A festive feast: Eid-ul-Fitr

Aneesa: A while back I wrote a post on Ramadaan. I tried my best to make it accessible for all our readers and it was quite well-received. Today I will write a long overdue post about the end of Ramadaan, … Continue reading

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Ramadaan, Recovery & Recognition

Aneesa: Hello dear readers. Just a quick update to say that Faraaz’s laser eye surgery went well. But in order for a full recovery, he has been banned from looking at a computer/phone screen for this week. In his absence … Continue reading

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Turkish Delight

Aneesa: I’m not a food critic or an excellent chef. But I do love food… so much. Breakfasts, curries, casseroles, pastas, fruit, pizza, rice dishes and of course desserts. I am ruled my by stomach. And since moving abroad I … Continue reading

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Sun and fun in Busan: Part 1

Once upon a time on a Saturday morning, Faraaz and Aneesa awoke at 6:00 am (which is far too early for a Saturday), so that they could catch the 08:15 mysterious KTX bullet train to Busan, the “Durban of Korea”. … Continue reading

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Oh what a meal!

Aneesa: This past weekend was utterly exhausting! A lot was accomplished, in a small period of time; Faraaz and I returned home with 2 camera’s full of photos so be prepared for a few intensive posts this week! The weekend … Continue reading

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A day of adventure

Faraaz: Last weekend I traveled to civilization to spend time with Aneesa and Kerissa. This meant me taking a 6.40pm bus from Taean, to Ansan in the Gyenoggi Do province, where Kerissa would be hosting Aneesa and I for the … Continue reading

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Losing one’s Seoul: Part 2

Aneesa:

Everyone has that one friend they love to hate.

She always wants to go out, keep busy, meet new people; she encourages you to spend all your money, depletes your energy and sometimes makes you want to scream with frustration. Yet- she is the subject of many memories, appears in all your photos, is full of secrets and always has something fun going on. She tempts you constantly, exhausts you in all ways, juggles many things at once and never seems to sleep or calm down. As much as you want to stay away, keep your distance from and ignore her, in the end you know her too well to give her up- her loves and hates, the way she smells, how to handle her and the way she can always draw you in.

Seoul is my friend that I love to hate. As much as I loathe the dirty pavements and subway stations that are choked with people, the traffic and that polluted air, I always find myself drawn back to the city with the pulsating energy that you can feel as soon as you arrive in it.

Now despite what Faraaz may write, Seoul (or any other Asian capital city) bears no similarity to Johannesburg. And this is coming from someone who has been to a few Asian capitals, ridden the Gautrain in Joburg and looks for bits and pieces of South Africa wherever I go. No African city has the massive number of people that Seoul has; that sophisticated infrastructure and the breath-taking public transport system. Faraaz was overwhelmed (I could tell) and I don’t blame him. Seoul still overwhelms me despite spending most of last year in the city.

Photos of mine taken last year from top of the 63 Building

Moving on, after our serene visit to the pretty Bogeunsa temple, we jumped on the subway again and went to Gangnam (a nearby suburb in Seoul). Gang-nam means ‘south of the river’ and is on the East side of Seoul. Famous for being one of the two wealthiest areas in Seoul, we set about looking for a place to dine and meet our friend Shardale. With the help of my iPhone, we stumbled upon the Indian Curry House. After we sat inside, we noticed the dingy and dark exterior of the place and prayed that our food would be decent. The menu required some translating but eventually we all ordered a spicy prawn curry with garlic nan. I was initially sceptical about this restaurants version of Indian style curry, but after I started digging into my food, I was pleasantly surprised at its authentic flavours. I am not true connoisseur of Indian food (ok yes I am), but there was a unique flavour from this place that led me to conclude that this restaurant serves out some awesome deliciousness. The food was extremely reasonably priced with perfect sized portions. All curries come with a plate of rice at no extra cost. (For directions to this restaurant, please scroll to the bottom of this post).

We continued our adventure in across Seoul and headed north to Jongno to watch the Lotus Lantern Parade. We arrived in the middle of the parade but miraculously managed to get a decent spot to watch the proceedings. The Seoul Lantern Parade is where endless Buddhist organizations and temple patrons come together to hold a parade in honor of the Buddha. I was honestly amazed at how many people were participating and at how many lanterns there were. Anyway the pics are much better than my words so take a look at my happy snaps:

The parade began with these gigantic and beautiful paper lanterns. It must take a lot of skill to create these!

Even my favourite bear made an appearance!

Flower princess

It wouldn’t be a good parade without a giant dragon now would it?

Well hello smiley Korean men!

There were no shortage of monks at the party

A long processions of lanterns and women. The participants would give away their lanterns to happy looking people as they marched along

After the parade we said goodbye to Kerissa and ended off the weekend in Seoul Station where we had some dessert and awaited our train home.

For almost anyone who travels, there’s a certain romance associated with rail travel that other modes of transportation can’t quite match.  Flight had its moment of glam in the post-war years, but few still find anything romantic about the process of contemporary air travel with its steadily decreasing comforts and increasing security indignities.  Boat travel within developed countries all but doesn’t exist, and cruises aren’t so much travel as the holiday itself.  Trains, however (and their whiff of outdatedness for long distance travel may in part explain this), still evoke a certain charm, a sense that wonderful things might happen not only at your destination, but on your way there.  The names of the great routes – the Orient Express, the Trans-Siberian, the Blue Train – and the great stations – Grand Central, Union, Gare du Nord, St. Pancras – reflect that.  It’s no coincidence that the Hogwarts Express was a steam train and not a jetliner.  Magical people take the train.

Seoul Station (서울역) is bright and airy, and it handles its bustle well.  Lined with fast food places and shops, it also has floor exhibits where the likes of Chevrolet show off their latest products, but the tall, high windows create the feeling of space, and people move through the station efficiently.  A department store is attached to both the first and second floors of the station, and on the upper concourse, in addition to a food court, you’ll also find space for photo exhibits and the Open Concert Hall, where two pianos and a keyboard sat at the ready.

  After indulging, we walked toward the train platform and were briskly making our way there when a line of yellow tape that I spotted on the ground caused me to stop in my tracks and point it out to Faraaz.  On the tape was text that read, in English, ‘We Trust You: (Only paid customers can cross this line.)’ That was the security check.  All of it.  Of course, tickets are (sometimes) checked on the train, but there were no guards, no metal detectors, no baggage inspection.  It was remarkable, and even though we had no intention of sneaking onto a train it seemed so good-natured, so trusting, so esteeming of our integrities that the yellow line actually made us pause and consider for a moment whether or not we should cross it. It was one of those moments where I realise why I love Korea.

After an exhausting weekend, we collapsed when we reached my apartment and spent the rest of the weekend being lazy! This weekend Faraaz becomes a millionaire, heads to a DJ Festival and I celebrate Kerissa’s birthday before I travel to a pretty little island down South with my girlfriends. Until next week, readers!

(To get to the Indian Curry House Vin 103, use exit 9 of Gangnam Station. Walk towards the Gangnam CGV cinema, once you get there turn right and take the road between the 7-11 and the Co-Co Curry House. Indian Curry House Vin 103 is a little further up on the right hand side opposite the C’Etait Bien European Tea House. You can visit their cyworld page or call them on 02 508 8717.)

Eat. Love. Eat again.

Aneesa:

This weekend is going even faster than last week went, somehow. I’m relaxing on the balcony with a Nesquik juice box and my Macbook on my lap after the whirlwind of a flurry of weekend eating + cooking + creating. While Faraaz adds the final touches to our post on teaching, I thought it would be fun to inject some colour into the blog world with some of the Mothers’ Day weekend’s culinary delights.

We kicked off Saturday morning with these super fruity watermelon shakes. Now that I have a blender (kindly gifted to me from Faraaz), I find myself getting excited about the ideas of smoothies and juices. My apartment smells like a fruit stall in Overport but my skin is looking great!

The last time I had one of these watermelon shakes was when I was in the Philippines… Sigh.

Watermelons can be pretty expensive in Korea but I decided to splurge since Faraaz was coming over (and because I now have a blender!!).

On Saturday night, after an extremely lazy day involving lots of sleep, we headed out for some sushi. Weirdly enough, I don’t know many people in Korea who enjoy sushi as much I do so I was glad that Faraaz was here to share in my excitement.

I view my dining experiences like I view movies.  Whilst I am always holding out for a ‘Shawshank Redemption’ or “The Lion King”, sometimes I just have to settle in for some ‘gets-the-job-done’ fare and slide ‘Pearl Harbour’ into my laptop.

The restaurant we chose, O meal Sushi (Cheonan), is ‘Pearl Harbour’ in this analogy.  Even though it’s not winning any critics choice awards, you simply can’t deny it does what it does very well and therefore it’s easy to get swept along.

The menu was quite extensive with an appetizer section, tempura section, maki section, sushi section, handroll section and sashimi section. For a cost of about 15,000 won (R100), you can order all the sushi you can eat, plus have a coke and ice cream for dessert.

We tried some interesting sushi options including nuts and cheese (I can feel my Japanese friends shuddering!) but we enjoyed all the sushi as well as the chocolate fountain, cheesecakes and soups.

I used to have almost an anxiety about not trying something new when I went to a restaurant. Times have changed a bit since my stomach makes me not want to be as adventurous as I used to be, but I’ll still try new things most of the time hence the choice to sample everything including the bubble-gum coloured California roll.

If traditional Japanese sushi or sashimi is like classical music with its adherence to strict guidelines and conventions, Korean style sushi and sashimi might be comparable to the bombastic works of Lil Wayne.

So when you find yourself suffering from sushi-fatigue now and again, check out a Korean sushi spot. The experience is like a gastronomic tweak to the nipples.

Sunday morning meant a craving for choc chip pancakes with peanut butter smoothies…. Mmmmmm.

Now that Faraaz is back on his island, its back to eating boring things like mince curry and chicken and mayo sarmies!

Lastly, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms/mums/mummys and mothers out there. This has always been my life mantra and I stick by it, no matter how far away I am from my wonderful and dear mother: