Tuesday, February 8, 2011

3 Perfect Purchases

I have unfortunately purchased quite a few things in Korea. I mused to a friend one day how many things are now packed into my tiny apartment and the wealth of stuff I've accumulated in a mere 5 months. However, there are 3 things I bought in Korea which have made my life pretty fantastic and much more comfortable.

The three major elements of my morning routine.
1) A French Press
I am a coffee drinker. I adore coffee and unfortunately cannot start off a day without it. Granted Korea boasts a wealth of coffee shops with pretty excellent offerings, however none of these are located in my area nor on my way to work. Another strange aspect about Korean coffee shops is that they are open late and not early (most have operating hours between 10am-12am). So even if one were to crop up near my home, it wouldn't do me much good on my 8:15 walk to work. Some friends in Korea have purchased actual coffee makers. I considered this but then remembered the dearth of electric outlets in my house, let alone my kitchen. I currently have a 4 plug power strip setting in the gap between my fridge and washing machine (it's safe, I promise!) 2 spaces in which give life to my boiler and refrigerator (these never come unplugged) while the remaining 2 slots alternate between my washing machine, kettle, and toaster, and microwave. Needless to say I didn't need another thing to plug in. One day at HomePlus, I was browsing the kitchen section when I happened upon the teapot section. Lo and behold there stood a french press! There was actually a fairly wide selection, from fancy to humble. Needless to say, I sprung for the more humble model - a 4-cup glass cylinder with a handle and your basic french press metal apparatus for brewing. The press set me back a mere 12,000 won. Instead of the saccharin instant coffee of which Korea is so fond of, I may now begin my mornings with freshly pressed coffee. The clean-up is easy, no filters need. Just grounds, a spoon, and hot water from my provided kettle.
Note: I purchased a 3-lb pack of ground Starbucks Breakfast Blend coffee from Costco in early October. I am now on my third pound bag. The box cost 30,000 won, which is pretty normal for coffee, especially Starbucks. You can also buy ground coffee at HomePlus, Emart, Starbucks cafes, and other coffee shops around Korea. It just depends on your taste!

The body pillow on top of my very large heating pad (yes, all in polka dots).
2) An Electric Blanket/Giant Heating Pad
Though Daegu is known as the hottest city in Korea (and it does become stiflingly hot in the summer months), it also drops to rather low temperatures in the winter. Though most Korean houses are equipped with radiant heat from the floor, as mine is, it still gets quite chilly. Unfortunately for awhile, my heater didn't work so well. So to fix this issue, I acquired a heated pad that covers my ENTIRE mattress. My mother was kind enough to purchase this and a space heater for me from HomePlus when she visited. The pad has heat settings from 1-6 and a 3 is hot enough. It warms up my bed rather nicely at night though it makes getting up in the morning a bit more difficult. However I must admit this wonderful purchase has been a mixed blessing, as I have a tendency to come down with the "vacation coffee maker complex" (Did we turn off the coffee maker before we left for vacation?). Of course you always do turn off the coffee maker, sometimes it drives you crazy until you know for sure.

3) A Body Pillow
As I've mentioned a few times, my apartment is tiny. Really tiny. And in being tiny, it can't fit a couch nor futon nor easy chair nor bean bag chair nor any comfy furniture whatsoever. My bed pretty much serves as my easy chair cum couch cum well, bed. However, my bed is situated in the corner of 2 wallpapered concrete walls. In the winter, concrete gets cold and, in general, concrete in uncomfortable. I decided to rectify this situation by purchasing a body pillow. Yet again, I found this beautiful pillow at HomePlus. In all, it ran me about 30,000 won for the pillow and cover. It transforms my cold, concrete wall into a comfy, cozy reading nook.

I just came to the conclusion that all three of the best purchases I've made in Korea came from HomePlus but it is a one-stop ginormous shopping center. This also means that these things are widely available to anyone coming to Korea!

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