2017 was a year mostly taken up by wedding planning, and arranging for mine and Meg’s families to visit us in Korea during the Chuseok vacation. It was a successful year professionally, in which I added 10 scientific publications to my CV, including a whole book. It was also the year that I discovered – despite the public nudity – I love Korean Spas.
January. On year’s day, we went to Ox and Bone, an American style BBQ restaurant. The year started well, professionally, with the previous year’s research work being accepted for publication. Meg and I also found somewhere to live in Pohang.
In February, Meg and Muga moved Pohang so we spent a lot of this month slowly moving them from Ulsan to Pohang. The move went mostly ok, although we were confronted with a cockroach problem from a pre-owned fridge. By the end of the month, we had settled in though.
March started with Holi Hai, an event hosted by Indians in Korea. My birthday is also in March, we went for a bbq beef platter and had planned to go to a shooting range in Daegu. It turned out, though, that it was closed on the 4th Saturday of the month we ended up going to downtown Daegu and experienced a Raccoon café and a great little Thai restaurant. March also saw the beginning of my side project for this year, the Pohang Restaurant guide. Since starting it, we have reviewed 54 restaurants.
In work related news, a commentary article that I co-authored was released as part of Accounts of Chemical Research’s issue on Holy grails in Chemistry. After many Sunday afternoons driving around the Gyeongju area looking for a pension to host our wedding, we finally came across Pension Haemil; a lovely little pension up in the mountains. Unlike many pensions in Korea, it was quite secluded and offered some privacy.
In April, the cherry blossoms bloomed once again, the weather was not as glorious as last year, but we did at least get to visit Yeongildae even though if it was a little overcast. We also decided to visit Pohang’s premier tourist attraction, Homigot sunrise plaza, which has a claim to being the Eastern-most point of the Korean peninsula. The main attraction is a statue of a hand coming out of the sea. After seeing it, it became apparent why the promotional pictures only show at sunrise: it hides the fact that the statue is not that impressive and covered in bird poop.
A review article that I co-authored appeared in a special issue of Chem Soc Reviews. I was quite pleased with this one, not only for the content but also because I prepared the artwork that would appear on the backcover of the issue.
On May 4th, Meg and I were legally married the date should be easy enough to remember, especially given that she is a Star Wars fan. The weekend after, we had our engagement photos taken by Roz Cruz photography at the scenic Ulsan Taehwagang park.
In June, Meg and I kept our yearly commitment to see at least one play a year. This year went to see Busan Theatre group’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Busan’s outdoor theatre. Our peak millennial couple moment of the year was getting our dog’s DNA tested. We found out for sure that Muga is a Jindo-mix, but the rest is Korean mystery meat.
July saw us visit Centum City in Busan, the world’s largest department. It houses many high-end shops, restaurants, an ice rink, a cinema and Spa Land. The reason we went there was to visit Spa Land. The spa has two parts, there’s the bathhouse where you can bath in different temperature baths and steam rooms. The second part is a large relaxation area with various rooms set to different temperatures and humidity, massage chairs, games room and a restaurant. Despite the initial awkwardness of the public nudity in the bathhouse, I really enjoyed it.
In August we both crossed off visiting Jeju island from our Korea bucket lists.
September was all about wedding ceremony preparation. Although the month started with Muga hurting her back and us having to put her on crate rest for a couple of weeks. On September 30th the wedding day finally arrived. The previous day, we picked our families up from Incheon airport and then moved them down to Gyeongju on the high-speed train line. The wedding ceremony itself, we were really happy with; Meg did a great job of organising it. For our after party, we had a Korean BBQ and drinks at the pension and many of our guests stayed the night there with us. Again Roy Cruz did a great job on the photography.
With the wedding over, October allowed us to have some vacation time with our families First in Pohang, then in Seoul. In Pohang, we took our families to some of our favorite restaurants, a meerkat café, and for a walk along yeongildae beach.In Seoul, we took them to Dragon Hill Spa, Lotte World Tower, to try the street food in Myeongdong and on a daytrip to gapyeong, where we rode a zipline and had authentic Chuncheon Dakgalbi (spicy fried chicken).
In November, the book we have been working on for most of this year was finally submitted and is now in production with the publisher. November also saw a 5.4 earthquake hit Pohang– the 2nd strongest recorded earthquake in Korea; the strongest being the 5.8 that struck nearby Gyeongju last September. We came out of it unscathed in South Pohang, but some of the older buildings in North Pohang were badly damaged.
In December, we returned to Centum city for a Christmas visit to Spa Land and to watch. Star Wars on the Starium theatre – supposedly one of the biggest screens in Asia. Saying nothing about the movie itself, the experience of a watching a movie on such a large screen was very impressive. It wasn’t quite as good as the Imax in London that we watched a Force Awakens on, but it was much cheaper. I wouldn’t go and see everything on that screen, but the large screen certainly enhances the space battles in a Star Wars movie. At work, the CSC had its end of year celebration at an all you can eat buffet in downtown Pohang. For the first time during an Ashes series, I was in a timezone that didn’t require me to lose a lot of sleep to follow it; unfortunately, England surrendered the urn at the first opportunity.