It’s now been eight weeks since we arrived on this small South Korean island. In week one, I wrote about how euphoric I was to be here and the immense glee I derived from the smallest of discoveries and activities.
Nothing has changed.
Yes, shopping can be a challenge. Not only are my groceries propelled along the check-out for me to pack at Olympian pace, but I typically have impatient Korean women dying to ram me with their cart. You also have to shop like you may never see a particular item again – seven weeks on and I have only just found muesli bars again.
But the joy is in the hunt. I’m pretty sure my prehistoric sisters who set off to forage and gather would know exactly what I’m talking about. This week I found a whole beetroot which took me three hours to roast on Monday. It’s simply amazing what you apparently must have when you know it’s not easily found.
And then there is the driving. Some expats have been here so long that they’ve moved into the ‘take no prisoners’ approach to driving. Me? I’m still zen. I’m happy to take off – slowly and carefully – watching all the time for those Kamikaze Korean’s who regularly run red lights and can’t be trusted. Somewhere though – in the chaos of traffic – is rhythm and symmetry. (Although I was told by Rob last week that I was driving aggressively, so perhaps I have become more of a local than I thought.)
So, what does a typical week look like?
Every weekday the alarm goes off at 5am (we’ve thankfully moved this up from 4.40am in the last fortnight) for Rob to leave home by 5.30am. Typically the night before, there is a flurry of texts amongst the work crew to determine who is driving everyone else. This dictates which of we wives scores a car for the day. And yes, I pack Rob’s lunch for those days he’s not dining out on Indian or Korean BBQ.
I work at least three days a week – this is either studying for my journalism course, research or working for my employer in Perth. I have a dedicated office and try hard to work normal work hours. This means no daytime television and other distractions, although not always achieved, especially if the military range behind us is firing (literally) or the kids are making their way through puddles to and from school (very sweet to watch).
The other days are filled with the social – coffees, lunches, shopping, walking, exploring the island – or researching your next holiday. It’s clearly not a world problem, but you’ll be amazed how long we all spend researching – and then sharing advice – about the next spot to discover. The island offers something to explore every weekend, let alone the rest of the country.
The Saturday before, we drove to Chilcheondo Island in a convoy of Tucsons for a picnic lunch, water skiing and beach footy. On Sunday, it was a hike to Mudong Falls and a stop at the wet markets on the way home for ‘straight-out-of-the-ground’ supplies. Bliss.
This last Sunday, we enjoyed fish and chips at Deokpo Beach then took off north of the island to explore, stumbling across rice and flower fields. The nature is simply spectacular. We finished with a martini at Garage in Okpo. A pretty good Sunday by any standard.
Even if you have zero interest in ever visiting Korea, I implore you to take a look at the top 50 recommended places to see, compiled by CNN, and not be impressed at the sheer beauty this place has to offer: http://travel.cnn.com/seoul/visit/50-beautiful-places-visit-korea-873093. So much to see, so little time. Next weekend, we’re off to see number 3 on the list.
Rob is normally home by 5pm when we either relax for the evening (in our house, that means happy hour and downloading the day), head to the hills for a walk or out for dinner. We’ve got Netflix and Hulu Plus which allows us to pretty much download any TV series or movie ever made – recent and not so recent. We typically pick a series and make our way through the lot in one go. Recommendation: do yourself a favour and watch ‘Orange is the New Black’!
Rob travels to the mainland at least once a week so he’s already well travelled and extremely comfortable driving.
It’s a simple and sweet life and we still can’t quite believe our good fortune. A typical week in Korea? Pretty damn good really.