The last few days in Seoul and sleeping on an air mattress was pure bliss – as was the massage at nearby spa. CC and I were next to each other and the man attempting to unlock the rictus mess that was my back said to her aghast, ‘why are her muscles so tight, what has she been doing?’. Well, carrying frickin’ ridiculously heavy rucksacks and sleeping on beds of rock it would appear. Also turns out my sacro-illiac joint decided to join the party and the left side migrated north somewhat, thereby throwing everythin0g else out of whack – so at least we know now (I say, aching like a beee-atch after being manipulated – read ‘stretched’ by the physio).
There was eating to be done during our time left together and eating we did, from Bindaetteok – Mung bean pancakes, which we ate at a market stall, squeezed onto benches designed for little people with short arms, they have a different radius for the sweep from plate to mouth it appears, luckily I managed not to miss my gob too many times as these were delicious.
In the same place we found a kimchi lady (a lady making and selling it, not made of fermented cabbage). She had freshly made mustard leaf kimchi for sale and assuring us that it would be safely transported back home (it nearly was, there was a slight oozing) I bought an old fashioned paaahnds worth to sit in the fridge.
We also spent time over in Hongdae, allegedly shopping for beauty products – Korea is facemask central, and you can’t move for the various stores selling product. However we went to eat at an amazing cheesecake cafe, Mobssie, where the menu is only in French, so it must be good, right? Oh yes!
The cheesecake on the left was fresh from the oven and hot, hot, hot. Patience is a virtue, allegedly, but we were decidedly lacking so we tucked in at the point it was still at molten lava temperature, and it was worth it. Having o’d on all things fromage-y and sweet, coupled with the caffeine, we set off to enjoy the buzz at the nearby Kakao store.
Yes, I definitely spelt that right – Kakao Talk is the Korean equivalent of Whatsapp, and they have a series of Kakao Friends who are a big hit with everyone and the whole concept store sells everything branded with the friends. Your whole life can be Kakao’d, day to night…
Plus you can have your pbotos taken with large models of the characters too.
Not all of them are what you think they are – Ryan, in the sweater, is actually a lion with no mane, the rabbit is a radish in disguise (!), Jay-G, with the big yellow hair, is a hip-hop loving mole.
The sugar and caffeine did the trick and we went a bit wild in-store. I ended up with a rather large stationery haul, because you can never contribute enough to cutting down the trees of the world. Thank you tax-free shopping!
CC’s mum treated us to dinner at the restaurant where she works. I can see where CC gets her cooking skills from. Looking at the other tables I thought they were merely ordering a whole heap of food, but turns out people mostly order the set of multiple dishes. Turns out this was for us too, along with the inclusion of some bibimbap. There was so much food for us that it’s brought on a giant wooden tray that slides over the whole of the table.
Fishes x 3, crab, rice, kimchi, salads, shrimps, veggies, more kimchi, seaweed, steamed spinach, noodles and the bibimbap, plus to top it off we were indulged in some cheongju. Cheongju is a rice wine, and was a lot easier on the stomach than soju, and went down a lot quicker too, despite having to ladle it into our pottery cups using a wide mouthed spoon. I guess it would have gone even quicker if it was in a decanter.
We did our best to clear the table but there was some left over. It was either that or be hospitalised and have our stomachs pumped. I tried to practise my Korean to say ‘thank you’ (kamsahamnida 감사합니다 )and also ‘I ate well’ (jalmuggutssahamnida 잘 먹었습니다), however the cheongju had done its work and despite me parroting the phrases repeatedly, by the time we got to leave I turned into a nodding echo of CC, mumbling through to the hamnida point both times. My ear for languages is seemingly shared with Van Gogh – the one that he cut off and threw away.
Our other great meal was at the 24hr joint around the corner from the flat. It sold a broth made with pork ribs, gamjatang, but without the potatoes (which is what it’s named after). The meat had been cooking for so long it just fell off the bones. The broth was full of the flavour of the meat and the spices it had been cooked in, and you served it up with rice, and an amazing wasabi sauce. I was so happy, I’d definitely died and gone to food heaven. There is no photo of this, only a video of the hot bubbling mess that was the food, (and not me, gurning at the dinner), you can look at it here.
The trip was coming to an end and I was heading back a few pounds heavier, both myself and my luggage. The stash of purchases meant that my bargain bag was turning into a liability sooner than you could say ‘uneven pavement’, and whilst I’d managed to squeeze everything into it that needed squeezing it ended up a bit like me after too many sojus – unsteady on its feet and needing to be leant against something so it wouldn’t fall ouver. It also proved incredibly fragile as evidenced by it readily falling apart en route to the train station. Now too heavy to carry, after the wheel brackets detached and the screws fell out, I was still able to ‘wheel’ it by treating it like an invalid, holding it upright at all times, moving it along with no sudden movements and ensuring the ground was smooth / bump-free. My mantra was ‘just get me to the airport’, where I was able to pay to have the wheels secured with packing tape, although I couldn’t do anything about the random screw that was suddenly sticking out of the side of the bag.
CC and I said our goodbyes, I’d already said good bye to her family, and the pets. I really would miss being with this super friendly people who took me into their home for the duration. I couldn’t not have asked for more, except for maybe a little less food, but that was down to me and my greed!
I had visions of watching the conveyor belt at Don Mueang slowly churning out the contents of my bag – face masks, face scrub, Ryan and the gang, a pound of kimchi, my pants all piece by piece followed by the remnants of my cheap-o bag. I had no choice but to bite the proverbial shopping bullet and get myself a replacement, and duty free was the only option, so lighter of pocket and relieved of my small rucksack now relegated into said new purchase I wheeled myself down to the gate and boarded my flight back to Thailand to collect my other bags, repack, and hopefully repair my broken back before jumping on the plane to London and home.