Last week, Korea celebrated a holiday known as Chuseok. You can think of it as the Korean version of Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure it’s the biggest holiday here but would have to double check. During Chuseok, families visit their ancestors’ graves to pay their respects. They also share large, Thanksgiving-like meals but with Korean food, of course.
I didn’t know anything about Chuseok until last week. Luckily, I work at a kindergarten-elementary school, so while the kids were doing their lessons about the holiday, I got to learn the material with them. We talked about traditional games (sabangchigi and wrestling), Chuseok attire (hanbok), ceremonial bows, and food. To wrap things up, the students took a field trip to an adorable kids’ cafe, where the they got a cooking lesson and then learned to make songpyeon, a chewy rice dough stuffed with sweet sesame seeds and honey. Pretty good. The kids kept trying to get me to eat the ones they made. I didn’t resist.
We got three days off work for the holiday. Being new, I had no idea this would be the case and hadn’t made any plans or anything.
On one of the days, my co-worker gave me instructions for getting to Seoul, so I took the bus there to meet my aunt and cousin, who has been working in Korea for some time now. While waiting for them at the bus/train station, I watched a bit of a cultural performance.
My cousin showed my aunt and me around two neighborhoods in Seoul, and taught me how to use the Korean subway, so now I feel relatively confident with public transportation here.
For the rest of the days off, I just worked on projects at my apartment and walked around the town I live in. On one walk, I went to find this funny advertisement I remembered passing on the bus. I’d actually tried to find it before, but didn’t see it. This time I was successful though. Can you see what I was looking for?
Another time, I went to investigate a mysterious staircase I always pass on the way to the grocery store. After, 200+ stairs, I found some cool hiking trails, this ornate pavilion, and a bunch of exercise equipment. Most of the public parks in this area have various work-out machines installed for public use. They work with your body weight, so you can’t get super swole or anything unless you want to do a thousand reps, but still pretty cool. More about health than appearances, I suppose.