Thursday, 27 September 2012


Chuseok is just around the corner. This is the Korean version of thanks giving where families get together and remember their ancestors. It's a 3 day holiday which means that we don't have any school until Thursday.

With no school we've decided to hit the road and visit a closeby city in the West called Gwangju. I'm looking forward to lots of sleep and the adventure of exploring a new place.

I'm so excited that every morning I wake up following a dream that today's the start of Chuseok...only to then realise that infact I have to head to school. I think the kids must be delighted too as they are being even more rowdy than usual this week.

This is also the lead up to my 100th post. I'm proud that I've managed not to be too flakey with my blog, and have managed to record so many of the things we've stumbled upon in the last 6 months. I've also just crossed the 10,000 view mark, so lots of thanks to everyone that keeps stopping by.


Artbox is a stationary shop in Korea that I'm having a full blown love affair with, which I don't think Paperchase would be happy about.

The stuff is all weird or cutesy in the way that only Korean stuff is, and it's sooo cheap. It makes all of Paperchase's products look dull and slightly dowdy when you compare it. It sells everything from the conventional stationary stuff to make-up, waffle makers, jewellery, pajamas, suitcases, all in glorious sickly marshmallow toned colours with cat faces and Knoglish sayings.

 Many an hour I've spent trawling through the shop, looking at the things I've looked at a million times before, and trying to find a good excuse why I shouldn't buy it. The nights we head to Nampo to meet with friends for dinner, we always seem to end the night here.

Oh Artbox, how I'll miss you when I leave. xx
So many notebooks...
Sonny Angel dolls are a roulette, you pick a box and don't know which you'll get!
A table full of cactai
A mini tree in the middle of the shop lets you write your wishes and attach them.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Lessons I learned this weekend...

Korean people are incredibly honest and kind. I lost my phone last week, only to be told a couple of days later that it had been found in Nampo underground shopping centre and handed in. I was there ready and waiting for the lady to try and blackmail me with it, but she handed it over straight away and laughed at my garbled attempt to thank her in Korean.

The Autumn looks like it's going to be the best season in Korea. It's a little cooler, but still nice and sunny. I took advantage of it yesterday by having a drink outside a Twosome Place that's set in the leafy section of Kyungsungdae's university and then went wandering around the UN Memorial Cemetary.

Sometimes it's nice to just do whatever you want. Most weekends are a mad rush of trying to fit in the things you need to do, the things you want to do, and the social events that your friends have planned. This weekend I decided to be selfish and only do whatever I felt like. This included getting up late on Saturday, going for a skate, bag shopping and trying out a new cupcake shop. Very nice and relaxing!

You're never too old to go for a skate in Korea. When I got to the skate rink the only people that were there were two young girls and then a group of old men who seemed to like to race me. Later on I got talking to a Korean boy who was waiting for his friend at the basketball court who told me what all the old ajoshis had been saying about me (mainly that I was tall).

Billie Jeans in Haeundae is actually a really nice bar, and One Drop East is a great band to see live.

Attempting to have a beach nap at 2am in the morning is not a good idea. I was a major target for hungry mosquitoes and couldn't wake up Nick to be able to escape quite as quickly as I'd have liked to.

Intercontinental Bookclub

I'm excited at the moment as a friend from home and I have decided to start our own bookclub. When I was back in the UK we always used to share books we'd read and love, so it's great that we can carry it on here.

Even better than that is the fact that he loved one of my all time favourite books, Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Luis Zafon, so we have decided to start with the follow up book to that, Angel's Game. I'm having to play catch up at the moment though as he loved the first one so much he raced straight into the second one.

The only problem now is that I'm restricted to the books that I have on my kindle, or the ones that I can find in the English bookstore here, or the book swap cafe in KSU, Fully Booked.

Which one should we move onto next?

Saturday, 22 September 2012


Before we'd even arrived in Korea I'd heard about Jeju, the honeymoon capital of Korea, with it's tropical landscape and white sandy beaches it was always being compared to Hawaii. Autumn is supposed to be the perfect time to go so I decided to take my mum when she visited.

We flew with Jeju air early on Sunday morning and came back late on Monday night. I don't think it was long enough to properly explore the island, but it was enough time to see what it was all about. The flights were so cheap as well, it cost less than a return KTX ticket to Seoul.

We decided to stay in Jeju city, with the short amount of time we had it was handy to be able to dump our stuff as soon as we got off the plane and go out and explore. I would really recommend the motel we stayed in. The room was ok, although it was a smokers room, but there was a computer connected to the internet. It was the owner who  hands down made our stay at EJ Motel though, he couldn't speak much English but he was super helpful, calling the translation service whenever we needed help and using google maps to point us in the right direction.

With not much time I had read lists and lists of things to do in Jeju. The best two sites that I could find was this one and this one.

On the first day we managed to see:

Manjanggul Cave

It was wet, rainy and cold when we landed in Jeju, so we thought it would be the perfect time to shelter in the caves, apart from the fact it was dripping down there too. It was a precarious walk through puddles, but worth it if you take your umbrella to protect you from the splashes.

Sunrise Peak
By the afternoon the clouds had started to clear (a little) so we decided to go to the Songsang Ilchubong as we had been told it was one of the main things to do in Jeju and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We weren't really sure what we were supposed to do with this massive lump of rock, but it seemed a bit rude not to climb it once we got there. The views were totally worth it though, and as we came down we saw the spot that is infamous for the female divers. I also liked that there was a young girl walking back down the steps, jumping 3 at a time and then laughing manically every single time she did it. She never tired of it, and I didn't stop finding her funny until the bottom.

We topped the day off by eating Jeju's speciality dish, BBQd black pig, recommended by our lovely Motel manager. To be honest, it was really nice, the restaurant staff were really friendly, but I couldn't tell the difference from normal bbqed pork.

The second day:

Jusangjeolli Cliff

This was the perfect way to start our second morning, we got a bus to the cliffs and then bought some oranges from a little old lady who was sat by the entrance. They were an amazing breakfast! Apart from one coachload of people, we had most of the observation deck to ourselves once they disappeared.

Cheonjeyeon Falls

From the cliffs we decided to take a walk to the falls, I don't think it's one of the major falls but is definitely in lovely surroundings. They were very plush and green and had lots of nice decking and picnic tables that you could have lounged around on if you had the time, but we carried on the hunt for the bus stop so we could move on, as we didn't have much time left. 

Hallim Park

The sun finally decided to poke its head out in the afternoon on the second day, so we decided to head to Hallim Park, which is advertised as Jeju's botanical gardens. They aren't like the typical botanical gardens I've seen before, and felt alot more like a zoo or farm park. There was an amazing Bonsai garden, a water lilly garden, a birds of paradise garden and a traditional folk village. We ate in the folk village and had grilled mackerel which was super tasty and surprisingly cheap. I couldn't resist but buy some cactus flavoured chocolate from the park seeing as they had cactus flavoured everything. I also fell in love with all the 'stone grandfathers', also known as dol hareubangs that were dotted around the whole Island.

I really enjoyed our whirlwhind trip of Jeju, it was nice to be surrounded by so much green once again. The only thing I would criticise about the Island is the public transport. It was cheap, but the rides would take hours, often 1.5 hours between spots, and then it just drops you on the main road, which means we sometimes had another 4 or 5k walk. It wouldn't be so bad if we weren't so pushed for time.

If I ever had the chance to go back, I definitely would love to go to some of the museums such as Love Land and try one of the Olleh Walks, where you follow coloured ribbons around the Island. Cute!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Care Package V5

It's like Christmas has arrived since my mum's visit. I've received two parcels and my big bag from home, so lots of new goodies to eat, wear and use!

I love all the weird and wonderful things that you can buy from Korea, but sometimes you can't beat a good old box of Cadbury's chocolate fingers, or shoes that fit properly! Those chocolate fingers got dunked straight into a cup of tea and turned into straws.

This one was from Lucy, the first proper friend I made when I started university. We met on the tour of the uni, before either of us had decided to go to Trent, so it was nice to see her there in my first lecture. If I only I'd known what I was letting myself in for with this girl with the looks like Princess Jasmine and the mind of a potty. There were lots of laughs and the occasional moment where I'd feel the pit of my stomach go when I couldn't actually believe what I was seeing/hearing. I think the doodles on the postcard, that you conveniently can't see here, say it all really! Thanks Luce!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

What we Gone and Did at the Weekend

I know it's a little late to be writing about what we did last weekend, as the coming weekend is closer now, but it was a really great one for lots of different reasons:

Oktoberfest on Friday night. I'm not usually a beer drinker, but after several months in Korea I can now handle the likes of Cass, Hite and Max, so I decided to give a few others a try, and was surprised that I didn't actually mind what I tasted! Even better than being able to try new drinks was the fact that they were served in an adorable mustache beer mug which we were able to take home with us. I don't think that I will be able to forget when the poor mascot who was dressed as a beer mug was forced to dance to the whole of Gangnam style. Half way through, a middle aged dad decided to try and outdo him, so ran onto the dancefloor swinging his crotch about in an X-rated way to the cat calls and applause of all the drunk Korean women stuffing their faces with a strange Korean twist on German sausage. The man was later told to tone it down by a female Russian performer who I couldn't tell was supposed to be dressed as red riding hood after she'd stuck her finger in the plug socket or a medieval wench. I loved that she chastised him by wagging her finger like a Victorian matron, that was him told.

The Scavenger Hunt on Saturday I think that enough's been said about this already here. But it was lots of fun to do, great to spend time with a couple of people I didn't know all too well, and see exactly what we could get away with in Korea with the excuse that we're Waygooks.

Meeting New People Our lovely friend Alex had 7, that's right, 7 whole friends come and visit him the last week or so, so it was nice to meet lots of new and interesting people back from the UK. It was funny to see their first opinion on things that we now take for granted.

Sunday Afternoon in Rock and Roll Bar Apart from not actually knowing where the place was, and me being adamant that I did for at least 20 minutes, making four of us traipse the streets in the rain looking for it and swearing I was on the right side of the road, it was good when we did get there. Lots of games of pool (my team won 2, I like to think the one ball I potted was pivotal to our victory), darts and cherry coke! Surrounded by friends on a wet and miserable Sunday night, what more could you want from a bar?!

Monday off work  extended weekends are always good. School was closed on Monday due to typhoon Samba. Apart from a bit of rain and wind, there was nothing out of the ordinary around Nampo-Dong, just a normal, wet, blustery Autumn day back in the UK! Which meant that Tasha and I could make the most of it. I didn't wake up until 11, but then we headed out and went for coffee and a bit of shopping at Lotte's Artbox.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

6 months in Korea

Saturday marked 6 months to the day that we arrived in Korea not really knowing what was waiting for us. It made me think of the last brunch that I had back in the UK with my dad, just a few short hours before I was due to catch the plane, and me being so nervous I thought I might throw it all back up. Then there was the first day of school, we'd arrived late on Thursday night, not slept well and had to be in school on Friday morning. I felt devastated when our co teacher had brought us a shrimp burger for breakfast, not what you want when you're starving and the last meal you had was plane food. 

We were stared and gaped at by kids lots that day, they asked us loads of weird and wonderful questions and soon enough it was lunch time. That was the first time I really thought I'd made a mistake, I couldn't eat with chopsticks, this was the first hurdle, followed by the weird orange food I eventually managed to put in my mouth, expecting it to be warm pasta, instead it was freezing cold kimchi. I still haven't properly warmed to the stuff following that awful initial shock.

However, lots has changed in six short months, we've seen lots of new sights, made lots of friends, I've learned how to eat with chopsticks and how to speak a teeny bit of Korean. There's been times when it's been hard and the one thing you want to do is be at home, but then there are times that it's been great and you can't imagine why you'd ever want to go home.

I know Tasha is heading home once the year is up, and is looking forward to exploring more dark corners of the UK that we never really took notice of before, but I'm not sure what I want to do right now, and the possibilities seem quite daunting but exciting at the moment!

Yet I can't think of any better way to have spent our 6th month anniversary than to be dressed as bunnies, madly running around the streets of our current hometown, making fools of ourselves.

It was also this weekend that my bag arrived from home that has all my Winter clothes in it, ready for the cold that i'm assured is headed our way in the next few months. It was weird to think that I packed the bag up before I left Sheffield, but as soon as I opened it I could smell the laundry powder that we  use back home and it made me have a pang to be back there, and not have to wait days for my washing to dry, by which time it smells rather odd and feels crusty, lovely!

Although I do miss home though, I'm excited for what the next 6 months has in store for us, and where my adventure will take me after that!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Scavenger Hunt

This weekend we decided to take part in a Scavenger hunt being held in Busan. We didn't know much about it but were assured by a friend who was here last year that it was lots of fun.

We got ourselves into a team of 5 and registered. The first task was having to pick a name, I know Tasha was pushing for us to think of one because we had to register it asap and as a joke I suggested Tasha and the Snuggle Bunnies as no one was putting anything forward, thinking it would scare the guys into coming up with something- but no, the boys liked it and the team name was registered.

Next we had to come up with an outfit, this was pretty easy so Tasha and I went to the fancy dress shop and bought some bunny ears and tales for us to wear. We trawled around Nampo market looking for pink tops, I'm not sure what the guys thought but here is the end result:

When we got to the meeting point on the day we were told that we would have to play flip cup against another team, the team who won would get their tasks, the team that lost would have to go to the back of the queue until they were given another team to challenge. I am rubbish at flip cup so was a little worried that I would let our team down. However, despite swallowing the drink down the wrong whole and it dripping out my nose, and my hands shaking uncontrollably, I managed to flip my cup, after about a hundred tries, and with the rest of the team doing amazingly we won!!

We got our envelope with our challenges, I've highlighted the ones we managed to do:

1. Take a pic of a human pyramid with as many people as possible.
2. A pic of a team mate upto their neck in the sea.
3. A pic of a team mate feeding Baskin Robbins ice cream to a member of staff.
4. A pic of a team member on the back of a motorcycle.
5. Creating the best 'Blackout Korea' picture. 
6. A pic of a team mate handcuffed to a policeman
7. A picture of the team re-enacting the opening scene of the Lion King, using someone elses pet as Simba.
8. A pic of a reflection of the whole team in something other than a mirror.
9. A pic of a team member inappropriately groping a mannequin
10. A pic of a team member jump high-fiving a mascot
11. "I can't believe we all fit in here" shot.
12. A pic of the whole team wearing adjumma visors.
13. A pic of the entire team in a convertible car.
14. A pic of the team recreating The Last Supper.
15. A pic of two strangers hugging while 2 team members make a heart in the background.
16. A pic of a team member photo bombing a stranger's picture.
17. A pic of a team member wearing a fast food uniform, with the employee in shot.
18. A video of one team member slapping another around the face with a fish.
19. Create a soju commercial involving at least 4 strangers.
20. A video of 2 or more team members playing leap frog with a group of old men.
21. Create a one minute instructional workout video using adjumma workout equipment.
22. A video of a round of flip cup with 3 team mates playing strangers.
23. A video of a dramatic earthquake.
24. Recreate the Gangnam style dance video.
25. A video of a team mate buying one grape from an adjumma.
26. A video of 3 team mates taking part in a wheel barrow race with 3 strangers holding their feet, between 2 coffee shops.
27. A video of a team member throwing dough behind the counter of a pizza place.
28. A video of a team member serenading an adjumma with an instrument of their choice.

Here are the things we managed to do:

As you can see, we didn't do too well, by 2pm we'd lost our challenge sheet, so decided to have a beer instead, I liked that our team had the attitude that it was the taking part that counted. The boys got a lot of attention in their fetching outfits and even got a round of applause when we entered one bar that was showing the NZ and SA Rugby game.

When we all got back together in KSU some teams had completed all of the challenges, so unsurprisingly Tasha and the Snuggle Bunnies were not victorious, although I think a good day was had by all.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Mum on Tour

I hadn't seen my mum for 9 days straight since I left home when I was 18 to go to university, so wanted to make the most of the time we had together in Busan. As soon as my mum had her flights booked I started to make lots of plans and lists. Lists of things she had to see, places that she had to visit and all the food she had to try. I wanted her to see all the best bits of Busan and skip over the rubbishy bits that you experience when you're on your own in a new place and trying to figure things out for the first time. 

It's also really easy to forget how daunting the different alphabet and how alien everyday things can be when you first get here and I was worried that she wouldn't be able to get around as easily when I had to be at work.

But everyday when I met her and Julie after work they'd have a tale of an adventure they'd had that day, of a Korean that had made them laugh or pointed them in the right direction, which made them feel like things weren't so scary after all and helped them to have the amazing trip that they did.

They managed to explore Nampo and its markets, the tower, the cat cafe, Jagalchi fish market, Haeundae beach, Songdo beach, Seokbolsa temple, Yonggungsa water temple and Jeju Island. We also tried BBQ, hotteok, pajeon, mackerel, mandu, bibimbap and the amazing cakes that the Pink Elephant Cafe has to offer...

A lot of the time we get stared at in the street, or people looking us up and down in the subway, old ladies pushing in front of us in queues and taxi drivers turning their lights off at the sight of a foreigner, but with my mum being here it's also proved to me how friendly and helpful they can be too. My co teachers were lovely and bought my mum gifts, the kids were so curious about them, the principal was desperate to take them out for meals and I managed to have the best conversation with an ajumma on a bus in Jeju as she was so interested in who we were. It reminded me that despite the handful of people that aren't happy to see us over in Korea, the majority are so welcoming that it's part of what makes this little country such a good place to live.

Trying BBQ for the first time.

In the park below Busan tower.
Street art in KSU
The ugliest cat in the cafe, despite the collar.
Julie, Mum and I at the cafe.
Trying Makeolli for the first time.
Cheese Kimchi-jeon deliciousness.
On the path to Seokbolsa temple. 

On the floor, I couldn't resist taking a picture. 

Bird cafe in the botanical gardens

Carvings in the cactai in Jeju.
Stone Grandfather. 
Amazing Bonsai tree in the botanical garden.