Since moving back to Canada three years ago, I’ve begun to appreciate the little things that were so much more fun in Korea! Of course there were things that made me want to rip my hair out, but as time goes by, those things fade into the background, and I’m able to better appreciate the exciting and unique features of my second home.
Here is my top ten list, in random order. I’ll follow with my husband’s top five.
1. Cosmetics. I am addicted to Korean cosmetics. I would spend most of my spare change at Etude House, Skin Food, Tony Moly, Innisfree and The Face Shop. I’m getting excited just thinking about a little Korean cosmetic shopping spree! Eee! My husband recently visited to Korea and brought me home a truckload of loot from my favourite shops. The unique thing about cosmetic shops in Korea? They give you samples! I have an impressive collection of cosmetic samples, perfect for overnight trips. I know, it’s becoming a problem.
2. Couple T’s. I remember the first day I set foot in Korea, seeing a couple wearing matching T-Shirts at the airport. I was appalled! Offended! Embarrassed! Shocked! Slowly, and gradually, the phenomenon grew on me. I loved wearing my couple T with my boyfriend and eventually husband. We even had couple jackets, couple hats, couple cellphone charms, couple cellphone cases, couple slippers, couple pyjamas. Once again, it became a problem.
3. Mother In Law’s Cooking. My mother in law is the best cook in the entire world. I’m not just saying that. I have never tasted food at a restaurant that tastes as good as her’s. In addition to being a fantastic cook, she cuts my meat for me too. Ahhhhh spoiled, spoiled. Her sisters in law scolded her for babying me, but in true mother in law fashion, she stood up for me, gave them the evil eye, and continues to cut my meat.
4. Pensions. I hadn’t even heard of a “pension” before I moved to Korea. Basically, they are little cabins or rooms you can rent for a mini vacation. Usually they have a charcoal barbeque, and lots of blankets to sleep on the floor. I LOVE going to a pension with my husband, it just feels so exciting and fun. I love grocery shopping for the stay, and just everything about it. Usually there is something exciting to see or do near the pension, but sometimes, you will find them as places in the middle of no where, to relax. Winter or summer, I love a mini break.
5. Sticker Pictures. I love, beyond words, going to do sticker pictures. I generally make every friend go do sticker pictures with me. I have an entire album full of these. You go in, dress up, get in a booth, pay about $5.00 and take silly pictures. You can then edit them to add stickers and embellishments. I’m not sure exactly what is so appealing, but I’ve never not had fun doing this. There are little shops dedicated solely to sticker pictures. That is my kind of world.
6. Cafes. There are cafes everywhere in Korea. Hundreds of them. It always makes me wonder how so many cafes on the same street could survive but they seem to. Every cafe is decorated so sweet and charmingly, you can’t help but stop to relax. Friends and couples frequent cafes as places to meet, catch up, have a date, unwind. Cafes in Korea always have really neat snacks like sweet garlic bread and honey bread. Yummy. In addition to regular cafes, you can go visit cat and dog cafes where you buy a cup of coffee, and enjoy the pleasure of being surrounded by your favourite pets.
7. Pizza Dak Galbi. This dish is insane. I could probably eat this everyday. Dak galbi itself is kind of barbequed chicken. Raw chicken, spicy sauce, cabbage, an assortment of rice cakes (some rice cakes are filled with cheese or sweet potato if you are lucky), and onions (I always say no onions. Ack! Accidentally eating an onion is one of my worst nightmares), are all placed on a hot iron griddle, at your table, and cooked either by you the customer, or the restaurant staff. Now, the twist at the pizza dak galbi shop. Once the meat is cooked, the restaurant lady adds mozzarella cheese, various pizza toppings, and pizza sauce, puts the lid on, and lets it all melt together. Voila! Pizza dak galbi! You will never go back to regular dak galbi again.
8.Public Parks. I love the public parks in Korea. Usually there are little parks outside of every apartment complex, as well as here and there around the city. These parks contain outdoor exercise equipment, playground equipment, and my favourite, a rock path. I love taking off my shoes and walking along the rock paths, it just feels so invigorating! In addition to the exercise equipment, there are usually pagodas for picnics and relaxation. I miss Korean parks very much, despite living in the beautiful Canadian countryside.
9. Cherry Blossoms. Every spring Korea is magically transformed into a beautiful and magical fairy land covered with cherry blossoms. This is my absolute favourite time of the year in Korea. There are certain places around the country famous for having an abundance of cherry blossom, where you can be engulfed in the beauty. I wish they would stay all year long.
10. Street Snacks. The never-ending draw of the street vendor. Street food is now becoming popular in North America, but it’s long been a staple of Korean streets. My guilty pleasure? Those corn dogs on a stick with ketchup. Ahhh I can’t resist! And ddeokboki and fried veggies. I could go on and on. So exciting to walk outside the apartment on market day, and grab a quick snack to go.
Now as promised, my husband’s top five list. He didn’t think hard like I did, so I won’t elaborate. I know he misses more than this, but he couldn’t think on the spot.
1. Delivery Food
4. Jajangmyeon (Black bean noodles)
5. Ddeokboki. Spicy rice cakes.