Today’s adventure-recap is about our Christmas on Geoje Island. Geoje is a small island just off the coast of Korea. Depending on traffic, it’s about 2-3 hours drive southwestish from here. Yes, that’s a technical term. The dogs much enjoyed riding in little Mac all the way down, and I even rolled down the window at a toll gate or two. One of the perks to driving a compact car is that tolls are half price! The gas mileage isn’t too bad either.
The awesome Geoje bridge and a little fresh air for the journey.
After crossing the lovely bridge from the mainland over to Geoje, we made our way through the city of Okpo up to our lovely friends’, the Kendricks’, apartment. They were hosting a Christmas Eve dinner and White Elephant (Yankee Swap for those of you who call it that), which turned out to be rather entertaining.
Before guests started to arrive, we took a hike to wear out the dogs, and the trail was conveniently located just out the back of the Kendricks’ apartment complex. At first, it seemed like a dirt trail through farm country – nothing too formal, just a small, semi-muddy path up the mountain. Pretty soon, it got quite steep and challenging. There were three stops on the trail with workout equipment, and we could go even further past the last one for nearly a two hour hike. I should pause here to mention that it’s quite common for Koreans to hike up a mountain trail to work out on the communal gym equipment at the top. It’s rather intimidating.
Indeed, when we got to the first workout station (next time I’ll get a photo), we met some dear elderly women who were, quite frankly, dominating the steep trail as well as the workout equipment, though the youngest one couldn’t have been less than 60. They were actually excited by the dogs and came over to say hi, a welcome change from our normal squealing/terrified-Korean-woman experience. Post-meet-and-greet, with Murray smelling everything in sight and Minnie attempting to eat who knows what every thirty seconds, on up the trail we went.
We made it! The backlighting from the iPhone is terrible – I forgot my camera!
The third stop had a workout station along with pagoda boasting some really awesome views of Okpo and the shipyard where Ryan and Erin work. J had visited a few times on business when he used to work on the same project, so he felt a little nostalgia and a lot of pride showing me all the “awesome” equipment and explaining the workings of the yard. Although I am certainly appreciative of the shipyard keeping my dear husband employed, I was certainly more interested in the awesome views from the top:
We hotly debated whether or not to keep going up to the peak, and this ended both of us making it about halfway before I decided Minnie and I would be better off heading back down slowly with the two boys catching up. I was ready to get back and prepare for the festivities ahead.
The highlight of the night, by far, was the White Elephant gift swap. This American tradition requires party guests to bring a terrible, funny or just plain stupid gift, to “swap” for, hopefully, a better terrible, funny or just plain stupid gift. I got to pick early on, and the first gift I opened was a vase and stand shaped like male and female unmentionables. The ceramic set drew a lot of laughter, and ended up being quite popular; it was stolen by other guests twice!
After it was stolen from me, and then another of my choices was stolen (a small cast-iron skillet for baking a giant cookie, AWESOME!), I was forced to open yet another terrible, funny or just plain stupid gift. I am really not sure which of those categories this falls under, but the gift was a two part-er. I first opened the small cylindrical container that had a picture of some sort of disgusting larva on it. I wasn’t too fazed, as I’ve seen various larvae for sale on the street markets, and whatever it was, it was covered up by dirt so I didn’t get a good look at it.
The next piece, much larger, made my face turn beet red and my heart start to race. All I could see underneath the wrapping paper was a picture of two GIANT beetles (they were pictured mating, mind you), and my brain instantly made me believe I was opening a cage full of these beetles. I was so flustered I could barely open the rest of the gift, even though the guests who brought it were sitting right behind me, encouraging me that there was nothing scary inside.
Minnie and Murray were not ready for another animal in the family. Can you believe they sell these at Home plus?
They were indeed correct, and the large gift was a cage with all sorts of accessories for my new pet beetle! To say the least, I had no intention of keeping Mr./Ms. Beetle, but luckily another lovely party guest who enjoys animals of all kinds was happy to take it on. The beetle should come out of its larva stage within a month or so, and Anne can have all kinds of fun raising it and setting it free before she leaves Korea. I hear they live up to two years!
Lesson learned this Christmas: I really, really hate beetles. I am convinced that had the cage contained a mouse, or even a snake, it really wouldn’t have bothered me. But if there is one thing I really don’t do, it’s beetles. My skin is crawling just thinking about them at this very moment.
On a more fun note, we had a blast Skyping with our family over Christmas, and especially enjoyed our nephew opening his Korean cartoon Pororo gifts after his Dad had to decipher a long poem I wrote in a “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” framework. I think J’s grandma really enjoyed video chatting with us, too! Our grandparents are constantly amazed by today’s technology.
Christmas across the miles.
I hope you made as many memories with your holiday celebrations as I did this year! (Hopefully not of the creepy-crawly variety).