
Around 4pm yesterday we stopped by an Outback Steakhouse for late lunch/early supper. Yes, yes, more American meat-related crap. Unfortunately, they were still serving off the lunch menu, which has zero vegetarian options. We ordered a bunch of sides (steamed veggies, steamed rice, french fries) and enjoyed that instead. They also gave us a serving of kimchi, which, dammit, I tried and liked. It was nowhere near as scary as I had expected.
The waitstaff out here has been all young folks, maybe students from one of the many nearby universities. They have all been helpful and understanding, and I always remain humble and gracious. Many of them have laughed a bit when they realize I have no idea what they're saying. At Outback, our server pulled out some all-English menus to help us out, and we managed to sign and nod our way through the usual end-of-meal questions. I'm assuming she asked us things like "any last soda refills?" "cash or charge?" etc. Just before we paid, she showed up with two doggy bags... we accepted them, but we had no idea what was inside. Did she package up the four fries and leftover kimchi for us? Did she ask us that and we agreed? Down the street we opened them up: pre-packaged bread loaves!
We stopped by a convenience store on the way back to the hotel, then passed out around 4:30pm. That explains why we've been awake since 1:30am today.
Today we have our final meeting at Holt, where they give Clark to us. That is at 3:30pm, so we're going to kill time with some shopping. Then an entire night in Korea with him, and an early bus out of Seoul Saturday morning.