This weekend is a HUGE holiday here in Korea--Chuseok. Expats here refer to it as the "Korean Thanksgiving" which basically means they spend days traveling, preparing, and eating food. For us, it means we have two days off of school (every other year it lands in the middle of the week and we get a whole week off from school--although I still end up with a whole week off!). We have learned many things about the practicalities surrounding Chuseok (though nothing of what the tradition behind it is).
One of the first things I learned is from a 6th grader: make sure you do not hang your laundry out to dry with the windows open over Chuseok. In her words, "They're all cooking their smelly Korean food, and your clothes will smell so bad, you'll have to wash them again." Point well taken. Our laundry is done and put away and it's only Friday night.
One guy told me about a month ago that he went to Costco here in Korea the weekend before Chuseok his first year here. He's lived here 3 years and never been back to Costco. Again, point well taken. We will just have to live with our lack of American food (in bulk) until after Chuseok.
Another guy told us that you do not want to try to attempt to travel outside of the city on the 3 days preceding the holiday. The highways are gridlocked like you wouldn't believe. Traffic doesn't even move for hours. On the plus side, he said Seoul empties out and is as close to a ghost town as you will ever see it. I find this very hard to imagine and look forward to what that means!
As my preparation, I have been doing research on places to visit, must-sees in the city, and have planned out a little itinerary for our four days off. Now, I just have to see if my family is game to visit one of the traditional Korean hanoks, Namsongal Village, Everland (an amusement park), and whatever market I can find that is actually open this weekend. And then I have to convince Eric that he actually wants to do something to celebrate his 30th birthday. That'll be the hard part.