For two years I lived in Korea, teaching English was my main pursuit, but in my free time I worked to learn the language, culture and traditions. Living somewhere as an expat though creates some limitations. You don't have an immediate family to spend weekends away with, nor are the holidays quite the same. Chuseok, one of the largest holidays in Korea, is often spent with family, a time to spend together while remembering those who came before you. As the holiday is three days long and is often coupled with a weekend, foreigners take this opportunity to travel. During both of my first two Chuseok holiday's I took the opportunity to jump across the sea to Japan. Not having a family to spend this time with it seemed like the most logical alternative. This year though things would be a bit different, my friend Pete (a Korean/American adoptee) would be visiting. Knowing that most everything shuts down during the holiday I planned a few simple days for us, traditional village, hiking and temple exploration. I dreamed of being able to show him a real Chuseok but couldn't imagine how this would be possible, but remember: anything is possible.
Last week I was lucky enough to have my first visitor in Korea. Despite never having been out of the country (road trips to Canada 30+ years ago don't count), I talked my dad into flying halfway around the world to an extremely foreign land. With the luck I have at my school I was able to leave early on Friday meaning I could meet him at the airport, a 3.5 hour bus ride from my home. It was long, but well worth it, I was all smiles once I finally met him in the arrivals hall. He had survived his 15 hour flight, but unfortunately the travel wasn't quite yet finished. We still had an hour subway ride into Seoul, and then a hunt for our hostel.
Where to start. After living in this country for three years I have memories, experiences and stories galore. I'll now always be a bit partial to the Land of the Morning Calm. Filled with delicious foods, beautiful nature and friendly people, I'm always happy to return.