January was pretty great. Carolyn flew home from Korea to visit family and such on December 30th, so once again we spent New Year’s Eve apart. We’ve never spent one together, so New Year’s Eve 2012 should be special (our fourth as a couple, first one together, heh.) She stayed with her family in New York for most of the trip, and I stayed with mine in Texas. She did come down for a week though and we spent a good chunk of it with her dad in Houston. All in all, it was a great way to recharge our batteries for a second year in Korea…although we could have been in Bangkok or something.
When we got back to Korea at the beginning of 2012 we had a few orders of business to deal with. First, we had to spend some time with our good friends who were headed on to whatever lie ahead in their lives. One of these friends is Carolyn’s bestie from Korea, Brittany, and the weekend after we arrived back on the peninsula we took the train down to Busan to hang out for the weekend. We had beautiful weather, stunning vistas, and a great time with our friends.
The next thing was to start getting into shape. We have a wedding coming up, ya know? Plus we knew for a fact that at least one tropical beach laid in our future. I gained 6 kilograms during January’s visit to Texas. That’s like 14+ pounds of hamburgers, chicken fried steaks, and tacos. Unacceptable. We started out by being more active and trying to eat better. This meant things like drinking coffee instead of sodas, not having a candy bar every day after work, and waking up early enough to eat breakfast. With the help of jet-lag and three weeks of not really doing anything but going to work and sitting on our butts, we had plenty of energy to get into the idea of working out in the evenings, and it stuck all year!
Another thing I did was relearn German. I bought a book or two while we were at home, followed the whole curriculum on my own, and found a great German-speaking pen-pal to help me out on the internet. I’m proud to say that I can speak and read German now, even if it’s not completely fluent.
March probably should have been called “Meh-rch.” I remember nothing about it. I didn’t write much in the blog during Meh-rch. From reading this post about the (now defunct) Anus Cinemas I seem to remember spending a good chunk of the month with bronchitis or something.
We continued getting ourselves into better shape, and I finally understood why everyone from northern latitudes griped about the winter. It seemed like it would never warm up. It did, though. Slowly but surely, and that leads us to…
Spring got to springing in April, and we used a day off from work (election day) to take the train over to Gyeongju to see some cherry blossoms. The weather didn’t really cooperate, but the cherry blossoms were still in bloom and we enjoyed their delicate beauty for the day. We also visited a strange Korean sex-museum to stay out of the rain. That’s something we won’t forget (even if we’d like to.)
Perhaps more significantly, April was the month that we started getting our poop together for some big trips over the course of the year. The first one we started putting together was our Chuseok-weekend 2012 trip to Japan. In 2011 we spent Chuseok in Daegu, and frankly, it sucked. A huge cultural holiday that’s not part of your culture is essentially no fun. This year we decided to get it together early and fly across the Sea of Japan for a long weekend in the land of the rising sun, and booked our plane tickets five months in advance. This started a pattern of travel planning in the coffee shop that has held pretty well to the present, and given coffee a whole new set of warm fuzzies.
May was the start of a great summer of going cool places. We spent the weekend of Buddha’s Birthday 2012 on one of Korea’s prettiest beaches, Jeongdongjin. It was a long train ride to get there, and a weekend filled with kimbap and ramen noodles because all of the restaurants were seafood only, but it was a great way to get some beach time…even if the weather was a little cool.
May was also the month where we made the final decision to spend our summer vacation in Thailand, got the schools to approve our vacation days, and booked the Air Asia flights to Phuket. The coffee shop travel-planning weekly event was starting to turn pricy.
By June, both of us were ready to get out of Korea, so we headed to the least-Korean city, Busan, for a visit to the aquarium and fish market. It was delightful. At this point we were running pretty much every day and doing some strength workouts on the regular too. Both of us had lost quite a bit of weight and toned up. At this point I think Carolyn was down about 35 or 40 lbs, and I was down about 20. It’s pretty crazy that we could physically change this much in just four months. Then something notable happened.
It was a Friday afternoon at work, and I felt a sudden pain in my back on the right side, super localized. It went away. We had dinner after work, laid down in bed watching TV, and fell asleep. I woke up a few hours later in pain. Then the pain was accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and quickly became unbearable. We went to the nearest hospital, got no help but were redirected to another hospital where they decided that I had a kidney stone. Pain medications helped, then we were sent off to a Urology clinic where they broke the thing up with a sonic hammer. The rest of that week was terrible.
What a wake-up call though. I apparently ate and drank crap that formed limestone in my kidney. I started paying a little more attention to what was going in my body at that point. I also learned (I already knew, but this was apparently a test) that no matter what as long as Carolyn is with me I’m going to be okay. I’m a pretty lucky guy to get to marry such a babe as her.
June was a big month. We picked the itinerary for our honeymoon and started planning it, I started blogging “for real,” challenging myself to put out content five times a week (I started slipping in October though, to a more reasonable two to three times a week because hey, it’s winter and we’d all rather just snuggle up with a book.) This gave me a much needed “something to do” and I’ve apparently broadcast my crap to a lot more people in 2012 than in 2011 now.
In July we basically just wanted it to be August so we could go on vacation. The end of the semester in a Korean school is a particularly hellish time of being required to show up to work (that’s fair) and do nothing because either the kids need your class time to study for their exams (because they “study” so hard) or the exam has already passed and the kids need a break from “study” to watch a movie. To make it even worse, we had our trip to Thailand just over the horizon in early August 2012. We needed an escape from our daily orbits to get our heads cleared out.
Clearly the solution to this dilemma is to head up to Seoul for a little bit of shopping. We shopped, and shopped, and shopped, then took the slow train home. It was nice, and you know what, it held us over until vacation.
Look, I’d write a big blurb about August 2012 here, but the pictures say it all. We went to Thailand and had a complete and total blast.
Like August, I could write a ton about September, but suffice it to say we went to Japan.
I must add, however, that I turned 31 in September 2012, and unlike 2011′s party with friends I wanted to keep it just me and Carolyn. She planned an amazing day filled with amazing homemade food and a stop at our favorite Indian restaurant. It was a pretty great way to ring in a new year of Charlie.
October hit like the end of a roller-coaster ride. All of our trips for the year were over, the leaves were changing, and you could feel the first chills in the air. We headed out to the local “big” mountain (Palgongsan) to check out the fall colors toward the end of the month, and were joined by
the entire population of Korea about half a million other residents of Daegu/Gyeongsanbukdo. Despite the pushing, shoving, screaming, spitting, and drunk old ladies and men with no concept of personal space we managed to enjoy the colors of fall. October was definitely transitional though, a necessary movement from travel and adventure towards coziness and enjoyment of home. Oh, and we ran our first 10k together in Gyeongju!
November is always a special month because the most important person in my life, CAROLYN, has a birthday in it! We went up to Daejeon for her special day and watched a movie on the train, visited the Daejeon Zoo, started our quest to collect enough holiday latte stamps at Starbucks to get a free planner, and had a great Indian meal. November 2012 was noteworthy for this one special weekend.
Ah December 2012, the most magical month of winter! It’s snowed just about every Friday, and stuck for most of the rest of the time, so we’ve taken it pretty easy this month. We’re gearing up for one last vacation (this time to Hong Kong), a long layover in Tokyo, and our return to the U.S. in February. Korea’s been good to us this year, but we’re oh so ready to get home and get started with life. But first, a wedding and a honeymoon!