Nope, it’s not an April Fool’s joke. Hello blog, it is so good to be back!
I know that from my last post in October, I made it sound like I would be following up with my last blog update from Korea really soon, but things got really busy with REVEAL Competition in November. Then came the holidays, followed by the new year, and before I knew it, I was already three months into 2013. I’ve been working on some great goals in the meantime, but I decided I needed something to help keep me accountable, which is why I started this blog in the first place, so now’s a good a time as any!
As most of the people in my life already know, one of the big news that has happened since my last post is that I am now working for lululemon athletica. I can’t quite say that this is NEWS anymore because, as my LinkedIn profile reminded me, I’ve been working there for almost 6 months now! The work culture at lululemon has been really great for me because it’s all about goal setting, personal development, and creating a vision for yourself. This perfectly aligns with my own intent to regularly set goals for myself and keep myself on track for accomplishing them.
lululemon has a great vision and goals setting worksheet that helps you focus on career, health, and personal goals to achieve in 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years. I’ll definitely be going into more detail about what those goals look like for me later, but for now I just wanted to give a short update on what I’ve been up to.
Oh, and another exciting update! I’ve managed to cross off another thing on my bucket list! Last Thursday, my brother and I went to our first live hockey game! After living in Vancouver for 7 years, I knew it was only a matter of time until I went to my first Canucks game, but I never imagined it would be like this! Isaac was lucky enough to get amazing suite seats from a client for a great price, so the two of us got to watch our first hockey game in style. And I have to say, it was such an experience. Watching hockey is so much more exciting in person! I’m definitely looking forward to going to another game sometime.
I know the photo quality isn’t spectacular because these were taken on my iPhone, but it saved me the trouble of lugging around my DSLR. You can always view more on my Instagram!
Bucket list: Go to a hockey game — check!
More goal setting updates to come next time!
It’s been more than a month since I’ve been back from Korea, and I still haven’t managed to finish blogging about it. Now that rainy season is back in Vancouver, it makes me miss summer all the more. So please excuse the lateness of the next two posts, and think of it as my way of seeking closure from my summer vacation.
I won’t go into detail for every single day, mostly because my memory is failing me, so I’ll skip right over to TUESDAY (August 14). Somehow, my parents have taken in a stray cat. I’ve always thought we were dog people, but there are stray cats EVERYWHERE in my grandmother’s neighborhood. This one particular female cat apparently kept hanging around our grandma’s house, so my parents have been leaving leftovers for her outside. Well, while my brother and I were staying there, the cat had kittens! And they are seriously the most adorable things ever. Their mama doesn’t like us getting too close, but I happened to get some photos when she was out looking for some food or something.
Just when we were all done oggling at the kitties and came inside, we still heard a tiny, high-pitched meowing. Turns out, one of the kittens had gotten into our shoe cabinet by the front door and was crying for his mom, most likely terrified out of his mind. After a lot of coaxing and spilling of milk, Isaac managed to grab him and returned him safely home. But not before I could take a picture! It was such an “aww” moment, I couldn’t resist.
Our dad was away for a 3-day camping trip with some of his students, so Mom, Isaac, and I went off to have dinner by ourselves at 호접몽 (Ho-Jub-Mong), a Chinese restaurant inside the Lotte Department Store.
We kinda went all out and ordered a full course meal, which basically means we had plate after plate of food. Chilled jellyfish salad, fresh salmon salad, sweet and sour breaded shrimp, zzajangmyun (black bean noodles), etc. All of it was delicious and we all ate way too much.
I have a confession to make: I know just as much about Korean history as I do Canadian. Which is to say, not very. In my defense, I grew up, for the most part, in southern California, so all through elementary school and middle school, and halfway through high school, I learned about U.S. history, California history, world history, and ancient civilizations, but never anything specifically Canadian OR Korean.
Lucky for me, my dad is a junior high socials teacher. And, not to brag or anything, but my dad’s the kind of person that can teach without being condescending, a trait that I’m finding to be rather uncommon among adults in traditional Asian culture… I’ve always loved the informal way my dad feeds me new information and ideas, and it’s one of the things I missed most when my parents moved back to Korea, so when we went on a road trip to Gyeongju on FRIDAY (August 10), it was a real treat!
Gyeongju is only about a 2 hour drive from Busan, so it was a perfect destination for a family day trip. I think the great thing about road trips in Korea is the rest areas. In Korea, there are 휴게소 (Hyu-Gae-So: rest stop) along the highways in some of the major cities. Some are bigger than others, but for me, stopping by at a Hyu-Gae-So and grabbing some snacks is a big part of what road-tripping in Korea is all about!
I took my usual road-trip position in the car, which is — shotgun! I would’ve offered to drive if my dad got tired, but I think having me take the wheel would be more stressful than relaxing, so I faithfully did my duty as copilot and navigator. To be honest, being navigator is a piece of cake because Korea has the most amazing GPS’s ever! Seriously, in Korea, a GPS is not just a GPS. Not only does it tell you directions to your destination, but it also tells you when you have sharp curves, speed bumps, and speed check cameras coming up! It can also play movies, show TV programs, play music, and show photos?! Not that it’s a good idea to have the TV on while you’re driving.. but if I could be guaranteed that the GPS would work in North America, I would bring one back with me to Vancouver in a heartbeat!
At some point in history, Gyeongju was once Korea’s capital, and famous kings and military leaders were buried there. Today, Gyeongju is a huge tourist attraction because of its many world heritage sites and its well-preserved history. It’s sometimes referred to as the “museum without walls,” and that’s exactly what it felt like walking through Gyeongju, as many of the buildings are restored and maintained in the traditional style so they still give off the vibe of historical Korea.
We started off our Gyeongju tour in 대릉원 (Dae-Rung-Won), the royal burial grounds.
It was really muggy all morning before the full-on thunderstorm in the afternoon, so none of my photos are all that spectacular, but that doesn’t stop the Choo fam!
And then we saw these giant hills. At first I had no idea what they were. I just thought they’d be really fun to roll down because they were so steep. But my dad explained that each of those “hills” are tombs. The taller the hill, the larger the tomb, presumably for the more important and famous historical figures. Now it makes sense why the signs request you to stay off the grass.
We got to see what the inside of one of these tombs would look like at 천마총 (Chun-Ma-Chong), one of the more famous excavated grave sites. No photos were allowed inside, but here’s what the outside looked like:
Overall, Dae-Rung-Won was nicely decorated and would have been a great place to just walk around and enjoy the park if it wasn’t so sticky and hot that day.
This week in Korea, I lost: 1 wisdom tooth and a good chunk of money. I also most likely gained: a good 2kg (about 4.4 lbs).
I suppose it can’t be helped, what with all the eating we’ve been doing. I’ve been trying to balance it out with as much walking as possible (for example, I’m pretty sure we’ve been to Nampodong at least 5 times in the past week), but no good. I need to run more often! (More on this later…)
MONDAY (July 30) started off with a quick visit to the hospital where my mom works. My mommy is super cute in her nurse’s uniform =) We couldn’t take up too much of her time, but my brother managed to sneak in a creeper photo before we left!
After all our doctors’ visits, off to Nampodong for window-shopping!
We also got to visit our dad’s old elementary school which was super cool :D Of course, it’s changed a lot since he was a student there, and he says he hasn’t visited it in over 30 years, but it was still great to get a little blast from his past! We only get to do that in Korea after all.
Special treat of the day: Sweet potato (고구마) pizza!!! This was just a quick lunch break at a tiny shop in our neighborhood before our dentist appointment, but still so good. Sweet potato or Goguma pizza is uniquely Korean, as far as I know, and it’s been really difficult to find a place that serves it in the Vancouver area. So I better eat lots of it while I still can!
S.O.S. from Busan, South Korea!
I know it hasn’t been a full week yet since I’ve arrived in Korea, but believe me, it only took half a day for me to send out mental distress signals to be saved from this unbearable heat! It’s not my first time in Asia in the summer, but it’s been long enough for me to have forgotten how incredibly humid and suffocating an Asian summer can be. That, plus the mosquitoes are almost enough to make me want to hop back on the plane back to Vancouver. Almost.
But thankfully, the first thing I saw on our transfer flight from Incheon to Busan was this gorgeous view:
Who could leave behind a beautiful city like that? Although I won’t get to explore Seoul for another couple of weeks, I’m going to enjoy as much of Busan as I can while I’m here (and blog all about it)!
Busan, the second largest city in South Korea, is the city where I was born and where our family lived until I was about 5 years old. I always feel a little disoriented when I come back to visit after such a long time, but it’s great to be reunited with family, especially my parents. It’s funny how we’ve been apart for almost a year and a half, but when we’re back together, it feels like it was only yesterday that we were all living together! It’s nice to be back at my grandmother’s place again too, since our fam lived here for quite a while before we immigrated to the U.S., but it’s a pretty old house, so it’s a bit inconvenient and there isn’t too much to do. Thank goodness my parents have internet and wifi installed, or I might have died of boredom and heat exhaustion.
One great redeeming factor about my grandma’s place though, is that it is literally a 5-minute walk from Songdo Beach (송도해수욕장: Song-do Hae-Soo-Yok-Jahng). It’s actually quite a summer hotspot in Busan so it gets fairly crowded in the afternoon, but it’s nice and quiet in the morning, which is around the time of day I went for a walk on THURSDAY (July 26).
A quick progress check on how I’ve been doing on my summer goals in the past month:
- Fix my guitar and practice at least once a week – Check and check! Calluses on my fingertips are forming slowly but surely.
- Read at least one (auto)biography – Not yet.. Recommendations please!
- Grouse Grind in under 1 hour 15 minutes. – Not done, and won’t be able to :(
- Hike the Stawamus Chief – Done!
- Go coffee shop hopping! – Sortof / in-progress
- Have a Friends marathon – Haven’t started and probably won’t..
- BLOG MORE OFTEN! – Will do better!
So far, I’ve successfully hiked the Stawasmus Chief AND I’ve changed the strings on my guitar on my own (hooray for YouTube tutorials!). Unfortunately I don’t know how likely I am to finish the rest of my summer goals since… I’m going to Korea! Yup, my plans have changed again and I am now at the airport with my brother, waiting to board our 2:30pm flight. I’m going to do my best to keep blogging in Korea and keep track of all the places I visit and all the amazing food I eat, so stay tuned ;)
See you in August, Vancity!
P.S. Didn’t get a chance to put these up the first time because I had to board my flight. Things I’ve been up to this summer… in photos!
My summer this year will consist of:
- Finishing the last 9 credits of my undergraduate degree (in progress)
California: June 26 ~ July 15(canceled…) Summer Training, July 2~7(canceled…) College Training, July 9~15(canceled…) Korea: July 19 ~ August 21(canceled…)
- Looking for a job
Yayyyyy, I have so much to look forward to…
But in all seriousness, having my Cali and Korea trips canceled is a small price to pay in exchange for our family finally being approved for permanent residence! Our application is in the final stages, so hopefully everything will be processed in a couple of months. This is very exciting news to our family, as we and many dear others have been praying for this for the past six years. The bad news is that we had to send in our passports, so I won’t be able to leave the country until then :( I’ll admit, I was thoroughly bummed out at first, and am still pretty disappointed that our family reunion will have to be delayed for a bit, not to mention that I no longer have a grad trip to look forward to. But I’m trying to look on the bright side and have been planning plenty of things to keep me busy for the summer!
Just a few of the goals I have for this summer: