South Korea (Part 2)
Summers in Seoul can be hot and humid. This means one thing……. avoid the subway as much as you possibly can. Not only will the normally overcrowded subway even be more crowded (I am talking literally pushed up against one and other) but one can also encounter a less favourable experience known amongst the Expatriates’ here in Seoul as the “Kim-chi breath”. Look when you go by taxi, at least you can turn down the window. But in the subway!?………………….. YOU are screwed! It is a rather unpleasant odour. Don’t get me wrong, I love Kim-chi. It’s the best and this stuff is pretty damn good for your wellbeing and I consume it often, but as long it goes in the mouth and not the other way, thank you very much! See the Koreans eat this stuff the minute they slide out of bed, or get off the floor rather, as very few Koreans sleep on a bed. You won’t find one in the homes. Kim-chi is fermented cabbage. It has been rotting for days, and after it is marinated with arrays of ingredients. This is a complicated process and each year a prominent festivity. The Ajuma’s (all women over 65) do all the work, and each has their own secret recipe. Koreans do not only make Kim-chi of cabbage, oh nooooo, cucumbers, spinach, carrots, turnips, potatoes, peppers, white cabbage, red cabbage, yellow, blue, mars bars, snickers, Arnotts choc & chip bikkies………… (solly so funny).
At the Hotel I used to work we had over fifty different types of Kim-chi. And every time I was amazed as to how much food the locals could consume. If they see a buffet it was like they weren’t fed for the past 364 days. And you can hear it too! And waiting for your turn, is unheard of here. This just does not make sense to the Koreans, and it is just part of their culture to just push through. It happens everywhere, on the street, in traffic, subways, especially subways, shopping centres you name it. They are also very noisy when they dine in a restaurant. Look they don’t talk, they…….well they actually scream at each other. But for them this is normal. It is just like having a normal conversation. And they all talk at the same time and this goes on non-stop. They are even louder when they speak on a mobile phone to each other. Very funny to see. And when they eat there doesn’t seem to be a measure of order or quantity. They eat meat, fish, desserts, fruit vegetables, salads what have you in whatever order they find it. Oh, and in between they manage to light up half a packet of cigarettes as well. Interesting to observe al this.
I quite often went to a Korean restaurant as I have become to really enjoy the Korean cuisine. It is cheap, very healthy and they are open until the early hours in the morning. There are literally thousands and thousands of little restaurants scattered all over Seoul. And so it was quite often that after work at ten….eleven…..five past….. at night I scrolled down the block to Eun Wah Lee to enjoy the best “ Samgeytan” in Seoul. And she knew exactly how I liked it, I didn’t even had to say a thing. As soon as I walked in, it is like ”Oooohoooooo Mistel Schepellle”, ( Korean for Mister Spoel) and before I know it the food was in front of me. Now the thing is that Eun Wah Lee did treat me as if I was some sort of a God. Yeah I know, took me a while too to get used to that but after….. two…. or three……. minutes, I pretty much had adjusted to that situation. I think she might have had a crush on me. But the fact was that when a “Westerner” entered a restaurant, guaranteed it would fill up. Dead set! So Eun Wah Lee did not mind a single bit when she saw me strolling in. And why not. Look the woman is well over seventy but she jumps around like a twenty year old. And she doesn’t look a bit seventy. Just a great person…..and cheeky. Once the little restaurant has filled up everyone marvelled at me as if I just landed and got out of my U.F.O. to get some takka. Eun Wah Lee was also the first person in Seoul to give me a nick-name. But I reckon she must have gossiped it around Seoul as everywhere I went everybody called me the same nick-name. What is the nickname?………I am not telling you! None of your business. No… I am not saying it. Why??? What, you really want to know? It is just a nick-name nothing special. But apparently I must look like him…..apparently, as my colleagues tell me as well that I look like him. Yes…and I the other one too. So apparently I look like both of them. Yeah…..so. What? Noooo. I am not TELLING you . Have a guess!
to be continued…