Birthday Countdown! Day 5

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NOVEMBER IS HERE!!! Which means….no not Christmas everywhere! I admit, it will be much harder to keep the Thanksgiving spirit alive due to the fact I’m in a country that doesn’t celebrate it for obvious reasons (Korea has thanksgiving in September called Chuseok.

And when I went to Myeongdong yesterday I already saw one store with twinkle lights and presents …..

So my goal this month is to not get too absorbed into the Xmas spirit and hold out until after I celebrate Thanksgiving….on the following Sunday after Thanksgiving Thursday because we don’t get time off and I won’t be able to go to Emily’s until then.

Now, I’ve decided to do a few more of these so called “challenges” that I will get to right after I bore you to death with my weekend news.

*I will be adding in pictures from this weekend later but I forgot to upload them to my computer earlier.

So a typical Halloween night includes me making the living room spooky, watching Van Helsing and Harry Potter, and waiting for children to come trick or treat while eating candy and drinking hot apple cider.

This year it consisted of me throwing snickers at children and getting dragged out to Suwon.  Unlike back home where a costume may get you a look, here ….it gets you stares.  Although I only had a nose and whiskers thanks to my brown eyeshadow…it was more than enough.  I felt like a real foreigner.  At the end of the night my new friend said to me “I really envy you. You don’t have people staring at you at all times…except for now.” But my “costume” was no where near as obvious as my “vampire” friend and my “witch-i have a big ass hat and cobweb face” friend…clearly they got the “wtf ” looks more than me…so all in all a usual thing

We went to some bar in Suwon called Sam Ryan’s.  It’s extremely Western-the most I’ve seen since I’ve been here-all the employees speak perfect English.  There’s apparenly a British bartender and an Australian manager so it makes sense.

Because it was my first time going, I’m not exactly sure where it is but if you exit out of Suwon station exit 8 and keep walking straight you will eventually find it.  It’s down the main strip with shops on either side and i think it’s like a 10 minute walk or so ….you can look it up online there are a lot of reivews about it.

But I was old and tired and I had planned on meeting a friend the next day in Seoul so I was boring, headed home early and wound up continuing my “Greek” marathon I started last week.

Sunday I had planned to meet a friend in Seoul but she wanted to go to the JJCC concert with our other friend.  There was no way I was going to make it and I didn’t want to sit in the cold so I decided to give myself a little solo trip and visit Bukchon Hanok Village.  Even though I’ve been to Gyeongbukgong Palace twice, I’ve never been to the nearby Hanok village.

It was really easy.  After getting off at Seoul station from the train, you take Line 1 (dark blue line) towards Soyosan (end of the line) / City Hall (next stop). You get off at Jongno 3 (sam) ga and transfer over to Line 3 (orange line) towards Daehwa ( end of line) / Anguk ( next stop).  You will be getting off at Anguk which is just 1 stop.

Follow the signs for exit 2.  Once you reach the street you will walk for a few minutes until you see a small information booth.  They have a guide map in English for you.  If you follow the map, continue walking straight until you see the pharmacy on the left side of the street. (약  this is pharmacy in korean). Cross the street and head up the road. You can go in many different directions but usually the main crowd will head to the “11” street which has the best picture spots.  If you choose to hike up on the street you can get some great pictures.If you’re a K drama fan, 43 hanok is the exterior for “Personal taste” with Lee Min Ho (you know, the one where he pretends to be gay”.

I had a great time wandering alone.  It reminded me that I can and do enjoy doing these types of things on my own.  Ever since my first trip to Seoul alone back in March, I haven’t done too much on my own.  But I really do enjoy having the quiet alone time, at my own pace.

I went a little later in the day so the lightning wasn’t the best (due to the earlier sunset now thank you impending winter) but I did get some pretty great shots and enjoyed walking through the village.

Now people do live here so it’s really important to keep quiet and make sure you pay attention to the no photo signs.  I think it must be difficult to live in one of the houses.  You could never really go outside, there would always be foot traffic…you’re living in a tourist spot. You would always feel watched.  I expect it would be similar to living in a house in Williamsburg where people can just walk up and down you street (except in closer proximity) and take pictures.  It would be a hard life I think.

There are oppourtinites to do a guest stay at one of these hanoks that I would like to try some weekend. It was amazing how walking out of exit 2 the city noise is gone.  The area around the hanok village is really cool too.  You almost feel like you’re in a small town, not a big city.  And there are some great mountains in the background too.

After Bukchon, I wanted to head to Kyobo bookstore which is exit 3 of the Gwanghamun station (purple line) .  I followed the paper map and it was an easy 10 minute walk. There were a ton of police men all over …I wasn’t sure what was going on but it was too many to be a simple guard.

Kyobo was insane.  I don’t know if it was the fact it was cold outside or it was a Sunday or what…but it was so busy.  I picked up the new IU album and EXO second box (and Ailee, but I had forgotten and had to get it later in Myeongdong) and debated whether or not I wanted the new FX album.  I decided to listen to it first (which is what I’m doing now) before.

After Kyobo I met the friends that went to the JJCC concert in Myeongdong for a bit before heading home.

While it wasn’t a packed weekend like previous weekends, it was decently busy and kept me from sitting on my couch at home.

I also managed to buy myself a birthday gift-a 100,000 Won winter parka.  My friend H told me that there really is no such thing as fall here.  It’s a short period of time.  And she wasn’t kidding.  Despite having a random week of 70 degreees a few weeks ago, it’s been high 60’s…

This past week it dropped to 60’s…sometimes 50’s during the day and 30’s/40’s at night.  It became so cold so awkwardly fast, that I’m still trying to understand what the hell happened.

When I got here in March, it was cold. And now that it’s only November 2 and it’s cold…I can’ only assume what November – Februrary will be like.

So birthdays.

I don’t like to make a big fuss out of them for a few reason.  Actually let me rephrase…I don’t like to make a big fuss out of MY birthday.  I love celebrating my friends and family’s birthdays.

  1. I had to put down the best dog in the world -Calvin- on my 22nd birthday
  2. I really don’t like having a lot of attention put on me…it’s uncomfortable and awkward.
  3. I’ve had friends in the past who have been birthday crazies to the point where it becomes a little obnoxious “IT”S MY BIRTHDAY SO…..”

I loved to do it as a kid but as I grew up, I’ve found that an ice  cream cake, a few gifts and then dinner is really all I need. No parties.

This year is the first time I will be away from home and for the first time since 1989, I will be celebrating it in the country I was born in.  It’s kind of cool.

But to celebrate with all of you sad souls who have nothing better to do than to read my sad little (often uninteresting) blog, I’ve decided to do a countdown of my favorite songs.  I debated back and forth with this between just KPOP and songs in general.  And I’ve decided this blog could use some flair…so we are going to songs in general which my choices may seem shocking to you.

Since I’ve decided to only a weekday countdown, and I couldn’t bear to limit it to 5, I’ve decided to do 10 songs with 2 each day.

Note, unlike Halloween which didn’t really have any order until we got to #1, this is a legit countdown where I list my top 10 songs of all the songs of all the genres…I repeat….all the genres.

So today…..

# 10: Hey Jude (The Beatles)

As someone who was known for disliking the Beatles for a long time, it might be shocking that this would be on my top 10 songs list.  It wasn’t my fault that in the third grade my music teacher showed the class The Yellow Submarine animation….so for 10 + years I associated The Beatles with the repetitive “we all live in a yellow submarine” chorus.  It wasn’t until I was in my senior year of college, taking a music history course, that I learned that the Beatles were more than that.  After watching “Hard Day’s Night”, my perspective on everything Beatles changed.  Not to mention my two best friends got on board too (we were all in the same class).  I got the entire restored Beatles collection for Christmas, the three of us made a spontaneous mid week trip to Strawberry Fields in NYC on John Lennon’s death anniversary, S bought a poster and hung it in our apartment.

It was the first time that I learned to like something I had been so set against (if you’ve ever sat through the Yellow Submarine animation you understand why-it wasn’t blind hate…it was legit) and it defiantly wouldn’t be the last time. Liking old music was never an issue growing up with the idea “I own the car, I control the radio” (which everyone knows that’s BS because our parents still tried to control the radio even in our own cars) so I listended to  golden oldies a lot.  But it allowed my dad and I to bond a little as well.  He was kind enough to never make me listen to the beatles growing up.

But this allowed us to have one more thing other than sports to talk about which was really nice. My dad isn’t a real big music person ( I think it’s because he’s tone deaf…..) so having the oppourtinity to share a music interest was really fun.

Hey Jude was the first song by the Beatles that I really fell in love with. I don’t know why exactly but to this day it’s my favorite song of theirs and was my favorite song for a long time.  It’s a pretty simple song that pokes fun at pop’s “fade out” instead of using an actual ending to a song. But the build of up instruments eventually ends up with this wall of sound that is so powerful you forget that the song started off so simple and soft.

Paul McCartney’s voice fits the song so well.  And though the lyrics aren’t anything spectacular, the sentiment that it was written for Lennon’s son during the divorce is really touching.

Not to mention if you listen really closely before the chorus of “nananana hey jude start” you can hear somebody ( I think it was Lenon) say “fucking hell” which is just….hysterical that it wasn’t edited.”

So while it might not be the most innovative or creative song in the world, it’s a really special song for me.

#9:Live Like We’re Dying (Kris Allen)

A lot of people probably won’t know this name, or if they do, it’s “the dude who won against the other better dude on American Idol”.

While yes, Kris Allen probably should have lost, he won and this was the song he put out (after that No Boundries mess) as his first single.

Yes Adam Lambert is probably a better singer.  In all facets of the aspect.  And by logic, he would my favorite.  But I fell in love with Kris Allen’s smooth vocal tone.  I learned that sometimes it’s not always about power and strength and throwing out every single trick in the book.  It’s not doing insane vocal runs.  But having a nice smooth tone and doing the best you can do with it sometimes makes it better than any powerful belter ( I say this as someone who prefers strong full voices ironically)

This song not only has Kris Allen’s smooth vocal tone all over it, a catchy tune but also the message behind the song isn’t just some silly love song.

Although he didn’t write it, I do think he carries out the message and the emotion of the song amazingly.  It’s all about the fact that we only have so much time to live and our life could end at any moment.  What would you regret? What would you wish you would have done?  There’s no point in putting off something until later because later might never happen.

So that concludes today’s long post.  I will hopefully remember to add in pictures later.  Tomorrow will continue with the #8 and # 7 countdown as well as dealing with the fact I was just told that my favorite co teacher (whom I rely on for so much) is going to fill the 4th grade home room position, leaving me to have to work with a brand new co teacher…..hate it

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