Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Focusing on Brick Walls & Sources

My research has been going on for almost two decades, with the most dedicated attention given in the last eight years since my son was born.  As far as simply "filling in the blanks" on names and dates, there is very little of that left to be done.

Now is the time to focus on brick walls and obtaining vital records to verify parentage in some cases, verifying dates.  Most of my brick walls are in Canada.  My own personal ones are in Nova Scotia, Italy and England.  My (soon-to-be-ex) husband's are in Quebec and New Brunswick.

There is plenty to research!  The challenge is getting to those places, as I believe on-site research is now essential at this point.  Research in England and Italy are my goals over the next few years.  At the moment, I am preparing for my move back to the U.S., my husband's move to Germany, and then I will have a chance to begin creating a to-do list for European research!

Copyright (c) 2010 Wendy L. Hawksley

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Travelogue - Sunday, September 5, 2010

On Sunday we traveled up to Anguk Station in northern Seoul, where we saw Gyeongbokgung Palace.  The Palace was originally built in 1395, but destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasions of 1592.  It was reconstructed in 1868.

After walking around there, it began to pour.  We decided to dash through the downpour to A Twosome Place for lunch and enjoyable conversation about matters both mundane and existential.  The ice chocolate there... OH MY GOSH!  Delicious! 

We relaxed after eating and drinking, gave the weather plenty of time to settle down, and then made our way back to the train station to go to Lotte World.

Lotte World is the world's largest indoor theme park, open year-round, and also has an outdoor amusement park called "Magic Island".  This place is like the Korean equivalent of Disney World - castle and all!

The first thing that totally amazed me was the fact that the amusement park and train station are co-located.  That's right.  You get off the train and you're there!  I kept marveling, "Wow.  An amusement park in a train station... How cool!"

Well, despite warning my friends that I cannot do the thrilling rides (i.e. anything that spins, swings or plummets) as a result of my equilibrium being thrown off big-time by giving birth to my son (I *used* to be able to do those rides, but that was before pregnancy), they still dragged me on to one of the more popular, and more nauseating, attractions: The Conquistador.

It is a swinging boat that swings up to 75 degrees. 

Now...  I've seen those before - usually the ones that hang upside down momentarily - and there is no way in hell that I have *ever* wanted to ride it (even before having my son).  So I warned my friends that it was not a good ride for me. 

I think they realized that I wasn't full of crap once they shoved me into my seat and the ride started up, because I was absolutely ill.  I'm sure it showed on my face (as well as in my shaking legs when the ride ended and we got off).  That put the kabosh on them trying to force me onto a roller coaster, but the guys still tried to talk me into some of the more thrilling rides. 

Regardless, I elected to stand aside with the camera while they rode the Giant Loop (just a huge 360 degree loop), French Revolution (a roller coaster that makes 360 to 540 degree twists and turns) and the Gyro Drop (free fall from 70 meters up at 100 kilometers per hour).

Thanks, but no thanks!  They, however, had a blast on those rides, and I was glad to see that they were having fun.

I selected more tame fare such as the Ghost House (a really cool 3D movie where you follow the perspective of a cat going through a haunted house on a stormy night), World Monorail (a tour ride across Lotte World - high up and I hate heights, but it wasn't bad at all), Jungle Adventure (a whitewater "rafting" ride), and Pharoah's Fury (with a line so long, that I added my name to the wall at Lotte World!). 

Pharoah's Fury did have a sudden drop, but because it was in the dark and I didn't realize it was coming, it wasn't too bad.  One of my friends kept telling me that my fear of/reaction to the thrilling rides is mostly mental.  But I really prefer to keep my feet on solid ground, and not face the nauseating loops, twists, turns, or plummets of high-speed rides, thank you very much.

We grabbed some dinner at one point during our Lotte World excursion.  The food there is OK.  It isn't great; you can get something fast and fairly tasty to satisfy your stomach there.

Finally there was the Flume Ride.  This was *not* something that I really wanted to do. 

Back when I was a child in the 1980's, my father took me and my sister to The Great Escape in Lake George, New York (my dad always planned the best vacations!).  We went on the Desperado Plunge there and I absolutely hated the plunge.  It isn't a long plummet, of course, but it just isn't my cup of tea.

The Flume at Lotte World is a shorter ride, but I was still not keen on plummeting downward so quickly.  Still, I survived.  :D

Overall, I had a great time and was happy to call it a day.  I slept *very* well on Sunday night.

Copyright (c) 2010 Wendy L. Hawksley

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Travelogue - Saturday, September 4, 2010

It was a long and fun day full of new experiences.  My first ride on the Korean train/subway system was painless.  And, guess what?  Cheap!  To ride from Songtan to Seoul cost less than $2.50 per person.  Furthermore, an approximately $1.00 deposit is refunded to you upon reaching your destination.  So for roughly $1.50, I sat back and let somebody else do the driving for 2 hours.  You can traverse all of Korea very inexpensively.

The train station at Noksapyeong Station had a 7-Eleven, where we purchased snacks and waited for our hostess, a very cool fellow Pagan who has been teaching here in Korea for a few years.  She was gracious enough to offer us a place to stay for the weekend.

Seoul has quite the thriving community of westerners, some of whom are here to work, some of whom are ex-pats.  They basically seem to be a bunch of hippies or snarky British earring-wearing hipsters; not the most open and friendly bunch, I must say.

We went to Itaewon, which is basically just a street of non-stop shopping.  It is a city district of Seoul that caters to tourists.  The crowds are ridiculous on a weekend, but weren't bad at all on Monday (because, while it was a holiday for us, it was not a holiday for the Koreans).  So the tourist-centric shopping didn't really do much for me, but the transgender club gave us a smile!

Probably the most entertaining part of Saturday was our back alley jaunt.  We took the time to explore the residential areas, where a few little shops, restaurants, and various places of worship were also hidden.  The area seemed like San Francisco with steep hills and quaint, tightly-packed buildings.  Some random things made us stop and smile (a seashell in the street, an old construction vehicle that appears to have had a wall erected around it intentionally).  Overall, Saturday was fun and tiring.

Oh, I forgot to mention the *fabulous* fish and chips that were had for lunch.  OMG!  I haven't had fish and chips that good since...  I'd say before 2007.  It was in this teeny, yet airy seafood restaurant with a wonderful staff.

So my recommendation for the Itaewon area?  Go if you like shopping.  It is a great place to find English bookstores ("What the Book" is the big one that carries both new and used books).  And visit Sydney Seafood for lunch.  Yummy!

Copyright (c) 2010 Wendy L. Hawksley

Friday, September 3, 2010

Unscheduled typhoon & scheduled mini-break

Typhoon Kompasu took out our power yesterday. We've been without it for 36 hours and counting (wooo hooo!).

On top of that, I have plans for a mini-break with friends this weekend up in Seoul. I'll catch up when I get home (and hopefully there will be electricity, permitting me to do just that!).

Copyright (c) 2010 Wendy L. Hawksley