Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Lunar New Year
22.01.2012 - 26.01.2012 -10 °C
I spent New Years Eve exploring Frankfurt, when the clock struck 12:00am I was flying over Russia, and I spent New Years Day in Seoul and Busan. I felt like this was a perfect representation of my current lifestyle, full of travel and new experiences. Being in Korea has allowed me to meet so many people and experience traditions and holidays that are different from mine.
As a Canadian I have always celebrated Thanksgiving, but it has never been an overly important holiday. My American friends Nichole and Joe speak of Thanksgiving like it is the greatest holiday of the year. So I was lucky enough to share this holiday with them. They invited me and my Korean coworkers over for a delicious dinner. These are the people I have considered my Korean family since I am so far away from my Canadian family, so it seemed perfect to spend this day with all of them. We all squeezed into a shoebox sized apartment, ate dinner, and shared what we are thankful for. It was a really great night with amazing people.
As you all know last year I celebrated Christmas here in Korea, I had a wonderful time but it wasn't the same as sitting around my Grandma's table with everyone I love eating delicious turkey, the best mashed potatoes, and having the choice of five different desserts. So I can't even explain how thrilled I was when my boss let me go home for the holidays. I kept it a secret so I could surprise my mom's family, it was hard to send emails to my grandparents and aunt telling them how sad I was that I wouldn't see them, but it was all worth it when I walked in on Christmas day.
I have missed Canada while being overseas, but I am used to living away from my friends and I have become very independent so I rarely think about not being in Canada. When I landed in Toronto I was so overwhelmed with emotion. Just walking off the plane all I could think was I'M IN CANADA! Everyone around me spoke English, there were Christmas decorations EVERYWHERE (Christmas isn't big in Korea) and snow was falling. Simple things that you take for granted made me so happy, when I was lost I could ask for help, people are friendly, and the airport's T.Vs and signs were in English. It was amazing! I spent the entire Toronto to Ottawa flight crying, I am sure people on the flight thought I was crazy, but it had been so long since I had been home. Once the flight landed I couldn't get off the flight fast enough, I knew my mom, dad, and sister would be waiting and I just wanted to hug every single one of them.
The best way to describe being at home after spending so much time away is that it was easy. Everything was easy! When you walk into a grocery store you can find things you need, and if you can't find something... well you can ask someone for help. When you go to a restaurant you always know what you are ordering, and modifications to a meal are possible. Personal space is guaranteed (except on boxing day of course) and your friends and family aren't living half a day behind you. Thank you to everyone who made time to see me during my short visit, you really made my week home a great one!
설날 Lunar New Year
Last Lunar New Years was spent exploring Shanghai. This time my friends and I decided to try to see more of Korea. The five of us rented a car, bought animal hats, made t-shirts and spent the next four days exploring Korea. Since we live in the second busiest city in Korea, we wanted to see more of the countryside.
We started our trip by driving along the coast. Here is a map of the route we took and the places we stopped.
Our first stops were not far from home. The first one being Gijang, it was a beautiful area with old fishing boats everywhere.
The second stop was Jinha. Where we sat by the beach and ate dumplings and fishes. Fishies are one of my favorite foods in Korea. They are little fish shaped pancakes filled with red bean or custard. They are so delicious!
Our first night was spent in Andong. Andong is located in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, and it is the home of Confucianism in Korea. During the Joseon period, Andong was the home to many nobles. A lot of the homes still stand today. We were able to explore one of the traditional villages while we were there.
We made a rule that if someone yelled 하지 마 (stop in Korean) then we had to stop. With many stops along the way...
we made it to our second destination, Muju Ski Resort. It was cold, but it was great to see the snow, and the mountains were beautiful. We ended up staying in a traditional style Korean hotel. I will never get used to sleeping on the floor.
We got up early the next morning, which was made easy by the uncomfortable floors, and headed Southwest towards Damyang, a county in Jeollanam-do. This area is well known for it's bamboo, and my friend Nichole just loves bamboo, so our next stop was the Jungnogwon bamboo forest. With tall bamboo and falling snow it was both peaceful and beautiful.
On the last night of our trip we decided to go to Hwasun Resort, to relax before having to head back to work. The resort was in the middle of nowhere. That night we bought some beer, went bowling, and had a great time. We spent the next day at the water park and the sauna.
I am happy that I was able to see more of Korea before I leave.
Here is a video Nichole and I made to help us remember the great times we had on our Korea road trip!!