Husband and I have been in South Korea (the “good Korea” as we’d have to explain to some people before we left) for 28 days now, which means it’s about time for an update on how life is going in The Land of the Morning Calm. Or, as one friend called it after I’d pointed out the presence of Haesingdang (or Penis) Park, The Land of the Giant Penises and Turtles.
It’s been 28 days since I used a fork.
When dealing with food hailing from Asia, my usual course of action was to wield a pair of chopsticks like a remedial fencing student, stab my food a few times whilst mentally yelling “En Guard!” before finally admitting defeat and picking up a fork. It was fair to say I wasn’t the most dextrous with a set of chopsticks. Now, however, I’ve mastered those little sticks with native precision and have come to enjoy the delicacy they add to food-handling. It’s a pity my plate-to-mouth food transference skills remain unchanged. Oh well. Can’t be good at everything.
I’ve eaten more meat in the last month than the average Atkins Dieter has in a year.Red meat is the name of the game when it comes to South Korean delicacies, and unapologetically so. In the UK I was admittedly the worst kind of carnivore. My vegetarian tendencies would now and again be shunned in favour of indulging in boneless white meat or maybe a posh burger if hungover, with not skin, hoof or claw in sight. I still shoe-horn salad into a meal wherever possible, but in the last four weeks have also chowed down on some of the best red meat dishes I’ve ever eaten, and afterwards been able to rebuild the animal’s carcass with the bones left on my plate. At least there’s no chance of me becoming anaemic.
I can see the sea from my window…
In one of the most fortuitous strokes of luck, Husband and I have ended up exactly where we wanted to be, in a small coastal city in the north-east of the country. I’ve lived next to the sea for most of my life, have been a scuba diver for years and have been lucky enough to see water on the horizon from most of the houses I’ve lived in. Including this one. Woohoo!
…and on the pavement.
Living in a coastal town means fishing and seafood are pretty much everywhere. This makes for lively locals, plentiful photo ops and, this being the north-east of Korea and not of my native Scotland, a healthy respect towards harvesting from the sea. Alas, this being Korea, it also means creatures on ‘display’ in restaurant tanks at the side of the road, dead crustaceans drying next to washing on a line and sting-rays swinging from twine outside shops. All are part of daily life here but my personal preference is to see them under the waves.
Dogs wear makeup…
Dogs are popular pets in this neck of the woods, especially small ones. They pop up everywhere, including the convenience store next to our apartment where I saw a small white poodle dressed in a designer jacket and wearing high-vis pink rouge. Yup. I stared aghast, and cursed myself for not having my camera.
…and cats are hard as nails.
Anyone familiar with ol’ 17-toes Blue (this should help those who aren’t) knows moggies can be like living demons encased in fur. Vicious, spitting hell-beasts capable of psychological torment even when they’re being cute, they are complicated enigmas I never tire of watching. The cats outside our apartment window are a perfect example, and in many ways a substitute for the queen of hell-beasts that is Bluecifer (currently torturing my parents’ dog back in the UK). Screaming and spitting their way into the night, those felines know no mercy. Mental.
Ordinary days are new and exciting.
Things happen every day here that just wouldn’t happen at home. Every morning whilst waiting at the bus stop I see a grey Golf GTi with blacked-out widows screech up to the lights, pull a U-turn with the aid of his hand-break and roast back up the way he came. Every morning! The other day a pop-up shop selling plants and trees appeared across from our house, so I haggled with the wifey and got 2000 Won off a medium-sized tree. Today’s purchase of some apples and a couple of plums cost more than a meal out, but I didn’t mind because the woman threw in some unidentified indigenous berries for free.
The next “exciting” thing to happen might involve getting a dog (so far I’ve been banned by Husband from visiting the Animal Shelter for fear I
might will bring a new friend home) or another encounter with Mothra on the way to work or, possibly, the honeymoon ending and a tsunami of shit coming our way. But whichever it is, I’m sure it won’t be as horrifying or ridiculous as a make-up wearing dog, or dead squid hanging next to a pair of pants.