Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Korean Gifts to Send Home

Jenny finally got her package over the weekend, so I can finally let everyone else have a nosey at what I decided to send to her. I think most these things along would make great little presents to send home as gifts. I'm particularly obsessed with Artbox's animal shaped toothbrushes!
Korean Care Package Giveaway

Inside the care package I included:

-Daiso products: From nail wraps, stationary, stickers, face masks and a cute, kitten faced eye mask.
-Etude House: I couldn't resisit their candy cane shaped lip tint.
-Artbox: A Sonny Angel doll, a bear toothbrush, rabbit socks, angry panda notebook and pen
-And lots of random little bits including Peppero, earrings and phone toppers.

Thanks to everyone that entered and I hope Jenny enjoys all of her gifts!

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Monday, 29 April 2013

Our Weekend: Jungang Park and Chunghon Tower

Looking out of the window right now, it's like being back in the UK, it's grey and gloomy and keeps showering. It feels seasons away from the lovely weather we had this weekend that made me really start looking forward to this Summer and all the things that we have planned.

Starting small, we have potential cancelled classes this week, I'm going to my first Korean wedding next weekend as my co-teacher is getting married, the weather's getting hotter which means more time outside. Beaches, street bars and lots of birthdays coming up. We have a long weekend later in the month and have already planned a trip to Namhae, an island off the South coast of Korea. This also ties in with Tasha's birthday weekend. Not long then until my second attempt to go to China. My flight's booked for July, so excited to see Clare again, and there may be an exciting detour on my journey back from China that means I get to see another friend I haven't seen in a while.

Other things that happened this weekend were eating the most delicious Chinese food with Tash and Dan in Hadan on Friday, walking up to Jungang Park on Saturday which only takes about 15 minutes from my apartment. A trip to Daegu where I met the roller derby team and we had a picnic followed by a mixed scrimmage with the Seoul team, then finally a lazy stroll around Taejongdae Park in Busan late on Sunday afternoon, I'll put those photos up later in the week.

My Rooftop view in Busan
Steps upto Jungang Park
Jungang view
War Memorial, Jungang Park
War Memorial, Jungang Park
Jungang Park
Jungang Park
View of Busan from Jungang Park
Chunghon Tower

Do you see the tower at the top of the hill behind me? Chunghon Tower is a memorial dedicated to the Korean war. It also states on a plaque at the bottom that it serves to spread anti-communist and patriotic feelings.

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Friday, 26 April 2013

Korean Make Up Trash, Treat or Stash: Tony Moly Kiss Kiss

Trash, Treat or Stash. The products I've discovered are better off in the bin, the ones you should treat yourself to every now and again, and the ones that are so good that you should definitely make sure you have a stash of them.

Tony Moly Kiss Kiss Lip Gloss
Tony Moly Kiss Kiss Lip Gloss

Tony Moly Kiss Kiss Lip Essence Balm

The weather in Korea has two extremes, either incredibly cold or super muggy and hot. The air con and heating are constantly blasting, it's no wonder that people suffer from dry lips. I have so many lip balms knocking around that I never really feel any solidarity to a certain brand. The lovely Anna bought me this Tony Moly lip balm for my birthday, all because of how it was packaged.

Cost: This was a gift from the lovely Anna, but it costs ₩5,900 from a Tony Moly shop. It's pretty cheap, but I think you're mainly paying for the packaging. You don't get very much product, but you don't have to use much either so it does last a long time.
Prettiness: I love that it comes in the shape of a pair of lips. Bonus points for the novelty. It smells so nice too.
Usability: This is really easy to use as it's a standard lip balm that you apply with your finger. I really like it because it feels like a lip balm, but looks quite glossy and lasts a long time. I sometimes think glosses make your lips end up feeling even dryer, but this one doesn't.


Overall, treat yourself to this product and have it in your bag. Or it would be perfect to send home as a present. I liked enough to want to try the accompanying lip scrub that Tiara mentioned in her blog. I love little things like this that are taken as the norm here but would be super expensive back in the UK. It's subtle yet effective and a handy size to carry around. I'm looking forward to trying similar products and seeing if they compare.

View last week's Trash, Treat or Stash
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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

14 things to do when it rains in Busan

what to do when it rains in Busan

Forget about Winter for a second Jon Snow, don't you know that the rainy season's coming? A few weeks of non stop rain that would probably have Sheffield under several metres of water.

The last few days have reminded me of the impending rainy season. This year I'm a little more prepared and have my wellies, but here is one thing to do in Busan that won't bankrupt you, for every soggy day of the rainy fortnight that's headed our way.

1. Cafes
Grab a book and hide behind it in one of the 100 coffee shops on your road. One drink and they'll leave you alone for hours! Try one of my favourite cafes in Nampo.

2. Cat Cafe
Coffee and cats. What more could you want? I love With Cat cat cafe in KSU.

3. Board Games
Go to Fully Booked or Beached and try your hand at one of the many board games they have to offer, it helps that both places serve food too.

4. Bang!
DVD Bang, Noreabang, Multi Bang, whichever one takes your fancy, get your friends along and relax for the afternoon.

5. Exercise
Maybe something that you put off when the weather is nice and people are meeting up for picnics and lunches.

6. Spring Clean
Something else that is more a necessity than fun, but you'll feel loads better for it, and will be able to get outside, guilt free as soon as the sun shows its face.

8. Museums
The museums in Busan are so cheap, and sometimes free. If you haven't tried any of them yet, then it's a perfect time.

9. Cinema
I've noticed people at home are complaining about how much the cinema now costs back in the UK. It's still amazingly cheap in Korea, so hide away in the dark.

10.Underground Shopping
Go to Seomyeon or Deokcheon and do some window shopping. I always promise myself that I'll go and have a proper look around.

11. Ice Skating
Go to Shinsegae, don a helmet and get on the ice. Prepare to be made to feel inferior by the tiny children in lyrca who are obviously pros.

12. Jimjilbang
Avoid the indecent exposure fines that come from flashing skin outside and get naked with everyone inside. Hot baths and massages are perfect to while away the hours.

13. Eat!
It's Korean tradition to eat pajeon and drink makeolli on rainy days, so find a restaurant and lounge about on the floor for the afternoon. Don't blame me if you fall into a puddle due to a food/drink induced coma.

14. Carry On with Your Day
Stop being a wuss, buy a super cheap umbrella from one of the soggy ajummas on the street corner, and do what you originally planned.

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Monday, 22 April 2013

Our Weekend

This weekend was mostly about makeolli drinking and kimchijeon devouring. Rainy day museum wandering. Brunch at 3pm. Roller derby and random British films. Has anyone seen the film Sightseers which is based in my home county, Yorkshire? Tasha recommended it. Very bizarre but made us laugh a lot.

I'm also lacking in photos this weekend as I didn't really take my camera out!
Deokcheon, Korea
Cheese Kimchijeon
Korean Roller derby team
Korean Roller derby team
Korean Roller derby team
sightseers film still
The view from Nick's kitchen window// Trying out a new cupcake shop in Jungang//
Daegu roller derby practice// Sightseers

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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Making Friends in Busan

girl friends

It's funny how I was so busy having an amazing time the last several months, that I totally forgot how I felt when we first got to Korea.

The first morning I woke up, I tried to ignore the question that begged to be answered, 'What have you gone and done this for?'. We'd arrived in Busan really late on Thursday night, we were ushered into our new homes for the year and left. I had a shower and my hairdryer blew instantly, I didn't have a towel so had to make do, and Tasha couldn't work the heating, so we both went to bed feeling cold and a bit sorry for ourselves. The next day we were told we should be in school for 8:30, and woken with a breakfast from Lotteria. A shrimp burger at 8am is not what you need to reassure you about your crazy life decisions. Those questions were whirring around my mind even faster the first time I tried school's gross kimchi, this was after taking ages to get the hang of chopsticks.

Tash and I didn't come through EPIK, so for those first few months we literally only had each other for company. We'd go wandering, hoping to walk into the epicentre of the waygook community. Our Korean teachers were lovely, but sometimes you just crave the company of someone that understands you the first time you say something, and someone that shares the same interests as you. We'd go to bars and nudge each other whenever we saw someone who wasn't Korean, my heart skipped a beat the first time we went to Thursday Party and there were at least 5 foreigners in there. There were nights where one of us wasn't feeling up to going out, so the other would stay in and talk to friends over Skype about what was going on at home.

Fast-forward to May and I'd rather eat my own arm off than spend more than 10 minutes in a Thursday Party. Instead I was enjoying myself with an amazing group of people at a festival. The friendship had stemmed from a chance encounter in a toilet. Tasha had gone home early as she wasn't feeling good, so I'd decided to stay out and see what this DJ was all about. I am so thankful everyday that I heard the lovely Becky's British accent in the bathroom, that I wrenched open the toilet door and immediately started speaking to her. That led to me meeting all of my closest friends here and making many great memories.

Now back in the present day, I'm in my second month of my second year, and I have to say that some of those questions from the start of last year do echo in my head. "What are you still doing here?" The majority of the girls in our friendship group have scattered across the globe to experience pastures new, and poor old Nick is having to double up as a boyfriend and a girl friend. The few of us that are left plan nights out, I go to get my phone out, and realise that there's no one else to invite! I feel like the same person in March 2012 who didn't know a soul in Busan.

Every time I start to feel down hearted about it, I try to remember the position we were in last year, and know that soon the situation will quickly change. We'll cross paths with new people who we really hit it off with, just like last year. It's also made me realise that I invested so much in the friendships I had, that maybe I missed the chance to get to know some other great people.

With these lessons learned, I feel the same friendship moves coming on that Tash and I used last year. These moves would make any guy with low confidence jealous, we'd walk up to a girl who looked like a potential friend, and within minutes, be trading numbers with them and agreeing to dinner dates.

This post could be read as a warning to Busanites that Tash and I are back on the prowl, but I hope it's reassuring to any new people that still don't feel 100% settled here. With time you'll find a whole pile of friends to hang around with. You might even develop a taste for kimchi and become a chopstick ninja, stranger things have happened!

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Korean Make Up Trash, Treat or Stash: Etude House Silk Scarf

Trash, treat or Stash. The products I've discovered are better off in the bin, the ones you should treat yourself to every now and again, and the ones that are so good that you should definitely make sure you have a stash of them.

Etude House Silk Scarf Hair Treatment
Etude House Silk Scarf Hair Treatment

My poor hair is abused at the best of times, with blow drying, straightening, and my horrible habit of picking my split ends. Now the humid season's just around the corner, and I'm going to have to tackle my uncontrollable mane with more gusto than ever before. I decided to give it some TLC with a hair treatment. I decided to try out Etude House's Silk Scarf range which promised to restore my locks, leaving them strong and shiny.

Cost: This cost me ₩8,000, which is less than £5 for 200ml. It's also lasted a looong time. Not bad at all!
Usability: The directions are really easy to follow as Etude always includes directions in English. Just add a blob to your hair for 5 minutes after washing it. You're supposed to use it twice a week, but I used it once a week max.
Prettiness: I love the packaging for the whole Silk Scarf range, it kind of reminds me of Soap and Glory back in the UK, except so much cheaper. It also smells amazing.
Durability: After using it my hair did feel loads softer and easier to style, yet at times it felt a little too greasy after leaving it on the recommended time, so I reduced it to about 4 mins and never applied it to anything but the very ends of my hair.


Overall, treat yourself to this product if your hair is crying out for some loving. I loved how it left my hair smelling, and it would look and feel great the day after using the product, but I don't think it changed anything in the long term. I also wouldn't advise it for hair that is naturally greasy. Next time, I'll probably try out a different range.

View last week's trash, treat or stash.

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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Giveaway Winner

The giveaway is now closed, and the name picked out of the hat is....
Jenny Hughes
Sonny Angel Doll Number 2
Congratulations Jenny! An overload of pink cute things is headed your way! Thanks to everyone that entered, and thanks to everyone for reading!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Our Weekend: Gyeongju

Recently I've been feeling a bit 50/50 about being back in Korea. Nothing seemed new or special anymore, the workload had increased, and then the recent news seems to be worrying everyone at home! A couple of weeks ago Nick and I decided to sign up for a trip to Gyeongju with a tour group called WINK, or When in Korea, and I'm so happy we did as I can feel my enthusiasm for my decision to stay seeping back to me now.

Gyeongju was the ancient capital of the Silla dynasty hundreds of years ago, which is a big deal, and considering the amount of times that Korea has virtually been burnt to the ground and rebuilt through war and invasion, Gyeongju is a gem of history amongst its concrete sister towns and cities.

It only takes 20 minutes to get to Gyeongju from Busan, so we met the tour group at the bike shop where I went and chose probably the most impractical bike for the job, but, in my defence it did have a basket. The sun was shining and it was such a perfect day. The first day we cycled around the town, stopping off to look at the sites that we stumbled across, including Cheomseongdae Observatory, Hwanghyongsa temple and the lake.

We stopped for a picnic of gimbap, ice cream and makeolli before we rejoined with the rest of the group to make our way to the hostel. The tour leader took us through the rice fields, rather than follow the roads. It was so interesting to see a side of Korea that I'd never seen before. There was nobody on the roads apart from the odd sun dried ajumma who worked hard in her field. Even in places like Seoraksan you pass hundreds and hundreds of people who are all following the same marked path to the top of the mountain. It was so peaceful and serene and felt like I was getting a glimpse at what Korea could have been like years and years ago, before Dunkin Donuts and K-pop.

We eventually arrived at the hostel, sun burnt and tired, but quickly showered before heading back into Gyeongju for some food and a late night stroll around Anapji Pond. I loved seeing the cherry blossoms at night.

The next day we got up super early to head to Bulguksa temple, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. I loved going there so early, and hearing nothing but the odd worker sweeping away at the dusty paths before the rest of the tourists and worshippers started to arrive.

Following this we headed up the mountain to Seokguram Grotto, a cave that contains a huge buddha inside of it. The highlight of this visit was definitely getting the opportunity to ring the HUGE bell and eat delicious roasted chestnuts.

After a bit of sightseeing, it was time to get back on our bikes. Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse, and forced us to stop for lunch while we waited for it to clear. This actually turned out to be lucky as we discovered an amazing restaurant in the middle of nowhere that served really fresh food. I wish it was more local!

The sun finally decided to make an appearance, so we got back to Gyeongju, stumbled across a Hanok village where Nick was hit on by two Korean men who thought he was really handsome, and managed to squeeze in the tombs of the old Korean kings at Daereungwon before it was time to hand in the bikes, say good bye to the others in the group and head back to Busan. But not before I had the chance to try the small bread buns that Gyeongju are so well known for.

An amazing trip that reminded me that there's so much more for me to see in Korea with the months I have left.  Thanks to Nick and the Wink Group!
Korean Rental Bike
Gyeongju Bike Rental
Korean Bike Trail
Korean Bike Tour
Cheomseongdae Observatory
Korean lookout
Gyeongju Bike Tour
Gyeongju Bike Tour
Hwangyongsa Temple
Bomunho Lake
Well deserved lunch
Gyeongju Bike Tour
Gyeongju Bike Tour
Creepy Korean House
Gyeongju Bike Tour
Cheomseongdae Observatory at night
Anapji Pond at night
Cherry Blossoms at Anapji Pond at night
Anapji Pond at night
Anapji Pond at night
Cherry Blossoms at Anapji Pond at night
Bulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple
Bulguksa Temple
Vendors outside Seokguram Grotto
Roasted Chestnuts
Ringing the bell at the Seokguram Grotto
Seokguram Grotto
Seokguram Grotto
Korean food
Buddhist Lunch
Gyeongju Bike Tour
Traditional Korean Games
Korean Friends
Hanok village
Makeolli and King's tombs
Tombs of Korean Kings
Gyeongju Bread
Gyeongju Bread
Our bikes// Gyeongju fields// The oldest observatory in Asia// More of Gyeongju//
The lake// lunch// rice fields// This house looked creepy enough to be haunted//
Our hostel// The observatory at night// Anapji pond// Bulguksa temple//
Roasted chestnuts// Ringing the HUGE bell// Seokguram Grotto//
Lunch time// Buddhists eating lunch too// Traditional Korean games//
Nick's fanclub// The King's Tombs// Drinking Makeolli amongst the dead//
Delicious Gyeongju bread

Only hours left now until I close the entrance for my first giveaway! Enter while you can! Just like the fan page or add me on Bloglovin'.