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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Lunar New Year Surprises...

Seollal (Lunar New Year) is an annual event where the Korean government decides to give most of the population a well deserved 3 day holiday. It’s a time where families across the country get together to celebrate the start of a new year in accordance to the lunar calender, and it is one of the most significant traditional holidays in Korea. This year it fell on February 8th, 9th and 10th allowing for an extremely generous 5 day weekend. As you can imagine I was very excited for this, but even more excited to see my sister who would be visiting yours truly all the way from England. I had planned accordingly and spent hours scrolling through lonely planet guides and speaking to her about what it was she actually wanted to do, but nothing could really prepare me for the week I was about to have.
 
I barely know where to begin but I guess I’ll start where everything usually starts...nope, not the womb. The airport. As my sister came through the arrivals gate the tears started flowing. We hugged, cried and spent several seconds in complete shock, but little did I know that she had another surprise waiting for me just around the corner. I turned around and to my utter astonishment, I saw my lovely mum strutting towards me with a face full of glee.
 
Whaaat?! 
 
It was all very emotional, and I thought for sure Peaches and Herb were about to burst in at any moment bellowing their hit record 'Reunited'. My hands couldn't stop shaking for a good hour or two as her epic arrival in Korea, slowly started to become reality. It wasn’t that I never thought she’d come, I just never expected it, but yet there she and my sister stood after nearly a year of absence, both with suitcases in hand. Crazy. We hopped on the bus and started the first journey of many that week, and I couldn’t wait for it all to begin.

It was a totally bizarre experience to see these people that I've known for my entire life in Korea. When you have spent the last year surrounded by people who have only known you for a few months, it's sort of absurd. The amount that we have been through as a family is endless and having the opportunity to share this huge part of my life with them was pretty fantastic. That evening we skyped my Dad, which was even more surreal as I am so use to seeing both him and my mum on the same screen, and not, the other way around.   
 
The week went by extremely quickly and we managed to fit in just about everything you can imagine. From Palaces to Poop Cafe’s, Mountains to Towers and shopping in almost every top location in Seoul, it was hectic to say the least. We also visited a dog cafe, ate Dakgalbi in Myeongdong, and found that style really does exist in Gangnam. They absolutely loved Korea and I absolutely loved having them here.
 
 Gyeongbokgung Palace
 
Seoul Tower
 
 Shopping in Insadong
 
FOOD!
 
I'll go into more detail about each place we visited in a later post, as the list tends to go on a bit and I fear that if I start, I may never stop. So, for now let me just finish by saying a massive thank you to both of them for visiting my current home, and also a big shout out to the troops back home who made it all possible - looking after the kids, dogs and houses can't be easy so thank you. It was certainly a week to remember, and I am more excited then ever to be returning home for a little vacation come May, so until then folks...I'll be seeing ya!
 
POST SCRIPT: To anyone else who is thinking of visiting me too...what are you waiting for?! DO IT! DO IT NOOOW! SOLD?

Monday, 1 February 2016

January in Korea...

Its been a bizarre month filled with mixed emotions about the future, the past and ofcourse the present. As with most people around this time of year I have experienced the disappointing realisation that yet another year has flown by incredibly quickly. I was also informed last week that in Korea, I am in fact 32! As I've mentioned before the aging system here is very different - you are a year or two older depending on when you were actually born. It's crazy and genuinely makes no sense, but hey, 32 and still not a cat in sight...I’m doing well! Age isn't really something that bothers me all that much to be honest, I’m sure when I’m 70 I’ll still feel like I’m 21 so YOLO to that!
 
The blues of my wonderful time in Australia set in and the mundane 9 to 5 job carried on as usual upon my returned, but with one difference. Something had changed, and that something was Korea. I was actually really looking forward to going back which is a completely new and strangely satisfying feeling, to what I have been use to in the past. I would usually be dreading that first day back, but in this instance I missed my kids, my friends and I was excited to get back to my little apartment. I guess that home is where you make it and Korea definitely does feel a little bit more like that each day, although I'm not sure I can get use to these freezing cold temperatures...
 
 -18°C!!! Jeeez!
 
Although its been pretty chilly and I’ve not had much money due to over indulging at Christmas, I have still managed to get out and about. A couple of weeks ago me and some friends went to a Hockey game in Anyang Ice Arena, which was just lovely. I’ve been to this in the round, raked stage performance a number of times now but believe it or not, I'm still quite the novice. They have about 10 intervals, which i’m told are called ‘halves’ or ‘periods’ (I know right) and I think there are about 6 players on each team. Each player runs around the field...I’m sorry - skates around the rink, and attempts to shoot a little black disk called a puck into the opposing teams goal. Its all quite exciting but extremely aggressive. Violence doesn’t solve anything guys...talk it out!
 
 Anyang Halla Hockey Team
 
As you may have guessed I’m not the biggest sports fan. Other than watching about 30 minutes of a football game once back in the UK, and enjoying the High Jump at the Paralympics in London 2012, this was my first sporting event that I’d been to, and I must say that I genuinely found it quite riveting. Its pretty cheap and you can bring your own booze which is a welcome change to what I’m told is not the case back home. There is the standard big screen and ‘period’ entertainment (not what it seems) and everyone is quite well behaved. So yes I may start becoming a regular at these games, I mean there is alcohol after all. Phew!
 

Also this month I managed to check out a pretty awesome Japanese restaurant in Hongdae called Kodachaya. If you’re in Seoul be sure to check it out as its delightful, and probably somewhere I will be taking my sister when she comes to visit me in Korea THIS WEEK!
 
YUM!
 
Standard Soju!
 
It's all very exciting and I’m sure I’ll have a lot to talk about after her visit so stay tuned...this blog is about to become real touristy! When hasn't it been?! Sold!

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