It's Christmas Eve in Korea!
This morning I went to "Everland" with my boss and his family. It's essentially the Korean Disney World— rides, animals, bewilderment.
We arrived shortly after 9:00 a.m. to join the mass exodus of those seeking holiday schmultz. En route to the parking lot on a two-lane turn, we passed a middle-aged man urinating in the bushes next to his car which he'd pulled over to the side. Next we passed a group of Everland employees in purple doorman's jackets and winter hats shaped like white tigers. These hats are everywhere. They're cute, plush and cover your head as though your face is peeking out of the tiger's gaping maw. Another animal hat, apparently further along in the digestive process, was in the likeness of a polar bear with pompom ties for feet and the wearer's face bursting out from the creature's bowels.
Speaking of bowels (come on, how long did you really think it was going to take on an outing with Paul?) The first ride Paul and I hopped on together was one of those "sky dragon" type jobbies, where you're latched into a ship-shaped ride which flings you back and forth like a pendulum— only this one didn't go upside down. When the safety bar clamped down on us, Paul exclaimed:
"Ahh! Teacher, it is very tight for the pee hole!"
Pee holes secured, we surrendered ourselves to the tossing.
"Oh the pee hole!" Paul lamented with each pass up and down.
When we were done and walking down the exit ramp he swaggered and muttered something about his gochu.
Everland is truly a strange place to behold. It's very much a candy-canes and domed fairy-tale towers kind of affair. Near the food area though, you can't help but feel confused by the sweet looking architecture, when the air is potent with the scent of boiled fish-paste cakes and squid.
We saw a trained seal show, a small walking zoo which had a few rare white Korean tigers, and an over-the-top Christmas parade which featured a float of a strange atomic bomb looking device blasting forth reindeer, presents, and soap bubbles in lieu of fake snow.
In my 6 hours hours at the park, I received more "Merry Christmas" wishes by volume than virtually all the spent Christmases since I was Paul's age. However they were all from the disturbingly energetic, purple Everlanders, and so didn't quite carry the same weight.
I enjoyed the sensational, face-value Christmas energy of Everland, and it's certainly what I was hoping for in my preposterous Korean Christmas. But since it is yet only the Eve of said Christ's Mass, I think I'm going to enjoy a little more holiday showmanship of my own.
I have a fruitcake, lovingly sent from my family.
A lighter, from my significantly less loving Family Mart.
And about an eighth of a bottle of French brandy, left in the pantry by the previous tenant.
It's not one of Rosebud's plum puds, lit up ceremoniously in the company of a well-sauced family, but I'm going to eat the whole damn thing, listen to the CBC Radio 3 Christmas podcast, and think a thought of everyone I miss so much right now.
...and to all a goodnight.
A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.