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? 😉
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. 😉
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.
Rudyard Kipling once said, “the 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. 🙂
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?
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. 😉
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! 😀
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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