Many have been asking what our apartment here is like. So here the ‘inside’ scoop!
In the middle of Deoksin village, just up from the river sits an apartment block. On the 2nd floor of that block, you’ll find apartment #302 – the current abode of Dan and H-J.
For the first time in our lives (apart from obviously when we were tiny and our parents did everything for us) we don’t carry any keys with us. Ever! Entry to our apartment building is via a numerical code, entered into a key pad. Upon successful entry of said code, a very nice Korean electronic lady says something rather long-winded and the front door gracefully slides open.
The apartment door we push some more buttons to unlock. No nice Korean lady this time and we have to open the door ourselves. It’s a pretty cool system though we haven’t quite worked out what would happen in the event of a power failure!
Our apartment is great. It has a small kitchen, a master bedroom, a guest bedroom, a bathroom and a laundry. After having a communal, coin-operated laundry on the Terrace for 2+ years, it’s great to be able to just chuck stuff into our washing machine, whenever we feel like it and do washing whenever we feel like it and not have to pay to use it…whenever we feel like it! Also for the first time ever (with perhaps the exception of the gimp room some of you may fondly remember from Grafton Road) we have a spare bedroom! In honour of one of Korea’s national obsessions, we have plans to turn this room into a Hello Kitty themed room. Look forward to that pleasure, if you’re planning a visit.
One of the best, most awesome features of all Korean housing is ondol. Basically, its underfloor heating. Non-basically, it’s a feature of homes here that goes back at least to the early Chosun dynasty (1390 odd) or according to some sources, back to pre-historic times. Ondol means “warm stone”. Traditionally, the source of heat for the ondol was a fireplace, usually in the kitchen (multipurpose that way, like heating your house with the open oven door in cold Dunedin flats) that was built two of three feet lower that the other rooms in order to make it easy for the smoke and hot air to run under the floors. Nowadays it is conducted via either water pipes under the floor or electrothermal something-or-other. The moral of the story is that we adjust the heat in any or all of the rooms in our apartment…you guessed it…whenever we feel like it. Our toes are cosy at all times. And rumour has it one of the top luxuries in a cold Korean winter is lying on the floor. We’re already planning to leave our trackies lying on the floor all day while we’re at work and coming home to snugly, warm clothes. Bliss.
The kitchen is quite small, especially when you consider the last few places we’ve lived in but there are some definite benefits. Again, for the first time in 2+ years, a FULL-SIZED fridge and freezer! Woot. Korean kitchens don’t as a matter of course have ovens. So that’s probably the biggest adjustment. For cooking we only have a two burner gas top. It does the trick though thanks to a fantastic non-stick fry pan that came with our apartment and the handy steamer we’ve subsequently purchased. In all honesty though, we only really cook eggs for breakfast and dinner once or twice a week. The rest of the time we’re taking advantage of the fact that eating out is really, really damn cheap. And good. And cheap.
Please note that the full collection of fridge magnets from around the world has accompanied us here and is continuing to grow. Luckily, Koreans don’t really cook at home – they get dinner delivered pretty much all the time! So every place in town delivers and leaves menu magnets on your front door constantly. If only we could speak Korean and take advantage of this wonderful service! Wellington could really learn a lot from this….
We’re starting to accumulate a bit of stuff here already. While we never really allowed ourselves to do that in Cayman, we’re of the mindset here that (a) it helps you feel more at home and (b) that we can always ship stuff back to NZ when we’re done with it. We have set up a piggy bank savings account to fund this, giving us the excuse to buy whatever we want without having to think about carrying it on an airplane!
Our apartment is supplied as part of our contract here so all we pay is $25 a MONTH maintenance. Pretty darn sweet. The bills for stuff like power, gas, internet are also way cheaper than NZ. And YAY uncapped, super-fast internet. GLEE!