Monday, January 25, 2010

Tokyo, take me away...

January is Korea’s coldest month and my lack of blogging is a testament to brutal winds and mental exhaustion. They say the 4th month abroad is the hardest and despite my best efforts, I’d have to agree. To top it off, a huge percentage of my friends have a long vacation at this time, so my facebook has been a continual stream of bragging from exotic, balmy beaches. Meanwhile, my workload has gotten heavier and my shoebox officetel is hardly a place I can unwind from manic managers and unruly toddlers. I’ve picked up a conversation partner, so my Korean is steadily improving and I’ve begun the profitable side business of private lessons. Good things, both, but weekends are feeling more and more insufficient…especially considering I work the next 3 Saturdays. In order to save my sanity, I’ve booked a brief trip to Japan around my birthday next month and I’m staring at this picture from now until then.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Blue Moon; Midnight Runnings

Solar New Year's in Korea means the entire country gets a birthday. Thousands of kids turn the legal drinking age at the stroke of midnight. A gong is rung a corresponding number of times with the amount of years Korea has been a country. Traditionally, people prefer to remain sober (even though they just turned 21??) on December 31st in order to start the new year off right. Often, this wholesome outlook is accompanied by a mountain climb or a drive to the sea to watch the sunrise. We had a gorgeous moon (a "blue" one, actually...the 13th full moon of the year), some seriously brisk weather, and snowy Naksan mountain. Oh, and some fireworks and some super fancy Middle Eastern food. Mr. Little Jackson performed his usual dance routine, sappy hugs were exchanged between great friends in the coziest bar in Hyewha.

My sassy colleague Ellie invited me skiing, which I was a little freaked by after my painful boarding experience a few years ago in Colorado. Turns out we were going skiing at NIGHT...driving (what luxury) and arriving at the resort around midnight, skiing for a few hours, and heading back in the early morning. I think everyone in our crew smiled for 3 hours straight...I'm never going skiing during daylight again! The rental shop guy was particularly excited that I was an American and as he roasted sweet potatoes for us we two discussed all that is glittery and wonderful about the U S of A (namely, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp). As we piled into the car to go home, he shouted, "See you tomorrow!" and I calculated the logistics of this incredibly convincing suggestion.