Celebrating your birthday abroad can be a daunting thought if you are used to partying with your family and friends. It is a time when you feel very homesick, especially when your birthday is in the heart of the Korean winter time. In South Africa this time of year it is sunny and my birthday is usually outdoors at a beach or in a sunny warm spot. Coming to Korea I have had to become used to a cold and often snowy birthday. So, to tackle the blues I have come up with alternative ways to enjoy birthdays in Korea. All you need is a group of good friends who love adventure and don't mind venturing into the freezing cold.
This past weekend, it was one of my good friend's birthday, so we headed out to a wine buffet. Seoul has plenty of buffet settings. You can enjoy a range of meals whether it be western food, sushi or a Korean buffet. There are a few popular buffets that offer unlimited wine with their menus. A popular restaurant, and the one we ended up going to, was Ashleys Buffet Restaurant in Jongak. It cost $25.00 and you can eat as much foreign food as you want and drink either red or white wine. Another great wine buffet to try out is the Intercontinental buffet restaurant at Coex. This buffet is fancier and has a range of themes throughout the year. Currently they have a New York theme and the food is prepared according to the theme.
Seoul has a wide range of ice-rinks throughout the city during the holiday season. Ice-skating is a great way to enjoy your birthday outdoors. Every year there is an outdoor rink in Jamsil and one near city hall. You can also ice-skate indoors at Lotte World for $15.00. It’s a lot of fun to have a few tumbles and laughs while you and your friends enjoy a good time together.
In the winter time there is nothing better than traveling out of the city and booking a cabin out in Gangwon-do or Jeollanam-do provinces. Both of these provinces are famous for skiing in the winter. Two famous ski resorts are Muju Ski Resort and Alpencia Ski Resort. A birthday trip is a great way to get friends to travel and experience a bit of Korea. Adventure Korea offers plenty of weekend skiing and snowboarding excursions across Korea. Their website is convenient so that you don't have to make the hassle of booking it yourself and deciding on where to go. Adventure Korea caters for big groups and can offer accommodation with friends if booked far enough in advance.
Seoul has a wide range of themed restaurants and hidden treasures. The different neighborhoods offer all sorts of vibes and moods to cater to people's various prefences. For your birthday you could have a Spanish theme at the famous "Spain Club" or a Greek theme at "Santorini Taverna". You could even opt for a Brazilian theme at Copacabana in Itaewon or a New York theme at Brick Oven Pizza" in Gangnam. Other cool places to go during the winter time could be restaurants that display stunning views of the city like the restaurants at Namsan Tower or the famous Walker Hill indoor garden restaurant.
Indoor Amusement Parks
Lotte World has an indoor section of the park that has all sorts of fun rides and games during the holiday season. It is much cozier than being outdoors and the park has indoor concerts that you can enjoy while eating your favorite hot Korean soup. There are plenty of parades and shops to peruse if you’re not feeling up to the craziness of the rides. You can also get group discounts on your birthday and group specials for ice-skating and rides.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on teaching in Korea!