As a great family friend of ours drove the girls and me to our apartment, the hunger and exhaustion started to kick my butt. I tried my best to stay awake, but hunger submitted and exhaustion overtook me. I can only hope my snoring didn't make Family Friend snicker too much as she escorted us to our new home.
When we got to the apartment we unloaded all bags on the curb and hugged Family Friend with as much genuine thanksgiving that my exhausted and confused body could bestow at the time. I remember little about that night, but the girls have filled in a few blanks for me. I do remember being very concerned about leaving some of our boxes and bags on the curb as we went up to the apartment with the first load. Sweet Baboo and his Handy Helper assured me that our stuff was perfectly safe. In fact Handy Helper said, "You could leave it there for a week and it wouldn't budge!" That was seriously reassuring.
After getting the first load upstairs, my body quit. All functional movement and communication simply gave out. I found the Army-issued couch, told the kids to not leave the apartment (while Sweet Baboo and Handy Helper were on their way down to finish grabbing the rest of our load) and collapsed in a horizontal position for the first time in over 20 hours. It. Was. Glorious.
I remember hearing Sweet Baboo reenter the apartment and ask the girls if they were hungry. I vaguely remember hearing Sweet Baboo whisper in my ear that he was taking the girls downstairs so they could pick up something to eat. And I remember smelling fried chicken some time after that... though I don't know how long it took. I remember thinking, "Oh great. The very last thing I need right now is greasy fried chicken on my tummy..." but then tasting the chicken and subsequently thinking, "Holy crap! How in the world did they get it this crispy and juicy without being greasy?!" Seriously... the American South could really take some pointers from South Korea for fried chicken magic.
I could only muster enough energy to eat one small thigh before I decided that horizontal was the position for me. I don't remember getting up from the table, but I do remember hugging the wall (directly behind the table... seriously, it's a step and a half away) when Sweet Baboo was trying his best to wake me long enough to make my way to bed. All I could think of was "This is the most comfortable wall I've hugged in quite some time. I could probably sleep a couple hours with this wall. Just leave me alone." He didn't leave me alone. And I was (eventually) glad he didn't. Because you can't hug a wall in the horizontal position, and getting horizontal was my ultimate goal.
The next morning, for the first time in years, all I wanted was a good cup of coffee. My body was rested, stretched, and ready to take on the transition to Korea... my mind, however, was rising up a militia to overthrow my body unless certain demands were met. And the first demand was copious amounts of caffeine. Sweet Baboo has been living the Geo-Bachelor lifestyle (more on that later) for months, so he didn't have any coffee in the apartment. I asked to head out in search of a coffee shop. He tried to explain to me that my mission was futile for at least another five more hours, but I insisted. This is what I found:
|This coffee shop is 25 steps outside our apartment complex. Exciting, right? WRONG! Check out their hours (next photo).|
|THEY DO NOT OPEN UNTIL 11:30AM!|
So we went to the store that we now refer to as the Gas and Sip. I'm not sure why we call it the Gas and Sip; you can't buy gas from there (as far as I can see). And the name of the store is written in English as GS 25... but Sweet Baboo calls it the Gas and Sip, Handy Helper calls it the Gas and Sip, and we now call it the Gas and Sip. They had this little gem on their shelves, and I was happy for the moment:
|Using my powers of deduction, I assumed this to be a caramel latte. I was correct, and it was delicious!|
Later, we stopped by another little mart near our complex and picked up more coffee for me, and little snacky treats for the girls. We had to get used to the stores feeling small and cramped, and very cluttered. There are so many things to see and try to figure out, and most things are not written in English at all. You learn to go off of the photos on the packages. We grabbed a bag of little oranges and more coffee for me from here:
|I love seeing all of the produce on the porch of this store. It almost feels like a farmer's market!|
|This is the same store, but on the inside.|
|I love the logo! I fear I'll never fully be able to mimic the look though.|
|The green salad tasted like molten lava. The miso soup was on point! I didn't touch the red pepper sauce (red), but really enjoyed the salty garlic flavored yellow goop with my pork!|
|They bring the meat out to you raw and it gets cooked at the table.|
|Customers generally cook the food themselves, but on this night the restaurant sent somebody to our table to cook for us. It was quite a treat!|
|The garlic slices were perfect!|
The next day, Sweet Baboo took us to a noodle place in our apartment complex and ordered for all of us. It was during that meal that we decided to stop letting him guide our dining experiences. We shall forever refer to that particular bowl of noodles as "Surface of the Sun Noodles".
|They don't look deadly, but these noodles will melt your face off!|
|They really tried to eat the Surface of the Sun Noodles. We found something else for them instead.|
|When you order a bowl of soup, you get all kinds of sides as well. The soup is still cooking when it comes to the table, and it is literally boiling in the bowl. Waiting for it to cool (and the food to finish cooking) is highly recommended.|
|After the soup finishes cooking, and stops boiling, you add a couple of scoops of the seasoning that's on the table. It becomes more creamy and looks like this.|
|A couple of guys in Sweet Baboo's office (who are Korean) told me that this is "hangover soup". And this hunk of yummy is clear noodles with "parts of the pig" bundled inside... tied up with the pig's intestine. It's magnificent!|
|There are no salt and pepper shakers on the table. Rather, they have this community bowl of salted prawns for you to use to salt your soup. It adds a lot of flavor!|
We have had other great food experiences so far... but those will have to go in another post. We're too busy learning a little more every day, and I need to get better at posting our experiences before heading to bed. It's good to have goals...