Christmas Vacation-Part 1

Happy holidays to everyone! I don’t even know where to start on this entry. Sooo much had been happening we have neglected to write about it but at last, we will fill you in on what’s been happening. Let me take you back to Dec. 22 when we went to the airport to pick up our family!

Jason’s Aunt Deb, two cousins (Deb’s children) Cody and Jessica, and Jason’s brother Kevin all came to South Korea to visit. It was a long planned out trip and we were so excited to see familiar faces. We had to pick them up in style, so we made signs (in Korean and English) and made sure to wear our Swine Flu masks when they arrived. They survived the flight and they also survived security. Cody got stopped because of a Christmas gift I had ordered for Jason. According the airport’s website you can bring a small knife in your check bag but nevertheless, it was confiscated by the Korean customs agent. O-well, it’s the thought that counts.

We left no time for adjusting because the next morning everyone came with us to our school. It was the school’s holiday party so it was the perfect day for special guests. My Stanford class (1st graders) were so ecstatic to meet Deb because she is also a first grade teacher in Indiana. Not only that, but our classes had been writing letters to each other for the past 3 months. For the entire month of December we had a “Deb Teacher Countdown” on our board. My kids planned the whole period out with what they wanted to do with Deb Teacher. Deb and the gang arrived to huge warm welcome from Stanford class, complete with cards welcoming them to Korea. One of my kids wrote in his card “Are you sick? Ok, I am not sick too. I don’t like Swine Flu.” They loved meeting everyone and wanted more than anything to perform their play for a real audience. They also danced for them too! Deb was amazing and brought American flags and candy for my kids and a bunch extra for everyone else in Korea (no kidding). A really funny moment is when my class inspected the American flags and noticed they were made in China. Whoops! But they were celebrities among my classes for the whole day, answering many weird and wonderful questions from my students such as “what is your favorite plant?” and “Why do you have a beard?” The day ended with a delicious Korean BBQ dinner. To our surprise, a drunk Korean was really excited to see so many Americans together and decided to buy us dinner. Korean BBQ is soo good becaus you get to grill all your food on a mini-grill that’s in the middle of the table. Kevin and Cody were in heaven as they grilled pork and seafood for the whole group. Then, another table was celebrating and birthday and sent our table some cake. Got to love the Korean’s putting on such a good show for our family. I suddenly felt like we were in our own foreign version of Chevy Chases’ “Funny Farm” (for those of you who don’t know the movie, Chevy get’s the whole town to help sell his house by acting like the picture perfect people for potential buyers).

Not wanting to waste a moment, the next day was full of hiking and shopping. We got up early and decided to trek to the highest point in Busan (800m) which just so happens to be at a famous Buddhist temple, Bemeosa. It was a wonderful way to spend the morning/afternoon. We then went to Nampo-dong for some dinner and street vendor shopping. Can you say fake North Face puffy jackets? By the end of the day we thought we were too tired to go on but we were able to break out the soju (Korean vodka) and play a round of Apples to Apples with our good friend Leah. I will never look at Kevin the same way but have been sworn to secrecy as to what exactly went down in those wee hours of the night!

Christmas Day started off with a wonderful pancake breakfast provided by Madre and Padre Summers (thanks!) and cooked by yours truly. What made the day even better was getting to video Skype with our families. We called while my parents were having everyone over so I literally got to talk to my entire family for an hour for free. I also managed to squeeze in a few calls to my favorite ladies back home (Annie, Courts and Kristin) I love Skype!
Later that afternoon we went to Haundae Beach where it was unseasonably warm. We walked and took pictures with many Korean couples since Christmas is considered a “couples day” in Korea. Then, we went to a seafood buffet that was outrageously good. This wasn’t your old country buffet. This was fresh sushi and crab legs, still moving octopus and shark fin soup. Plus a bunch of desserts that rival some of my favorites from the states. What made Christmas dinner so special is that we were joined by some of our good Korean and foreign teacher friends. We had a table for 14 people and it was a perfect moment to sit back and watch all our new friends and family meet one another and enjoy the holiday. Although I was having a hard day with missing my family and friends back home, it really made my heart happy to know that we were still surrounded by friends in Korea.

The next few days went by so fast but we managed to get soo many things in. We had our feet eaten by Dr. Fish, hiked around the cliffs of Busan, ate a traditional Korean dinner, but best of all….we went and sang karaoke at a Nora Bong.

We have gone to a Nora Bong room with our Korean friends the first weekend we were here. Deb desperately wanted to go and so did Kevin (even if he wouldn’t admit it). Everyone kept saying that they wouldn’t sing but would watch. Yeah right. You can’t deny the music once you get there. We rented our very own Karaoke room for 2 hours. Our good friend Wonsep came with too make sure some K-pop got sung too (Korean pop songs). Well, Deb went first with “Dancing Queen” and soon we were fighting for the mic. Everyone had songs to sing and people willing to back them up. The biggest surprise of the night was Kevin singing in JAPANESE!!! He took Japanese in HS and was really into the music for awhile. Well, he blew us all away. Then, Wonsep and Kevin sang a very popular Korean song together. I don’t think I will ever get the image of Kevin and Wonsep singing and doing choreographed dance moves together out of my mind. 3 hours later we caught a taxi home…..I don’t think anyone had a voice left!

So that’s the end of part 1. On December 29th we left Korea for Japan by an overnight ferry………….to be continued.

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