School, social arrangements and new books conspire together to make me busy these days. Last weekend I hiked, as I like to do. On Saturday with my lovely Busan gang I walked over mountains by the sea and we sat on the windy beach between peaks. Sunday a storm brewed. There was that petrichor smell in the air and thunder sounded. Drops already were falling but I needed to get out and so walked to my mountain path, expecting to get soaked in the downpour that threatened. I didn’t: the storm never quite came. I realised then that I miss rain – it feels months since it’s rained here. I miss the sound of rainfall at night. (And no, the irony of a British person missing rain is not lost on me.) The realisation got me to thinking, what else do I miss here? Standardly, friends and family form the biggest gap. I also miss good bread, big trees and  cats. I miss smoking a joint. I miss baking things. I miss casual, comprehensible stranger conversation – sometimes, anyway. I miss seeing illegal graffiti on forgotten walls, playing scrabble on grey afternoons and dancing to reggae on booming speakers.

So what do I appreciate here – particularly at the moment? Bathhouses, of course. Spa and noodle Tuesdays. Playing my curious role in a real school. Korean teenagers. The new game students have where they shout my name and hide behind a wall (I usually catch the top of their heads and watch the spot until they pop up again and giggle madly when they realise I’m waiting for them). Surprise holidays. My blissful ignorance of advertising. The lady at the bottom of my hill, who sells nothing but big bowls of strawberries, and always smiles. Gift giving, chopsticks and kimchi.

And, of course, the lampposts. This week they played Mozart, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, an old school country tune and some songs from Moulin Rouge. The volume fluctuates as I cycle past them, lowest at that mid point between two, and then louder again until the peaking few seconds I draw level with the post in front. In between tracks, a deep voice says “Tamzin Whelan, this is your life” while the camera zooms out to show the morning sun playing on the surface of the broad river.

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