Monday, 2 May 2011

Korea Bethel and Seoul by night

On our second (and final) full day of our Korean stopover, we went out to visit the Branch. One of the Korean sisters who'd been at the Mandarin school we were at in Taipei has a brother in Bethel (who you can see in the doorway) and so arranged for him to collect us from the bus-stop, arrange for an English language tour and host us for lunch. She also asked Mee-young (in the foreground) to go with us so we didn't get lost!!=) Sweet, or what?=)

In the reception area is this wonderful picture - a traditional Korean house scene, all made from odds and ends of carpet!

As at many branches, there's a museum section to start with and, just inside the door was this pile of luggage etc that used to be carted around by the travelling overseer many moons ago. Our tour guide had Martin put on the hat and pose for a photo!!

This modest notice shows why our Korean brothers are quietly proud of their zealous service record. (Click on photo to see in clearer detail) I don't know what you get, but I make that just under 45% in full time service at any given time....=)

I think this just about sums up our time with brothers in East Asia - dwelling in the unity of mind, purpose and genuine brotherly love that is unknown anywhere else. At the English convention in Ebina, Japan, there were delegates from 37 countries (if my memory serves me correctly), including Africans in colourful national costume, one brother from the South Sea Islands who wore ones of those wrap-over 'skirt' things that's made from suit material (see 2009 Yearbook section on Samoa) and us boring white people!! In Taiwan we worked along with, not only the thousands of Taiwanese brothers, but also hundreds of foreign volunteers from all over Europe, North America, Australasia and neighbouring East Asian countries.

We were just looking around at some of the info boards outside one of the departments, when a brother spotted us visitors through the internal window and threw open the door, "Welcome to the Computer Department! Please come into our office and sit down for a while." He works here with his wife and we had this photo with them at his desk.=)

After most of the main tour was complete (and that took a while as everyone was so friendly and we stopped longer than normal!!), we joined the Bethel family for lunch in the temporary dining room.

Korea Branch had just had an extension built, thus the normal dining room being out of action. This is a photo of the main building from the rear - taken from just outside the Audio-Visual Department up on a hill behind the main complex. At this point, just the landscaping was still to be done.

Inside the Audio-Visual Department, our guide had me pose with the props from the Jeremiah drama a few years ago, (2001/2??) and Mee-Young played at being the WT reader!!

Next door in the vehicle maintenance workshop, we noticed that some of our Bethel bros are in the foreign language field. Here you can see various parts of the body in Chinese!=)

Korea Branch was the best Bethel trip we ever had (although the second one in Germany came close, with lunch there and joining in the Monday night Family Study as well that time), and it was so alive. Japan felt a bit flat - you couldn't see much beyond the museum and info boards in the various depts, but Korea I couldn't recommend enough!

Back in Seoul and we paid a quick visit to a park, of which this is the gate.

I was a bit tired after all the excitements of the day etc, but Martin took the camera into the park and got some photos including this interesting turtle! Not sure what was on his back, but I think it may have been the roof.

I plonked myself down in front of this - the Declaration of Korean Independence! The left hand panel is in English, the main centre panel in Korean complete with Chinese characters for certain words (as used to be the norm for Korean texts) and the right hand section is just in Hangal - the Korean syllabary, (which we began to pick up whilst walking around the city).

After dinner in Pizza Hut again (we ate there twice and in an Indian place once as we have no Korean and no real idea what the food is - a problem if you're vegetarian!), we went for a walk around the neighbouring streets:

A doorway - hurrah!=)

And more souvenirs. The Koreans also don't seem to mind you taking photos in and around their shops.

Martin snapped me looking in a make-up shop (of which there are many - the Koreans can paint for Asia!! Warning however: If you like duty-free bargains, DON'T shop in Seoul Incheon airport. Their duty-free charges actually higher than high street prices and, so that you can't tell so easily, the prices are displayed in US dollars..... I bought Euros instead at the Bureau de Change, it was a better deal!)

Another view down a night shopping street. Like Taiwan and Japan, shops are open late in the evenings here. In fact, that's when it really livens up! You can see why as people are out of work and able to go out and enjoy the city. Here in Europe, the shops close when our offices do so, if you want anything, you either have to rush at lunchtime, or join the Saturday crushes. Hmmm.

Here it is, the last scene from East Asia 2009/10:

'Til next time...

Back to Europe soon and the next post will show you some of the places we went whilst spending 12 days in south-west Germany.

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