I have always been the type of person to think that your birthday is just one day. I mean, it’s the DAY of your birth that’s to be celebrated – not the weekend, week, or month. It turns out that my friends are amazing and know how to make an entire week better than I could have ever anticipated. Be forewarned: there are a lot of pictures and quite frankly a lot of them are of me. It was my birthday and dammit these incredible people made me smile brighter than I have in years, and helped soften the blow of missing my family and besties at home.
It started out when everyone had returned from our various Japanese summer vacations. G had been in Ishigaki – a sub-tropical paradise where she had gone diving, been to a music festival on the beach, and been practically adopted by a beautiful Japanese family (we actually had a magnificent evening with a wonderful Japanese family in Osaka too, but more on that when I post about my last day in O-town). We were supposed to meet after my friends finished up band practice but that ended early and I raced over to the loft to catch up with friends I had been missing an incredible amount even though I had been gone just a few days. I know, I’m a sap.
I mean, do my friends know me well, or what? Wednesday night they had sparkling wine at the ready for midnight when I officially turned…well…the age I turned. I think that this is the first birthday where I’m suddenly starting to feel older. I’m not quite almost 30, but I’m not not almost 30 and quite frankly that’s a little scary for me. If this feeling could be shared I would tell everyone thinking about teaching abroad to do it and do it early and as young as you can. I want to take advantage of all the opportunities being silver spoon-fed to me, but I also want to return to Canada and settle down before it’s “too late”. Dear everyone older than me: it’s advice time now – do I stay in Asia past 30? How soon do your eggs truly start to nosedive (’cause I’m holding out as long as possible). Dear potential suitors reading this: yes – we’re all that nuts sometimes (and I bet you are too). Even the most adventurous lady in your life still has those questioning moments of: “am I doing the right thing?”. I can’t imagine ever regretting seeing the world, but I’m allergic to cats and being alone. End rant. Drop Mic.
Thankfully, I have these girls to keep me halfway sane (or who are at least on my level :P) and who are the soundtrack to my life by playing Far East Movement at every “poppin’ bottles” moment, and who let me try to rap. The videos are in the vault, ladies.
Thursday was my official birthday, and in addition to some beautiful cards from my students (one card from a particular favourite that includes the phrases: “Happy Your Birthday” – on the official card, not handwritten, “I love you”, “I’m so so happy. Don’t lose your smile”, and “I RESPECT YOU!”) my colleague made some seaweed soup as it’s supposed to bring you good health in the coming year. I mean, how lucky am I already? Hold onto your hats…it gets even better.
We had wanted to check out 88 Star Wars, the new spot in Hwamyeong. Turns out it’s a restaurant that didn’t look all that frugal, so we headed over to our typical Buk-gu haunt: Monster Craft Brewing (we go there a lot so check it out here and here). This place feels like the living room I’ve always wanted: there’s our friendly owner/ chef who serves up cheap beer ($3 for a house pint) and the best chicken I have ever had. I’m not kidding – I’m probably their #1 fan.
I had met up with G who BOUGHT ME A CAKE and then M and S joined up a bit later once we mentioned the venue switch.
The chocolatiest of chocolate cakes was shared with 2 other tables who sang me happy birthday (Saeng-il-chuka-hamnida) and engaged in polite conversation (ie. the Korean men wanted to know how old I was. I gave them my western age rather than Korean age because obviously).
Could life be any more decadent or wonderful? Well yes, in fact…it turns out that beyond all my already exceeded expectations, it most certainly was!
Saturday G and I decided that rather than heading down to the beach or the pool we would get some housework and errands done and then treat ourselves to lunch. We ordered a pasta and a salad to share because we were being both indulgent and heart-healthy.
Nope. That’s an absolute lie. Our salad from Wicked Spoon was actually delicious chicken fingers with hard boiled egg, a little bit of iceberg lettuce, a TON of honey mustard sauce, and a garnish of 2 cherry tomatoes sliced in half. I did not complain. Our spicy cream pasta was less spice more cream but had a delightful array of peppers and bacon and I’m all about that life.
Then we found G’s roof. Some sweet rays and sun salutations later? Pure bliss…followed by The Office in air-conditioned comfort.
I’m so lucky to have friends from Masan to Daegu willing to come into Busan (and even Hwamyeong!) to visit. My wonderful, hilarious gentlemen from the Air Force even brought me a little taste from home (Tito’s Handmade Vodka) from the base. We had some cocktails and pizza (and even a visit from adorable little Oscar, K’s pup!) before heading back up to G’s roof to watch the sunset.
Once darkness fell we all jumped into cabs and headed down to Gwangalli Beach for our very own Midnight Garden Party (literally it was so hot our group of 15 people had the place for ourselves!). I’ll leave you quite simply with some photos because the stories? You just wouldn’t believe ’em…
Three big nights, three “Happy Birthdays”, two cakes and candles, and countless phenomenal friends celebrating my first birthday in Korea.