Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stuff I Brought With Me

This post is going to be relevant to you if you want to be awesome and send Tom and I some stuff. When I left New Zealand I packed twice - once before I flew up to Auckland to see my family and again just before I left. Fortunately I'd been living out of a suitcase or thereabouts for A YEAR so I didn't have a lot of stuff, excepting a stupid amount of clothing as I'm addicted to shopping.

When I reached my parent's place in Whangarei I came to a shocking revelation - the backpack I'd taken over the first time and travelled with for 5 or so months was considerably smaller than the wheely duffle bag thing I'd put everything in for the Wellington - Auckland journey. Scarily smaller. I have a thing about packing light which has been inherited from my mother - I took enormous, conceited pride in the mere 7 kilograms of assorted goods I lugged through our 5 month trip, and when I arrived home in New Zealand with around 13kg of souvenirs, I felt proud that most of the weight was from 2 much-needed bottles of duty free liquor.

This time, my bag from Wellington was a hefty 15.6 kilograms of clothes and random things I'd decided were necessary. I had to fit all of the items in the bag on the right into my beloved pack on the left, and then cram in all of the New Zealand food and other assorted goods on top of that.

Through the miracle of rolling things up tiny and shoving them in haphazardly, I got all of my things into my comparatively small 55L pack.

Now for the things I took with me. There are a majillion blogs out there telling you what to take to Korea and now this is one of them. After our year of experience we had a slightly better idea of how/what to pack and what we wanted from home. My best tips:

Kindle, or similar e-Reader type appliance.
I love mine in the evangelical way I love things. I want everyone to have one. It is so much lighter, smaller and cheaper than all of the books I dragged over with me last time. Don't get me wrong, I love using the Book Depository and I love the smell and feel of books, and I get a certain satisfaction from a full bookcase but I got over all of those damn sentimental feelings when I got my Kindle. I was actually reading a regular paper book when I bought it, and was determined to finish the book before committing to e-reading but I didn't make it because Kindles are so awesome. Added bonus: Kindle vouchers.

Korean bedding sucks. The 'bottom sheets' here are quilted semi-blankets. If you roll them up small, sheets don't take up a huge amount of space. Totally worth it.

You can get spices here and it's easy enough if you're in Seoul or Busan or somewhere big. Last time, Tom and I would pay won after won for cumin and tumeric and coriander. Before Tom left, he went to the Spice Rack in Petone and got us so many spices for barely any money, and they don't weigh much. 

Beyond these three it's kinda up to you. I did however take these things:

In some vague order:

Eskimos and Malt Biscuits.
These racist candies and terrible biscuits combine together to make Lolly Cake, something I would not normally eat on a regular basis but it tastes like home, reminds me of my Nana and is easy to make. You can get butter and condensed milk in Korea without any trouble.

Terrible Magazines.
I have a rule that I'm not allowed to buy That's Life or Lucky Break unless I'm on a plane. I would buy these magazines weekly otherwise. They're only $3! One of the stories was 'I'm a gap-year motorcycle grandma! Amazing! 12 hours Auckland-Seoul counts as serious plane time.

Toothpaste and deodorant.
Although I've heard there is flouride in the toothpaste here, the brands I've tried are gross. Deodorant is also available but it's expensive, hard to find and usually aerosol.

Fortunately Korea's customs isn't as stringent as New Zealand's, so this time we brought basil, oregano, min, sage, thyme and coriander. Today I sat in our sun room/laundry and planted them all. Apparently it gets as low as -20 in Jecheon so they're all probably going to die, but we're trying.

Yoghurt mix.
Reliable sources have told me you can get unsweetened plain yoghurt in Korea now, but last time EVERYTHING was sweet. I like my yoghurt sour, Greek and so thick you could stand a spoon up in it. You don't need a machine to make it, just a watertight container and a bucket, plus some boiling water.

So expensive here, vital for yoghurt.

Chocolate and licorice.
Both delicious. Apparently chocolate here lacks cocoa solids and can be a bit bland.

Not pictured: Cheese. This time, Tom and I brought over 4 blocks of Tasty Cheddar, 2 blocks of feta and about 4 of blue. I wasn't sure the blue would survive and unfortunately signed the rights away to eating it, but it made it! We put all of the cheese in our checked baggage which kept it cold for the 12 hour flight and until we got it to a fridge. Today, we got to the E-Mart in Jecheon and they have Mainland Vintage Cheddar so maybe we could have skipped this part of the packing, but last time we barely survived on bland, bland, bland American cheese from Costco so we weren't taking our chances.

So, in return for awesome socks, please consider sending some of the above to us during the next year. We'll appreciate it.

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