Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Special Evening

Yesterday was packed with amazing experiences. Just before noon Rebekah and I went into Itaewon, which is the international section of Seoul. We met her South African friend Aimee and headed to Braai Republic, a South African pub, for lunch. This was my first time eating South African food. We each ordered a dish called lamb potjie. Even if it hadn't been delicious, which it was, I would have liked it simply because of the cute mini cast iron pots it was served in.

Here is my random collage of the day.

Top left to right clockwise: a street vendor pulling his cart to his spot on the street; the Canadian pub in Itaewon; a cart filled with recycled cardboard; Seoul's very efficient subway system

We came home from Itaewon, picked up Anton, and headed out for an unforgettable experience. Rebekah's head teacher had invited us to join her family for a meal. Their home is in a more rural area of Korea, far from the crowds and traffic of Seoul. They have several chickens that supply them with fresh eggs every day, along with garden plots in several spots around their home. It is an incredibly beautiful setting.

From the minute I walked through the door I knew it was going to be a very special evening. They were so welcoming and happy to have us visit them. They had invited a few friends over, and between their collective English skills and Rebekah's increasing Korean we managed to carry on some lively conversation.

I could not believe the food they spread out on the table in front of us. It was their version of a traditional Korean dish called bibimbap, which is basically rice mixed with a variety of side dishes. By the time all the side dishes were brought out every square inch of the table was filled!

After dinner the head teacher's two sons and a friend gave us a Taekwondo demonstration. These were not kids just fooling around. They were seriously good. Those are black belts they are wearing around their waists! (So far all I have managed to earn at my Wing Chun lessons is a t-shirt. And to be honest I didn't earn it. I bought it.)

The head teacher's husband sang a traditional Korean song for us, accompanied by a friend playing the drum.

Then the head teacher brought out a covered tray.

She pulled off the cover to reveal a beautiful traditional Korean tea set. Then she explained that Buddhist monks consider the tea ceremony we were about to participate in a form of meditation. First hot water was added to the teapot and cups to warm them, then that water was discarded. Next she poured hot water into the teapot, then poured the water from the pot over a strainer into a bowl, and from bowl into the cups. It was a Korean green tea, and was the perfect finish to a wonderful evening.

As we wound our way down the narrow road to catch our bus back to Guri, the faint smell of wood smoke from neighbouring homes wafting through the air, I knew I had just had a once in a lifetime experience, one I will treasure for the rest of my life.


  1. I teared up reading this, Kristie. What an amazing experience.

  2. You, better than anyone else I know, would appreciate a form of meditation that involved tea. That was perfect. It was so kind of the head teacher to open her home to all of you. It's probably a sign that Rebekah has made a wonderful impression. I've heard of bibimbap, but haven't had a chance to try it yet.

    The lamb dish looks very tasty--and I usually don't like lamb.

  3. Kristie,

    All the foods look great! I missed bibimbap this time. I took Delta instead of Korean Air. But it was a new experience which I welcomed. Enjoy your trip! Just looking at your photos is fun.

  4. You will have memories to fill a lifetime by the time you get back on that plane! Thanks so much for sharing everything. The pictures are SUPER!

  5. If I take the time to read about your whole trip, I'll never catch up (!)...but just this post showed me what an amazing and special trip this was! Such an experience!