Happy Lunar New Year! During the first week of February, I had Monday through Wednesday off to celebrate the holiday, and with it brought my family! My mom, sister, and my brother-in-law’s sister made the long trek to see where I live and explore the culture.
I left work on Friday evening and got on a bus heading to Busan. I also conveniently ran into one of my friends who was also heading there, so I at least had company for the hour and a half ride. She also help me navigate the subway, so I managed to find my guesthouse without getting lost. A few hours later, my family had arrived by taxi at the guesthouse, and our vacation commenced!
Saturday morning, we went to Paris Baguette for baked goods and coffee. My family is a really big fan of everything about Paris Baguette, and I appreciate the fact that they always have a few goods that are made with rice dough.
After, we walked around an underground mall by the subway, and then met one of my friends for lunch, which was braised chicken in a soy sauce. Then we picked up some macarons, and caught a couple taxis to Youngguksa (용국사) Temple, which is known for being one of the most beautiful in Korea because it was built on cliffs by the sea.
The temple was definitely worth the trip, although it was quite crowded and we were asked multiple times by other foreigners to take pictures with them, which we politely declined. That was the first time anyone has asked to take pictures with me just because I am American, and it wasn’t the most pleasant thing. I do appreciate the fact that Korean people have always been polite to me and haven’t invaded my privacy by doing anything like that.
After the temple, we caught a bus toward Haeundae (해운대) Beach, where we ate Korean BBQ (삼겹살), my family tried soju for the first time, and we watched a street performance where a person was performing tricks with fire. Then we walked through the streets lit with lights for the new year celebration toward the beach to see lit up high-rise buildings and walk along the path, breathing in the ocean air.
Sunday was a bit rainy, but we still walked around Busan, found some places to eat, did some shopping, and went to a dog cafe. Korea has dog and cat cafes, and while I am most definitely more of a cat person, the dog cafes are more fun in my opinion. The dogs are more apt to come over to you to be pet and will crawl in your lap and fall asleep, while the cats are overstimulated from the crowds of people and never come near you.
Monday brought more food and a bus back to Jinju. The rest of the time my family spend was exploring the Jinju Fortress, which is what the city is known for, and just relaxing and spending time together. I was able to make them 잡제, which is considered to be a more traditional Korean dish, show them where I live and work and introduce them to some of my friends. We also visited a cat cafe, ate some more delicious food, and went to a 노래방, which is karaoke.
On Thursday, we left our hotel room and traveled to the bus station where I got them bus tickets directly to the airport and said our goodbyes. As I was walking back home, I realized that it had been a full week of being surrounded 24/7 by my family. I hadn’t expected to feel this way, but when I got back to my empty and still apartment, it felt weird to be there without them and I was lonelier than I had thought I was going to be.
Overall, this trip taught me many things about myself. I have grown as a person more than I realized due to having to adapt to a new country and culture. I am more confident in myself than I used to be and was able to use Korean to help my family, which was the first time I have had to test my skills that much since arriving here. Being with my family made me realize how much I have learned since I came here, and while I have grown in the past 5 months, I know the next 7 will also bring more changes in me.
I know it was a long one, so thanks again for reading! 읽어줘서 고머워요! Stay safe and stay happy. 행복해요!