With farming work over for the time being (Australia being the most probable next opportunity), I hefted my pack (which seemed to have gotten a lot heavier since last I wore it) and set off for Yongin in torrential spring rains (later to turn to snow). As this was to be my final weekend in Korea before heading on to China, and Amy’s before she went back to work, we took a day each and planned an activity to do. In my case, this was dressing up (well, not that much – I borrowed a reasonably smart shirt from a friend of Amy’s and stuck with my perhaps-indie-cool cargo trousers) and stepping out, hitting a jazz bar in the well-to-do Seoul suburb of Apgujeong. It’s called Once In A Blue Moon, serves jazz musician-themed cocktails (for example, the Bill Evans – basically a Long Island Iced Tea and the Louis Armstrong – basically a Pina Colada) and I thoroughly recommend it, though the only vegetarian meal on the menu is the spinach and avocado salad (desserts are thankfully an entirely different matter).
Fed and watered, we took a look around the neighbourhood and quickly found enticing fruit and alcohol bar. The concept is fairly simple – fruit-flavoured soju (Korean rice liquor) is served in various ways, typically in a hollowed-out fruit of the same type. We tried the intriguingly-named TOFAS (Total Fruit Alcohol Set), which turned out to be six shots of soju served with a slightly bizarre mashed squash, ice cream and lettuce salad and strawberry dressing, before plumping for apples (which are surprisingly hard to drink out of, given that your nose hits the other side and gets very sticky very quickly). The table next to us ordered a pineapple, which arrived emitting clouds of stage smoke from pieces of dry ice. Several locals looked at me a bit oddly as I walked out munching my (now soju-infused) apple – I don’t think they re-use them, but perhaps there was some etiquette I was missing.
Amy’s activity turned out to be rugby followed by a chocolate-themed edible spa treatment – we headed into Seoul to watch Korea thump Hong Kong, but sadly the internet had misled us and when we arrived the match had already finished (we did get to chat to the referee though). For the spa treatment, I was covered in three different types of chocolate preparations (volcanic honey and cocoa powder for the face, walnut, yoghurt, cocoa and oatmeal for the body and mashed strawberries, cocoa and olive oil for the feet), soaked in a bath of milk, honey and more oatmeal and then scrubbed thoroughly before having orange and vanilla cream applied to my hands and my nails “done”. There was no danger of getting hungry, as I could just dip into the bowl of whatever was being applied and get a chocolate fix. One photograph of this exists, which will be guarded more securely than the Philosopher’s Stone for all eternity.
So – after over a month in South Korea, my ferry ticket is reserved and I head out to Incheon tomorrow morning for the overnight boat to Qingdao (seasickness likely, so I hope the environment appreciates it). My research about China (so far) has led me to believe that internet easily accessible, but most major blog sites (presumably including WordPress) are blocked. Therefore, there may be a complete communications blackout for a few weeks until I can get somewhere where government censorship is less popular and do a retroactive update. I’m not aware of any problems with e-mail or internet telephony, though, so I should still be able to stay in touch. See you on the other side of the Great Firewall.