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SOUTH KOREA | Tuesday, 14 November 2006 | Views [1158]

September 29 - Friday

It felt really good to be in Korea again - more than I thought it would.  It was also good to see my parents and sister but strangely, for that first day in town, I felt more homesick being around them than I had when we were separated.
We all slept in and left by late morning to meet my mom's girlfriends for lunch.  I was pretty excited because the last time I saw them we went to this korean restaurant that you knew only a local would go to as it was down an alleyway one would never even think to go down in search of some place to eat.  I could only imagine that we would be going to someplace equally as cool as last time.  Unfortunately, we were taken to a VIPS, yep, the same franchise that is virtually phased out back home is thriving in South Korea.  The buffet is pretty popular but the gals ordered lobster, steak and wine for us as well. 
There was a variety of salads, soup, pasta, a selection of kimchees but all in all it was pretty westernized or maybe I should describe it as the asian take on a western restaurant.  All in all the food was good.  Mom chatted it up with her friends and they were off in their own world while Mary, dad, Jon and I talked between trips to the buffet.  Before long we were parting ways, Jon had an appointment with the tailor for his suit fitting and then we would go to Anyang and meet my uncle and cousin to watch their neighborhood Harvest Festival celebration concert.
While we waited for Jon's suit to be brought to the shop from some mysterious storage area (from the pix you can see that there is no extra space for storage in the main shop) I wandered around the endless stalls and boothes.  Caught up in everything I was looking at, by the time I returned to Jon's fitting we was already finished - I missed the whole thing.
That sucked.  I was really mad at myself for missing that.  Jon has so been looking forward to having a suit custom made - god knows how much it would cost to have something like this done back home.  He seemed pleased with the progress of the suit.
With that settled, we headed to the hotel to rest a bit before heading south again to Anyang.  My dad decided to get some rest and stay at the hotel  - a good idea given how much we had been doing and the plans we had talked about yesterday with the family re:  what we would be doing over the weekend.
We went to Anyang market since we had a little time to kill before meeting my uncle.  Mom had some agenda and I like that neighborhood market.  We bought some socks which, for some reason, is turning into a tradition whenever someone goes there.  What can I say - they're a good deal, good quality and the black socks stay black after multiple washings!  We were also on the hunt for Hotaks - a totally addicting snack made of a sweet dough with brown sugar, sometimes nut bits, and raisins and fried in some oil, they're shaped like a pancake.  I fell in love with them on my last trip and have found it suprisingly hard to find them amongst the street vendors.  At last my mom started simply asking around and we finally found them on the end of a street.  Freshly made the melted brown sugar is nuclear hot but the outside is crispy and chewy.  We had dessert before dinner. 
We called my uncle and he picked us up on the way to the harvest festival at my cousins neighborhood which wasn't too far from where he lived.  Hazards lights are used often in Korea and rarely is there an actual hazard.  People usually put their hazard lights on when they are parked illegally - which is what my uncle did while my mom hopped out and bought a bunch of mondoo to go.  Mondoo is like a wonton but the chewy kind not the deep fried kind, often filled with a veggie or ground pork and veggie filling served with a soy sauce mix on the side.  My mom used to make these by hand and it was really tedious and time consuming, the chore of making up a batch of mondoo would not hold my attention for very long when I was a kid but I sure did enjoy the end result!
We met my cousins and her family in the neighborhood square where an stage was set up and performances were already underway.  It was an ampitheater type of setting and Jon, Mary and I sat on the front steps while the other adults sat in the lawn chairs.  Being in the suburbs caucasians weren't commen and we stuck out like a sore thumb.  When the announcer took the stage after we arrived we talked and gestured in our direction and smiled before going on with the introduction to the next performance.  I kind of looked around and it seemed like people were looking at us but I couldn't really tell.
I turned to Mary who was on my right, "Were we suppose to know what he was saying?  Was he talking to us?" - S
"I think he was talking about someone behind us." - M
I looked around for my mom but she was off to one side talking with someone.  When she returned she stuck her head between Mary and I and said that the MC had said that he noticed that there were some tourists in the audience and wanted to welcome us and that he wished he could speak english for you.
As the evening progressed we saw traditional fan dances, heard traditional songs, and drumming.  There was a small but growing group of toddlers who would take to the area before the stage to dance along to the music with the elderly man who was shakin' his groove thang right along with them. 
There was one prestigious dance troupe that performed who only performed for this festival in this neighborhood - it was a big deal.  After a couple of their performances my mom told us that my cousin-in-law had arranged for us to have our picture taken with the troupe.  Before the last performance the MC announced that everyone could come up for a group picture at the end of the show - so we did - Crazy Man and all.  After the pictures were taken the MC asked Jon what he thought of the show and introduced his wife to both of us - she was one of the singers.  They seemed pleased that we enjoyed the show.
Another late night.  My uncle wanted to go out for chicken and beer but we talked him out of it as we were all bushed and were getting together the next day anyway.  We really had to twist his arm to get him to let us go - he wanted to spend time with us.  We said our goodbyes to my cousin and her family and my uncle dropped us off at the subway station.  We trudged back to the hotel, chilled for a little while before passing out, knowing that the next day we would be going north near the border to visit my great grandmother's gravesite.

Tags: Adventures

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