Category Archives: Korea

Let’s Go To Asia – Travel Video

27th September 2015

So as the astute among you may have noticed, we are already finished with our trip. We are in lovely Australia. I still have a few posts about our trip to come, but I recently finished editing this little video together and couldn’t wait to share it.

So here is just a few of the best parts of our trip:

Giveaway : Tickets to Seoul’s BNK event (FREE BEER!)

25th June 2015

Hello lovely people.

So here is a treat for any readers out there in Korea land. The organisers of BNK (Business Network Korea) are holding an event in Seoul on the 13th July. This is the kind of event where you will get to talk to other bloggers, online companies and meet some lovely people – both Korean and Westerners. You can check out the event info here.

The tickets are usually up to 45,000 won  but we have two free tickets for two lucky readers. Oh and did I mention it’s ALL YOU CAN EAT CHICKEN WINGS, QUESADILLAS and BEER!! That’s right we’re offering you FREE BEER.

If you would like to be entered into this giveaway please leave a comment below and I will raffle the names on the 1st of July and announce the winner.

20150617_ BNK flyer Event Info:

 

  • Monday, July 13, 2015

    to

  • On The Border – Mexican Grill & Cantina

    2F, 211, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul – Line 6, Seoul (map)

  • Take Itaewon Station (Line 6) come out of Exit 2. Walk straight 200 meters until you reach Hannam Building. On The Border is on the 2nd floor.

 

An EPIK Two Years

25th February 2015

Today is my last day here in my Korean school and a few months ago they asked me to make a small video showing life in the school and Korea in general. They gave me a little prize for making it, which was very sweet so I thought it might be quite fitting to share it on here.

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Things I’ll Miss About Korea

24th February 2015

banner Well, it has officially been two years today since we arrived in Korea and what a two years it has been. Full of ups, downs and speeding taxi’s. We’ve made friends for life and learnt so much. I haven’t mentioned it on here much but for the last two years I’ve been teaching in a middle school that doesn’t have the best reputation. It is officially considered the worst school in Daegu and it has been tough. The teachers working there have tried their best to make me welcome and there have been lots of individual students that have made it easier but it has been tough and I am definitely ready for the next adventure.

seoul2 There are so many Korean people that we’ve met that have made us feel more welcome than we could ever have expected and we will miss them. I thought this was the perfect time to mention some of the things we will miss from this little country:

  • Vitamin shot drinks – these delicious little drinks have cured many cold and hangovers for me. They are intense vitamins and I love them. especially their 25p price tag. IMG_9324
  • Korean BBQ – I am still in Korea and I miss it already. koreanbbq
  • Korean kids – the younger kids that I’ve met here have  been the sweetest, cutest bundles of fun.
  • Cheap Clothes – the cheap Korean clothes markets are great places to get the latest fashions for next to nothing.
  • Cuteness – Korea is the land of cute. Cute t-shirts, cute puppies, squeaky baby shoes, even cute balls of rice in the local 7-11. This country knows how to do kitsch. cute
  • Paris Baguette – a lot of foreigners have mixed feels about this place but I love it . I’m lucky enough to be near an experimental bakery that always tries delicious concoctions….olive bread anyone?
  • Kimbap – mmmmm cheap, tuna kimbap I will miss you. kimbap
  • Dak Galbi – this was accidentally the first type of restaurant Lee and I walked into and we were hooked. In the large chain Dak Galbi restaurants they will cook it in front of you and let you add lots of cheese.
  • Kpop – Korean music is fantastic. I never expected to love it the way I did but it’s fantastic. Lee is obsessed. The only problem is that considering this is music made to dance to, there are no place to dance to it in Korea…come on Korea let us dance.
  • Ramyen – cheap, cheerful and amazing once you add your own ingredients. I like buying a pot, putting it on the stove with egg, cheese and kimchi. mmmm delicious. ramen
  • Seeing your friends at every opportunity – Everyone here became busier and busier as the years went on but when you only  have your friends they quickly become your family. Everyone has been so friendly and it’s felt great to be around so many people. If anything I am sad I didn’t get to know people better. koreanUs koreanUs2
  • Cheap cinemas – We lived in London but looooved movies so we would fork out an arm and a leg for a ticket and some popcorn. Here it’s stupidly cheap and …no one talks. Bliss.
  • Cheap public transport – Although Korean bus drivers aren’t my favourite people (I think they get bonuses for every old person they knock off their feet) the buses are cheap and go all over the city.
  • Mc Delivery – McDonald’s delivered to your door. I think that’s everything you need to know really.
  • Cheap eggs – I love eating eggs but in Wales the price of eggs started to creep up and up so that it became almost a treat to buy a dozen. Here they are sold in bulk for almost nothing.
  • Jjiegae – This delicious, cheap soup is a favourite of mine. I have learnt to cook it so I won’t crave it when I leave.
  • Makgolli – While writing this I was just dragged to a little room in work where all the teachers were drinking Makgolli and beer. I think that sums Korea up perfectly. Makgolli evenings have been some of my favourites. I hated beer before I came here and although i’m not a fan of Soju , Lee doesn’t know how he’ll live without it.
  • Tiny houses – For us coming from London our ‘tiny’ flat is actually bigger than our London one, but most people coming from other countries think they are quite small but I love that we can all pile in, drink together and have a great time. I don’t even attempt to sit on sofas when I visit my friends anymore. I love nothing more than sitting on a friends floor and drinking our supermarket wine.
  • Locations in Asia – The fact you are so close to so many fantastic countries is great. Korea is expensive to fly from but it’s still closer than our home of the UK. It’s been weird to just pop over to Japan for a weekend. I’ll miss the accessibility.
  • Teachers dinners – These random events that spring up are great. Free, full of friendly faces and a perfect insight into Korean culture.
  • MANDU – this Korean dumpling is delicious. Get in my belly! mandu
  • The people – I’ve said goodbye to a lot of people while we’ve been here . I don’t think you ever get use to saying goodbye to people but it’s an odd feeling to finally be the one that’s leaving. I am going to miss Korea but i’m too excited for the next adventure to be dwelling on it too much, but when I think of the reality of saying goodbye to more people then I tear up. Thank you to everyone for making the last two years so special. seoul

Korea we will miss you.  signature

Tokyo Arcade

2015 Travel Plans

19th February 2015

So I think I owe you all an apology. For the last few weeks i’ve become a little bit obsessed with my up coming plans to the point that I have kept mentioning it without giving any details.

So I thought that I’d share with you some of the things we’re hoping to achieve over the next year.

First, there are to-do lists…EVERYWHERE. My flat looks like a bombs dropped because there are about ten jobs going on at once but I’m hoping that it will all fall into place really soon and we will be ready to roll.

First I suppose it’s important to share with you what our plans actually are so here is our 2015 travel plans:

Tokyo Arcade Japan

Japan is somewhere magical to me. It’s a place mentioned in movies not a place that exists. When we went to Tokyo last year I was in my element and I fell in love with the place. Last night I was chatting to a friend who’s going to Tokyo soon and I couldn’t stop gushing about how much fun they were going to have. This time around we aren’t going to the bright lights of Tokyo, instead we are heading to Kyoto and Osaka. Kyoto has been high on my list for a long time and I feel guilty that one of the places i’m most looking forward to going over the next few months is our first stop but I just can’t wait to be surrounded by the history and beauty of this place….and the sushi!

 

El Nido Palawan Island, Phillippines Been here, truly magnificent and glorious!  http://www.lifebeyondthehorizon.com/philippinesparadise/The Philippines

Lee and I had never considered a trip to the Philippines but after seeing all of our friends fantastic pictures we quickly added it to the itinerary so we will be stopping in on Bohol, Boracay and El Nido. Here’s to sandy beaches and drinks with the locals.

 

Guilin, China. Globe Travel in Bristol, CT is standing by to make your vacation dreams come true!  Reach us at 860-584-0517 or by email at info@globetvl.com!

China

We went to China a few months ago but we can’t wait to go back. We wanted to see some impressive landscapes and the countryside of China is definitely the place to do this. We are heading to Guangzhou and Guilin …all the G’s. I’m not going to lie, I’m in it for the dumplings.

 

Hong Kong, China | 21 Most Colorful And Vibrant Places In The WorldHong Kong

I know listing Hong Kong as a separate country is debatable but I have a very good friend from Hong Kong who thinks of it as a different place and the British Visa application was different for Hong Kong compared to China so I think it’s fair to list them side by side. We are looking forward to climbing Victoria Peak and meeting up with my friend who happens to be visiting at the same time as us. Woohoo

Hoi An, Vietnam - Visit http://asiaexpatguides.com to make the most of your experience in Vietnam!

Vietnam

Vietnam is another place that’s been high on the list for a long time. We are starting in Hanoi  then going to Hue, Hoi an, Mui  Ne and Ho Chi Minh. We are looking forward to cooking classes, pho, and 12p beer… as well as all the culture/people/sights of course. We are going to the home of PHO!

Angkor Wat Cambodia / Watched the sunset here while drinking a horrid local wine and eating a crispy fried frog. A beautiful place & a wonderful adventure.

Cambodia

Next stop is a bus trip across the boarder into Phnom Penh. We don’t have long there before we are off to Sihanoukville. Before you all rush to tell us its not great we are only there for the night before we head to Koh Rong Samloem. A small island with about 5 hours of electricity a day. I’ll be celebrating my birthday here and I can’t wait. Sunsets and cocktails..woohoo. Lastly it wouldn’t be a trip to Cambodia without a sunrise trip to Angkor Wat in Seim Reap.

skyline2 Thailand

We are having a ‘do over’ in Bangkok since last time we had such a disaster (which you can read about here). People always think because of this we didn’t like Bangkok but I loved the place. I can’t wait to go back and see the place properly this time. Then it’s up north to the bloggers paradise that is Chiang Mai. Unfortunately , It’s rainy season when we go to this part of Asia . Our original plan didn’t have Thailand on it at all , instead we wanted to see Laos and Myanmar but the rain means we have to skip them this time, as well as the beaches of Thailand but I’m really excited to see Chang Mai after hearing so many great things. See you soon Pad Thai. You will be in our bellies.

Singapore's Supertrees at the "Gardens by the Bay". I see I'll have to go back to Singapore to see these by night.Singapore

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for this country. Is it for the history? slightly. Is it for the culture? marginally. Is it because one of my best friends is moving there a week before we arrive? HELL YES! This is a selfish stop for Lee and I to see one of our favourite humans…and maybe go to Sesame Street in Universal Studios, which for a Muppet fanatic is the holy grail.

Rice terraces close to Ubud. Bali, Indonesia To book go to www.notjusttravel.com/anglia

Indonesia

When we came to Asia this was high on my list of places to see. We are spending a lot of time here and seeing Yogyakarta, Ubud, Nusa Lembongan, Gili Air and Kuta Lombok. We can’t wait. Yoga, monkeys and beaches. We also may be dragging one of Lee’s best friends to meet us for a weekend so I can’t help but jump around a little bit when I think about journeying to this magic country.

The dolphins coming to shore at Monkey Mia, Western AustraliaAustralia

Lastly, but definitely not least is our new home for the year, Australia. This isn’t a country I ever wanted to live in , that was until Lee sold me on it because he is in love with the place. I am now fully on board and can’t wait to experience every inch of the place. We are starting in Perth but who knows where the year will take us.

Extra stops in 2015

Obviously we don’t know what will happen with the rest of the year but there are definitely some places we’d love to pop into:

Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia

When we are in Singapore we are very tempted to just run over the border and have some food there to say we did it. We are a little bit addicted to adding countries to our list but we will definitely be back to spend some proper time there soon.

Wow, just wow! Bridestowe Lavender Farm, Tasmania - by Tim Clark

Tasmania

I realise this is still Australia but I really want to pop over to this lavender filled paradise.

Fiji IslandsFiji, Tonga and Samoa

It would be rude to not visit these places while we are in Australia surely….let alone the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu…ect

New ZealandNew Zealand

Once again this country is so close to us when we are in Australia that we would love to go and see the place but maybe we will do it at the end of year in Oz.

Here’s to an exciting year ahead.

 

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26 Random Travel Facts

12th February 2015

me I recently read a fantastic post on Tea Was Here ‘s blog . It was 24 really interesting travel facts and it made me giggle so I thought i’d give it ago. I love finding out things about people and what better way to introduce myself to all of you than through travel facts. I wanted to make all 24 facts a list of foods I love from around the world but I resisted. I am also horribly indecisive so i’ve actually put 26 facts..sorry! So without further a do here is my (Tania) travel facts.

1. I come from Wales which I’ve realised through travel, is not a well known country but it’s a great place and I recommend for everyone to pop in… Mainly for the scenery and the Welsh cakes.

2. The first country I visited was Spain. When I was 3 my mum dropped my Aunty off at the airport for her vacation. She then spontaneously decided we were going too.

3. When I was 12 I lived in Saudi Arabia. It was a strange (and some times scary) experience but I’m extremely glad I did it.

4. In about 19 days I am setting out on the trip I’ve always dreamed of. 11 countries across Asia in 4 months.

5. I am trying to squeeze in as many working visas before I’m 30. Apart from my home in the UK I have lived in Korea, Saudi Arabia and will soon be in Australia and then Canada for over a year each.

6. I speak minimal Korean , German,French, Sign language and Welsh.. But I can order coffee in them all , which surely is the most important thing.

7. I LOVE Asian food but Italian is a close 2nd (yes I’ve squashed all of Asia into the number 1 spot because it’s too hard to pick)

newyork 8. I’d love to live in New York, San Fransisco, Germany and Italy once in my life. Even if it’s just for a month or two.

9. I prefer hot weather. I can’t wait for Australian weather.

10. My first trip without parents or teachers was a trip to London with Lee when we were 15. I fell in love with the place instantly.

11. The longest trip I’ve been on was a bus trip when I was 16 to Paris. It was just Lee, myself and about 50 old couples on a bus for almost 17 hours.

12. One of our biggest travel disasters was losing all our money in Bangkok. We took back ups and back ups of back ups but somehow fate was not on our side and they all failed. It was still funny though .

13. For my 21st birthday my mum saved every penny she had and sent me and Lee to New York. It’s still the best present I’ve ever been given.

tree 14. When we travel we always check for national holidays. We tend to win the national holiday bingo when we go on vacation. Unavoidable we are hitting 14 in our 4 month trek…opphs

15. As we get older we are probably more flash packers than backpackers but that’s ok… We still only drink the 12p beer.

16. I’ve spent more time researching scams than anything else for our up coming trip. I’m a loser.

airport 17. My mum was one of the only female airplane traffic controllers in the UK when she was in her early twenties. She always pointed out the tower to me when we were near the airport. I blame her for my wanderlust bug

18. The strangest travel fact I’ve ever discovered is that Saudi Arabian Mc Donald’s (& most other restaurants there) are split in two. On restaurant for woman and children and one restaurant for men.

19. Since I bought my camera two years ago it has become glued to me. Travel photography is a big passion of mine.

20. Since moving I’ve made friends from so many different countries including Canada, South Africa, America, Australia, Ireland,Korea….and many more. I can’t wait to spend the next few years visiting them all. Travel breeds travel.

22. My favourite holidays are too hard to pick but Rome, New York, Taiwan and Surat Thani in Thailand are all up there.

23. I LOVE animals. I will base holidays around what animals I can see.

elephant 24. When planning a vacation I only read travel blogs. They are addictive.

25. The places I’m most excited for on our up coming trip are Kyoto, El Nido and Indonesia.

26. As I was running through Heathrow to board my flight to Korea  I saw Danny Devitto. I almost considered missing the flight to hug him.

I’d love to hear all of your facts too so leave a link to your facts below. signature

Things I Wish I’d Known When Arriving in Korea

26th January 2015

It’s getting close to the time of year when lots of new recruits will be arriving through the gates at Seoul airport, so I thought i’d share with you all some of the things that would have really helped us when we first arrived. Hopefully it will make your transition into Korean society go that little bit smoother.

Banks

Banking in Korea is HARD. It is a complicated mission made up of no English and endless signatures, all just to get a tiny task done. I am currently with NH and although I have had a lot of problems with them, like them leaving me stranded in Bangkok with a overseas card that doesn’t work, they have overall been helpful.

If you are going to be able to choose I would always go with KEB or KB. KEB is the best bank for transferring money home by far, their online system doesn’t charge a lot of the fee’s most banks do and there is a myth that it’s open on weekends. I am going to find out if this myth is true this weekend.*edit it is true and it is even open on some Sundays of the month but this changes*  KB is worth joining because your card can be used on all subway systems in Korea. You just swipe it when you get on or off any transport and on the 15th and 30th of the month it deducts it from your bill. Lee has one of these and it’s the most helpful things to have when traveling.

The internet system on all Korean banks is abysmal and requires you to download about 5 security packages every time. Also be aware that it will download a file to your computer when you first sign up to internet banking. You will then only be able to use that computer to sign in, unless you get the file onto a USB and carry it with you. Also it will only work with internet explorer.

When you get a new account be sure to ask for:

. A card you can use in shops and at an ATM (I was given a card only for ATM’s which baffled me)

. A card you can use online to buy things (this requires a VISA or MASTERCARD)

. Internet banking

. And internet banking password (I kid you not, if you don’t ask for the password you will have to return to the bank and get one even though you’ve signed up and received authorization codes, also be aware that after you sign up you must log in within 48 hours or you will have to go back to the bank)

. Ability to transfer money abroad

. Ability to transfer money abroad on the internet

. A card that will work over seas. (this is the card I paid for and was reassured would work only to arrive in Bangkok and be as worthless as a Kit Kat wrapper.)

. The English phone line number.

. How to use the bill paying machine. (very simple luckily)

That’s all I can think of now but after a year there were still some of these things I needed to get sorted. Each of these bullet points is unfortunately a different bank trip for me. If you can sit down and get them all done at once your arm will hurt from the 20 signatures for every bullet point but you will be ready to go.

*In regards to using your cards outside of Korea. I believe the way it works is Korean VISA will let you take money out of the ATM’s and Korean Mastercards will allow you to charge money to it in shops, but this may only be my bank NH….just make sure that the card they gave you is also registered for abroad use.

blogger-image-919191957 Travel

A travel card is really helpful and will save you a lot of money over time. You can get these from the tiny (and I mean tiny) stalls next to bus stops and subways. They normally look like they only sell drinks, cigarettes and candy but you can top up and buy travel cards here.

The name of the cards are:

대경교통카드 or Dae-kyeong gyo-tong card-uh

You can use the blue machines in subways or these stall to top them up but they require cash. I have an awful memory but I think it was 2,000 won to get the card.

If you spend a little extra and get a ‘T’ mobile travel card or a ‘cash-bee’ card which is small enough to attach to your keys (they can be found in the small stalls or 7-11’s) then you can also use these in Seoul and Busan….it’s important to know that cash-bee is a lot more popular in Daegu than the t-mobile cards and easier to top up.

 

Bus stations

If you want to travel by bus somewhere, it is really easy and really cheap. The amazing leg room and space found on the luxury buses that go on long journeys also make it a great way to travel. The main bus station for Seoul and Busan is at DongDaegu. You can get a subway here. Depending where you are headed will determine which station you go to . Currently we are still working out which is which but they are all very close together. You don’t seem to be able to buy these tickets online but you can check how many seats are left on coaches at this site: Here

IMG_2815 KTX

If you are trying to get to Seoul or Busan in a hurry then the KTX is for you. You may have already tried this great form of transport but if not its easy and simple to navigate.

You can order tickets for the KTX or slow trains here

The KTX will be booked up extremely fast on busy days and its always smart to pre-order.

As a Brit, trains come and go vaguely based on times listed. That is not the case here. The ktx will leave the station at the exact time listed. Make sure you have a seat and don’t let Ajummas (old Korean ladies) kick you out of them or confuse you as has been known to happen. I’ve heard many a tale of people getting off trains thinking it’s the wrong one but actually have been seat-jacked.

Don’t be tempted to treat yourself on the slow or fast trains to first class. There is no noticeable difference what so ever in these carriages apart from people aren’t allowed to stand in them.

*Important information*

Make sure to take your passport if you have booked tickets. The ticket desk uses your passport to confirm your order and you will need it to receive your purchase. You can also just make a note of the number and read it to them, they don’t normally need to see the actual passport.

Phones

Unfortunately I can’t help you too much with this one as I only obtained my phone after the 5th month of being here due to bringing an locked (thought it was unlocked) iPhone with me. What I will say is if you are bring one from home make sure you contact the provider it use to be with and you have it officially unlocked. I used many ones online that claimed to work but unfortunately none did. It costs about $40 to get an iPhone unlocked officially.

I currently pay 60,000 won a month which includes unlimited internet which is a savior in a country that does have great Wi-Fi but only if you already have a SK or Olleh account to enter a specific code.

You can find Wi-Fi in places such as Lotteria, Starbucks and Holly’s coffee but you normally only get about half hour with it. Smaller coffee shops normally have unlimited internet if you buy a coffee.

My biggest advice when getting a phone is find a Korean person to help you. The nuances of the contracts and the general information needed will leave you feeling a little over  whelmed. There are people that speak English but they are few and far between. In Daegu there is phone alley which has endless phone shops you can try near the main subway station Banwoldang.

To get to this street, leave Banwoldang from exit 10. Walk straight and make a left at the Burger bar in front of you. There will be a small alley, when you come out of the alley you will be on phone alley. (If you know the way to Traveler’s bar, it is the exact same way but the road you cross before turning left to Traveler’s street)

Internet

The internet in Korea comes on varying plans. I have free internet in my house but other people I know had to pay monthly. My boyfriend’s co-teacher set his up for him and it was about 30,000 won a month. Unfortunately when he left his flat this year they wanted 400,000 won disconnection fee. This was due to his co-teacher signing him up for a 3 year deal (?) she had very good intentions as it made it cheaper through out the year but over all was not worth it. Make sure to check the disconnection policy in case your school wants to cut it off before you leave or you change flats in your second year.

If you have any questions or more experiences to share please let me know.

Traveling is daunting and the only way we survived at the beginning was with helpful advice from people that had already dragged themselves up the mountain and made it to the top.

PLEASE note that all of this is just opinion and not 100% accurate, its just my experiences. I hope it helps just a little. Welcome to Daegu

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The DMZ : A trip to North Korea

15th January 2015

One of the first things you get asked when you mention you live in Korea is ‘North or South?’.

Luckily and like 99.9999% of the people who head to Korea I do live in the South but the North is a beautiful and scary mystery. The rest of the world is terrified by this small unpredictable land. While living here it can sometimes feel like Korea ignores it like an annoying younger sibling that wants to play in their room. During the scares and threats from the North last year it was only parents and families back home that even alerted most teachers to there being a problem. When I asked my co-workers opinions on their neighbor’s threats I was met with blank stares…“It’s just North Korea, they just want food and then they will be quiet for a while”. It was an interesting opinion and not one I think we have in the West.
All this being said, I knew at some point during my stay in Korea I would have to pay a visit to the scary area that is named the DMZ (De Militarised Zone) . Last year when a few of my friends wanted to go we jumped on board.
We headed up to Seoul on the KTX after school, Soju and Beer in hand. Ready for a well needed week of celebration in Seoul before they departed Korea with the added bonus of visiting the DMZ. We arrived at our pleasant enough hostel and decided to get a ‘quiet’ dinner.

Eight hours later, two bars, six buckets and a night club later we were running around the hotel desperately trying to wake ourselves up enough to catch our bus to the DMZ.

We rallied and caught our bus that took us up North.

When we arrived at Panmunjom (the area of the demilitarized zone that brings the guards face to face with each other 24 hours a day) the snow was falling and the area seemed as grim as its past. It was at this moment we all felt horribly guilty for being so blase about this trip. I think as travelers who are use to seeing tourist sights we had allowed ourselves to forget where exactly we were and the gravity of the situation we were walking into.
The American army guards gave us a fantastic tour but it was eerie. I have never been in an area with so much tension. This was a tour but at the same time we were warned that North Korea was taking our pictures to use as propaganda. We could see camera lens poking out behind curtains. We were warned that if they were to give us the finger or try to spit on us that there was nothing we could do. If you approached a guard to closely they would punch you. Even the South Korean ones. They were taking no chances.
The blue buildings you see in the picture below are the mid way points between two sides. All meetings take place here between the two countries. Many decisions have been made in these very rooms. To be stood in a room that has seen so many conversations deciding the fate of millions of lives left me with a really sense of the weight these countries are under. It upset me to think that I live in a country with such a delicate and painful past.
As well as  Panmunjom we were also taken to the location of the 1976 axe murders. This was an incident cause by cutting down a tree. The tree was cutting off all visibility for the only South Korean viewing station. North Korea delayed the confirmed time because of rain but a small team of South Korean and American unarmed guards went to cut the tree down. The N.Koreans watched for 15 minutes without incident but suddenly the North Koreans attacked with over 20 men all carrying crossbows and clubs. The North Koreans got hold of the axes held by the two South Korean and American guard and attacked them. There are horrible photos of the incident in which the guards were brutally murdered.
There is also a photo of another guard Capt. Bonifas who was bludgeoned to death by 5 North Korean guards.
I realise this isn’t a nice story but it shocked me to the core to see the photos and realise that the area we were in was so volatile.
There are many other stories I could tell you but it was all pointing to the forgiveness shown by the South Koreans. Tunnels built by North Korea for miles into areas beyond the DMZ created purely to attack South Korea  which created no reperpussions from South Korea or America,  as well as endless rants and abuse hurled daily from the North Korean guards to the South Korean men.  I would like to think that the UK or America could be as forgiving in the same situations but it’s hard to believe. Ovbiously we only saw a very one sided version of events being on the South Korean side so please don’t take this as fact but it was strange to see.
There is break through, such as the completely deserted and fully built train station to North Korea at the DMZ that is fully functional but full of nothing. It’s incredible to think that one day there will be a link to these two countries via this train.
Being a tourist area as well as the historical sight there was also a shop that let us stock up on North Korean memorabilia. We left with some North Korean Brandy that we aren’t planning on drinking. It will be a weird memento of our time in this country.
It was a fantastic and haunting trip but I’m really glad I did it. I’ve been trying to decide recently whether to visit the killing fields in Cambodia when we visit or the prisoner of war camps in Vietnam. Remembering this trip makes me think it is definitely something we need to do.   I think that sometimes its a way of honoring the country you are in. Showing that little bit of respect and a way to show you do care about the places you are visiting. Obviously the DMZ is very different since it is a working and active area but I think it is still the same as other historic areas in the way that it helped to form the country you are in and deserves tourists to take a second to respect the country they want to be a part of.
I do regret how blase we were before we arrived but this sobering and somber place really hit home.

The one piece of advice I would give to anyone heading on this trip is:

If you are tall then be wary of the tunnels. These tunnels were secretly created by using dynamite. Their purpose was to attack the South Koreans. They are quiet errie when you are walking in them since you understand their purpose but on a practical level….they are small. Watching Lee and our friend, who are extremely tall men, crawl their way through it while shorter Koreans laughed at them was quite funny.Especially when groups of tourists would stop just to point and laugh at their predicement. I had to duck and i’m only 5 foot 5 so you can imagine how a 6 foot 3 man and our even taller friend fared. The comedy was short lived when we all had to walk up the steep 362km hill to get out of the tunnel….my poor legs.
It was a gratifying and interesting trip that expanded my knowledge of a country I like to call home. I once again want to mention that we are in no way experts or even consider ourselves vaguely proficient on the subject of the DMZ but we wanted to share our experience with your all for anyone else thinking of visiting this site.
 Hopefully there can be some peace between the two countries some day but it does seem a very long way away when you are stood at Panmunjom.
Have you been to the  DMZ? What did you think? Would you like to go if you haven’t been or have you been to any other sad locations considered tourist spots? We look forward to hearing from you.

A Korean Bucket List

13th January 2015

KoreaMoney01 Before I created this little blog with the lovely Lee I had a small blogspot site called Doodlezilla. I’m an animator by trade and Doodlezilla is a character I created before I left home. This week , since i’m desk warming up a storm, I went back to review the site when I stumbled upon my old Korean bucket list.

With just 50 days left in this lovely country it seems quite fitting to review and see what it is I need to cram into these 50 days before we head off on our travels. I’m quite proud to see how many things I’ve check off my list since arriving two years ago. It feels like forever since I was sat at my new desk and making this list. It’s been a good two years.

So here is my Korean Bucket List:

  • Order a meal without knowing what you are asking for.
  • Drink Makgoli
  • Try Soju
  • Go to a Cat Café.
  • Have lunch on a beach in Busan
  • Go dancing in Seoul
  • See the Busan Aquarium
  •  Go to an Orphanage
  • Try Shaba Shaba

lunch

  •  Nora Bang with Jess (my uk friend) in Korea
  • Use the photo booths
  • See Asias biggest Budda (luckily located in Daegu)
  • Climb Apsan
  • Volenteer at a childrens charity
  •  Spend Christmas day with my friends
  • Spend a summer weekend in the park
  •  Visit Jeju island
  • See Sokjoe in the Autum unfit38
  • Eat Dak Galbi in the home of Dak Galbi
  • Try K-pole (Korean pole dancing class)
  • Go to a charitable dog walk.
  • Kick leaves in the park in Autum
  • See the Cherry blossoms.
  • Watch Christmas films in a DVD Bang with friends.
  • Cook a meal for friends.
  • Have cocktail in a bag
  • Make crafts for my class
  • Take my camera out into Daegu (This is a year long achievment!)
  • Stay in a Buddist temple
  • Put my feet in the Ocean
  • Join a Kpop dance class
  • Try Taekwondo
  • Norabang!
  • Make Kimbap at home.
  • Eat in Kim Pasa
  • Learn to like beer
  • Travel to a random place on the subway and explore
  •  Jump from Duryu tower (not something they do anymore but I did climb it)
  • Participate in a tea drinking ceremony
  • Sit on the floor in a restaurant
  • Visit a Korean families home.

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  • Go to Holi Hai
  • Go to Mudfest
  • Dance all night in Pacha
  • Have a phone conversation in Korean.
  • Find a Korean Mentor.
  • Learn Hangul.
  • Learn enough Korean to order food, use transportation and buy things.
  • Have a Korean Haircut.
  • Go to a Korean beauty salon.
  • Have a summer Korean BBQ.
  • Eat Dak Galbi.
  • Get a phone.
  • Learn my address.
  • Order McDonalds to be delivered.
  • Dance to Gangnam style in Seoul (Gangnam preferred).
  • Buy a Konglish t-shirt.
  • Make a Korean friend.
  • Visit a random place in Korea on the train.
  • Sleep on the floor.
  • Stay in a love motel.(recommeded , it was really comfy and so funny)
  •  learn to like Chap Sal Duk. (as long as I have coffee with it) *edit….I learnt to like it only with coffee about a year ago, now I just like it 
  • See Japan during vacation.
  • See Thailand. 
  • See China.
  • See Taiwan 
  • Watch Lee swim with sharks in Busan.
  • Get eyelashes fitted (?)
  • Learn at least 7 student’s names.
  • Draw every day. (doing well so far)
  • Put a lock at the top of Seoul Tower.
  • Do yoga (even though its not a Korean thing)
  • Cook a Christmas dinner for friends.
  • Have a film/games night at the flat. 
  • Try writing for a magazine
  • Try getting paid for my photography work
  • Ride a roller coaster.
  • Go to a Korean wedding
  • Start Roller Derby
  • Feel I’ve really helped at least one student.
  • Go Skiing
  • See the DMZ
  • Travel on the KTX
  • Stay up until the first subway
  • Make Welsh cakes
  • Try an out door gym.
  • Eworld
  • Ride the duck boats in Susung Lake
  • Drink a cocktail from a coconut.
  • See the sunrise on the beach.
  • See a 4d movie
  • See a big korean fireworks display
  • See live music in korea.
  • Go to a dog café

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  • Teach elementary school 
  • Fly to an exotic location for holidays
  • Do fancy dress in Korea 
  • See the Tripataka Koreana

So that is the list. It feels great to have done so many things on it. We still have a few to do. Some such as go to Jeju I unfortunately don’t think will happen but we’ve been to many lovely Korean islands such as Namhae and Geoje so  I don’t feel like we’ve missed out too much, it’s such a popular destination that it can be an expensive and a busy holiday. The other thing we unfortunately may not do is get to watch Lee swim with sharks…but that’s just in Korea. He’s upgrading from an aquarium to a cage in Australia….mental boy, you couldn’t pay me to do it…jumping out of a plane on the other hand.

In the next two months we have some days off so we are planning on taking a random train up to the home of Dak Galbi and trying that for ourselves, climbing Apsan and maybe putting a lock in Susung lake instead of Seoul since Daegu is our home.  This post has also given me a boot and i’ll buy kimbap ingredients this weekend and give making it at home a go.

I also have my own little personal ‘one more time before I leave list’ but that mainly consists of seeing friends and eating my weight in Korean food.  I can’t believe it’s coming to an end.

If you are reading this and thinking about traveling to Korea…do it…DO IT NOW! daegu8

What would be on your bucket list? Have you tried any of the things we’ve listed? Did we miss any huge important Korean ‘things to do’? We can’t wait to hear from you.  signature

You Know You’ve Been In Korea a Year When….

8th January 2015

IMG_0152 You know you’ve been in Korea a Year When:

. Getting naked in front of  twenty old ajummas (ladies) is nothing. In fact you look forward to your Jimjilbang experiences.

. You can’t speak fluent Korean but you can order food and drink like a pro.

. You throw the posh ‘aschimnica’ hellos at your principal.

. Not only are you not scared of buses but they seem easier than subways.

.요간리드타스

. Being shoved doesn’t annoy you.

. You also know that the above statement is 100% a lie.

. At least one of your Facebook profiles has been from a Korean photo booth…along with big eyes and crazy stickers.

rsz_dsc_0466 . You’ve told the tales of the extreme heat/cold to everyone back home.

. You fear going through both again.

. Mr Bean is your new hero.

. You reminisce about the days you didn’t know your way around Downtown (or just reminisce about the fountain if you are a Daeguein)

rsz_daegu2 . You do know your way around Downtown but bars are still your main reference.

. You have seen more temples than you thought possible.

. Bowing is not only natural to you but you feel rude not doing it when you meet westerners.

. You can never pour a drink or take money without holding your arm. It’s ingrained now.

. If a café doesn’t have a dog or cat wandering around it, it feels wrong.

. You’ve forgotten what real beer tastes like. rsz_drink4

. When you hear bars back home shut at 11pm you are shocked and appalled. Your nights normally go until 6am.

. You actually want to own something in the Korean infomercials.

. You’ve tried over 50% of the Kim Pasa menu.

. You don’t even notice yourself doing impressions of the Korea accents anymore.

. Finding Cheese on sale brings a tear to your eyes.

. You finally understand the dangers of Gogo’s/Soju/Makgollie.

. You still ignore the dangers of Gogo’s/Soju/Makgollie and drink it anyway.

. Everything you own is from Daiso or Homeplus

rsz_kimchi1 . You still don’t like KimChi (After 2 years….you’ll LOVE it)

. You finally love red bean

. You aren’t sure how you will be able to survive life after Korea without Mando. rsz_mando2

. You know the second that the long 20 minute infomercial  starts its time to turn the tv over.

. Korean driving still scares you.

. The unusual doesn’t phase you.

. When you realise it doesn’t phase you, you feel at home.
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