Hot! Korean Leftovers

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Every time I travel, I pick up new habits, new preferences, new tastes.  Living in Korea had an exponentially larger effect on these things than my previous travels, and I figured that it might be fun to write about some of the “leftovers” that have stuck with me long after returning to the USA. Here are a few of those quirks:

Aloe Juice. When I realized that 100% juice was only marginally more expensive than bottled water (water is not generally potable in rural Korea), I stopped drinking water almost entirely.  At first I stuck to familiar flavours like apple and orange, but then I started branching out to more “local” flavours such as aloe and lychee.  Aloe juice, with its tiny fragments of aloe plant floating in it, hooked me from the very beginning, and I still drink it whenever I find it here in the USA.  It’s very good for your health, and its sweet flavour isn’t overly sugary, making for a rather refreshing alternative to water. Sadly it’s rather expensive here in the states, but I still buy it sometimes as a treat.

Motorcycles for transport, not leisure. In the USA, it seems that most motorcycles are owned as a secondary vehicle and are ridden only a few months out of the year, at best (though there are certainly exceptions).  In Korea, there are lots of people for whom motorcycles or scooters are their only wheels, and I belonged to that group during the time I lived there.  Sure, it was a pain when there was rain or a snowstorm, but ultimately I actually looked forward to my ride to work, rather than dreading it.  My commute was my daily moment of zen, and I think that there are many folks here in the USA who would benefit from viewing motorcycles as something other than a luxury item. Once Nadezda gets out of the shop, I will once again be riding a motorcycle for my daily commute.

No shoes indoors. As someone with perpetually cold feet, the idea of taking off my warm, comfy shoes indoors never made much sense to me. However, in my daily walks through the open-sewered streets of rural Korea, I decided that it was probably better for my health if I didn’t track in dirt from the outdoors. I almost immediately realized how much cleaner my apartment was and how much it kept the dirt and dust levels down. Now that I’m living back here in the states, Marc and I have a shoe-free apartment (though guests may keep their shoes on if they so choose) and I credit the fact that we can get by with cleaning our floors only twice a month to this Korea-acquired habit.

So, now that you know a few of the quirks I picked up from the time I spent living in South Korea, why don’t you, dear reader, share some habits that you brought back from your own overseas travels?

12 Comments

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  1. …oh man, now I’m craving Aloe juice. 😀
    Luckily I discovered an Asian grocery story nearby a few years ago. It always has aloe juice in stock. I might go shopping there later in the week. 😛

    • I wish it weren’t so expensive here. I love it.

      • I have actually no idea what it costs anymore. Haven’t bought it in a while. It’s probably going to be expensive, too. Alltough maybe I’m lucky and it’s only as much as the regular juices you can buy around here. In any case, it’s not going to be as cheap as the water since we drink water well…from the tap. (I realize we pay for that too through a utilities bill, but I doubt that bottled water is cheaper then tapwater)

    • It’s not the same thing at all [iirc, it rlly is not aloe, no sugar or flavors or fruit], but do you ever buy the huge containers of it at Trader Joes? You could add it to juice or water or tea or whathaveyou…I use it in smoothies and face washes I make…

  2. After living in Korea for the past 8 months I absolutely cannot wear shoes inside my apartment. It feels wrong.

    I’ve always been a little wary of trying the aloe juice but I’ll have to pick one up the next time I’m at GS25.

    • Now that it’s winter I will sometimes wear my boots indoors if it’s particularly cold, but other than that, I never wear shoes indoors. Like you said, it feels wrong somehow.

      It can be weird to drink aloe juice because of the little aloe pieces floating in it, but it’s really quite tasty and a unique flavour.

      • Ive never worn shoes inside much…but now that I live in cold places and wear fluffy socks and/or cute slippers of fuzziness [yay for super cheap thrift stores]…Im not militant with my guests either, but it does squick me a bit.

  3. Generally I try not to leave the apartment without my sidearm. It’s a habit I picked up in Iraq. They wouldn’t let you in the DFAC without a weapon.

    This probably isn’t what you had in mind.