Thursday, 7 October 2010


This entry was written on Sunday 3rd October, while we had no internet.

One constancy of Saturday – our third anniversary – was that it was completely surreal.

It began on Friday evening, when suddenly the wall began speaking loud Korean. We couldn't understand a word, apart from something that sounded like 'picture ID', and figured out that it was echoing around all eleven or so apartment blocks. A few hours later, as we were going to sleep, the doorbell rang twice. Having heard horror stories about Korean Jehovah's Witnesses, we left it.

In the morning, Tom decided that the doorbell must have been our boss's husband, who was meant to pick us up at 10.30 on Saturday to take us to our new apartment, and had misunderstood and thought we wanted to be there for 10.30 on Friday evening. I dismissed this as ridiculous – they knew that the leaving teacher was going to be in her apartment until midday on Saturday, we'd already discussed timings, etcetera – but it seemed a little less ridiculous when we waited outside our apartment for twenty minutes with no sign of this lift. Eventually we gave up and got into a taxi, where I spoke Korean to my second Korean!

We arrived at the leaving teacher's apartment to find her hungover, which, we have been led to believe, is a very unusual state of affairs. The flat is absolutely beautiful. Funnily enough, it's not much bigger than the studio flat we stayed in for our first few days, but it makes better use of the space, making it feel cosy and house-like without being cramped. It is on the first floor, which is the English ground floor, so it doesn't quite feel like a flat in a tower block. The previous teacher decorated in beautifully: it is full of plants, and pictures of nature, and life. As well as all the usual (lounge, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen), we have a spare bedroom/study, a huge balcony area, and even a pantry! It is absolutely wonderful and I'm so excited just to be here.

Anyway, that was weird: moving into a new flat a couple of hours before its previous resident moved out. It felt very much like we were trespassing, or staying in a hotel. The leaving teacher made us feel at home, though.

The teacher had warned us about Jehovah's Witnesses here – Korea is bursting at the seams with surprises! - and said that she only answers the door if someone is meant to be coming over. Mere minutes after she had left for the airport, the doorbell went, and two Korean women were standing there with the Bible. I said “hello, I don't speak Korean” and went to shut the door – and she elbowed it back open again! After I stood dutifully for a couple of minutes, periodically shaking my head, she let me close the door,

After unpacking and a quick lunch we decided to go to... Tesco.

We'd seen, in the pantry, a few things that bore 'Tesco' labels – actual things we recognized from shopping in Tesco in England, with the English labels and everything! – as well as a few which had the Tesco Value blue and white stripes! A taxi to the store cost us 2800 won, which is absolutely nothing. We had discovered while we unpacked that the internet wasn't working, so our main aim was to get a router. After some fun (read: nightmares) with a few cashpoints, we found a router and I attempted to pay using my English debit card. Somehow the woman understood me and we bought it!

Then for the food. This was amazing: it was actually Tesco. Some of the signs had the character for 'won' (the equivalent of a pound sign) being cut in half. Some things we recognized, and had clearly been shipped out from England. The most mind-boggling thing was that you were clearly in Korea: the British stuff was strewn amongst the Korean stuff, and some of the British stuff had had their labels translated. Tom and I roamed the aisles trying to stifle our manic, disbelieving giggles and calculating the price increase for the imported items – which was fairly reasonable. We bought steak and sweet potatoes for a delicious dinner, and had a very lovely, if generally weird, anniversary.

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