I’ve Arrived!

I arrived in Korea at 6.30 the morning of the 17th of February and was met at the airport by Amelia which was I believe way beyond the call of duty on her part as she had to get up at 4am in order to be there to meet me!  Wonderful daughter that she is, she did get up and make the long trek to the airport.  It was truly wonderful to see her, to see a familiar face, and to see someone that  looked just a little like me!

As my apartment in Gapyeong was not yet ready we hastily rearranged our plans and found the bus to Osan.  It had snowed as I arrived and I was of course delighted by this.  It was cold, but the sun was also trying very hard to shine and everything looked quite magical.  The bus to Osan took a little over an hour but as we had so much to catch up on, and I was of course feeling just a little weary after a long flight with little sleep, I didn’t see as much as I should have.

We took a taxi from the bus depot in Osan to Amelia’s apartment and with much hilarity managed to drag the over-weight bags to the third floor.  We spent a couple of hours just chatting, drinking too much coffee, and smoking too many cigarettes.  Although I was tired I was also eager to see the Osan she had talked so much about so after a quick shower we headed down the street to explore.

Food was the first order of the day and so she took me to her favourite Galbi restaurant. 

Karel & Amelia at a Galbi restaurant

Galbi is sometimes referred to as Korean barbecue and comes in a huge range of different styles and meats but we had Amelia’s favourite, dwaeji galbi, which is marinated pork meat.  There are hundreds of galbi restaurants known as galbi houses and the meat is cooked at a grill set into the table and you cook it yourself. 

Galbi

It is accompanied by an unbelievable range of side dishes and it seems that every galbi house has their own version of side dishes which makes it a very exciting meal.

The salad plate!

  It was incredible and I ate an enormous amount. 

It amused me to watch Amelia deal with the ordering, and the cooking, of this meal.  She handled it with such aplomb, she really did know what she was doing, and it’s not as easy as it looks.  I have since tried a couple of times, under the expert eye of Amelia  of course.  

 After lunch I was in desperate need of a walk.  I had eaten far too much and it was time to walk some of it off.  Amelia took me to visit all sorts of exciting places in the local area.  She took me to the local shopping mall, E-Mart, which is only five minutes walk from her apartment and then down to the more traditional Korean markets.  I loved the markets, there were truly wonderful, with totally unidentifiable things being sold there.  We wandered around for a couple of hours, and yes I did shop.  I bought another pair of boots, how could I not when they were such a bargain!  I paid a little over $10 Australia for a fabulous pair of beige, suede, high-heeled, mid-calf length boots.  I also bought a few other wonderful goodies such as tops but I really don’t need to admit all my shopping sins here!  

After a few hours wandering we were both feeling a little weary so we headed to one of the endless coffee shops.  Coffee in Korea is a staple it would seem and there are coffee shops of every style and variety on every street corner.  The coffee here is fantastic so this place is fast turning into my idea of heaven.  I have already got a list of favourite places to go.  One of them is called Rotti-Mum and they sell these fabulous rotti buns.  Now in Korea the Rotti franchise suggests that these buns are of Singaporean origin but it seems that there are many countries that claim rotti is theirs. A bit like the pavlova debate that rages between Australia dn New Zealand I guess.  That aside, they taste great.  They are a soft, butter filled light bread topped with a sugary crust that comes in either coffee or chocolate flavour.  They are served warm and really are quite addictive.

Many of the coffee houses here, actually many of the restaurants too, allow you  to smoke which is not good for encouraging you to stop, but is great when you still do!  Some places have a separate room set up for smokers, others just allow it on the premises.  Most of the newer coffee shops also have wi-fi and some even provide computers, so in every way they are very welcoming.  Coffee is also very cheap here, no more paying $4.50 for a very average cup, here they range from about $1.00 to $3.00 for something very fancy.  The range itself is quite unbelievable and needless to say I am enjoying trying all sorts of different things.

Karel & Amelia and a great coffee shop

We headed back to the apartment on my first night here well after dark and to a much-needed sleep.  I then spent the next few days exploring Osan, meeting Karel, Amelia’s fella, and eating more food that I needed.  Karel and Amelia took me to so many exciting places and introduced me to all their favourite foods and eating establishments.  I am going to write a separate piece on all the amazing foods that I am being introduced to as they really are so new to me, and some also have a very interesting history.

On the weekend we ventured into Seoul and to the one of the markets there.  We only made it to the “famous” markets, they are modern markets selling the up to date goodies and where all the local celeb’s go, which was very exciting but I would not have recognised if there was a celeb there if they had walked up and said hello.  We wandered around there for a few hours and I have to say that Karel was amazing.  He followed us around with absolutely no complaint at all, carried bags, and was the spotter for the things we said we were looking for.  He really deserves huge credit for this as I am not sure I would have done so well in his shoes.  He even suggested places we should go that specialized in things girls just adore!

Earlier in the day we had ventured to Yongsan, the technology hub of Seoul, so that I could get a camera.  I thought that as I was on my new adventure I ha better get one to record it all.  I did get one, a Cannon Ixus 105 and it was ridiculously cheap, about quarter the price they sell for in Australia, so I was very happy.  I will of course be adding plenty of photos to my blog pages.

Karel gave me Pooh cakes - just because he knew I loved Winnie the Pooh!

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