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Travel-Stained Monthly Recap: January 2016

In Korea, baek-il (백일) or 100 days is an important milestone for babies.

Because it wasn’t so long ago that Korea was a war torn and undeveloped country. Childhood diseases were rampant and survival rates for babies very low. If your baby made it to 100 days, it was something to be celebrated. Korean parents did not take their children outside the house until this important day had passed, in order to give their babies the very best chance of survival.

Nowadays, the country is super developed and though childhood mortality rates are no longer a concern, I still find that most parents don’t venture out with their baby until it’s almost 3 months old.

We’ve been taking our little one out since she was about 6 weeks old, and we sure get a lot of surprised looks. It’s mostly positive though, because Koreans are not too used to seeing such small babies out and about, and think it’s awfully cute. On the other hand, to say that my older relatives are kind of horrified by our parenting style is an understatement. I guess old habits die hard.

These days, Baek-il usually involves prayers for wealth, long life and luck, with family, friends and relatives gathering together to share rice cakes, wine and red bean cakes.

On the other hand, Naia’s 100 day celebration involved guacamole, homemade beef schnitzel and a lot of red wine. Does it count? πŸ˜‰

EXPAT LIFE
This month we spent a lot of time shuttling between the Canadian embassy and the Korean immigration office, getting documents for Naia. Everything went super smoothly though, and now our daughter is a “person,” in both Canada AND Korea.

I was most interested to find out how passport photos are taken for newborns, when they can’t hold their heads up by themselves. And super surprised to find out that a parent holds them and then they’re photoshopped out afterwards. At least that’s how they do it in Korea. Is it the same where you live?

Other than our “administrative” duties this month, we stayed pretty close to home, because we had a few special visitors from Italy. Naia’s Nonna Vjollca and Auntie Ana came out to Seoul to meet their newest (and dare I say cutest) family member, for the first time.

And of course, that meeting was as beautiful and emotional as expected, but what we really teared up over was all the Italian salami, pancetta, parmigiano and vino bianco they brought along with them. Not to mention the stacks of Greek feta. What can I say? it’s difficult and expensive to get these things in Korea. πŸ˜‰

 
We celebrated Albanian style with a kulac – a type of bread – where a coin is hidden inside. Whoever happens to find the coin inside their slice of bread, is considered lucky. And wouldn’t you know it, Naia, was the lucky one.

It was wonderful to have them visit just as our little one was starting to really interact with the world around her. There was lots of gummy smiles, wrinkled nose laughter and cuddles from grandma. Is there any feeling sweeter than a baby sleeping on you?

JANUARY ON THE BLOG
In January, I wrote about what travels we’ve got planned for 2016, and took a look back at some of the best food we ate during our trip around the world in 2012, participated in a few of the weekly photo challenges, and shared a post from my sister-in-law, Bora.

This month, the most popular post (by far) was on Korea’s cherry blossom festivals. And though it was written about the country’s 2015 dates, it shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, it’s getting more and more popular…and strangely, with most of the visitors coming from Singapore. I guess cherry blossom season in Korea is a favourite travel destination for Singaporeans.

RECOMMENDED POST
Rudyard Kipling once said, β€œthe first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.”

And in Scentiment: Keffir Lime and Curry, I agreed, writing about how the smells of Thailand transported me to a time long before I became a wife and mother, long before Thailand became as familiar to us as a pair of favourite jeans, and long before our blog had any real readers. πŸ™‚

Back then, I’d thought to turn Scentiment into a series about how odour can evoke deep feeling and a sense of place…but somehow never got it going. But perhaps I should resuscitate it. What do you think?

INSTAGRAM
The big news on the Instagram front, is that I finally traded in my iPhone 4, for an iPhone 6s. There’s a huge difference in camera quality, and I’ve been taking a lot more pictures because of it. I admit that while most of them are of my new baby daughter, I’ve managed to refrain from turning our Insta-travel account into an Insta-baby account…for now. :p

Nonetheless, the most popular pic in January was of Naia’s baby bear feet.

COMING UP IN FEBRUARY
Haha! I tricked you. It’s already February. πŸ˜‰

As I write this, the end of winter feels near in Seoul. It’s probably just wishful thinking, but the air feels ever so slightly less frigid and this morning I was able to get out for a run next to the Han River, without freezing half to death.

This winter was one of the coldest I’ve ever experienced in Korea, with temperatures reaching the lowest since 2001, and I’ll be very, very happy when it’s over. Spring is almost here! πŸ˜€

What was the first month of 2016 like for you? Is the weather warming up where you live, or is winter still marching on?

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10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Scentiment….I think this would be a great series, with specific details on all the components that go into making a scent. I remember the smell of Bali when I stepped off the plane. No where has ever smelt like that and every time I smell frangipani flowers I think of Bali again.

    February 6, 2016
    • There are certain smells that always remind me of different times and places. I’m sure you remember the rather malodorous scent of the squished gingko berries from your time in Korea. That smell will forever and always remind me of the autumn here… πŸ™‚

      February 11, 2016
  2. I love that 100-day tradition, if not its origins! I also love that you celebrated it with guacamole and other decidedly non-Korean foods; that really made me laugh. How especially wonderful to have family visitors for the celebration! Happy (almost) spring!

    February 7, 2016
    • Yeah, that 100 day tradition is a big deal here. When we’re out and about, people always ask if she’s past 100 days, not 3 months or 4 months…it’s very interesting! Spring is definitely well on it’s way here…already out of our heavy winter coats. Hallelulah!! πŸ˜€

      February 11, 2016
  3. Congrats on the 100 days! She is just so cute.
    Family visits are the best (especially when they bring delicious goodies!). Glad they could be there for the celebration!
    It is always warm here in Phuket. The lowest it has been is 25C as far as I know this year. It sounds like spring is coming your way quickly. Enjoy!

    March 2, 2016
    • Aww thanks! Can’t believe how fast she’s growing. I’m not sure how I’d feel about living somewhere that’s warm all the time. I kind of appreciate the change of seasons, though I must admit that in the depths of winter, all I can think about is getting onto a beach somewhere! πŸ™‚

      March 4, 2016
  4. So much of these brought tears to my eyes. We’re so lucky to have her…and me the luckiest to be near her.
    She’s way past 100 days now, little Naushi growing too fast πŸ˜₯

    April 22, 2016

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