Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ramadan In Seoul

I've started fasting again, and it means that I have to face so many questions from the other fellows. Upon hearing that I would not join the lunch, their reaction were varied. The Chinese fellow Qin seemed worried, the Indian fellow Josh understood, the Latinos (I'm referring to the Brazilian, Mexican and Spanish. Spanish are not Latinos, actually, but European, but it's easier to put the three gentlemen into one group because they speak similar languages - Spanish and Portuguese-, but I digress) were a bit confused, and the Polish fellow Marcin showed no reaction at all (I think he's confused too, but too polite to show it).

This was my sahur meal: instant noodle with all its glory. Ramadan without home-cooked meal is hard *sobs*

Two things I did tell them: "don't worry, nobody dies because of fasting" and "I've been doing it since I was five, so I should be okay." Those words pretty much made them relieved. I also told them that the last day of Ramadan is Sept. 9, so I will have lunch again on Sept. 10.

When they asked how many days I should do fasting (the answer: a month), they counted backward and asked,"But why didn't you fast the other day?" Argh. Then I would have to tell them that when Muslim women had their period, they were not required to fast. So now, everyone knows my period. Gosh, I felt like a preacher or what?

I met several Malaysian girls in headscarves a few days ago, they were so happy to see me as I was so happy to be able to speak in Bahasa. They asked if I knew a halal restaurant for iftar (breakfasting). I didn't know, but since we're going to the same location, they joined our group. Then the Spanish fellow Santiago asked if they were my cousins. LOL. I guess that's the advantage of wearing hijab, we can find sisterhood even if we're far from home.

Last night, the Mexican fellow Hugo also asked if my headscarf had a meaning. The Chinese fellow already asked the same question the previous day, so I was prepared with the answer. But I got a feeling that the other fellows will start asking the same question in the next few days. I'm thinking to tape my answer and play it when they do. LOL. I wouldn't do that of course.

As I said, I've done "my homework" before going to Seoul. In September, Seoul sees Subuh (dawn) at around 4.30 a.m. and Maghrib (dusk) at around 7.00 p.m. It means that I have to fast one hour longer compare to when I'm in Indonesia. Hope I can make it. If you're planning to go abroad, I suggest you take a look at this website. You simply click the country's name and then search for the city's prayer time.

It's a good thing that this fellowship and Ramadan takes place in September this year, since it's the early fall season here. If both took place in July-August (summer), I didn't think I could do it. Well, I still could, I guess, but I'd be very timid.

View from my window. There is a construction work to build balconies.

Seoul in September is a mix of sunny and rainy days. If I open the window to the balcony, I can hear the sounds of summer bugs. We have to carry umbrellas everywhere, because rains happen when you least expect them. In general, the temperature is between 20-25 degree Celcius. It's still manageable for a tropical animal like me:) 

This morning we had a typhoon from Japan called Kompasu. The typhoon reached the Ganghwa island in the west coast, about 80 km from Seoul, at a speed of 45 km per hour as of 6.35 a.m. local time. The typhoon caused massive power cuts, halted subway operation, forced the cancellation of flights and delayed the opening of schools. It's the first typhoon I had.

People here talk about typhoons as if they were some sort of trains. "Oh, the typhoon came too early this year, we usually have it on Sept. 15." There is schedules for typhoon? I'm impressed. I don't know, maybe because I come from a country where we can't predict the earthquake, the volcano eruption, the tsunami and the landslide, so I find it odd.

I have to leave you now and start packing, for we're going to Jeju island tomorrow. Hope the weather will be good. See you again on Monday (with more photos) :)


  1. Gee, Tifa, this note of yours, esp the part where they questioned you about the fasting and your headscarf, makes me lol. I experienced that, too, in Germany; some even suggested that I just stop fasting while were there and only resume it upon my arrival in Indonesia. Ugh, I ended up saying stuff like, "Hey, don't worry about me suffering from hunger, oddly I usually gain weight by the end of Ramadhan", lol... and questions about headscarf, too; but, well, I guess I've now a reason to explain that headscarves don't mean intimidation against women as they seem to think. I made it clear to them that I wear my headscarf because of my own choice.

    Nice to hear from u again... Hope u have a happy Ramadhan and lebaran there in South Korea. Cheers!

  2. Wida dear, to tell you the truth, it was your post on hijab that had me preparing for the questions:) The fellows have been very kind to me. They understand that fasting is a mandatory, so they adjust their dinner time so that I can join them. They also tell me if the food has pork or alcohol.
    It's always interesting to meet people from foreign countries and find that we actually have so many things in common.
    Thanks Wida. Eid Mubarak to you too:)