Apr 112024
 

Past Erin is saying hello from whatever subway station this is, on our way to Yongsan Station! It was around 7AM on Monday, March 25. Our train to Jeonju was scheduled to depart closer to 9 but Henry is always clenched when it comes to departure times and makes us arrive way too early.

This was our first time at Yongsan Station! The last time we went to Jeonju in 2019, we departed from Seoul Station but Jiyong helped us book our tickets a week before we left the US and said that Yongsan Station is the most convenient for traveling to Jeonju.

When we got there, I kept saying that we should buy umbrellas at Story Way because it was supposed to rain nearly the whole time we were set to be in Jeonju but Henry was like WE NOT NEED ‘BRELLAS. WE STRONG ‘MURRICANS. NOT MELTERS.

This was probably him mid-umbrella naysaying, actually.

Just a side note, Chooch and I hated all of the moments where Henry wasn’t wearing a hat. I promise you: it affected his attitude. Hatless Hank is also embarrassing and kind of derpy. I can’t explain it, but Chooch had a list of Henry Travel Rules and one of them was “always wear a hat.” Too bad he broke every rule in Chooch’s list at least once an hour.

Anyway, this was us noshing on sweet Korean breads for breakfast, except for Chooch who got some type of savory “vegan” bread and hated it LOL.

The bakery was essentially called Sweet Red Bean Bun, if I remember correctly, and this was awesome for Henry and me, red bean hoes that we are. Chooch HATES red bean. So Henry and I of course got red bean buns but also, and holy shit I just spontaneously salivated at the mere memory of this, a glutinous pumpkin donut. FML I wish I had one in my fist right now so that I could savagely jam it into my mouth and aggressively beast that shit. First of all? If you have never had a Korean chapssal donut, stop what you’re doing and Google immediately to see if you can score some in your town. You won’t be sorry. Typically, they’re packed with the aforementioned sweet red bean but this one was filled with soft, sweet pumpkin. I HATED that I only got one to “share” with Henry. I wish I could go back in time and buy a second one to eat in the bathroom like a middle school kid hiding from lunch-stealing bullies so that I wouldn’t have to share with him.

Of course, we had tons of time to kill. Our train wasn’t even listed on the departure board yet. I wanted to leave the station and see what was going on outside in the area.

Ceiling reflection.

Chooch became Pokemon Go friends with someone else in the vicinity who was playing and we had to hear about that for a while.

We walked up to the roof top garden of the building next to the train station, and you could see into the train station – it felt like we were spying! I liked it.

Fun fact: almost no one in Korea wears colorful clothes – can you tell?

I liked sitting on these steps. It was really peaceful. It was just Chooch and me sitting here alone for a long-ass time while Henry was “in the bathroom.”

We started recounting all the annoying things that Henry had been doing so far on the trip and I said, “Ugh, he’s going to be so embarrassing at the Embassy tomorrow.”

“Why are we going to the Embassy?” Chooch asked, not taking his eyes off his phone.

WOW OK. JUST WOW. Literally the whole point of the trip revolved around an appointment at the US Embassy, but cook on clueless kid-chef.

Train time!

An old man sat in front of me and immediately took a selfie. Chooch furiously texted me that Henry was in the background of it lol.

The trip was about 2 hours and the first 30 minutes or so was rife with old man eating loudly and making old men sounds. One of them was right behind me but somehow Chooch was more bothered by it, lol.

We arrived in Jeonju around 10:30 I think and as we walked up the steps to Jeonju Station, Jiyong was waiting there and seriously almost knocked me over with her enthusiastic hug! I was very caught off guard but also overcome with emotion because I haven’t seen her since 2021 when she left the US to move back home!

Just to recap, I had met Jiyong back in 2019 through Hello Talk, a language exchange app. We started, pretty much immediately, meeting every Saturday at various cafes or Panera to just chat and honestly while it was supposed to be “an exchange,” I’m the one who benefitted the most from it. She was also so patient with me but also a stickler who would make me repeat things over and over again until she was satisfied with my pronunciation. And though it all, we became friends and I was so very sad when she moved away.

But we stayed in touch (mostly through Instagram and it’s nice because she will usually comment on my posts in Korean so it’s good practice for me still and it makes me feel COOL, like LOOK GUYS my friend is commenting in Korean and I know what it says but you don’t!!!!) and she was one of the first people I texted back when I first had the brilliant idea to get married in Korea. I asked her then if she would sign as our witness and she was on board, no questions asked!

This was sometime over the summer, and we were still unsure at the time when or even IF this was going to happen. Of course, I was pushing for sooner rather than later, and as soon as we booked our flights, she was the first person I told (well, aside from friend Wendy who also happens to be my boss so keeping her in the loop was pretty important lol). Jiyong was stoked! And I was too because not only was I going to reunite with my friend, but now I had a friend IN KOREA.

Trust me, we were happy to book the train tickets to spend the day in Jeonju with her. Plus, Jeonju is magical! We were there in 2019 also but I was happy to go back and eat some bibimbap!

Jiyong had texted me prior to our visit and told me that she had been wanting to visit Cafe Tirol and I was like, “A cafe? Sign me up. Say no more. No selling point needed.” There are no bad cafes in South Korea, I refuse to believe even a mid cafe exists there.

I got this delicious matcha latte.

I don’t even think I had taken a sip yet before Jiyong was asking, “So, do you have the papers?” and I was like, “Wow, she is getting right to the point!” so I pulled out the paperwork for the marriage license process and she was so awesome, you guys. We had the English version and the Korean version and she filled out the entire Korean form for us, and then signed both and stamped it with her dojang  And to my delight, she even had dojang made for me, Henry and Chooch as a gift! Getting my own dojang was something that I have wanted to do since our first trip there but it’s one of the many things that got bumped to the bottom of the itinerary each time and I never got one. Now I have one and I’m so happy and it makes me feel even closer to the Korean culture!

I know it can be an uncomfortable subject and may border on appropriation to some, because I’m just a basic white American bitch, but the way I feel about this country, its culture, and its people, I really wonder if I have some past life connection to it because it’s bizarre even to me. I don’t understand how this happened to me but I’m also not mad about it (except for when I’m back in America wishing to be back in Korea every moment of my days, like I’m pining for a dead lover, it’s so fucking weird).

Anyway, I almost cried when she stamped that form. To have her be a part of this special, long-awaiting moment in my life was more than I could have asked for, honestly. I had read that the witnesses could literally be anyone as long as they are native Koreans, and that those people don’t even need to appear in person. Some of the accounts I read online said that they asked people at the front desk of their hotel to sign for them, and that was good enough. But having someone I’m actually friends, someone who spent years trying to help me learn Korean, it just made this so much more meaningful.

Ugh OK! Enough sappy emotional boo hoo stuff. Let’s look at pictures of the cafe because it was so charming and I can see why Jiyong wanted to come here! There’s an actual row boat that customers can use! We got there right when it opened and no one else came for awhile, but after we went back inside, a couple had arrived and the boyfriend must have spent a solid 30 minutes taking pictures of the girlfriend in the boat, lol.

Jiyong is the cutest! Also, she calls me unnie because I’m older than her and it makes me feel so legit, lol.

Also x2, this shirt is very unflattering on me.

Did I ever tell you about the time a few years ago when I had “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” in my head on a loop, apropos of NOTHING, for months and months? Well, Choochie row your boat ashore, halle-fucking-lujah.

Just great. Maybe I should look up the words so that at least some other part of the song can tag itself in.

Part of the cafe if hanok, so you have to remove your shoes to sit in that area.

Jiyong thought the rubber courtesy slippers were funny and sent me this picture.

Chooch, trying to act like the last time he touched us in a picture wasn’t 2015 probably.

What a great cafe! Good vibes, and sweet memories!

Next, we left here to go see Jiyong’s husband, who then dropped us off for the much-anticipated bibimbap lunch so CHECK BACK TOMORROW OR DON’T, THE POST WILL BE THERE REGARDLESS.

(Maybe. I’ve been tired and also having blog issues again so who knows what tomorrow will bring.)

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