Today is Sunday, and when I woke up (…at noon…*gasp*) I was missing church family. My plans to navigate somewhere in Seoul to join in an English ministry were kind of squashed when I got up so late into the day. This experience abroad is nothing without the power of adapting to my circumstances, so instead of a gathered setting I embraced a sabbath rest day. Aside from occasional encounters with random kind people through my daily journeys here, I spend most of my time alone – which is okay for a season, but I will be grateful for a transition back to community life when I reach Changwon.
After watching an entire YouTube stream of the royal wedding, I picked myself up and got dressed for the outside world. It was after 2 pm and I didn’t have anything to eat for breakfast, so I prioritized some nourishment. I headed back to Lotte to pickup more hotel room eats, so I don’t have to eat kimchi and rice for every meal.
I miss my kitchen.
I thought Lotte was insane when I went a couple of days ago, but today was something else. I suppose it’s like any grocery store in Canada, you generally avoid them on weekends. That thought didn’t come to me when I left the hotel…the internal dialogue went more like, “Need food. Feed body”.
As I was walking across the square and up many stairs to Lotte the air was filled with the sound of a beautiful hymn sung in Korean. I didn’t need to understand it to enjoy it; I love that about music.
Outside Lotte there were tables heaped high with clothing for sale, and many people were sifting through the pile 😐 I only do that when thrifting! Haha! There was a security man at the entrance to Lotte. He bowed to me as I passed him, saying “hello” in Korean. I can repeat things in Korean fairly well after someone – someone patient, that is. When I’m on my own I still feel hopeless at even hello, so I’ve mostly been banking on the being white and foreign-looking thing and just nod a lot while smiling instead. I’m having a hard time getting used to the bowing thing as well, but that will come in time I am sure.
When I got into the produce section I could see so many things I could make a meal out of in a kitchen, but had to leave them behind in favour of alternative options more suitable for hotel life. My priority was to find something fibrous with low equipment requirements to counteract all the nutrient-deprived white rice. I was making my way through the crowds of people all moving in different directions when a kind older Korean woman at a sample cart took one look at my full arms and got me a produce bag. She collected the dragon fruit and salad dressing from my arms and placed them inside the bag for me. She nodded and smiled at me, I was so grateful for the kindness of another random stranger.
The rest of my trip through Lotte was focused on necessities; no dawdling given the swarms of people moving everywhere around me. They were sampling a mystery fruit that I’ve seen around a lot since arriving here. I wanted to try it, but there was a group of people surrounding the sample cart – two rows deep! At first I was waiting in the group, blocking oncoming traffic with my core engaged and an athletic stance – but then I saw the toothpicks in separate bins with Korean writing on them. I thought, “what the heck is up with that?”…one of them had a pink border around the writing, the other a blue border. Then I started thinking they had different toothpicks for each gender, so I just walked away in my confusion. As I am writing this, I’ve realized there was likely a bin for fresh toothpicks and a garbage bin for the used ones. Maybe I will never know. I’m just kidding, I’m sure I will… Until then, I will do my experimenting when stores are quieter and there is time for me to ask questions whilst pointing and miming.
Apart from the dragon fruit, my hotel-friendly eats included: a four-pack of yogurt that said “probiotic” on the label (every yogurt is probiotic, but some are more intense, and since I can’t read labels I went with this one), a box of bran-looking flakes I sadly discovered back at the hotel look more like corn flakes (another sample cart lady was trying to tell me something when she saw the box of cereal in my arms, but I still have no idea what), a big bag of pitted dates that I joyfully discovered are the good kind, a Dole fruit cup of peach slices that I drained from the sugar syrup, and two weeks worth of calcium-magnesium since I didn’t pack my magnesium from home. I can’t read the labels and don’t recognize the brand to check, so I’m not sure if it’s what I was looking for, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.
Back in the hotel I had my peaches, then mixed up a yogurt/corn flakes(?)/dried coconut mixture in the room mug. I ate it with the hotel provided tea spoon – I’ve been very resourceful in this journey, I think! I also enjoyed my first decent cup of coffee, which I found on the walk back at Quiznos for 2,000 won. Yay! An affordable and palatable coffee to go. I relaxed with a few episodes of Friends before heading downstairs for a workout in the hotel gym. It is a small space with not too much equipment, but my routine is very adaptable and I was just happy to have the room to myself to sweat and bear crawl around the floor without any raised eyebrows. As usual, I felt like a new person after my session.
After a quick clean up back in my room, I wasn’t sure what to do next. There was some concert going on outside on the pedestrian walkway that I could hear in the hallway when I headed down to the gym, and there are still many new places to explore just in this neighbourhood. I stood in the middle of the room with my palms up and my eyes closed asking God what He wanted me to do, because I was perplexed by all the options. I didn’t hear anything, but without thinking I was getting my laptop in my bag and changing into my athletic leisure attire.
Back home when I sabbath in solitude, I usually spend some time at a coffee shop listening to music, reading, creating, and sipping hot tea. After a lengthy walk down the street across from my hotel, the door to Starbucks was open and I felt invited in. I’m now happily settled in next to a window with my heavy metal playlist, some green detox juice and a much-needed salad cup with some quinoa and kidney beans. On my walk here I felt God telling me it didn’t matter what I did today, so long as I did it with Him. The world is always loud and persuasive, no matter where you are. I’m grateful for so many opportunities during my travels to explore new places, new cuisines, and meet new people – but I’m also grateful for discernment that says satisfaction cannot be found in things/agendas.
All my needs were met today – down to the digestive support in my meals – for which I am so pleased…I’ve made it through my first full day in Korea without eating rice (LOL)! I’m accustomed to sampling different cuisines sporadically, and in moderation. It’s been a real transition not being able to flush out the different ingredients I’m eating with a “North American detox meal”. I’m feeling very thankful for my health knowledge that is informing my choices while I don’t have a kitchen of my own yet to supplement my diet with the healthful ingredients I’m accustomed to!
Today I’m feeling the need to implement a regular bed-time/wake-up time to get into a routine, so I will have to curb my caffeine consumption to what it usually is and fight through the fatigue! Hoping to get out and explore more places tomorrow, but will do my research prior as Bukchon Village had many signs indicating they were closed on Monday’s!
With love and head banging beatz from Korea,
My stages of grief when realizing all the bands I’ll be missing at Warped in Toronto this summer, expressed through GIF’s.