This past weekend, we got the chance to explore the closest city to us — Suncheon. We also got to take part in an American Thanksgiving in South Korea along with other foreigners from our orientation group. We have a feeling we will visit Suncheon about once a month because it’s only an hour and 20 minute bus ride away from us and there’s a lot to see. It’s nice to have a city so close!
We left Saturday morning around 10:00. We weren’t meeting up with everyone until the late afternoon, but we wanted plenty of time to explore. Once we arrived, we decided to take a cab to the Jorye Lake Park area of Suncheon. It was great to be back in the land of $5 cab rides and this part of Suncheon was beautiful. Thankfully we have a very knowledgable friend in our town who has helped us with so many things — he told us the best parts to visit in Suncheon, what to say to the cab driver, and how to say the important things in Korean.
Once we got there, our main goal was to find McKenzie House, which is a restaurant that features western food. While they serve sandwiches, burgers, and other favorite food items, we were most looking forward to a western breakfast! I decided on a waffle meal with eggs, bacon and potatoes, while Nick selected a potato and cheese omelette with sausage, toast, and potatoes. I was going to be happy with the experience regardless because we were craving some food from home, but the food was really good and satisfied our cravings more than I thought it would!
In this area of Suncheon, there are also many other restaurants that are catered to westerners who are searching for food from home. We saw a Burger King, Italian restaurants, TGI Fridays, cafes, and more. Once we were done eating, we walked around the lake and took some pictures. It was a really warm day and everyone was outside exploring — it was nice not having to wear a jacket.
We also went to Homeplus to do some shopping. There are two big stores all throughout Korea — Homeplus and Emart. Each are basically like a big Target or Walmart in that they offer lots of things that you can’t find elsewhere. In addition, they are great for foreigners because you can find some things from home such as special spices and seasonings. We were looking for Christmas lights, another extension cord and some other odds and ends. We will likely go back in a few weeks to stock up on some grocery items, because we don’t have an Emart or Homeplus in our little town.
After spending a few hours exploring and buying things, we took a taxi to where the Thanksgiving dinner was going to be held, at our friend Cheryl’s apartment. We contributed by bringing a case of soju (Korean liquor), a box of tangerines, and some snacks. Everyone brought something whether it was drinks or a food item. It was really great to see so many people from orientation — there was about 20 of us in total.
We talked, hung out and had drinks for a few hours while everyone heated up their dishes that they brought and Cheryl cooked the chicken. I was thoroughly impressed with the results as everything was either made in a toaster oven or by stove top! We had chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash, macaroni and cheese, an apple and brie cheese appetizer, noodles, and pasta salad. We also had 3 different cakes for dessert! It was a lot of fun and truly was an American Thanksgiving in South Korea.
We were originally planning on catching the last bus home, which was to leave at 10:10, but we didn’t eat until 8:30 or so and didn’t want to rush. So after dinner, we took a taxi to the downtown area and found a motel to stay at for the night. We ended up leaving around 9:00 the next morning and spent most of the day relaxing at home.
I love how the bus system works here in South Korea, which makes it so easy to visit other parts of the country. Even on weekends and holidays, the buses still run, making it possible for people to get where they need to go. I never thought that being car-less would be so great. On my workdays (Monday-Friday) I walk at least an hour a day when walking to my schools, apartment, and bus stops — and it’s just a normal routine that I now enjoy. I was just thinking today how thankful and shocked I am that I haven’t taken a wrong bus yet! It’s bound to happen at some point. 😛
In other news, I went to the Korean Post office (called Korea Post) for the very first time. My awesome co-teacher went with me to teach me how to mail packages and letters to the United States. It only cost about 70 cents per Christmas card — I was shocked! I sent a couple of boxes by boat, so I am interested to see how long they will take!
I’ve also made two goals for my time in Korea (besides learning more about the language and culture). I plan to run a half marathon here — there is one in my town in April. Since I won’t be able to run the Pittsburgh half in May, I figure I better cross off 13.1 on another continent. I also want to read 100 books — I’m at 10 so far.
Well, that’s all for now! I’ll leave you with some more pictures from our trip to Suncheon.