EEEEeeeeeeeep!!!! I’m so excited I could pee!! Here we are with only six days to go before we embark on the most thrilling adventure we could ever imagine. I can’t explain how crazy and turbulent the feelings are that have been running through my system of late. We have a few days before we need to be out of our cute little two-bedroom apartment. And we still have a few things to finalize before we say ‘다음에 봐’ – see you next time, Korea – like transferring money around, selling off the last of our possessions, and packing/posting our boxes for New Zealand.
Korea has been home for both of us for the past three years. Not as long as some people, sure, but the tasty food, insane drivers, and friendly old people have been what we’ve called home. We didn’t realize at the time, but Korea was like a 3-year extended honeymoon for us. We lived together for the first time in our first apartment in Chungju when we were broke and didn’t have a cent to our names. We bought our first car here, and then, when that died, our second. Had our first road trip, and even our first car accident, and experienced every memorable affair as newlyweds here in Korea.
With our last days looming, and only ten days to go, we thought we would look back on a few wonderful things that this mysterious country and our teeny little town Uljin has to offer. A bunch of stuff we will miss more than we want to admit. Here you have it:
1) Free snacks, rides, food, drinks, beer, you name it – just for being foreign and friendly.
2) Friendly children, trying their best at English greetings.
3) Giggling ladies, too shy to say hi.
4) People telling us how damn good looking we are.
5) People telling me how much better looking my husband is. (Maybe I won’t miss this one too much!)
6) A coffee shop on every corner.
7) Yummy, fresh pastries on weekends from Paris Baguette.
8) Yummy, freshly fried Hotteok (Korean, nutty, syrupy goodness) on market days.
9) Market days in Uljin, with all their fresh produce and tasty treats and bags of cheap almonds.
10) Meeting up with Sarah and Amy for wine nights (until Sarah went and got pregnant. lol).
11) Running into friends on the way home and spending hours chatting on the side of the road.
12) The FREE gym and all of its interesting characters.
13) The “Korea No. 7” guy.
14) That incredible feeling of complete safety.
15) Late afternoon and early morning walks to the beach.
16) The beach! Being so close.
17) Randoms inviting us to join their dinners.
18) NORAEBANG!!! (Also known as karaoke – or, literally translated, singing rooms).
19) Meeting up with Lee and Sarah for a road trip, or dinner, or just to hang.
20) Busy weekend plans to go to a festival of some sort.
21) Driving to a new town to see the cultural and historical landmarks.
23) Easy access to diving spots on the cheap.
24) Having our friend Lee around, on call, if we needed any help.
25) All the strange and tasty food options.
26) Easy fried chicken delivery on lazy Fridays.
27) Snow! As South Africans, this was a rare and strange occurrence.
28) Skiing and snowboarding (at least trying to).
29) Big-ass bonfires on the beach in Bugu.
30) The ease of getting around, be it by car, bike, bus or train.
31) After-work walks around the local bird/lily pond.
32) Long tough runs through the mountains and across the town to the Expo Park.
33) Weekend walks through the Expo Park.
34) Exploring the different mountains near our home in the afternoons, finding all sorts of routes and getting lost along the way.
35) Long hours spent having DMCs with Jean-Marc.
36) Fresh steamed dumplings as an after-gym snack.
37) Finding cute puppies and dogs along our walks and giving them love and cuddles.
38) Visiting all the beautiful temples and pagodas whenever we had a chance.
39) Meeting up for ‘okay beer’ at the convenience store, GS25 on the corner of our street.
40) After-work Insanity sessions in the all-purpose room.
41) Weekend bike rides to anywhere, Jukbyeon, coffee shops along the beach, Seoul.
42) Catching a train to everywhere.
43) The local western bar, Sphinx, and its laid-back owner, Mr. Kim.
44) Smooth streaming for weekend binge-watching of our favorite series.
45) Watching the rugby at all hours of the morning with John-Mark.
46) Lazy off-day shopping at the DC Mart. I hate shopping but I L.O.V.E the DC Mart. It has all sorts of gadgets.
47) Secure online shopping on G-Market.
48) Watching old farmers drive by proudly on their little tractors with their little old wives on the back.
49) Braaing (BBQing) a chicken for two on the beach as an early dinner to enjoy the sunset.
50) 2-hour boxing training with the guys on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
51) Being invited over to Tammy and Chas’ place for tasty lasagne and homemade eggnog cheesecake.
52) Saturdays bass fishing in hidden reservoirs.
53) Playing badminton in the park.
54) Watching the salmon spawn at the beginning of spring after the first rains.
55) Free wi-fi.
56) Cuddling under blankets to keep warm in winter (because gas is so expensive).
57) Walking home across the river after work, watching the beautiful sunset, listening to the water flow by.
58) Not having to pay for housing.
59) Being able to get anywhere in this place within 20 min of walking.
60) Watching old men and women hard at work in the rice paddies throughout the year.
61) Cute old adjosshis and adjummas making their way through the streets with their trolleys full of veg.
62) Our wonderful neighbors.
63) Deciding on where to eat lunch with Adrian on desk-warming days.
65) Big open spaces with freaky statues and decorative structures, not to mention the phallic sculptures everywhere.
66) Reading the nonsense Konglish and uncensored hip-hop on clothes, posters, and advertisements.
67) Bulyeongsa Valley – and camping there in the summer.
68) Camping everywhere and anywhere we wanted.
69) All the fun, interesting, intelligent, beautiful people we met!
70) And last, but not least…
If you have lived in Korea, what did you miss after you left? For those of you still living in Korea, what would you miss if you left today? Leave your answers in the comment section below!