Seoul Baby D
Finally, the trip I’ve been planning for seven months is now a reality. I arrive in Seoul, Korea on Thursday, July 31st. For those of you who are wondering Korea is 13 hours ahead of the East Coast US. I digress. Jenny’s Omma (mom) and two Emoes (aunts) greeted us at the gate with hugs. Well, I hugged them and they kind of went with it.
Once we got the bags into the cars we were off to visit Jenny’s Halmoni (Grandmother) in the hospital. She took a spill a couple of weeks ago and fractured her leg, but otherwise she’s a regal octogenarian, who holds court from her hospital bed. Don’t mess with Halmoni.
From the hospital we were off to Jenny’s home. It’s about a 30 minute drive from the hospital and the landscape is lush green and mountainous with plenty of highrises sprinkled throughout.
Once we got into Seoul the city, I was surprised to see how hilly it is. San Francisco has nothing on Seoul. The residential streets are narrow and steep and I don’t think there is a speed limit, so be careful when walking and driving.
Once we got home, we showered and changed, because Jenny’s Mom, the diva that she is made reservations for us to have lunch at the famous Shilla Hotel. It is the place to see and be seen, honey let me tell you. The hotel is so very grand and the restaurants buffet catered to every craving and liking. Jenny’s mom and Grandmother worried if I would eat. Let’s just say I didn’t dissapoint, my appetite has yet to fail me, even on the other side of the world.
After lunch, I was struck with a bout of the itis and allI wanted to do was sleep, it was after all tomorrow in the US. But Jenny’s mom said the magic words — let’s go shopping and when do I pass up the opportunity to shop, even without a job. Omma took us to all her haunts, she wanted to make sure we took advantage of the sales before the merchants went on vacation for the week. Of course everyone knows Omma, so we got further discounted prices. I can’t wait to get back to show y’all.
Sidebar: Don’t sleep on the Korean women for they are quite the fashionistas. When they go out they dress as if for an event, even if running to the Family Mart. I was quite impressed with their style and realized that I’m going to have to step it up a notch and represent the US, vacation or not.
After shopping we went home. Jenny went to visit Halmoni and I could barely keep my eyes open so I took a cold shower (yes cold, it’s hot and humid here. Not soupy humid but humid all the same.) and went to bed at 5:30PM
The next day (Friday) Jenny woke me up and we chatted a bit and then we both realized we were famished, we hadn’t eaten since lunch. We went downstairs and ate my favorite Korean dish glass noodles, with beef and vegetables: and fried Kimpok ( Korean version of sushi). We then took a bird bath, no I’m not dirty, I’ll explain later), got dressed and left for the day.
The Low Down on the SCRUB DOWN: People whatever you do when you come to Korean, make sure you get a scrub down at one of the countries famous bath houses. Jenny took me to the Olive, where she and her family have been going for years and years. Upon entry you have to get over any inhibitions because you get necked not nude or naked, but necked. The attendants (all women) are clothed only in a bra and panties. You are escorted into the shower/bath room where they give you an initial washing (that’s why I took a bird bath) and escort you into the steam room where you steam bake for approximately 30minutes in the hottest heat you can stand. Once you’re called out you lay on a message table where strong, little Korean women scrub 36 years of dirt and dead skin off of every nook and crannie of your body — every limb, every orrifice, every extremity, everything. This goes on for about 1 hour. I pride myself on bathing and loofaing everyday, however, I’ve clearly missed a spot or two. Once the scrubbing is over, you’re given a cucumber facial, a milk and oil body massage, a hair washing and another visit into the steam room to top it off. I’m a new person. I have this glow, I think I even lost weight. I highly, highly encourage you to get a scrub down any and every chance you get.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t write a bit about Jenny’s family, immediate and extended, because they truly remind me of my own. Jenny’s mother is a shorter Korean version of my own. She and I speak a similar language — not Korean but fashion. She didn’t hesitate to share a beautiful blouse from her closet with me, for some reason I guess she knew I would love it and I did. I wore it yesterday, mostly at her insistence because I was going to save it for when I got home. She also showed me some of the new purchases she acquired while in the US. I tell you it was Joyce Lee all over again, all that was missing was a signature “Girl I was sharp!” Jenny’s Grandmother, on the other hand reminds me much of my own MomMom, sassy, bossy (she just made her doctors eat before examining her), petite and youthful. She speaks speaks English and is sure to include me on much of the conversation with her visitors, although I still don’t understand anything but it’s nice to be included.
The Emoes are so accommodating to Halmoni, they dote on her hand and foot, it is quite endearing.
Food, there is always food, and you know I’m not mad at that. Just now while I was writing this home cooked food was brought into the hospital. It smells divine but I’m still full from lunch.
Both Omma and Halmoni are very concerned that I’m having a good time, and all I can say is being with family is always the best time.
I think this is enough for one entry. I’ll have more to report after the weekend, as there are plans to visit Halmoni’s dance school in the country, see an acupuncturist for my ailments, and visit the temple. Also, I’ll upload the flix and pix I’ve taken thus far.
Stay tuned and anyong (hello and good-bye)