Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas Fun in 2013

Oh, come on. That tree wouldn't fit in my apartment even if we laid it down.
Christmas can be a hard time for people, especially when you move away from all of your family and most of your friends. I always used to spend the holidays with family, so it is a stark change to now not see them for the second year in a row. Last Christmas, Jackie and I stayed in and opened presents at her apartment, nothing fancy. (I wrote about it a bit near the end of an old blog post)

This year I wanted to do something a little different. I'll get to that later, but first, we had to prepare for Christmas.



First, the Christmas tree had to be set up. All of decorations we purchased from Daiso. I love shopping at Daiso. It's so inexpensive!

We also got a couple of Santa hats, both with braids (although I wear mine with the braids tucked into the hat). Decorating the tree was easy. Before long, we had filled our tree with tons of decorations, some traditional, some strange. For every ribbon and tree topper, we had squirrels and cats straddling the branches. We took a few pictures of ourselves and the tree and went to bed. Slowly, presents began to surround the tree. When my family sent me presents from the United States, I added them to the tree. Jackie filled my stocking and I filled hers. The presents she wrapped for me sporadically appeared there too. Christmas was fast approaching.

Shopping, the Bane of My Existence
It's do or die time.
Shopping for things is difficult with my schedule. If I want to go to a part of town to buy things, my area is not super shopping friendly, then I need to take the subway at least 25 minutes. The really good shopping places take 45 minutes to an hour to get to. I work at 12:30, so I have to go in the morning because everything is closed at night.

The view of the Hanok village was great though.
One day I decided to go to buy a present really far away. I knew a store that Jackie really loved, and I knew the area it was in, but I couldn't exactly remember where it was. I got up early and took the subway out there. I began walking up and down everywhere looking for this place. Time was my enemy as the morning grew older. I ran around as much as I could, but I couldn't find it. Luckily, I had some more presents in mind for Jackie.

Nightmare Before Christmas
Nightmare Before Christmas: The Musical
The weekend before Christmas, we went to go watch a play at Ferrum Tower. A former co-worker of mine was the lead in Nightmare Before Christmas, and a really cool current co-worker was in the orchestra. I was sick, but I still enjoyed the musical greatly. It was the second musical I have ever been to. Afterwards, we tried to go to the new downtown Craftworks, but it was closed. Again. Disappointing. Luckily, California Pizza Kitchen was open.

Christmas Eve
Presents and decorations all ready for Christmas.
Months before, I had booked a hotel for us for Christmas Eve. I didn't tell Jackie what I had done, but I was dropping hints about what she would need to do to prepare for Christmas. The night before Christmas Eve, I sent her a message telling her what time to get on a certain bus. The next evening, I told her what subway to take and where to transfer and stop at. I gave her the exit number and directions. Later, I told her what building to look for.

I made sure to give myself time to get to the hotel before she did. I ended up with 15 minutes to decorate the place for Christmas. Scrambling around, I threw decorations everywhere. The little tree went on the coffee table, ornaments were scattered around, a wreath was hung, presents were put around the tree, two glasses of wine were poured (the cheese was still in the fridge).

The hotel was Fraser Suites Insadong. I had never been in a hotel this nice. Our room consisted of a living room, small dining area, a full sized kitchen, a balcony, study, two bedrooms (a large master bedroom and a smaller one), two bathrooms with showers, a washing machine that doubled as a dryer, and an incredible view of the city and Namsan Tower. Sometimes you rent something online (I used Agoda to get a great price) and don't know how it will actually be even after you research it. I really lucked out this time. Big time.

The view from our room in the Fraser Suites.

Finally, she arrived. I went down to meet her and walk her to the room. She loved it. After walking around and taking in the area, we decided to go eat Indian food for dinner. We walked to Little India and had some great food.

We are both so pretty! (Courtesy of +Jackie Eckles)
Back at our home for the night, we drank some wine and watched It's a Wonderful Life after I hooked up my computer to the television. We cuddled while watching the movie, but after having such a long day (she works even more hours than I do), Jackie fell asleep in my arms about 15 minutes later. I watched the movie until the end and woke her up so we could move to the bed and get some real sleep.

Christmas Day
Christmas sunrise in Seoul.
The next day, we woke up early to open up presents. I got so much great stuff! Almost all of it is practical, which is something I desired for presents this year. I got a scarf, gloves, shirts, warm socks, honey roasted peanuts (YUM), The Amazing Spider-Man (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy), a belt, and much more! I was so excited!

Namsan Tower on Christmas Day
We went down to breakfast and ate well again. On top of the normal breakfast staples of scrambled eggs, bacon, cereal, coffee, and various fruits, they also had spaghetti. Spaghetti. Korea can be so strange sometimes. Nevertheless, it was all really tasty. I loaded up on almonds because they are so expensive in Korea generally.

Unfortunately, we had to check out soon, so we rushed to pack up everything. I booked this place for many reasons, but having a pool was one of them. It was too bad we did not have the time to take advantage of that amenity.

It was still a great day, one I will not soon forget.
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