Since we’ve moved away from home and into another culture, we knew that the holidays would be a bit different this year. Even though it was a completely different experience, we found ways to celebrate the holiday season and Christmas in South Korea.
This year, we had our Christmas tree displayed in our apartment. This helped us stay in the holiday spirit even though at times it didn’t feel like Christmas at all. We also did a lot of winter and holiday themed crafts and activities with out students, which they also enjoyed.
As for Christmas Eve, we spent this night together in our apartment. We had breakfast for dinner and some drinks. On Christmas morning, we Skyped with both of our families. It was really nice to be able to see everyone. In the afternoon, we went to a friend’s house and listened to Christmas songs, played board games, and talked. We also had a potluck dinner, which was delicious and was a nice break away from the norm of Korean food. There were about 12 of us and we had a great time. It was nice to gather together, have the holiday off from school, and relax.
On Friday, we both went back to school. We spend our days here even when class isn’t in session. Nick started his winter camp and I worked on preparing some things for my upcoming camp.
We had been planning to attend a winter festival of some sort so that we could feel more in the holiday spirit. My parents gave us some Christmas money (thank you!!) with the intention of us doing something we wouldn’t normally do while in Korea. We decided to use the money to visit a city that is outside of our province to attend their Christmas tree festival. This city, Busan, is the second large city in South Korea. We had a really fun time and have decided that it’s our favorite city, so far! 🙂
We left for Busan early Saturday morning. The bus ride takes about 4 hours, which is a distance, but it’s really easy because we only have to hop on one bus to get there. After arriving, we scoped out the area around the bus terminal so that we could get a feel for our surroundings. We knew that we wanted to use the subway system to get to a different part of the city later on so we needed to figure out where it was located in relation to the bus station.
Busan is really big with many areas. We were headed to the Gwanbak area where there is a fashion and culture street. This is where the big Lotte Department Store is located and where the Christmas Tree Festival is held. We successfully rode two subway lines to get to where we needed to go. When we return the this city, it will be cool to use the subway to get to other areas because it’s convenient and even cheaper than using a taxi.
We spent some time exploring the Lotte Department Store. It’s a big indoor mall and there was a neat light show going on inside. We then went to explore the fashion and culture street, which had many stores and restaurants. There were many Christmas trees all lit up, there was pots filled with decorative cabbage and topped with lights and there was a big lit up Christmas tree. It was neat seeing all of the lights, all of the people, and the performances that were going on around us. While Christmas in South Korea isn’t a huge holiday, it was cool to see it being celebrated in such a neat way.
We had a couple of drinks and also ate dinner in this area. We decided to eat at a Tex-Mex restaurant, since we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to eat something other than traditional Korean food. I had a mexican pasta dish and Nick had a burrito. We did more walking around in the area, and also checked out a nearby temple. It was a really fun day!
Later that night, we took the subway back to the area where the bus station was. We decided that we would find a hotel here so that it would be easy to get up and get the bus the next day, without delays. We booked a hotel room and spent the rest of the night relaxing and watching a movie. Many motels and hotels in Korea are very affordable and have all sorts of extras. For example, this hotel room had 2 desktop computers and a big screen TV with a free movie system. We were able to watch a movie in English (woot!). As we stay in more cities when we travel, it’s interesting to see what the different hotels offer.
The next morning we walked around a bit more and ate breakfast before we caught the 10:15 bus home. Next time, I think we will try to take the evening bus right after school on a Friday and spend two nights in Busan. From our town, a bus only runs 3 times a day, so we just need to plan it out and see if there is an evening bus that fits in with our work schedule. We definitely want to go back to this city at least once, but there is still a lot more of South Korea to see!
While the holidays were a bit strange this year since we weren’t in our familiar surroundings or with our family, I think we both did a great job enjoying the adventures that we did have.
Well, that’s all for now! Thanks for reading about our Christmas in South Korea. If you’re ever visiting the country, I recommend checking out the Busan Christmas Tree festival as well as the other activities that this big city has to offer. I’ll leave you with a few more pictures to enjoy.