Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Catie: Chuseok!

[caption id="attachment_84" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="our chuseok gift"]our chuseok gift[/caption]

This was our Chuseok (Chew-sock) gift.  Two shampoos, two conditioners, one body wash, two bars of soap and six -- yes, count them, six -- tubes of toothpaste.

I'd heard the Korean's were big on dental health (Korean Toothbrushing, from, but seriously.  Six tubes of toothpaste?  I don't even know if we can brush our teeth enough to use up that much toothpaste in a year.

The set is pretty awesome though.  My favorite is the bottle that doesn't say anything but DAMAGE.  Our best guess is either that it's a bottle of certain demise, or a bottle of intense conditioner for very damaged hair.  Most likely the latter, though we do enjoy hypothesizing what sorts of damage such a small bottle could do...

[caption id="attachment_89" align="alignright" width="145" caption="DAMAGE!! -- not so reassuring..."]DAMAGE!! -- not so reassuring...[/caption]

So, around Chuseok time, all the stores sell these sets.  There are ones like this, with beauty products, some with tea and little tea pots, coffee and cups,  and then there are the scary ones with hard alcohol, like jack daniels and scotch, and there are SPAM Chuseok sets.  With up to 6 cans of different types of SPAM (they like to mix meats -- more on that later).  Apparently, though, SPAM sets are considered a little low brow.  I just think it's hysterical that they sell a set of spam at all.

Did we ever explain Chuseok?  I can't remember.  It's a harvest festival that's considered, "The Korean Thanksgiving", by foreigners and it is bo-ring.

Not to Koreans, obviously.  They get presents, they get traditional Korean food, they get to clean the graves of their ancestors.  All very enviable things.  And we got a present.  We got the shampoo.  Thankfully, without having to clean any graves.

It's just boring because.. you know how in America, if you find out that someone doesn't have a place to go on a major holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, you ask them to come to your house?  You know?  Even if you don't like them very well, because otherwise you'll be afraid that someday when you're alone on a major holiday, no one will invite you over (maybe that's just me..).  Well, in Korea, most people aren't too big on including foreigners in holidays or traditions.  You get included if you're married in and.. that's about it.

So, on Chuseok, most foreigners are sunk.  This year, it was on Saturday, so naturally, everything was closed from Thursday until Monday.  That makes sense.  Sure.

No, it does not.

It's probably because we're from a capitalist society that I'm so outraged, and that makes me feel bad.  Because, capitalism.. seems gluttonous and everything.  But I still like places to be open!  Even on Christmas Eve!  And, therefore, even on Chuseok Eve, and especially on the two days following Chuseok!!

But, whatev.  It's over.  And we're not genuinely upset.  We're still totally in the Korea honeymoon phase, loving it here, even when nothing's open and we're hungry.  Because the Family Mart (convenience store) was open, so we got some bowl noodles and gim-bap (more of a kim-bob sort of pronunciation.. or a cross between the two.. hard to describe.), which is a lot like sushi in that it's white rice wrapped in seaweed, but in the middle they put cooked meats.  Like ham and tuna and crab.  Like I said, they like to mix meats a lot here.  It doesn't seem like we do a lot of that in the US.  But they're all bold and nonchalant about it, selling weird sandwiches called, "Ham Tuna Potato sandwich" and "Pork Crab Meat Sandwich".

It was a good Chuseok.

Check out AsktheExpat's blog:  Chuseok Gifts and the Foreigner Experience.  He's one of my favorite blogs since getting here and he has way better (and probably more upbeat) information on Chuseok.  It's interesting.

His blog and eatyourkimchi are my most favorites.  They're probably not as awesome unless you actually need the information in order to be able to wash your clothes, turn on your stove, figure out what that weird thing is a convenience store, etc.. but we like 'em.

More later, for now.. I need to go find more food.  The constant journey.

- catie

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