Going back HOME (for the first time)

I’m back! Back in Korea and back to blogging. Some amazing things are happening right now and I am amped to share it with you. First things first… Thanks to all my readers for your patience and understanding during my time off, you are the best! So without further ado,  let’s jump into it.

I went to South Africa for the first time since being in Korea (2016). I’ve missed my friends, family, and pets. I’ve missed meat and affordable fruit and veg. I missed my favorite coffee shops and drinking wine and beer that does not taste like it’s supposed to make me skinny. But, the weirdest thing happened. Two days in I was so homesick for Korea, I could barely cope. How did this happen?

  1. Angry people EVERYWHERE!

The thing about Korea that frustrates me the most is how people just accept everything without ever questioning it. If the system or the boss said something is blue, even though you know its green, you just go with it. The South African way is not like this. We question everything, even if it will not lead to an answer. And the lack of answers makes people angry. All the time. So yes, I do not understand the Korean way of acceptance, but I do love how chill everybody is compared to back home.

2. The system

So this is typical of South Africa. People are not always competent, but besides that, the system does not make sense! I wanted to change my USD to Rand, no can do…you need a proof of residence. No amount of explaining, showing my ARC and work contract could get me out of this one. I ended up giving my dollars away to my parents who will travel abroad in April. I went to my bank to get a new card, mine expired whilst in Korea. Again, I needed to show proof of residence. I do not get it, I bank with you, I deposit every month, I’m sitting in front of you and you scanned my fingerprint but still you need me to provide a piece of paper with a home address. WHY? So after going back and forth, I managed to change my home address and get a new card. I also went back to that bank to open a long-term deposit account to increase the interest on my savings. So I thought I beat the system at the end. How wrong have I been! One week after getting back I deposited money into my SA account, like every other month before this, and low and behold, an email follows telling me that I have to resubmit some documents at my nearest branch in order for Forex to release my money.

3. Road Rage

Again with all the anger. Wow! We all sit in the same traffic jam and we all want to arrive somewhere at a certain time. Getting angry won’t speed things along.

 4. Racism

As much as I hoped this would have subsided and that people will just live and let live, that has yet to dawn on most of the population. Enough said.

5. Poor Infrastructure

Roads, street signs, street lights and just general everyday infrastructure is falling apart. I have to admit that it was worse in Mpumalanga than in the Western Cape, and the Freestate fell in the middle of the two. My disappointment in the Airports, and how rundown everything was compared to Incheon and Dubai was staggering. Let’s not even discuss the public transport, or lack thereof.

6. Burglar bars and panic buttons

It just worked on my nerves. Everywhere you go you have to double check whether you locked the door, the car door and you have to clutch your handbag under your arm and constantly be on the lookout.  My family has two panic buttons in the house and a security van drives by every 40 minutes. It’s just not a healthy way to live, or let me put it this way- I don’t want to live like that.

7. Feeling like a thief

Constant bag checks and showing of receipts when you exit a store. I am not used to that any longer, in Korea, the trust policy is still very strong.

8. Poor quality clothing

Man oh, man! I was looking forward to buying loads of clothes back home since nothing in Korea fits me (yes, I’m overweight but even losing 20 kg won’t make me fit in a Korean XL). I was so shocked to see the poor quality and craftsmanship in South African stores. Even expensive stores’ labels stated ‘Made in China’ and the sizes were significantly smaller than when I bought clothes back in 2016. A Woolworths 36/38 used to fit me just fine, in fact, I still wear my Woolworths clothes in those sizes, but this time around those sizes would not even come up over my hips. Two lessons learned: Diet, and buy clothes online from the UK 🙂

9. No more Spur specials

This one is lame and almost petty, but I really missed the SPUR specials. It was a staple of my Uni days, Spur breakfast and Monday burger nights. Now it’s gone and I feel like I’ve lost a little bit of my tradition with it.

10. Smoking laws

This is a good thing, even for a smoker like me. I was just shocked at how strictly it was being enforced (it being South Africa and all). I am used to having a cigarette and a glass of wine whilst looking out over the Seapoint promenade, but now smoking even on the porch or outside seating area are prohibited by law. Again, it’s a good thing- it will just take some time getting used to since I do not come across this law very often in Korea.

So, was it all bad? Not at all. South Africa will forever remain near and dear to my heart, but for the time being, I love the freedoms, safety, and lifestyle that Korea gives me.

Keep an eye out for my next two traveling posts – ‘Daejeon in a weekend’ and ‘Hong Kong’ in 10 days.

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