Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas wrap-up

Back to work after a good Christmas in Korea - my 6th in a row. You know it's never going to be the same as back home but my wife and I had a lot of fun. We now look forward to next year and all the excitement and challenges it will bring.

So no days off for me. Unluckily Christmas fell on a weekend this year so we were given no time off at work. I'm OK with that. They pay me very well and if I have to work when others don't so be it. There'll be plenty of time to relax when I'm done here. Having said that, I am knackered and could do with a small break. Luckily there's a five day weekend coming up at the beginning of February.

I had a very good Christmas eve at home with my wife. I often enjoy this day more than the 25th. I drank a little too much though and watched a film afterwards so only had about four hours sleep. I was a bit hungover all through Christmas Day. My mother in-law came round for most of the day. I made Christmas dinner as best I could and it tasted not too bad. Turkey will taste wonderful next time though. My mother in-law ate all the food on her plate and said she liked it which made me feel very happy.

At 4pm I made my way with Ivan to my work Christmas party at the Interburgo hotel in Daegu. I wasn't going to go but was persuaded by my now ex-manager on Thursday. After some brief introductions everyone tucked into the buffet dinner. It was better than I expected and both Ivan and I went back for seconds. Afterwards I was stuffed and the party went on.

The room where we were was very big, and had around two hundred people there, mainly Koreans because it was pretty much compulsory. Most of the Korean staff at my workplace made it and it was good to see them in a different environment. Then came the talent show. It consisted of around fifteen or so acts of varying quality broken down into two categories which often merged, musical performers or comic performances.

The good ones were very good especially a very pertinent work themed version of the Twelve Days of Christmas and one comic skit that envolved chewing gum which I won't forget in a while. We had a brief break from these acts which was filled by a professional musician playing I think the clarinet. He was fantastic and well worth however much he was paid. I wish I had videoed this.

The 'talent' acts went on a bit too long and many people were glad when it ended. The owner of my academy chain then gave out a LOT of prizes, namely money. Through a translator it was claimed that he was spending 600million won (over £300,000 ) of his own money on this day, of course not just prize money. Everyone who entered the talent contest was given money, and then came prizes for employees given for various reasons.

I think maybe 10-20% of people in attendance won something. We were told that if you weren't there you wouldn't get your money. Harsh but those were the rules and you can't argue with that as the owner was very generous on the day. A few people from my branch won money including the receptionists and I think I did too (they got my name slightly wrong when they read it out).

Last Thursday I left my ipod at work and went back to collect it and my manager told me I should go to the party because I would maybe get something. I couldn't read her properly but decided to go just in case. Good job I did as every foreign teacher who has worked there for three years or more was given a prize. A nice Christmas Day gift for me and my wife, but I'll believe it when I see it this Thursday come pay day. I'm not counting it till I've got it

The party ended late but I had fun regardless of what I think I had won. I got a taxi home and told my wife the news and we watched some TV and relaxed after a long day. The holiday wasn't over though as on Boxing Day we met our good friends in Busan, Ian and his wife Nari. They came over from England to spend a few weeks here with family and friends and we caught up with them on a frosty Sunday. We didn't have a lot of time together so had a quick bite to eat before heading for the warmth of a bar.

Time went quicker than we wanted but again we had a great time with our friends. We got back to Daegu to be met with the aftermath of snow. Daegu's drivers could not handle the partially icy roads and there were no taxis to be seen at the train station. When we got home we enjoyed the warmth of our apartment to end our Christmas 2010.

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