Day 144

Friday | July 20th, 2012


It’s done. We bought a house today. Or rather today we give 10% of the cost of this house to the house’s owner as a promise that we will meet again and deliver the other 90% to complete the transaction. For that to happen, all the players need to be free and go to the bank together. Bank wants to check everyone out and look over everyone’s ID then they will give the owner our loan directly and Meow will hand over the remaining difference. Then, we will really own a house (and a hanok at that).

For today we went to the realtor’s office, which like a lot of places in Gyeongju had something “ancient” and protected nearby (pictured above). We handed over our cash and signed a contract which among other things stipulated when we were to meet and pay the other 90% of what we owe. Meow and I had intended to celebrate afterwards with some nice food, but the place above the realtor’s office, Man on the Grill, was only open and not normal open where they would take our orders. That sucked because it really looked like they served up juicy, grilled burgers there and that’s what I wanted most at that very moment.

We walked around Hwangseong-dong looking for a good place to eat, but for all the Nowon-esque delights the neighborhood seemed to offer, another Western-style grill joint was not among them.

Naturally, Meow and I had lots to talk about, so despite the heat and humidity, we just kept walking for a while. We went through the big park to the north that I’d been meaning to check out since my first day in Gyeongju, but hadn’t gotten to yet. It was really cool (interesting, not temperature down) in there. The trees were all groomed to be tall and only have a canopy at the their tops (pictured below, in the Daily Bullet). At one point I scaled a mini-hill to meet a horseman at the top.

After the park, we hit up the neighborhood we walked through on our previous trip back from city hall when we were hunting for cake. When we came upon the protesters (hero image), we ducked into a dduk (떡, rice cake) café Meow spied on our last walk for a respit.

As yummy as the cake might look (above, left), it’s disgusting—or perhaps just an acquired taste. It’s not cake, it’s rice! Beaten and folded into a sticky paste, it’s the treat Koreans will go on and on and on about unless you runaway! It has many forms and flavors and they all look super yummy, but they aren’t. I find dduk to be the biggest food scam since those donuts that appear to be chocolate filled but are actually packed to the gills with the hearty dinner food known as red beans. Yummyuck!

On the right is another tale of culture shock woe. It’s a concoction called 팥빙수 (patbingsu)and it’s also an acquired taste. 팥 means … (drum roll) … (drum roll) … red beans! This (above, right) is a bowl of ice shavings, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, corn flakes, bathed in milk with chocolate syrup drizzled on top and little chunks of … dduk! While the hamburger craving quickly subsided in the heat and walking, 팥빙수 has been a very, very serious craving since the heat went up a few weeks about. And the beans are surprisingly delicious with ice cream.

At the cafe, we phoned MS and J to see if they wanted to have dinner with us. Meow and I sat in the cafe for another hour plotting what we will do with our house and deciding which dduk items we will purchase from the dduk cafe to give to our neighbors when we finally move in (as is the tradition in Korea).

Later that night we took MS and J to our house and took pictures before going home to see our sad dogs. They have no idea the change that is about to be in their faces, but I hope they like having a yard as much as I will like not having their hair in everything.

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