Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chuseok has come and gone...



It's a pretty decent Sunday afternoon - last day of my much-needed Chuseok vacation and the weather is definitely signaling the end of summer, if not quite fall.

It was a busy vacation - maybe a slight bit busier than I wanted it to be, but when you want to see people, you can't always wait around for things to happen randomly - try as I might to leave my calendar open, it filled-up pretty fast. The good news is that it was all with people I wanted to see and things I wanted to do.

Aside from the flooding experience (which dissipated fairly quickly, by the way), I did a few things. I know lists are generally considered to be boring, but I feel like writing one anyway, and this is my ding-dang blog.

Some of the Cool Stuff I Did:

1) Rode my bike to the Han River Park near Yeuido a couple of times: As mentioned in a previous post, riding across the river and getting a great view of downtown all lit-up by the late-afternoon sun is something I could do on a daily basis just for pure joy. It's even better when you've got friends to meet on the other side of the river - with picnic mats, noodles, and beer waiting for you at the nearby mini-stop. The Han River Park at Yeuido has been cleaned-up over the past year or so and the resulting water-front is quite beautiful. Nice work, Seoul.

2) Attempted to fix my bike seat after taking a fairly nasty fall - the result of heavy rain sink-holes in brick-laid sidewalks - and the result of emergency braking using a British-designed bike. Don't ask me why, but reverse from back home, the front (not the back) brakes are operated by the right handlebar on UK bikes. The result is my bike's ass (and mine) rolling over and to the right. Gotta bring the old saddle in for repairs. Bromptom makes their stuff extremely strong - strong enough for only accidents to send out of alignment, so I'm assuming I need to recreate the accident and fall to the left again to get the effing support bar back in place. I should be at the shop tomorrow.

3) Went to Gyeongbeok-gung (The main palace) on Chuseok Wednesday - pretty much Christmas Day in terms of "specialness" rating - with the rabbit, her older sister, and two nieces. I've meet them a couple of times and they are lovely and take to me quite quickly, thought this time I suspect the over-eating and lack of holiday sleep was getting to them by the time I got there. It took a while for them to warm-up, but once they did we had a grand time downtown on a cloudy, but dry, holiday afternoon that I was very grateful for.

4) Went with Johnny to celebrate the Chuseok Wednesday night (night of the full moon) to a (new to me) lounge in Hyehwa - great find. It's probably not new to many, but I was happy to meet some really good new people (most of them university faculty) at a very cool place - a converted Korean home with a patio and dart bar upstairs. It's called "CZ" for "Comfort Zone". I couldn't agree more. I'll have to go back. The idea of heading out to a "foreigner party" is one that's less than appealing to me in general, but glad Johnny dragged my reluctant self out there. Here's to a friend's persistence.

5) Went to Everland with a friend and her sister who was visiting from Canada. I realized after I got home that this latest had been my 10th visit to Everland. Effing 10th! I must miss Disney Parks more than I can admit to myself. Sadly, as mentioned in a post last year, the beloved Eagle's Fortress suspended coaster is still out of commission, though the entire structure appears to still be intact, if boarded-up. Word from Guest Relations is, well... still no word. Word from this zany website, is that there is an Everland "revitalization plan" in place, and Eagle's Fortress is to be replaced by another coaster in 2012. That was sad news, but better than just letting a real park draw go all-together.

The giant Ferris wheel is done now as well. There's a little "Adieu, Wonder Wheel" cut-out in front of the ride where you can get a photo taken of your tear-stained face. I won't be missing that one at all - creaky-ass wheel. Gave me a heart-attack.

We capped the night off by saving seats in the very front of the stage for the fireworks show, and got there early enough to create a veritable vortex of nerdish glee: an outdoor game of Settlers of Catan, in front of the Everland Main Stage, lit only by the atmospheric glow of our Nintendo DSs (is that how one pluralizes DS?) I gotta get back to grammar school. Anyway, I'm done with Everland for a while. It's cheap and it's fun, but it's far, and I've been there 10 effing times. Perhaps the most glorious part of the entire day though was the ride home - still an after-effect of the longer Chuseok holiday is that Seoul is comparatively empty. On the off-branch from the green line, north to line #1, I was completely alone and took photos to prove it.

6) Also, joined my good friend, Ian, his mom, and her Aunt for a tour of downtown Seoul with the rabbit on Friday after Chuseok. Gyeong-buk Palace, Cheonggy-cheon stream, Insadong, Traditional Tea (well, English breakfast for Auntie Nuala), and dinner at the Urban Garden was a decent way to spend an afternoon. I hope there will be another chance to see them before they head home. It was great to see a good friend here in Seoul - for me the first time - and show some people around some of my favourite downtown spots. The energy displayed by Marian and Nuala reminded me of my parents when they were here, almost a year ago now.


7) Got measured for my very first pair of tailored shirts. It's about time. I have long-ass monkey arms, I'm tall, but not very wide, and when I would previously buy a shirt to reach to my wrists, I would otherwise be swimming in it. The collar never closed tightly enough around my pencil neck to hold a tie properly and I looked a lot like this guy, which isn't good. I guess Itaewon isn't completely useless.

Anyway, all-in-all a good Chuseok. Jiggae Sunday with the rabbit tonight, and then back to the school scene tomorrow. I think I'm ready for it, though I will miss being able to just get-out and enjoy the beautiful weather whenever I want to.

I love the fall.

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