On October 28th, Heather and I got engaged at a restaurant on Dalmaji Hill in Haeundae. This date was actually our anniversary, because we started dating on October 28th, 2006. Back when I first started posting photos of Heather on here, I didn't know if it would be good to share too much of my personal life online. But I've since realised that the blog is as much for my own memories and reflection as it is for your interest.
Anyway, this is how it happened that day...
We were both lucky enough to have a day off work and went to Mt Geumjeong in central Busan. We hiked up to the summit in the late afternoon and it was a difficult but rewarding climb. The views of the city are better than anywhere else.
Here's Heather resting on a rock. Little did she know what plans I had for her that day. Ho ho ho.
We took the cable car back down as they were closing up. In this photo, Heather had turned around suddenly and was trying to decide whether she wanted to be in it or not. I like these kinds of photos.
Here's a photo that Heather took of me in the cable car. For all the photographing and blogging that I do, I must say that I still feel a little strange when I know someone is taking a photo of me.
After that we went to the Vesta spa and bath house in Haeundae to relax in the warm waters. It was pretty empty, and I had a massage from my favourite massage chair: The O2 Zone. While you're receiving the massage from this machine, a large visor covers your upper body and it plays rainforest music while wafting peppermint-scented oxygen around you. Kind of nice...
Then we went to this restaurant for the first time. It's called The Kitchen, and I heard about it from Ellis in the office. The location is on Dalmaji Hill, which roughly translates to 'moon-viewing hill'.
It was a very classy place and honestly served the best Italian food I've had in Korea. Everything was going perfectly that night.
Here are the home-made breads that they served. Apart from sour rye bread, they also included thinly sliced eggplant which was fried until golden and crispy. You can see it on top of the garlic bread here. The round thing in the centre is a dry roasted garlic bulb, cut horizontally. It was very pleasantly flavoured and the hallmark of an accomplished chef in the kitchen.
For entrée we ordered this roast duck and rocket lettuce salad. It was superb and had subtle traces of prune, grilled tomato and mandarin flavours. It was shortly after this that I proposed. I didn't get down on one knee and I didn't have a ring (I decided that it would be best if we chose one together), but I popped the question pretty smoothly after we were talking about our relationship for a while. And right then, the waiter came with our main courses. So I had to wait until she had left before Heather said 'yes'.
After that we started giggling together and drank some champagne.
The waiter took this photo of us afterward. I told her that we had just gotten engaged and she said that we were a very good couple.
Our main courses were really good too. We both ordered different pasta, but I forgot to take a photo of it before we started eating it, because my thoughts were mostly 'Hooray, we're engaged'.
After dinner, the waiter directed us to the top floor balcony of the building where there weren't any people. We spent some time up here enjoying the views of Haeundae beach.
After that, we went for a walk on the hill.
The following Saturday, we had our engagement celebration. Coincidentally, it was also John and Anthony's birthday during the same week. We only wanted a small group of friends and Anthony invited us to his apartment. Lately we have developed an appreciation for Moet & Chandon champage that usually retails for around $120 per bottle at restaurants. Obviously we don't get to drink it that often, but this was a special occasion.
Luckily for us, there was a sale at Lotte on that week, that began on the Friday. Bottles of our favourite drink were only $57 per bottle. So we bought a lot of them.
Jef arranged this nice little display for us. We bought a total of 16 bottles that night, and consumed 14 of them. If you're never been tipsy on real champagne before, it's something that you need to try.
Earlier in the day, Anthony and I went out and bought this large pot, which we used as the ice bucket.
And it wouldn't have been complete without a good amount of fine foods, which had been carefully selected. We had pork, real foie gras, capers, dill pickles and a nice selection of cheeses like Camembert, Gouda and Blue.
An occasion like this would not have been as good without some awesome friends to celebrate with us. We had a lot of toasts that night.
Following this are the people who attended:
Well, first of all, here's me. Being an amateur gastronomist and cooking enthusiast, I handled all the sandwich making for the night. Each person's French roll was cut and tailored to individual tastes. The core ingredients were pork (or tuna), cheddar cheese, tomato, black pepper and sun-dried tomato pesto. Anthony and I had gone out earlier on the day, with me riding on the back of his scooter, to seek out food for the night.
Next is my lovely girlfriend of the past two years and now fiancé, Heather Jung. The question for me wasn't if I wanted to marry her or not, it was when the best time to ask would be.
The world would be a better place if everyone had a friend like Heather.
Most of the photos in the latter part of this blog were taken by Amanda Johnson, grinning here at the reflective ceiling of the elevator. She took this shot with Jef, as they were coming up to the engagement party. I'm glad she took a lot of photos that night, because I had stopped fairly early. Amanda would best be described as bubbly and energetic, yet straightforward and intelligent when the occasion warrants.
Amanda has been around since the beginning. The previous photo reminded me of this one from 2006 which you can find in the 'September' archive. We took this together during CDI training in Seoul, at Namsan tower. We've all come a long way, but are still here working for the same company, which says a lot for our school and Korea in general.
Next is Jef Robison, a staunch friend of ours and a popular socialite in high demand. Cultured, traveled and with heavily refined social skills, Jef is the kind of person you want at an occasion like this. He knows what good food is, and how to avoid hyenas in Africa.
Next is the guy I have been living with for the past year. John Ngo is a Vietnamese/Chinese Canadian who is quiet, but friendly and unassuming. Mild mannered and easy to get along with, John is the kind of guy who will play video games for 5 hours on a weeknight and then wake up early to watch American football. I believe he is doing some sort of gang sign in this photo.
On the left here is Heather's friend, who is Korean but usually lives in Melbourne. Her name is also Heather and they met many years ago at Mount Rushmore in the States. Heather (my Heather) actually got her name from this Heather back then and has kept it ever since.
You can never have too many Heathers.
Here's Anthony Nguyen, who you all were acquainted with in the last blog post. In Australian lingo, Anthony is what we'd call a 'top bloke'. A good day for him is hanging out with the boys and fishing while drinking beer. Anthony is the kind of person who suggests things to do on the weekends via text message, all in upper case and with plenty of exclamation marks. An example would be: "LETS GET SOME BEERS AND HANG OUT IN MY BOMB APARTMENT YO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!", although there would normally be a few spelling errors in there.
It is not uncommon to receive such a message from him at midday.
One interesting aspect of Anthony's personality we found out about is that he is mildly obssessive-compulsive. He likes to arrange his entire bathroom cabinet with everything lined up neatly and all labels facing the same way. Amanda took delight in disorganising the cabinet into an unimaginable state of chaos that night. Anthony tried to hide his enthusiasm from us as we watched him frantically put everything back into its proper place.
He would make an excellent librarian.
Next is Daniel Pak, a close friend of mine since Year 8 in middle school back home. Daniel has matured a lot since those days and we've had a lot of good times together over the years. Daniel is the kind of friend who will help you bury a body. Situations requiring such help would be few and far between in a lifetime, but so are friends who would stick around until the end.
And last but not least is Jennifer Pejic, the head instructor at Heather's branch who can always be counted on to listen when you need listening to. As an accomplished skateboarder and a hackey-sack competition winner, Jen is full of surprises that you only find out about if you ask the right questions.
We ended up doing a good number on the Moet and spent the night away chattering, drinking and laughing, while listening to nostalgic tunes on Anthony's laptop. We spent the time between the bedroom and the balcony, talking about the good times passed and those we hope for in the future.
Here's me again, pretending that I don't like kisses. I'll probably grow out of that one day.
When you link arms and drink like this, it's called a love shot.
We had an amazing time that night, with fine food and wine, a close circle of great friends and an apartment with a view to match. Reflecting on this and my time here in Korea in general, I've been luckier than I ever imagined I would be.
Wherever you are in the world right now, I propose an invisible champagne toast with you. To our engagement, to John and Anthony's birthday, to all those who are a good friend to someone else, and to a peaceful and prosperous future for everyone.
It's been fun sharing the blog with you all thus far, and I intend to keep doing so.
See you next time!