Can you believe that in the land of Korea, I ate more authentic Greek food than Korean food? Korea is as a very strong national identity and there is literally fried chicken shop everywhere. There’s something about fried chicken and Soju that really attracts the Koreans.
Valentin and I stayed with his cousin, Kat, and her family. Kat is Greek, who is married to a French and lives in Germany. She speaks Greek, German, French, English and is learning Korean. (See, it is awesome people like her that I meet that makes me feel so inadequate. I feel like a boring Asian who can only speak English and Mandarin.)
Meeting Kat, Eva & Alex
We arrived at her place in the wee hours of the morning and headed to bed immediately.
I woke up with the sound of Eva, curious about whom her guests were. She speaks very little English and I had to use my extremely rusty French (which is really bad). “Bonjour. Tu t’appelle?” I asked as she looked into the room through the little crack of the door. She immediately ran in and started to say hi to us. Since then, I woke up every morning with Eva hugging me to wake up. And that’s the best types of mornings.
When Eva and Alex (her brother) asked me where I was from, they spent the next whole day finding Singapore on the map. They really could not find and well, neither could I. We finally found the tiny red dot after searching. Singapore is just so small that it seems unbelievable.
Breakfast was always freshly baked bread from the bakery down the road with marmalade, butter, cheese and ham. The coffee was the best. I drink at least 2 cups a day. I also kept drinking Nespresso coffee since I returned and now I only drink good coffee. Bad coffee does not appeal to me anymore.
We went to many places together and used lots of broken German + French + English to communicate. Kat and Valentin helped a lot in translation. At the end, I actually did learn a few German words from Eva and Alex. I also began to understand German, especially when the kids were talking. Wow, the fastest way to learn a language is really to be immersed in it.
A few days later, Kat’s parents flew in from Greece to Seoul! That’s extremely cool because I never thought about Greeks in Korea and that would be a very exciting culture exchange. They brought lots of food, cheese, ham and olives. They grow their own olives and make their very own olive oil. I’m just shocked beyond words because I just can’t imagine that. Growing up in the city really gives my mind a structured perspective of the world (and that’s not good).
Did you know, I hate olives. But ever since I had the olive from Greece, I fell in love! Bread with olive oil, olives as snack and olive leaves wrapped in traditional Greek food. Kat and her mum cooked a meal for us and it was really awesome Greek food. We had so much good Greek food then, that when we went back to Hong Kong to eat at the Greek place in mid-levels, we were beyond disappointed.
Singapore vs Greece
More translation was going on since, because her parents could not speak English and I could not speak Greek or German except for “morgen” and “dankeschön”. We also had a short conversation about Singapore. It seems interesting for the Greeks to see high-rise buildings since there are lots of spaces there. So, they will be in for a surprise if they come to Singapore. He also asked me about villages in Singapore, mountains and forests. He couldn’t believe when I said Singapore has none!
At that moment, I, the ambassador of Singapore, realized that I actually know nothing about my homeland. I know things like trade between Singapore and other countries, main export and imports, growing industries, etc. Yet, I know nothing about the local sights and special places only the locals know. Thus, I learn that it’s important to know, explore and understand your country before exploring others.
Greece, on the other hand, is a beautiful place. Well, I know nothing about Greece, except for Santorini! Greece is nothing like Santorini. Santorini is one of the islands for summer holiday, that’s why it looks like that. Greece has lots of culture, history and stories. There’s also Mt. Olympus to hike and many interesting sights. The beaches are super popular with the locals too.
I can’t wait to go to Greece.
Goodbye is the hardest word to say, even when you don’t speak the same language. My flight back was in the middle of the night so I had to leave during the kids’ bedtime. Eva looked up to me and said “kuscheln”. I took her in my arms and hugged her tightly and said goodbye. She hugged me so tightly and she wouldn’t let me go! It was so adorable yet heart wrecking. Finally I bid my farewell to Kat, Eva and everyone in the family. May we meet again!
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.