I think its assumed that if you travel half way around the globe, things are bound to be a bit different. However, sometimes you come upon things that go against the very pinnacle of your perception of normal. Christmas day was full of such experiences, but first let me share some Christmas cheer.
We spent Christmas Eve shedding our Christmas blues with Ian and Casey. Ian slaved over the burner making some creamy noodle delight with fried potatoes and garlic bread. We than showed our appreciation by binging on the bountiful starch which was provided. Than we dug into our Christmas cake from Dunkin Doughnuts, which got stunning reviews! And finally we ended the night with Elf and if you didn't look outside or use your nose, you might just think we were back home.
The next morning was Christmas, and we got up to open the gifts we both said we weren't going to get each other. Amy discovered that one of her gifts was hiding under the sink, because it didn't fit in her stocking or the only box I had left, and I discovered that paper is also a good wrapping source. Our gifts weren't expensive, but it was so much fun and we both were full of Christmas cheer.
Later on Mr. Lee and his wife picked us up for a trip to the east coast, and even a walk on the beach. We were excited to get out and its always really fun to see new sights. However, our camera eluded us once again. This time we were trying so hard to have it charged, but we forgot to take it with us in the rush. But I will take great delight in sharing with you what we did.
Once we arrived in Gangnung we were shocked by the amount of fish everywhere. I mean I understand that this is a coastal town, but there were streets of fish and dried fish, and even live fish swimming in tanks waiting to be killed. It was amazing, but this was just the beginning. We drove to a restaurant right on the ocean and Mr. Lee picked out the fish we would be eating. Now please understand these fish were still in big tanks swimming, and the guy would take a net and scoop them out to see if they were good enough. For some reason it got to me, I just wasn't used to looking my fish in the eye before I ate him. I felt so bad, when I saw fishes swimming I think of them as my friend, but these poor fishies would be my food.
But there was no time for contemplation, because soon they were brought out on a large platter along with cuttle fish, squid, steamed crab, and the 10 other dishes they bring out with every dinner. I asked Amy if this was sushi and she said, "Oh no its not." So with great confidence I picked some up and began to chew, when I realized that these were raw fish. Amy actually ate a piece of the squid which grabbed her tongue with its tentacles, I mean I think I just went to a happy place at this point. The fish had no taste, but the texture was so revolting and it was so hard to chew, and I was miserable. After a few pieces, and these pieces were a good 3 inches, I stumbled upon the steamed crab, and stuck with that for the rest of the meal.
I felt bad, because I feel like this was a big deal for Koreans, especially those who live in the mountains, but I was overwhelmed and really quite shocked by what was happening. I have never had raw fish, nor did I ever want to have anything raw, nor did I ever want to eat raw fish for Christmas! But everything calmed down a bit, and I realized this was part of moving to Korea. Just a little shocking, because I had no idea of what was coming.
After our lunch we went to a pier and strolled around the beach a bit, and I even took a dip in the ocean, well if your foot counts. I love the beach and I think Mr. Lee said it best, "When I am here my mind is very wide, but when I go home it is very narrow." The water in Korea is crystal clear by the way, I cannot wait til its warm enough to swim, because the beach is only 2 hours away and gorgeous!
Lastly, we strolled on through the official fish market which was unbelievable. It was like third world country market, with fish in tanks everywhere. I saw octopus, squid, eels, blow fish, every kind of fish in the ocean, and more. The market had very narrow walkways and all the way fish were flipping water on you, I think its because they were mad. The octopuses were also very reckless and the kept trying to get out of there bowls, and the squids jumped and sprayed ink. It was like a very smelly, very in your face aquarium. Unless of course you saw them hacking up the fish, but you can't say the fish weren't fresh.
Finally, we grabbed some fish and dried fish and headed home. On the way we thanked Mr. Lee for taking us with him and he explained to us that everyone at his school was his family, and it was so good to hear that. It explained alot about him, and I couldn't help to think about what a contrast this was compared to business at home. It put the heart back in business, something that makes working seem like less of a burden.
At home Amy complained of stomach pains and I thought nothing of it until later the next morning when I heard the effects of the fish fighting back. Lets just call it the fish flu. Amy has been sick for two days since, last night she posted a 101 temperature and I was so worried we were going to have to go to the hospital. But after many prayers its seeming to wither today. I'm glad I opted for crab is all I am going to say.
Oh and the most exciting part of this whole blog is that I finally got my Dominos pizza and last night I had Pizza Hut. Both used sauce on there pizza, and oh that non spicy sauce has never tasted so good!
Before I leave, I have to say that we did have a white Christmas after all, and just one word of wisdom. If your hungry and your eyeing a fish, and the fish is giving you the eye. Run as fast as you can!