Summer is finally here. Well at least in London it arrived, stayed for a few days and then promptly left again taking us back to the murky, grey weather that makes me want to curl up in a massive sweater and not leave the house.
Faced with doing that or heading off in search of somewhere, I obviously chose the latter and so I am off to Seoul – let’s be honest, you’re not really at all surprised are you?
Once again achieving the impossible, I’m breaking the unwritten rule of the office and taking three weeks off work. Colleagues stared at me in disbelief, “How?!” they asked and I had no choice but to reply “Well, quite simply, by asking for it”. It seems to be a recurring theme recently where I ask for something lots of people want but believe (for some reason or another) that they can’t have, then I get it and people can’t believe it. It’s very strange…and oddly satisfying.
Anyway, this morning has got off to a cracking start. There were no queues at immigration so I swanned straight through and courtesy of my work trips this year, I’ve been racking up the tier points so it was straight into the club lounge for breakfast.
As I sat there munching on my delicious(-ly free) pain aux raisin, I got a message on Facebook from one of my childhood besties Tom which said “you’re not at Heathrow, are you?”. A long story short, ten minutes later Tom was coming up the escalator to the lounge and the rest of the wait for my flight flew by in a flash as Tom and I nattered away. We nattered a tad too much in fact and I ended up legging it to the flight, getting there just as boarding was closing. I called it a near miss, Tom just called it being exactly on time…no comment.
Settled in to my flight, we were off and a solid 11 hours later I arrived in Seoul. The flight passed relatively swiftly helped by the fantastic Helen Mirren in ‘Eye in the Sky’ which, even if you’d worked out the plot at roughly the 30 minute mark like I had, was still really gripping right to the end and also by one and a half episodes of the BBC masterpiece that is ‘The Night Manager’ – I’m hooked, enough said.
They say there ain’t no rest for the wicked – well then I must downright awful because my schedule for the day was packed. I arrived in the airport ravenous because they’d run out of the omelette on the flight and the thought of an English breakfast turned my stomach so I gave up and promised myself 김치볶음밥 (Korean fried rice) on arrival. I cannot tell you how happy that fried rice made me. I had seriously been missing that in my life. Meal done and then I was off again.
I met up with a very good friend of mine, Daehong, for lunch although in the end, being the indecisive pair that we are, we ended up settling on coffee instead. After our catch up, he caught a train back to Daegu and I went off in search of one of my classmates from my days of studying in China.
Having just conceded defeated and withdrawn from Seoul’s annual water fight (it’s a thing), I found Nana and Se Jeong, her colleague, standing outside the underground station thoroughly drenched. I did not however notice this until after hugging Nana…at which point I somewhat unfairly decided to offer Se Jeong a handshake instead (I think she’s forgiven me).
Then it was on to Hongdae, known for its bars and clubs packed with university students and my old stomping ground, in search of my beloved liquor of choice: Makkeolli (Korean rice wine….it tastes way more awesome than it sounds).
Now I’m a firm believer that makkeolli is best when paired with some form of Korean pancake. I prefer the traditional seafood pancake but I like to think I’m pretty flexible. Even so, when the girls voted for a Kimchi Cheese Pajeon…I was, shall we say, a tad bit sceptical. My brain said it sounded like an utter abomination, just another case of Korean-Western fusion gone terribly, terribly wrong. On the other hand, my heart saw the word ‘cheese’ and voted to give it a chance. Don’t know it until you’ve tried it, right? Well, it was heavenly. Absolutely heavenly. Thank god we were sharing it between three though because that thing right there is the opposite of healthy. So much for sticking only to Korean food while I’m in Korea….
We tucked in and worked our way through various varieties of makkeolli served at Makkeoli Salon (a great little bar in Hongdae – do check it out!). The stories all came out as the alcohol flowed and in between us eating and taking a million selfies (only in Korea!), Nana told me she’s getting married in the autumn! I’m so happy for her ~ better book my flight ticket!!