It’s been a quiet few days. Just working and studying and getting ready for the forthcoming events. Faraaz has decided to take a break from blogging (blogger’s block?) so for the foreseeable future, I will be writing all blog posts.
Next week there will be no blogging by anyone though because… WE ARE OFF TO CHINA!
Now I just returned from Cambodia a month ago but the reason I am so fortunate to more time off work is because of a little thing called Chuseok. Chuseok means “Autumn harvest” and takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month on the Lunar calendar. Thus it always falls on a different date on the Gregorian calendar. This year it will be on Saturday the 29 of September and the Monday and Wednesday after Chuseok are national holidays in Korea.
Many schools have decided to make this a little mini holiday and will be closed on the Tuesday. Faraaz and I are two of the few lucky ones that have all the days so off we head to Beijing.
As usual, all the prices for travel were hiked up for the festive season and plane and train tickets were sold out way in advance. Travelling during Chuseok is like travelling during Christmas back home and can be a real nightmare if you don’t plan it well. But as this was my second year of Chuseok madness I knew what to expect and booked tickets in July!
Before we could even consider going to Beijing we had to sort out the tricky business of getting a Chinese visa while living in South Korea. The Chinese Government has made it very complicated for ex-pats living in Korea to get a Chinese visa at the moment (not sure why). We had to go to China while we still had 6 months left on our Korean Alien Registration Cards otherwise we would not be issued with a visa. I really have no idea what the reasoning is behind this but I do know that it’s prevented a lot of people from visiting China. Visas for Americans have also been made hideously expensive too (couldn’t imagine why!) but thankfully, being South African, our ones weren’t too bad.
All in all, an adventure awaits us and I cannot wait to see the Great Wall and of course, finally see a panda (my main reason for moving to Asia). We will update you next week 🙂
Side note: Chuseok, known as Korean Thanksgiving day, is the one of the biggest holidays in Korea. Historically, ancient Koreans believed that their new harvests in the fall season were offered by their ancestors, so they prepared food to pay respects to their ancestors. Traditionally, as way of paying respects the spirits of their ancestors, Koreans visits their hometowns and all the family get together and spend time with their relatives. They visit their grandparent’s graves and have a feast. It’s known as a time to pay respect to family.