It’s week two. It’s pouring with rain and has been all day. Sheets of sideways rain.
I’m suspended – almost above it – on the 16th floor of our new permanent home (if two years can be termed permanent). It’s quiet except for my friends – Fleetwood Mac, John Mayer and Harry Connick Jnr – who have kept me company all day.
This is the time of the year when the island bursts into life and I am literally watching it do so from my office window. The hills have turned from brown to lush green in a matter of weeks. Given I have not seen rain in more than six months, it’s like watching the nature channel on a wide screen television.
It’s only been just over a week but here’s what I know. There is an undeniable feeling of freedom living so far from ‘home’ and knowing you have only to think about how to spend this very day. The things that consumed my daily ‘to do’ list or worried me, simply do not exist here. I have never felt this light, happy and, for the first time in my life, consistently ‘in the moment’.
We’ve been hiking, tried out our new gym, had a fabulous Aussie BBQ, passed our driving tests (and secured a car), and made it to top of the ladder (okay, that’s Port Adelaide) – all in the space of a few days.
And, along the way, discovered a few more things to simply love about Korea:
- THE LACK OF CRIME; at a BBQ on Sunday, a lovely Australian man told the story of how an ex-pat on the island had crashed his vehicle after drinking. Rather than report it to the police immediately, he went home and then reported the car stolen the following day. The Police were silent for some time and then said, “That’s impossible sir, and you must go home and think again what happened to your car”. When the ex-pat asked why it could be impossible, the officer replied, “Because we have never had a car stolen on the island”. And that sums up how safe it is.
- THE KIDS; and here is where the lack of crime really translates. Rob and I walked on Saturday from our apartment to the hills behind us. We passed dozens of kids – on bikes, skateboards, scooters, in the playgrounds, running, playing or simply walking the street like us. Kids from as young as six. On the streets. Alone. And perfectly safe. I didn’t know a world still existed where that was possible.
- STORAGE; I’ve become obsessed with how Koreans design their space. It’s so damn clever. Given so many live in apartments – and families too – storage is obviously important. There were squeals of delight on Saturday (mine, not Rob’s) as we unpacked our boxes from Australia and I discovered new ways to store our gear. I simply love the shoes stored in the entry way but the storage for my jewellery is my favourite (and will definitely be incorporated into any home I ever build again).
- CHAUFFEUR SERVICE; the next time we happen to drive somewhere for dinner and have a few drinks, we simply call the service to come collect us and our car and bring us home – and for less than what a taxi would cost (which are ridiculously cheap anyway). In the words of that cultural giant, Charlie Sheen…..”Winning!”
- SEPARATE BILLING; if you eat at a restaurant with others, the bills come out separately. Seriously, where would this happen in Australia?!
- BIRDS; extremely rare. Enough said (my friends and family will understand).
So far, I am struggling to find anything I can’t enjoy. Terrible problem I know.
Even the driving lesson this week was fun. And just to demonstrate, here are a few of the PowerPoint slide quotes I took down from our lesson today:
- “Red lights are often treated more as suggestions than rules in Korea”
- “The amber light is considered authority to speed through the intersection”
- “Right of way = might is right. The larger or more expensive cars have right of way”
- “There are not many roundabouts in Korea, we prefer to do U-turns”
And Rob wonders why I had to fight not to just laugh all day!