Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas from Korea

It's hard to believe it's been a year since I made my last Korean christmas post. So much has changed since then. During last christmas, Korea was still so new to me, I had a completely different group of friends, worked in a very different work environment, and had done most of my weekend activities by myself or on tour groups. This christmas, on the other hand, I'm living with a wonderful girlfriend in a different part of Seoul, and working in a school with entirely different colleagues and friends. I'm also nearing the end of my time in Korea, which changes the atmosphere of things a lot.

Overall, I'd say it's been a lot more festive and fun than last year, even if I still miss my family and friends back home immensely. Here's a run down of some of the stuff we did.

In the run up to Christmas, we of course had to do lots of christmas shopping, for each other, as well for our families and our Secret Santas at work. A particularly useful place was Insadong, an area in Seoul filled with souvenirs and gift ideas.

We spent one recent evening drinking mulled wine and skyping with my friends, Nick and Matt. I also wore a Santa costume that Angela borrowed from our school.
I wore that same costume to a Santa-Con event in Hongdae. Here we are on the Seoul Metro.

In Hongdae.
At the park in Hongdae, where people gathered in their Santa outfits.

The drunken hobos took part in the festivities too.
Later we went to Ska Bar and clubbed in our outfits.
Our school hosted a party at which we shared Secret Santa gifts, ate a huge Korean buffet, and drank copious amounts of soju and beer. Here I am with my boss, Jenny.

Kimmi and Matt hosted a Christmas Sweater Party at their place. It was a little cramped but that actually made the whole thing feel suitably intimate and festive.

We also met up with Angela's Korean family, and took them to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Insadong.

They bought us winter gloves as presents.
We also took some awesomely tacky hanbok photos with them.

And as if that wasn't enough, we went to a Korean Tea Cafe! The whole evening was such a pleasant, festive time for all.

On the last day of school there was a Christmas Party for the kids, and I was elected to play Santa Claus. I'd never done so before, so it was quite an honour. Pity most of the kids knew that it was really "James-Teacher" under the costume. 

Unlike last year, we didn't get any snow on christmas day this time, but we did get some earlier in the month.

At home, we put up a few small decorations, like tinsel and this tiny tree.
We had a bigger tree in the living room, along with sparkly lights.
Before opening presents we prepared and ate a tasty breakfast of eggs, bacon and Japanese pancake.
Finally opening the pressies.

I got George Orwell's Essays, Tim Powers' Anubus Gates, a Korean jigsaw puzzle, some party games and a whole bunch of chocolate.
Later we ate a dinner of chicken, potato and onions in cream-cheese sauce, and pasta. I'm so lucky Angela is such a great cook; it was delicious!
Later, we did some reading, surrounded by gifts. 
I was also really happy to get a chance to speak to my family online. As well as my mother, sister, brother-in-law, neice and nephew, I also spoke to my dad and nan for the first time in a while (though no photos of the latter two, unfortunately).

Baby Dylan smiles at his father.
A view from the other side.

That about sums up my christmas this year. It's been a great success overall, and I feel a lot more festive than last year. I'll end with just wishing everyone out there, wherever you are, a Merry Christmas and a Happy Year, and here's hoping for an amazing 2014!