This was the part of my trip that I was looking forward to… and yet, not. I only had barely 2 days to catch up with my friends back in Daejeon and to soak up everything – not to mention how I’m horrible at good-byes. However, as time stops for nobody, it was time and my friend and I went back to Daejeon and I quickly made a series of phone calls.
It started off well since my friend and I have a common ground: we love food and we arrived in Daejeon just in time for lunch. My friend found a love for Korean-ised Italian food so we went to the Flying Pan in Eunhaengdong, a shopping and nightlife district in Daejeon. As this was my first time dining here during lunch, I found out that they serve you free appetizers and you get a free drink! Needless to say, we were very much full after this. The downside: we didn’t get the free bread nor dipping oil prior to the meal.
Following that, we walked around a little and visited (window shopped) store after store of puppies and kittens. I kid you not: there is a street full of pet stores with sinfully adorable puppies and kittens. Then, we went back to my old neighborhood, a good 30-minute bus ride from Eunhaengdong. We settled down a little and, of course, got ready for dinner at one of my favorite Korean hot pot places that specialise in mushrooms.
And as with most Korean outings… we didn’t stop yet! We failed sorely at trying to walk off our 3-course Korean shabu shabu and soon found ourselves with a shopping bag each (I purchased an awesome pair of waterproof high tops) and a cup of boba in the other hand. YES! A bubble tea place finally opened up in my neighborhood… after I left. Thanks, guys.
Now, let’s fast-forward to the next day: it was going to be busy! We started off filling our bellies with Korean porridge…
Then we headed into the center of the city. At this point, we were hungry again (don’t judge) so we acquired a quick snack from Dunkin Donuts (this is also where I make a note that American chains in Korea like Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins are fantastic – sadly, the Tofu Donut never made it back into Dunkin Donuts and appears to be discontinued for good).
Afterwards, I took my friend to get her hair done at a rather upscale place by Tanbang – I also got a complimentary manicure and hand massage – and we headed over to Eunhaengdong. Why? To shop and we were going back to Flying Pan for dinner, this time meeting with our Daejeon host.
Oh, the food! This was when I started exchanging messages with my two, good Daejeon friends who were not foreign: my old coworker and my old taekwondo instructor. My old coworker lived within 15 minutes of the area, so he drove over and met up with us. After a quick run at Sungsimdang Bakery – the oldest and most famous one in the city (they also own Flying Pan and several other eateries in the area) – where my friend went through a shopping spree and bought nearly everything for us, we began the hunt for the elusive…
Hello Kitty Cafe!
It turns out that this place also opened shortly after I moved away. No comment. Either way, it was rather like the one I had visited in Seoul: overpriced Hello Kitty-themed everything! I went for the novelty of it as I’m not terribly fond of the color pink. However, it’s one of those things you’ve got to experience at least once (or twice, in my case)!
Following this, my friend was kind enough to drive us back to my neighborhood where I was to meet my old instructor. It turns out my friend wanted to do that because he bought a ginseng extract set for my parents and he needed to pick them up and he had ordered it from the branch located in my neighborhood. Ach – Korean people are so nice… too nice, even. We said ‘bye’ with promises to meet once more and as I ‘dropped off’ my two buddies at the apartment, I was off on my next sentimental good-bye outing at a hway (Korean sashimi) restaurant…
I was slightly apprehensive. Though we were comfortable with each other, the fact of the matter is that his English is barely rudimentary and my Korean is… scattered about and barely there if it has nothing to do with daily necessities. Even so, it was very enjoyable. He even called one of his friends who had lived abroad, which was the one and only time we communicated to each other in a complete fashion ever since I first met him in March 2011. Following this, he mentioned visiting me in the States for his honeymoon (I hope he doesn’t because that is just awkward… it’s his honeymoon – but I do wish to see him soon. It’s just one of those friendships that mean more than being able to communicate with each other perfectly and because of the effort, it’s more personal).
It was sad, but all things must end eventually. I headed back to my friend’s apartment and the next morning, we were back in Seoul for our last night in Korea. Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera out my last night in Korea. However, do feast your eyes on this delicious Vege & Bean Burger from Kraze Burgers at Incheon Airport!
Four hours of being reminded how it feels to be broke in Kansai International Airport, another delay in San Francisco, and 16 bored and sleepless hours later, we were finally back. Two days after that, I returned to work.
I still don’t know how I feel about that.