Sunday, February 01, 2009

Seolnal week

-Seolnal is the Chinese New Year which is much more celebrated than the Western calendar New Year. Because we are an English camp, kids come here regardless if it is a holiday, therefore instead of receiving regular holidays such as Christmas, we have two weeks off during the year when the camp is closed. This past week was the first week of the year so I thought I would give you a brief overview of what I did for my week off! Enjoy, I sure did!

Saturday and Sunday: Shop, shop shop till ya drop- except I didn't buy much. Oh well...

Monday: Our Korean boss (I think she is our boss, but I don't actually know) took the girls out for a day of touristyness! It was a brilliant idea in principle, but the weather didn't play well, in fact I would say he was plain mean-hearted.
The plan:
  • Several Korean palaces
  • Folk villages
  • shopping in a cute market
  • dinner at a Korean restaurant
  • The Hyatt for some music and drinks
We made it to one, count them, ONE palace before we realized that standing outside might result in frost bite. I cannot even describe how bitter and cruel the wind was. Like shards of glass being shoved into every exposed area. So we ran into the museum nearby and learned some interesting facts about Korea, but not as much as I would have liked.A demonstration of how cold it was that day!! Oh the agony!
But of course the Korean women have to dress to impress no matter how cold the weather is. Seriously, it must have been in the teens or below. How she survived the day without turning into a human icicle, I will never know.
The palace ( I don't know it's name, bad tourist)

The soldiers weren't allowed to make facial expressions just like the famous royal British guards. In fact the flag kept blowing into his face and he wouldn't even move it away.
We had fun taking photos.

It is tradition for the children to wear the traditional dress, the hanbok. But it was so cold, no one could admire the outfits since they were covered up with their coats. But aren't Korean children so adorable. I just want to eat them up!

Here is an example off the internet of what it should look like.

We did have an amazing traditional meal. Did I mention it was amazing!! Oh so wonderful!

This is me and Aimee, chopsticks ready for the next kill, trying to choose what yumminess we would next stuff into our mouth!

We also ate yummy cinnamon treats from a street vendor to battle the fierce cold.
Another food picture, but none that I ate, this is just so you can see some of the strange food options.

Thursday and Friday: To celebrate Aimee's birthday and also just to get out of Bundang for a couple of days, the girls (the ones who didn't leave the country to go on a real vacation) decided to get a hotel room for a couple of nights in the party/shopping district in Seoul. And fun we had!
During the day, two of the five girls went to get a massage, while the other three of us decided to test out the local jjimjilbang a Korean bath house/sauna. Jjimjilbangs are a truly unique aspect to Korea. These are large, gender-segregated public bathhouses complete with hot tubs, showers, Swedish-style saunas and massage tables, similar to what you might find in a sauna but one major differences everyone, and I mean everyone is naked from head to toe, nothing is covered up, not an ounce of clothing. Originally, I was very self-conscious being completely and utterly exposed in my birthday suite but after the initial 15 minutes in the hot tub, I became accustomed both being naked and seeing other naked women. Before going into any of the various hot tubs of differing temperatures, it was necessary to take a shower. Around the tubs were lines of vanity tables where women scrubbed each other and with great detail cleaned themselves. There were two steam rooms, one of which was tolerable, the other which was like Houston in Hell. It was 76 degrees CELCIUS. (168 F) One step in and I couldn't breath, but some how, there were live Koreans sweating and breathing inside. How, I don't know, it is a true enigma.

In the evening we ate at a Proper (as the English here say) English pub, with pool, darts and real western food. A coldstone ice cream cake was in order for Aimee's birthday- I always seem to be talking about food- I just love it so much! Then out for drinks and dancing- and dance we did- all night long, but the best part was, we could walk a few blocks to our hotel and not even have to worry about taking a thirty minute taxi ride home.

Our last event was to visit the famous Seoul tower. I wasn't very impressed actually especially since I paid $14 to see it, but the view was pretty cool.

We were trying to get a picture with the tower in the background, but they didn't understand our English and we couldn't speak Korean.

I don't know what this was about, but there were several flying men hanging around.

It was a fabulous week off! It would have been wonderful had Kyle been here, but it was very relaxing and great having some girl bonding time!


Nancy Devine said...

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Michelle said...

Oh that sounds like such a great time. You're going to have so many great memories when you get a little older. But yeah... that bathhouse. It would definitely take me some getting used to, too!

The Ties that Bind Us said...

You are the cutest couple ever!!!!! Looks like loads of fun.

Gombojav Tribe said...

Looks like great fun! I like South Korea. It's a fun place for tourists. Sorry the weather didn't cooperate with you!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Rachael said...

I love your touristy entries (even if you're a bad tourist!). I love the food pics too (were those shoestring fries on that stand??) :)

I'm glad you had some downtime. Everybody needs that.
Love you!

Veggie Mom said...

Thanks for the look at Korean Touristyness...LOVE the snaps!

naperville mom said...

It's fun to read about your cultural experiences... Loved the pics too!

CC said...

This is so cool! We had a party at home for the Lunar New Year, but nothing like being there! I was there in Feb. 5 years ago and remember how COLD it was!!!