Holidays, a time everyone gets hyped up over, parents planning activities for the family to spend quality time with and school children ( as well as teachers) jumping for joy. Hello, waking up late, celebrating, goin for tuition and best of all, vacations! In myy case, a holiday I would never forget is a fruitful one I expereinced five years ago, where my family I spent six days in the land of K-Pop and ' kimchi '- Korea.
Finally, after ages of waiting, our family arrived in beautiful Korea. Stepping out of the plane, we could feel the chilly weather to our bones. Never experiencing that kind of weather, my siblings and I were totally excited. Passing through immigration and baggage claim, we were talking animatedly about our new surroundings. Since we went with tour group, we knew we were in good hands.
Incident number one. We were supposed to take a bus to check in at the hotel, as instructed. I guessed I was overeager and without thinking. I ran to a random bus and knocked on the door. The young bus driver opened the door and looked at me with a puzzled expression. He started asking me something in Korean, which of course I did not understand. I tried to reply in English, but before I could make the attempt, my father quickly apologized to the driver and walked me back to the tour group who was watching from afar, shaking with laughter. It turned out that the bus I was running to was not the bus we were supposed to take. I dismissed my burning cheeks. I was glad I could be the butt of everyone's jokes on my first day in a foreign country.
It was a bit past lunch time when we were done checking in our hotel. Not doubt, everybody's stomachs were grumbling. Thank God after checking in, we were going to have our lunch and do a bit of sightseeing. While waiting for the others outside the hotel, we walked around nearby. There was a row of vending machines that sold various snacks and beverages, including Haagen Dazs ice-cream , and instant noodles. My mother had a craving for Nescafe, so she spent her first Korrean money on that.
At the restaurant, a delicious meal was already spread out for us. That was the first time we all tried kimchi, a spicy and sour vegetable side dish.I did not think it was horrible, buut I preferred the fish kimchi much better. We all ate using chopsticks, so that was kind or awkward for me and my siblings, as we were not skilled at using them yet. Being Malaysians, we were used to rice, so it was a good thing that the Korean meal included rice and a few other side dish, eaten from a Bento box. It was weird though, the rice was stickier compared to the rice we eat at home, mainly to make it easier to eat using chopsticks. There was also hot and scumptious miso soup together with the meal. Since my sister and my brother did not like it much, I finshed up theirs. I gulped the warm soup down my throat- a nice connntrast from the shivering weather outside.
One of the highlights of our activities that we did in Korea was skiling. Everybody from the tour group was looking forward to that, even the 52-year old couple traveling with us. Since it was'nt fully snownig yet, the hill was coverred with artificial snow. After grobbing our ski gear, we listen to a briefing by the instructor. He was very help ful, especially with us kids annd the elderly couple.
Feeling jumpy and hyperactive, me and my sister made our way to the cable car and successfully skied down a slope. I thought, " We're natural at this," and my sister could not agree more. When we came to see how our parents and brother were doing, my brother started to throw a snowball towards me and my sister. It hit me, and we started having a small snowball fight of our own, just like in the movies! I guessed we got a bit out of hand and my sister accidentally hit a woman's back. when she turned around, she had this angry look on her face and started to walk towards us.I hurried my siblings to continue skiing with our parents,and we ran away before she cold catch us. Breathless, we giggled innaivety as we recapped the moment.
In a way, skiing is like swimming. Why do I say so? Well, when swimming ,you do not feel tired , but you would see the effect when you get ravenous and eat more after a session or when you aintend to tke a nap, but it is extended to long hours. The same goes to skiing. When we arrived at the hotel after skiing, we were drained out and starving. Instant noodles saved the day! We all ate curry-flavoured Maggi together, savouring the memontary pleasure. We also dozed off quite early that night , right after going for a walk to enjoy the amazing night view of th mountains, and breathing the cool, fresh winter air.
Shopping in Korea was also different compared to Malaysia. Its malls were packed with small shops or stalla on every floor. Big boutiques were not seen as much as the quaint kiosks. Nevertheless, I found shopping at their markets more enjoyable, especially because you could haggle the price. Their specialities were crystals, fabrics and outerwear. Apart form that, I also liked their wet markets , mainly because they were very clean and they did not have that fishy smell. I remembered a shocking incident when walking through the stalls of the wet market. A large fish jumped out its aquarium and onto the floor. I stared at it and suddenly, I saw a huge cutting knife slicing through the fish's neck! It was the owner of the stall's doing. Then, the owner left the fish flapping around lifelessly without a head.
There was also a treasure trove among the stalls of the wet market- a tiny shoop which served grilled seafood. My family stepped into the shop and ordered some grilled fish and cockles.
After saying our prayers, we devoured our mouth-watering find of the day. Dripped in a type of souce, the seafood was the best I had ever eaten, as you could taste the freshness. Or maybe I was just hungry after a full day of activities.
If it was up to me, there were so many things to write on my memorabe trip to Korean. Not onli we got to spend quality time together as a family, but we also learnt countless new things and even discovered hidden talents. My father always said we should travel with an open mind and an open heart. This is when you get to see your capability to adapt to changes. Just enjoy the simple things in life and be thankful of what you have. So, do just that. Who knows you might discover a part of yourself you never know existed?