Category Archives: Tips

19th January 2017

How to celebrate Australia Day

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On the 26th of January, only a month after we have started to recover from Christmas, Australia takes a national day off to celebrate Australia day.

Australia day is traditionally a day to celebrate the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales.  Today the day is considered more of a celebration of the entire nation including its beautiful and diverse population and indigenous people* There is some controversy about the day which you can read more about below.

The first time we experienced this holiday, we were thrilled to be invited to our friends house. While we were there we took the opportunity to ask the group what traditions we had to experience for it to be a real ‘Australia day’.

 

Here is what we learnt:

. Have a BBQ – This one won’t come as a surprise. This day is at the height of Australian summer (my northern hemisphere brain will never get use to these hot Januarys) so it makes sense to spend the entire day outside and throw another shrimp on the Barbie (sorry not sorry for saying that Aussie friends). Burgers , hot dogs and steaks all around on this day as well as some delicious homemade salads. australiaday2

. Eat Pavlova – Pavlova’s exist in the UK , but they aren’t a big part of our diet. Coming to live in Aus has opened my eyes to the joy of a good fruity Pavlova. The one we tried last year was chock-a-block with beautiful fresh fruit and caramel. It helps that the tropical climate of this place makes it very easy to smear coconut , pineapple and kiwis on everything.

. Drink Beer – Lee and I were very surprised to discover what a fantastic beer culture Australia has. It’s packed full of craft beer bars and home brewing stores. Lee has been bitten by the home brewing bug and has already fermented 5 ciders and 4 beers. The reasons for this countries love of beer may come from the heat, which makes it very easy to keep the yeast warm to ferment your own ale. Another reason may be out of necessity. A beer in a pub (or ‘hotels’ as all their pubs seem to be called due to licensing rules) would make you want to run back to London to buy a round. Don’t panic too much though because wine is dirt cheap. Woohoo! This country understands the greatness that is beer. It feels like it is an absolute fact that you must consume beer (and plenty of it) on Australia day. We aren’t complaining. australiaday4

.Find a Pool – It’s going to be boiling so most people find a pool and don’t get out of it unless it’s to head to the Eskie (Aussie slang for cooler) to get a beer.

.Play backyard cricket – because there is so much space in Australia it has become tradition that families head to the garden and play a little friendly game of backyard cricket. We took this to the next level and played water bomb cricket, which I highly recommend.

This cutie wanted all the sausages

This cutie wanted all the sausages

.Listen to the Triple J radio show – The Triple J radio show would probably be the item on this list that our Australian friends refuse to miss. The Triple J show asks Australia to vote for its favourite songs of the year. The people vote and on Australia day the radio show plays a countdown from 100 – 1. It sounded really lame when I first heard about it (who’s still listening to their radios?), but it was actually really fun to listen to and have a recap of the years music. It was the perfect soundtrack to the day. The songs are normally not what you would call ‘mainstream’ songs so you get some gems in there that you wouldn’t normally catch while you’re listening to the radio in the car. I mocked you guys last year, but my work playlist still has quite a few songs on it that I discovered last year on the Triple J’s radio show. I’m on board.

.Wear the flag somewhere on your body – painted on your face, thongs (flip flops), hats, towels, diddly boppers, bikinis, pants…you name it. If it exists then you can find it with an Aussie flag on it for Australia day. It was fun to cover ourselves in excessive Aussie merch and be part of it all. Lee bought a cork hat especially for the day and was ordered to take the corks off of it so there are limits.

lovely Aussie plants

lovely Aussie plants

. Play Goon of Fortune – I have to admit we haven’t done this year, but it seems like a big deal. A goon bag is a bag of wine that comes in a box. It is normally not the best of brands and comes in a bag that fits about two and a half bottles of hooch. The silver bag has a tap at the bottom and the bag is attached to a spinning clothes line (from what I can gather from being told second hand). People then stand around the clothes line, spin it and if the good bag ends in front of you…then you are drinking! Bag-o-wine. Drinking…sign me up J

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Overall it’s a day that gives everyone an excuse to get out of the boiling offices (or freezing offices if they love the air-con) and celebrate with friends. Enjoy the day off guys and remember to ‘advance Australia fair’….or something along those lines ???

 

*I really wanted to add an extra note here. In recent years it has been brought to light by a lot of the indigenous population that celebrating the day that your land was taken over and invaded is hurtful and insulting. This has led to many movements wanting to move Australia day to another time so that it is a celebration of the country as a whole rather than a day just to celebrate the anniversary of the English coming to steal it. I can completely understand this argument and I think it’s great that Australia, from what we’ve seen, is really starting to embrace its aboriginal people and their culture, even more so than in the past. This may be a bias view because we have mainly been around creative young people who are passionate about their countries original origins. It’s hard to tell.

While being here I have met Aboriginal Australian’s who have had mixed opinions on the 26th of January. Some feeling it should be changed as a mark of respect. Others feeling that it is fine to stay the same, others thinking they should keep the day but change it’s name and meaning. As an outsider I have no idea what Australia’s solution to this problem of ‘Australia Day vs. Invasion Day’ is, but I hope they can come to a conclusion that celebrates all aspects of this fantastic country. To read more about this important issue please read both sides of the argument here: https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australia-day-invasion-day

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The Best Way To See Angkor Wat

27th June 2015

banner We were a little overwhelmed with information when were planning our trip to Siem Reap. Every one had different ideas about what to do , when to go, what to skip. It was too difficult to digest all of the information so we did what all good traveller’s do and moaned to our friends until they told us what they did.

This was the fantastic message I received from the one and only, the legend Tom Jones…no not that Tom Jones, a even better one that we met while living in Korea. Him and his fantastic girlfriend Lynsey are the kind of people you’d pay to be your friend if you weren’t lucky enough to know them.

1 Here was his advice:

Hi T.

As far as I remember (it was 2 and a bit years ago) we only got a one day pass. The one day pass is valid for 24 hours from the time of purchase. SO what we did (what the hostel told us to do) was this:

5/6 pm cruise down to the ticket office with your Tuk Tuk driver, get out buy your day pass (I think you need passport) jump back in the tuk tuk and he’ll take you to the main Angkor wat super famous temple. It’s f*&^ing magnificent btw. You MUST see the main temple area in the evening if you are to avoid the crowds. The tuk tuk guy will wait for you in the car park, when your done/it’s too dark go home.

Then the same guy picks you up at like 4am the next day. (Take torches) He’ll take you back to the main site in total darkness and you can find a good spot and take pics as the sun rises over the main part of Angkor Wat. F*&^ing nice.

THEN….and this is the best part as most people (idiots) start to arrive at the main part you do one (because you’ve already done the main site the previous night) and go to the some of the other temples. They’re pretty much deserted/really quiet so you can enjoy them to the max. We did about 5 all before 9am. We weren’t rushing but were conscious of time and was really glad because as it gets closer to 9 it gets busier and busier.

One day pass was more than enough we didn’t feel short changed and saved money. We could have stayed longer or gone back too so it’s flexible but so good to avoid the crowds.

Also tried the minced chicken dish in Siem reap. I know it sounds rank but it’s wicked.

 

And there you have it. We followed these instructions to the word and had almost all the temples to ourselves. Plus he’s right, the minced chicken is fantastic.

To see more from Tom follow his instagram here: https://instagram.com/tomfalcojones/

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Hoi An – Lanterns, Dreamy Nights and Yellow Walls

20th May 2015

hoian Oh Hoi An!

I’ve taken a while to write this post mainly because I don’t know what more to say about this place apart from. I LOVE IT!

bike2 birdcage japanese bridge Lee and I arrived with high expectations. Every person we know told us we would just love it . We are the type of people that like to go into a movie not hearing it’s great so that we can be pleasantly surprised , and we are the same with countries so we were ready to be under whelmed but some how this magic place was all we had heard and more.

My friend Kaleena wrote a post here that explains it much more eloquently than I ever could.

but here are some things to do when in Hoi An:

.Drink 9p fresh beer – it’s basically water but so so cheap you just have to give it a go.

beer .Try rose dumplings – a specialty in Hoi An and they are really tasty.

bike .Ride a bike to the beaches – this was my first attempt at riding a bike. Lee was a great teacher but it was terrifying.

.See the lanterns – just stunning. Such a magical feeling seeing the town lit up.

lanterns1 lanterns2 .Put a wishing candle on the river – You can by them on the street for a dollar and they all look so beautiful. We both agreed to wish to come back.

.Eat at Bahn Mi Queen – THE BEST Bahn Mi in Vietnam/ the world. We also tried the really famous one that Anthony Bourndain recommends but the 88 year old Bahn Mi Queen just hit the spot like no other  and it was so cheap. We ate far far too many .

bahnmi . Get something tailored – Lee got a stunning suit, I got a dress and a playsuit. My recommendation would be to get a pinterest board set up of all the lovely things you want. Show them and make sure you have a few days to have a few fittings squeezed in.

.Take a cooking class – We went to the Thuan Tinh Island class which was recommended to us and we adored it. It was great. They took us out to a special island, gave us all we could drink passion fruit juice and just loved it all. Now we can hopefully take Vietnam home with us.

cook1 cook2 cook3 cook4 cook5 cook6 cook7 .Eat Cake – We went to Cargo a restaurant for desserts and ate our weight in chocolate cake. Worth the extra pounds. All travel pants are elasticated anyway.

There are so many other things to try and do in this city but these are just a few of the things we loved. I want to take every one of my friends there to rent bikes and drink wine outside in the sunshine. Lee and I can’t wait to go back. cook9 market night oldquarter1 yellow yellow2 yellow3

10 Steps To Surviving Vietnam

1st May 2015

image Vietnam is a popular destination for the backpacker, the flash packer and the ‘heavily over’ packer .

I had no idea what to expect from this country before I arrived.  Vietnam was more like Hogwarts to me since I had read a lot about it and dreamed I’d get a letter inviting me there someday.

Now we are here, and it’s all I hoped it would be and more. So I thought I’d offer you a few handy tips on how to survive Vietnam.

Step 1: Run to the nearest market/shop/ man in the road and buy the backpackers uniform. This being the baggy elephant print pants. I now proudly own 3 pairs and I’m considering moving into them permanently. They are more spacious than previous London apartments I’ve lived in. Beads, tank tops with beer logos and sun hats are optional. image

Step 2: Eat everything in sight. Before coming to Vietnam it’s good to train your belly. Train as if you are going to an all-you-can eat hotdog contest. Train so that you can get the maximum deliciousness into your face. Phò, Bun Cha, Bahn Mi, egg coffee…all of it! Your trip to Vietnam should be made up of 7 meals a day.

IMG_1662 Step 3: Find a plastic chair, sit in it and beer will come. Fresh beer,Lauru and Saigon…these are mostly the words you will be shouting through the crowds of heads on children’s plastic garden furniture. All will cost you less than 50p, not all will be delicious. (Cheapest beer we found was 9p or 3,000 dong in Hoi an)

IMG_1701 Step 4: Wear a pointy hat. When we got off the plane I stood pointing at the runway. Lee thought I was insane until he realised my joy was induced by the fact every person outdoors was wearing a pointy hat. They wear them all over Asia but for me this was the iconic image of the country. I some how… and believe me I’ve given myself a stern talking to.. Have not bought one yet. I have only just stopped being star struck every time I see someone in one.

Step 5: Phò. I realise this was maybe just my lack of all worldly knowledge coming from a small town in Wales where sheep out number people, but it’s pronounced Fu as in “Fu-dge this soup is good ” and not Foe- as in “Foe fudge sake get me some more soup”

IMG_1761 Step 6: See the water puppets in Hanoi. It’s weird, it’s cheap. Do you need more reasons? I have no idea what was happening for 99% of the show. It’s quintessentially Vietnamese. And if you’ve seen Team America it will tickle you all the more. Their comic timing was great.

Step 7: Learn some Vietnamese. It seems in Vietnamese ‘where are you from?’ translates as ‘buy my shit’ the subtleties of language are stunning. Seriously though. Everyone wants to ‘chat’ but selling is the goal.

Step 8:No meal is a meal without spring rolls. In fact even a coffee isn’t complete without a side order of these.Step 9: Bahn Mi Queen in Hoi An is still the best and cheapest sandwich I’ve ever had.

Step 9: Sorry Vietnam,  money being called ‘dongs’ will always be funny.

Step 10: See as much as you can, stay as long as you can.

I hope these will help guide you on your trip or encourage you to book your next holiday here. I’m not being sponsored by the country to say these things but if Vietnam would like to thank me for this article then they can compensate me via rice pancakes and satay sauce. Thank you

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Tips For Flying From a Nervous Flyer

18th March 2015

airport Well we finally left Japan. As I write this we are flying hundreds of feet up in the air on a path to Manila.
I mentioned in a previous post that we had been redirected back to Osaka, which turned out to be because of a faulty windscreen wiper. The wiper wouldn’t stop and the plane couldn’t pick up speed because of it. I’m not the best when it comes to flying. I loooove travel, exploring and even airports but as soon as I’m in a airplane I get nervous sweats and a knot in my stomach.
I never use to be afraid of flying but as I get older I think the logic has started to set in ‘this metal machine should definitely not be up here’ . I know the statistics and I understand that flying is stupidly safe compared to almost all other transport but I can’t help but get the shakes.

But since there is no way I’m going to stop traveling and the further away somewhere is the more exciting it seems, I have tried to combat the nervous and I though I’d share some things that have helped me along the way.

1. Planes are checked in detail repeatedly before take off. Lee’s dad is an Aeronautical engineer (yep, as snazzy as it sounds) and my mum has been in the RAF (royal Air Force) and worked in air traffic control ..can you see where our travel bugs may come from? Anyway, they have both assured me time and time again of the rigors safety procedures  that every person must go through when working on/in/near planes. It definitely helps hearing the minute details they have to check before anyone even thinks about stepping aboard.
Yesterday, for instance we had to go back to the Japanese airport, have a full check of the plane by engineers, have ANOTHER check and wait for the expects at the airport we were landing in to see if they agreed with the findings, as well as the people who made the plane originally in France. Now that’s precision . Unfortunately, this meant we waited for 6 hours and then were told our flight wouldn’t be until the next day but at least we know it’s 100% fine and dandy.

2. Sit near/on the wing for less turbulence. I am not exactly sure of the science but basically, the wings stabilize the plane and the ends are built to adjust so the middle shakes less… That sounded sciencey right?

3. If you are sat next to the wing, expect to look out and see the wings shaking. Wings are made to bend and flex. They shaking around in bad weather is stopping you having to shake so much.

4. Scary sounds before landing and after take off are normal. Most of the noise is the wheels going in and out if the plane so don’t worry.

5. The best piece of advice I ever heard though was recently from Lee. He said that if you are in a jeep or car on rough terrain you expect it to bounce around like crazy. Same goes for a speed boat. Bumps in the air are like small bumps in the road. They are nothing to worry about.

As well as tips for flying I also have a few helpful hints for when your ears won’t pop. I get horrible ear ache from complications when I was younger so the pressure of flying opens up the old scars on my ear drums and causes horrible pain….come to think of it, this may also be why I am not the best flyer…. It’s a condition called ‘airplane ear’ inventive name hey! What I’ve done to help elevate the pain is :
. Suck sweets
. Swallow lots
. Open your mouth as if yawning
.wear pressurized ear plugs. You can get these in most pharmacists. Just wear them before the cabin pressurizes and an hour before you land. Holding my ear and sinuses down hard often stops it hurting a little.
. But the best way to help the real pain is take a pain killer an hour before I board (& land if it’s a long flight) and also a antihistamine . Antihistamines basically dry up your head and stop their being a lot of liquid near your ears to build pressure.
Doing all this things still only stops the pain a little , especially on short flights that climb quickly , but they do help.

So those are the few things I’ve learnt to think about to put my mind at ease and stop discomfort . If you have any more problems please email me and I can get back to you because I know how horrible a little niggling worry can upset your holiday. I’m not an expert but a friendly ear.
And as my Aunty Pat always says, if it’s your time to go , it’s your time to go….. But what if it’s the pilots time to go? Just kidding ^^ signature

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Touristy Things To Do In Edinburgh

14th March 2015

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tour·ist
ˈto͝orəst/
noun
 a person who is traveling or visiting a place for pleasure.
Sometimes people will try everything to not be seen as a tourist but I am an advocate for embracing the term. Not the ‘loud, obnoxious’ stereotype but a person who is in search for pleasure and wants to discover a new place, respectfully.

Two years ago for Christmas my brother bought my mum and baby sister a surprise flight to visit him in Edinburgh. So selflessly I decided to join the rest of the Vincent’s and finally see the Scottish isles.

I LOVED it. I had just come back from Rome and I realise that it sounds crazy to someone who’s never been but Edinburgh reminds me a lot of Rome, history on every corner, gorgeous architecture and lovely people. So without further ado, here are those things that everyone needs to try in the Scottish capital: carltonhill1 carltonhill3

  • Visit Calton Hill 

This is the large hill in Edinburgh that looks out to Arthur’s seat and the town below, as well as the seas behind you. If you can go up and watch it turn to dusk you will be in for a treat.

  • Find some Bagpipes… and dance in the street

My mum was so happy to see a Scottish guard playing the bagpipes that she proceeded to do an jig in the street. She was lovely and it was a great moment. haggis

  • Eat Nipps and Tatties 

Haggis may not appeal to you but believe me, it is delicious. Imagine a meatball (or a faggot for the English / Welsh people out there) It’s great. If you can’t bring yourself to try it then you can always try one of the other Scottish delights. Oat cakes, swede mash, whiskey sauce, shortbread, hot toddies, mulled wine, deep fried mars bars,  cranachan….mmmm just eat everything while you are there.

  • Visit the Elephant Cafe

If you aren’t a fan of Harry Potter then this might not appeal to you but i’m a HUGE potter fan so going to the cafe where she wrote a lot of it was a cool feeling. There are also signs of the books all over this city. In the Greyfruars Kirkyard graveyard, which is also definitely worth a visit, you can see the gravestone of a man named ‘Tom Riddle’ and see Edinburgh castle that gave the inspiration for Hogwarts. If you do go to the elephant cafe, you might find yourself wondering why there aren’t any elephants in the books.

  • Go on the Edinburgh after dark tour

There are so many  walking tours in Edinburgh . We paid a little and had a tour of the underground tombs with the Auld Reekie Tour company. We had my younger sister with us so we didn’t do the ghost tour just the underground tour. The vaults under the city were made famous by the criminals Burke and Hare but have gone through so many changes throughout the year. It was a little creepy but interesting. Seeing the left over cockle shells from when there were secret bars under the bridge in the 19th century. It’s a great thing to see. dog marketstreet

  • Walk the Cobbled Street’s of Edinburgh

Sometimes you just need to walk around a city . Edinburgh is one of those. You should just walk and take it all in. (if you can stop off and buy a Irn Bru and a Tunnocks teacake while you do it, even better)

irnbru teacake

Have you been to Edinburgh or anywhere else that you love in Scotland? Where in Scotland should we visit next?  signature

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16 Ways To Tell You’ve Become a Travel Photographer

28th February 2015

shanghai I got my first camera for my 12th birthday. It was a wind up film camera and I loved it. The first 5 rolls were mainly photos of swans and my toys but I was instantly hooked.

Since then I’ve gone through about 5 camera but it wasn’t until two years ago that I bought my first DSLR. I had wanted one for so long and moving to Korea was the perfect excuse to take the plunge. Since then it has been glued to my side. I have to warn people now if i’m not bringing it.

Slowly over the last two years I’ve started to learn more and more. I also managed to get my photos published in a few travel magazines here so I ‘tentatively’ feel I can call my self a travel photographer (or at least a aspiring one) so I thought i’d write a list of those little signs that show you might love your camera and travel a little more than the average point and clicker.

  1. You travel with two toothbrushes. One for your teeth, one for your camera.
  2. You have more photos of strangers than of the people you are traveling with. koreanman
  3. Your bucket list has slowly become photos you want to take. it use to just be ‘See the Northern Lights’ now it says ‘Take a good picture of the Northern Lights’.
  4. You have mastered switching on your camera and taking a picture in about 5 seconds.
  5. You can still picture the photos you missed, maybe you should take up painting to re-create them? KohSamui2
  6. You’ll try food when you travel , not because your hungry but because it’ll make a good picture.
  7. Friends say they plan their holidays around your photos.
  8. Your camera comes first in regards to your suitcases weight. Clothes will be sacrificed if necessary. skyline1
  9. You plan your holidays around the photos you want to take.
  10. You can say ‘can I take your picture’ in almost every language.
  11. You use to take photos of weird things abroad, now they seem normal so you take weird photos of things back home.
  12. Before traveling you only saw sunrises when you were coming home from a night out. Now you wake up especially. sunset
  13. You know when the ‘magic hour’ is in every time zone.
  14. You’ll charge your camera battery rather than your phone.
  15. RAW means something very different to you. china2
  16. If you don’t already have a GoPro you really, really want one. You’ll take up extreme sports to make it worth while. KohSamui koreanbbq2 taiwan tarokogorge

Happy Snapping lovely people. Please send us links of your fantastic photos and blogs. We’d love to see them.  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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Getting Down with the Sickness (in Korea)

29th December 2014

Being Sick In Korea

Today I’m taking my first sick day in Korea. I have managed to not take a sick day for 3 years and I’m very happy about that. I hate sick days. Having spent a lot of timing being sick when I was younger I do everything humanly possible to avoid the dreaded ‘day off’. In Korea it seems they hate a ‘sickie’ as much as me. They are rarer here than a blue steak.

I can only talk about the school system since that’s where I have worked but the way it goes around here is there is a nurse’s office in your school with a bed and when you are sick you lay down in between classes. They only time you take a sick day is if you are stupidly infectious or if you can’t physically move.

Today I am suffering from the flu combined with a sickness bug and due to having no voice, no stomach and no will to stand in front of hundreds of angry students, I am at home.

IMG_1009 So what happens? Well my teacher knew I was sick so she wasn’t surprised when I called in to say I was being a giant fool. I hung up and laid in bed unconscious to the world but in Korea sick days are different. In the UK when you ring in sick that is normally the end of it. If you are sick for more than five days you have to get a doctor’s note. In Korea teachers tend to call you throughout the day to check in on you and will often take you to the hospital. As a British person who only goes to the hospital in a life and death situation this can be scary. It can initially seem a little weird but when you step back from it and realise these people are family orientated and know you have no one then it is very sweet. Even if I just want to hide under the covers.

The doctor normally sees you in ten minutes and prescribes you more medicines than you could ever imagine you’d consume. Today I stayed in and was given a drip to replenish my electrolytes. It was all so easy and painless.

In the UK we don’t pay for health care but here you do. I remember the first time I realised that the safety cushion of my NHS was gone, I was terrified. I thought they ask for my kidney in exchange for some headache tablets. Luckily it’s a lot less than I expected with the added bonus that being a teacher provides half of our insurance.

Today I went and had two drips of electrolytes, an anti nausea injection, and a consultation. It came to 35,000 won or 35 dollars (20 pound).

All the doctors that I’ve met in Korea have spoken some English since they are very educated people. They have also been just lovely and kind so if you are feeling under the weather don’t you worry about popping to your nearest doctors, walking in and making an appointment. If there English isn’t great then luckily with sickness charades is quite effective.

I hope you don’t get sick in Korea but if you do it really isn’t the worst country to do it in.

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How to Make Homemade Baileys (in Korea)

16th December 2014

This is a little video of our home made Baileys. We are gonna stick some peanut butter in it next time and blend it up. It isn’t fancy and it isn’t strict but it’s just what we do at Christmas. Enjoy folks and if you want a more detailed recipe then please send me a message ^^

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