My happy Korean birthday

I wrote a while (okay, a LONG while) ago, telling you about Sylvia’s (aka my Island BFF) birthday, but I never wrote about mine. And while this year’s is lining up to be pretty epic (short version: half my family will be here! Yes, half. I have a big family), last year’s was awesome, and I want to tell y’all about it.

Do you think I had enough parentheses in that paragraph?! Moving on.

So, I’ve had birthdays away from home before. Well, one. And I spent that in Amélie’s café in Paris, so, winning.

True story.

There was also another one, while I was studying in Stellenbosch, but my whole family (except my brother) ended up coming to Cape Town for that, so I’m not sure it counts. But anyway, point is, I wasn’t tooo fazed about the whole thing.

My birthday was on a Friday, which was great, because I was at my main school AND we were going on a field trip. The day before I bought a delicious looking chocolate cake from Paris Baguette, intending on taking it to school for everyone to share, as is the custom in schools and offices back home.

Excuse the baby angels. Ahem.

On Friday morning I awoke and opened my present from my lovely friend Natali :) Then it was off to school, cake in tow. I handed it off the vice-principal, bashfully explaining that it was my birthday and I’d brought cake for the teachers, and then escaped upstairs.

I wasn’t expecting them to make a big fuss but next thing I know I’m being called down to the office where they had all gathered. Candles were lit, the birthday crown was produced from the birthday box by the adorable 4th grade teacher and I was made to wear it, the happy birthday song was sung. It was so sweet of them!

The principal’s on my right. He’s such a sweetheart!

I cut the cake, everyone had some, and then we all piled into the buses and trundled back to my ‘hood, Shin Jeju, to the Foreign Language Centre. What happens here is the kids are shuffled between three English activities: a movie, self-study (I think) and the Simulation Labs – an English village-type place where they interact with foreign teachers in places like a doctor’s office, a grocery store, a clothing store and the airport. Now I happened to know some of these foreign teachers… So I basically got to watch my kids being cute AND other people working on my birthday. Winning! :D

I miss these kids :’)

The second field trip (there are always two, not sure why) was to the Jeju Art Museum – a very cool place. There was a special exhibition of some Korean artist and his work included a number of nudes – my kids freaked out, of course. I found it hilarious watching their reactions! There were also a lot of cool sculptures:

Metal…with personality.

Edward Scissorhands!

…Made entirely out of drinking straws.

I spent the afternoon deskwarming (sigh) then met Sylvia and fellow Saffer Kent in the bar in my apartment block to eat more cake and watch the rugby (South Africa vs Samoa, we won 13 – 5). We had dinner at my favourite pasta restaurant in City Hall (given a month, it would have been dakgalbi, but it’s all good) and then met friends for cocktails at a fab little place called The Bitches, which has sadly shut down since then. (Nothing to do with us.)

It wasn’t a huge party because I was all organised-out from the previous weekend’s Heritage Day Braai on Jeju. (It was awesome. But exhausting.) So I’d just sent out a general invite on Facebook and then whoever wanted to just rocked up.

Sparklers! Because you’re never too old.

After many cocktails and more cake (thanks Sylvia!) it was time to hit the noreabang. Six of us went, and it was just the perfect group. We sang for about two hours and it was awesome.

Doing an epic ensemble to Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow”. You guys were great!

Yes, that is me, standing on a couch, singing. It is the noraebang way.

The next day Sylvia and I headed out to Udo, a small island off the east coast of Jeju. We hired a 4-wheeler and rode around for a couple of hours, and froze our butts off in the freezing wind. Seriously, it was the coldest I’d been on Jeju (at that point). When we got back the next day I immediately went and stocked up on some Autumn-appropriate clothing.

We 4-wheeled. Fun!

Udo is…

…quite beautiful.

Also there were cows. (Udo literally means “Cow Island”, apparently because its shape resembles a cow lying down. Foreigner shrug.)

And questionable English.

And it was cold. Brr.

All round, not a bad way to turn 25! Looking forward to my next birthday in Korea ^_^

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3 thoughts on “My happy Korean birthday

  1. Got all emotional reading it though!! But wonderful reading about it all! Please be home 2013 and maybe we can celebrate your birthday together ;) Love you!

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