Mon 7/11 – Wed 7/13, day 26-28
The last few days of our time in Busan run together: we all played basketball together, played cards together, got ready to travel to Seoul.
The boys all went out to Home Plus for dude time and to pick up some groceries. Asher and Calvin love this little “4D” experience for kids called “Max Rider” right in the store. The kids sit on a moving platform with polarized glasses on; the door closes and the selected animation plays. Kind of like a mini version of the Star Wars experience at Disney. Ice cream followed, and Nate was initiated into the boys club cheer: “Boys… to… the… end!” (picture one fist in for each word, then all exploding upwards). Fun times.
The girls stayed home and did our nails and watched some of the BBC Pride and Prejudice. Phoebe pampered me and made cute cat designs and paw prints on my nails, Maddy did pandas and bamboo on Annie’s, I did dot designs on Maddy’s, and Phoebe had lost interest by the time it was her turn. I will say that Phoebe and Maddy were not as enthralled by Pride and Prejudice as Annie and I were. The quality of the YouTube version wasn’t great either, but I still feel that Mr. Darcy translates well on a grainy screen and Elizabeth Bennett is as sharp and endearing as ever.
Once we were all back together (meaning the men came home), we had a dance party. Well, it was more Maddy and Phoebe, but when Sia’s Alive is played, I can’t help but dance around. We also showed the girls the very interesting, but definitely odd Sia’s Elastic Heart video of Shia LaBeouf dancing with the strange little girl. It’s captivating but a bit disturbing: of course interpretive dance is up to interpretation, but it seems like they are acting out the battles and difficulties that fathers and daughters sometimes have. Phoebe kept on asking, “What is this video about?” She was definitely not satisfied by, “What do you think it’s about?” We tried to explain, but she thought it was just weird. Perhaps it is. But the girls were inspired by the style of dance all throughout their performances. It was really fun to watch them dancing and expressing themselves in this way.
On Wednesday the weather was clear and we all piled in the van for one last excursion: the Mountain Temple.
Before we headed out, Maddy and I needed our date time together, so we went down to the basketball court and had a little bit of 1-1 training. It was hot, but we had fun. I love teaching and she loves learning. We made a good team. After about 30 minutes, we hopped in the van for the Mountain Temple.
It was a beautiful day to be outside. We walked up and up to the temple complex through a nice little forest with running water beside it. Through the temple gate, there were large (and ominous) Buddhists figures stomping on the heads of people. In each little temple, there were people praying. As an observer, I knew that if I took my shoes off I could go inside, but it felt different than going into all of the churches in Europe. I was welcome to go inside each temple, but for some reason I stayed respectfully outside.
Most of the paint work and decorations have been redone over the years and it is stunning. Vivid detail and inviting colors. Monks walking through the courtyard on their way to prayer time. Quiet people respectfully bowing their heads to their ancestors.
The kids were outside and wanted to run around; we tried to get them to be quiet, but I remember thinking adults were always trying to get us to be quiet, when I was a kid. But in a holy place, even if it’s not your holy place, teaching them to respect the quiet and contemplation is still important, and a challenge.
There is a beautiful wooded area with climbing rocks like a staircase just off of the main temple court. It is a place of quietude. I was seeking solitude in this peaceful place. A few monks climbing and a noisy family of 8 (us). It was like Muir Woods. I felt forest alive. I don’t know if that’s a thing, but I could have set up camp here as well. In normal life, in the outskirts of Orlando, it is difficult to feel nature’s calming force. Spending time in these temperate forests, makes me want to explore the natural beauty of Florida. The main problem there is when you actually do find yourself surrounded by nature, it 90 some degrees and a hundred percent humidity, thus making it difficult to enjoy said nature.
We picked up ping-pong paddles the next day and the girls and Nate and I headed down to the very nice new tables in the apartment complex. Maddy and Phoebe haven’t played very much so it was mostly us teaching them, trying to get some volleys going. The girls are both very performative, so as we took turns, when their turn would come up they would each have a “dramatic entrance” (think Kung Fu Panda 3, if you’ve seen it). There was also a lot of dramatic commentating. A lot. A bit later, Dan and the boys came down, and Nate and I each got in a few good games with Dan, in between giving the kids turns. Sweaty once again, we all headed upstairs for dinner and a final hangout time before our early departure the next morning. Nate got in a little time playing video games with Asher and violin with Maddy. It had been a packed, amazing two weeks, with lots of food, laughs, sites, unique experiences, and quality time. Thank you Collins, we are so grateful for our time together!