I LOVE my Villa and its accompanying luxuries. Such as the fact that it is all one floor (unlike my house in the states), it has heated floors, the large bathrooms are user and cleaner friendly (drains in the all tile floor in an all tile room), utility costs are minimal (mostly I think because we are on the 4th floor), and the VIEW! I can't say enough about the view! It is quite certainly, amazing. The view of Banpo Bridge includes a water show, where jets spray out the side in all kinds of different patterns. Entertaining and lovely to watch while sipping a glass of wine. The balcony wraps around the side of the Villa and is large enough for a BBQ, some chairs and a table. It is a favorite hangout for my smoking friends when they visit. In the summer, we can open the windows and the breeze cool us down quickly. The only time we really must have the air conditioner on is in the middle of summer when it is the hottest and at night... I hate sweating at night. There is an elevator for grocery day but the stairs for those days when a little exercise is a must (like right before a weigh in or a PT test!) My car is safely ensconced in the garage below and stays accessible to me regardless of what the weather brings. It is truly a wonderful place to live. I feel spoiled and I am building up the memories here for when I am deployed, living in a tent with no luxuries whatsoever - for I know those days are coming!
Korean ovens. I don't ever have to worry about cooking large meals again. My oven fits a Guinea Hen rather nicely, and well, a large chicken... not so much. I think this should help with keeping my entertaining to a manageable level. Us and another couple should do it.
Online shopping. I am getting good at it. Especially since I went into a Korean lingerie shop and they measured me for a bra. The women there exclaimed many exciting things in Korean while covering their mouths and chortling... and I had to walk out empty handed and with a rather red face. It was also rather disconcerting to find myself in the plus size category as a size 8. I do love the fact that I can wear anything I want. It really is anything goes here in the fashion department. Now if only my husband felt that way...
Seoul is a walking city. I could get along here just fine without a car. On rainy and cold days, and also super hot days, it isn't so much fun -but it can be done fairly easily truth be told. The subways, buses and taxis all coexist to make it a walkers heaven. I am not exactly going for the angel of the year award in this department, but it is something to love nonetheless.
Torrential downpours. Yes, I get to often boat to Yongsan Garrison during parts of the monsoon season. It offers a change of pace and a little excitement as I careen down the sidewalk at a breakneck speed. There is no other, or better, way to do it. Using the paddle to move pedestrians out of the way is an added entertainment. I have thought about adding a 50 cal to my boats accouterments, but it is meeting with some resistance.
Taxis. Taking a taxi is fun. I sit in the back and relax as the driver makes a way where there is none, treats traffic rules and signals as optional and gets me where I want to go in record time. I may practice a little Korean and he a little English as the ride progresses. All is good in the world. Did I mention cheap? But to drive on the roads with a taxi - well, not so much... I mean, the whole traffic rules and lights being optional thing is not so great when you are sharing the road.
My "hoopty." It is a 1994 Kia Sephia. It is ugly and temperamental, however, it was only $500 and gets me back and forth to post, albeit not beautifully. I don't ever have to worry about denting my fender or marring my paint finish when hitting a taxi that just cut me off, or moving the pedestrian that wanders into the middle of the roadway out of my way. I am perfectly happy to park it with inches to spare knowing a ding or two from the car door next to it will only add to its character. Even my grocery cart loves the way it is allowed to lean up against it, resting while bags are thrown willy-nilly into the recesses of the trunk. We have a very relaxed relationship, my hoopty and me.
Itaewon. It is a great place to walk and window, or street, shop. It is a great place to meet friends, have a meal, have a drink, or two or three. There are vendors everywhere that will sell me anything. Haggling on prices is encouraged and done with vigor. I get to do an obstacle course as I wind my way through crowds and vendor carts. And as I make my way between moving cars and veering taxis my heart gets pumping and my joints loosen. There are plenty of places for me to go, play some pool, dance to some groovy music, or otherwise, chill.
The little Korean man that yells and throws things as he walks by me in Itaewon. I know he is saying really important things... if only I could understand him... I am sure I would agree.
Bulgogi Burgers at McDonald's. Yum.
Rotiboy. Another yum and a must do when visiting Itaewon.
Vendor food. 'Nuff said.
Yes, living in Seoul has definitely broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to the many blessings I enjoy here. I am going to like being here for a few more years. There is so much more for me to experience and learn to love. I look forward to traveling into other parts of Asia as well. I want to hike Mt Fuji, scuba in Okinawa, walk the Great Wall of China and get to Russia if I can as well. Much to do, much to do...
Oh, and I love running the hills here on post. Really. I know if I say it enough and with enough enthusiasm I will believe it, and you will too.