NaBloPoMo Day 11: Happy Pepero Day!

When in Korea….eat Pepero on Remembrance Day. One of the things I love about living in other countries is celebrating different holidays with the locals. Instead of wearing a poppy in 2011, I was eating chocolate covered biscuit sticks on November 11th in South Korea. It was a special day ~ Pepero Day~ and even though I didn’t have a special someone to share it with, my students made sure I sampled their mothers’ homemade chocolate sticks.

I also received numerous packs of Pepero manufactured by Lotte, the huge conglomerate, that specializes in everything from chewing gum to amusement parks. There are rumours that Lotte invented Pepero Day, but I prefer the story of teenage girls in Busan giving the biscuit sticks to their friends on November 11th. Even though the wishes attached to the giving of Pepero were to be stick thin like the snack and the number 11, I like to think that the tradition was born out of friendship, rather than out of a marketing ploy. In a way, it reminds me of Valentine’s Day in elementary school when you would give Snoopy cards to your friends, girls and boys alike. In South Korea, Pepero Day is celebrated among couples and friends. It’s another excuse to add something sweet and romantic to their busy lives of work, study, and not enough play. At least, that’s the way I saw it.

Today I wore my poppy in Canada, and while I thought about war and peace, I also thought about sweetness, and love in Korea. I remembered the smiles of my students as they shared the biscuits with their friends, and the care-free look of the couples, often in matching clothes, as they held a biscuit between their teeth. I also remember how I got swept up in the local celebration, and wished all my coworkers,”Happy Pepero Day!”, offering them a chocolate stick.

Pepero Day

 

Beauty sleep

January 23: Do you need a break?  From what?

At this very moment, I need sleep. So, I need a break from my ‘can’t sleep until the job is done’ attitude.  I’m behind; it’s the 24th and will be the 25th by the time I finish this post, but I’m on January 23rd’s question.  I’ve made a commitment to myself to answer every question for an entire year.  And I’m going to stick with it because I want you to stick around.  It’s weird to think I have followers.  In real life, I would be freaked out, but in the virtual world it’s cool.

Sleep is taking over, so I will leave you with a picture from Insadong, Seoul.  Koreans don’t usually dress like this, but wouldn’t it be cool if they did?  But the men do wear make-up, just toned down a bit.  shh

Running & connecting

January 21: What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to going for a run on Thursday.

Now, that the New Year is here, I should stick with at least one resolution and let my running shoes see the beautiful world outside my door.  I live in a wonderful neighbourhood, just minutes from the ocean , temperatures are above freezing, and I’ve found a new running partner.  So, I’ve run out of excuses not to run.

ocean

In the past, I enjoyed running as a solo activity, but in recent years, I’ve found it is a great way to connect with others.  In Korea, my running buddies turned into wonderful friends, and their company and stories motivated me to keep going. On our runs, I learned about Korean history, film making, the ups and downs of marrying your opposite, and pushing your limits.  These are things I would never have learned running solo along the river.  And as I run along the ocean in Canada, I hope to learn new things and be inspired by the stories around me. And no matter how hard it is to get out there for a run, I know that I will come back a little wiser, and a little stronger.

The joy of bargaining

January 17: What’s the oldest thing you’re wearing today?

The oldest thing I’m wearing today is a 5-year-old nautical baby blue tank. I bought it on sale at Mango* in Bangkok.  It’s too cold to be wearing a tank top this time of year (in Canada), so I’ve layered it over a long-sleeved white shirt.PicMonkey Collage

I’m usually wearing a piece of clothing or an accessory from Korea or Thailand.  And I’ve almost never paid full price for it because my bargaining skills are THAT good ;-).  Bargaining is like a ping-pong game, and when you are playing it in your second language it is so much fun! It almost doesn’t matter if you win or lose. In that shop, whether it is in the bustling underground in Seoul or the sweltering Jatujak Weekend Marketin Bangkok, you are a part of the living breathing fabric around you.  You can’t just observe like you would most tourist attractions. You have to touch the clothes, smell the candles, and engage with the locals.  Haggling takes skill; you need the right amount of charm, patience, and words. Once you start the game, you never know what to expect. Remember, never accept the asking price.  Ping-pong is much more fun, and you might get yourself an amazing deal while bringing the shopkeeper good luck at the same time!

 

 

* Unfortunately, you can not bargain at Mango or most shops in air-conditioned malls in Bangkok :(.

 

Favourite accessory

January 12: What’s your favourite accessory? 

It would have to be my watch.  I love functional accessories.  Sure, it’s fun to add the finishing touches to an outfit with a pair of dazzling earrings or a pearl bracelet,  but I feel naked without my watch.  It goes everywhere with me, so that I will be on time, or know precisely how late I am going to be.  That way when I meet you I will be able to apologize accordingly. 1-5 minutes late: “Sorry for being late.” 5-15 minutes:”Sorry to keep you waiting.  I was stuck in traffic.” 15- 30 minutes late:”I’m SO sorry. Really heavy traffic.  I really hope you haven’t been waiting too long. Let me buy you a coffee.”  If I am beyond 30 minutes late, I am going to apologize profusely, and buy you lunch or dinner! I’m also going to feel really lousy.  How could I be late when I am wearing my watch?!

watch_seoulwatch

Keep reading: 2013 has just begun

January 11: Today you lost ________.

Nothing.  In fact, I gained followers on my blog and Twitter.  I’m still new to this blogging and tweeting, so when I receive a ‘like’, a comment, or a follow, I get little butterflies in my stomach.  And you thought butterflies were only reserved for first dates, meeting the parents, and interviews (of any kind).  Nope, I’m getting them as I type.  It still amazes me that complete strangers find me here, and take an interest in my thoughts. And I love that I have readers from all over the world including Australia, England, Canada, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, Bangladesh and the USA.  I want to send a big thank you to all of you for taking a peek into my world.

HinduOffering 2013 has just begun, but I know it is going to be something special!

Kimchi & K-pop

Yesterday, I was missing Korea, so I decided it was time to eat some kimchi and listen to K-pop.  Kimchi was my sidekick for over a year, and it brings back sweet memories of late night dinners shared with friends at Kimbap Heaven. Kimchi is not the same here. It all tastes the same and is a bit too sour for me. However, sometimes any kimchi is better than no Kimchi. What is kimchi? Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made of fermented chilies and vegetables, usually Chinese cabbage.  It is often used as a base for rice dishes and stews as well. Kimchi jiggae is one of my favourite Korean dishes.

Kimchi pots
Kimchi pots

And K-pop…..my Korean experience would not have been complete without it.  In what country can you walk down the street at 10 in the morning and hear “Hey, sexy lady…..Oppa Gangnam style….” ? In what country does a 10-year-old boy say to his teacher “Come here, baby,” and then sing, “Goodbye, baby, goodbye…” as you walk away from his desk?  In Korea, that’s where. K-pop is everywhere, and everyone is listening to it, singing it, or whistling along. One of my students was even hula dancing in class to a catchy love song by CN Blue.

Big Bang, the men behind Fantastic Baby
Big Bang, the men behind Fantastic Baby

Anyhow, some of my favourite K-pop songs or rather the songs that stick out for me are Trouble maker, Fantastic Baby, Still in Love (song my student was hula dancing to), Hot Summer, Good-bye Baby, and of course, Oppa Gangnam Style. Enjoy!

For more on the makers of Fantastic Baby, check out Elegantly Chic‘s fabulous post on Big Bang!