Tamsyn – The Greedy Pig

8 Aug

Okay, so my name comes second in the blog URL (this was written in our old blog under the title ‘Tamsyn and Lawson in Korea’). I can accept that, especially since I didn’t set it up and even more so considering I have contributed nothing to it until now so before my name gets removed entirely (and rightly so) I thought it was about time I made myself known and say a little about my experience of South Korea.

Let me quickly introduce myself to satisfy your curiosity. Firstly, let me say how flattering it is that your interested, (oh, stop, your making me blush). So assuming you are interested – I’m 22, (I celebrated my birthday here, believe me I am going to make a point of blogging about the worst birthday ever at some point), I studied English and Creative Writing at Sunderland University, (Disclosing this information is likely to expose me to criticism on my writing ability since I can’t say I haven’t been trained but please don’t be too harsh (Also, I am well aware of the over use of brackets, so why stop, let’s go wild and have brackets within brackets)). I grew up in Stockton-on-Tees, many of you will know this already. Me and Lawson have been together four and a half years.

We’ve been in South Korea for nearly three weeks now and we still haven’t said anything about the place where we live. Ochang is a fairly big town, bigger than we initially thought it was, as our first impression was that it consisted of a few bars, a handful of shops, several ‘Family Marts’ (there are as many ‘Family Marts’ in Ochang than there is Greggs in Newcastle! ) and some Korean restaurants (obviously). We were also aware that there was a lovely park as the Canadian who is my co-teacher now kindly sent emails with pictures attached.

We never actually saw the park in daylight until the other day. We’d been there drinking with some ‘waygooks’ as the Koreans call the foreigners here. Before you jump to conclusions drinking in a park here is completely unlike drinking in a park in England and we never drank in parks in England, not even when we were fourteen. It is actually a much more sophisticated affair. I know you may not believe me but it is. Many Koreans go to the park to lay on the grass by the lake and sup lager or wine. It’s not discouraged neither. Music plays from lamps and trees for you to enjoy and everyone is very relaxed. The Koreans work very long hours so naturally they enjoy a little relaxation. So, anyway, the park is really lovely. We went last Wednesday. It was memorial day and we were blessed with another national holiday. We arrived at just the right time with two national holidays in less than three weeks. With everyone having the day off it was packed with families feeding the fish (great big whopping carps, like rats of the water world feasting with their huge smackers on crisps served up by the locals; I’ll post a picture of these beasts), playing in the stream and playing Frisbee.

One of the things that impressed me about Ochang most was Home Plus. Yes, it is a Supermarket but bare with me. After two and a half weeks living on a limited number of tea bags, no curry, no Walkers crisps, no Kettle chips, no Seabrooks crisps (man, I love crisps!)  in a whirlwind of newness and bewilderment I felt completely overwhelmed. So imagine my relief when I discover that Home Plus is just Tesco with a different name. The recognisability of things in there; F&F clothing and Tesco strawberry oat cereal. I was almost beside myself with the joy of the familiar! I was like an obese sun-burnt Englishman in Spain gorging himself on a greasy English breakfast. It was shameful really. I’ve travelled thousands of miles to pull myself out of boredom and discover something different, something exciting, and then there I was kissing a box of Tesco strawberry oat cereal like it’s a long lost friend. Unfortunately they don’t sell tea (I mean proper tea, like we drink back home) or walkers crisps but they do sell just enough ingredients to make a fairly average curry and of course my favourite cereal which is of some comfort.

Back to Korea and all things Korean. We passed through the park on Wednesday to reach a lovely Vietnamese restaurant, WOOPS! That’s not Korean either! Well, I am going to tell you about it anyway because it was just that good. I will offend a lot of Koreans by saying this but hand on heart despite eating at many Korean restaurants up to this point this is still our favourite meal since we arrived. It was recommended by a nice American couple and I am really glad they did. It is also the first time we felt really full. Don’t get me wrong, the Koreans do give you a lot of food for you money but this was something else. I think being English we are used to having great big portions. The initial food was more than enough: A plate full of beef and a pile of finely chopped vegetables with a variation of different dips and sauces for us to cook ourself in a wok full of hot oil in the middle of the table. You take a rice sheet, a few raw finely chopped vegetables and maybe a piece of cooked beef with a bit of kimchi or fried cabbage, you then dollop a little of the spicy sauce on top and wrap it all up in the silky transparent rice paper and in hopefully one elegant movement eat it in one mouthful. After several of these we were ready to wipe our chins (we are messy eaters) and leave smiling but then to our amazement the food just kept coming. A waitress came over to our table and proceeded to cook us lovely noodles and with the broth from that a rice soup. Call me a greedy pig but it was fantastic!

I have probably gone into information overload so I’ll leave it at that for now but hopefully I will post some more soon, I can’t be lazy too much longer or Lawson might stop making me cups of tea.




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