The exhaustion was due to me being on my way back from my first mother & baby fair which had been very handily arranged for my 2nd week in Korea, so I could start getting to grips with the baby stores and products available here and how much they all cost. The kind Korean people seemed to conspire to let me completely buck the system and jump the massive queue to get in the fair immediately and without paying... this wasn't intentional on my part - it just seemed that the people I asked at the gates didn't speak enough English to explain that I should join the scarily long registration queues and let me walk right in!
I went on a weekday to try and avoid the chaos that I'd heard about, but it was still pretty frantic in there - where did all these hugely pregnant women and mothers carrying babies and toddlers in slings get the energy to cover 2 football field-sized halls? Though, to be fair, I too felt a surge of energy from being there - maybe that's a little investigated side-effect of pregnancy hormones.... the ability to shop for baby-related goods for hours, yet barely have enough energy to get off the sofa to wash the dishes!
I ended up wandering round (for wandering, read pushing my way past thousands of pushchairs, baby bumps and sling-suspended youngsters) for about 4 hours. And my overall impression of the baby-product market in Korea?
Pretty much everything you could want and might find back home is available there (unlike in China) including organic baby clothes, cloth nappies and pushchairs & car seats galore.
Pretty much everything is scarily expensive compared to back home!
I already knew from China that this would probably be the case and had already planned to buy a pushchair in the UK on my next visit home and get my Bloke to bring it back here on his next trip - that seems to be the big ticket item that we could save most money on in this way. But the fair made me realise how much else there is to buy that I haven't even thought about yet and how little I know about where to get all this stuff! We're also going to have to bite the bullet over the cost because there's no way to bring back everything we need from the UK in one trip and shipping costs would probably make it pointless.
But, to make a start, I experienced another 'first' and bought my first item for baby. I discovered a couple of English guys on a stand and one of them was the CEO of a British sling company - it was so nice to have a chat with someone from home and, as a sling was high on my list of essentials for our newborn, I allowed myself to get talked into buying one. Slings and carriers are hugely popular here - I don't really know how much they're used back home, but I was amazed by how many parents use them here. I also had some fixed ideas about what I wanted and didn't want from talking to friends in China about theirs... the one I bought seemed to tick all the boxes and was only a bit more expensive here than in the UK, so I went for it.
I also bought some maternity clothes from a US company that had a stand there which was surprisingly affordable... I fell in love with a pair of maternity jeans (who knew that was possible!) and also with the reflection of myself in the changing room mirror wearing a 7 month baby bump cushion to try them on :)
Today will be another 'first' - my Bloke and I will take our first trip to department stores to check out baby products 'in the flesh' as opposed to my hours of online browsing. I am preparing myself for:
- having to stop my Bloke wandering off to other departments at every opportunity
- my Bloke passing out when he realises I haven't been exaggerating about how much everything costs
- my Bloke explaining to me (for the 10th time) how he doesn't see the cost-benefit rationale in paying hundreds of pounds for something that will only get used for a finite and fairly short amount of time
- possibly me experiencing another round of my newest pregnancy symptom - bursting into tears at the slightest provocation and then not being able to stop snivelling for about 2 hours
But I'll let you know which of these occurred another day!