Tag Archives: Korea

Having a Korean Adventure in Australia

2nd July 2017

Lee and I made this video AGES ago. I just have no time to write anymore and I love YouTube videos so I thought I’d try and put some videos together.

We had a great day getting Korean food, walking around Korean supermarkets, going to cat cafes and watching Korean movies. Unfortunatly the camera broke and didn’t capture almost any of that stuff BUT it’s the thought that counts , right?

Enjoy 🙂

This is a little crazy and I seem like a mental Disney character in it so hopefully I get better.

Bye lovely people x

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.

 

Kyoto – Day 1 – Jacuzzis and Squid

3rd March 2015

banner Well we did it. After a few crazy weeks that have melted into a blur of to-do lists and organisation we have finally left Korea. Once we worked our last days in our offices and received some lovely gifts we had to move out of our little flat and become homeless, jobless bums for a few days. Luckily we have a good group of people who put us up for a few days. Days  filled with house wine and slumber parties.
Then it was a serious of teary goodbyes, some of which took places at a train station platform which was heart wrenching while others took place at the airport while boarding our flight. I’ve never waved goodbye to someone as I walked onto a plane, as expected it was bitter sweet. I have been annoyed at myself for the last two years because while saying goodbyes to people I haven’t cried. I cry just thinking about the first few minutes of UP so it is especially weird when I didn’t cry watching my best friends walk away. I have had a stone in my stomach and felt horrible but tears refused to fall. That was until I sat down on the plane and two years of happy memories overwhelmed me. I listened to the songs we had all become use to and made my own special montages with my memories. Jeez, we have been lucky in Korea.
But now we are moving on to a crazy new adventure, and this adventure happens to start in Japan. We are currently sat in our bizarre hotel in Kyoto which can only be described as a weirdo’s sex den. We found a really cheap room through booking.com at the Grand Fine hotel that had a Jacuzzi bath and was well situated so we couldn’t say no. What we discovered when we arrived was that the hotel had written the line ‘not a family hotel’ on the booking form for a reason. A phone in the room to shout for call girls, a special refrigerator to buy lingerie and a ‘back massager’ were all part of the deal…oh also did I mention we have a full size slot machine, a wall projector and KARAOKE in the room?!? I am not complaining. There are certain things in the room I will not be touching but the price fitted and the fun of it all is surely what everyone expects when coming to Japan , and I mean that in the best way possible. kyotoday1_1 kyotoday1_2 kyotoday1_10
After a bumpy ride with Peach air we got the JR to Kyoto and explored the area. We had our first taste of Okonomiyaki, which is a fried batter, cabbage and squid. We also added some pork to be sneaky.  It’s sweet and delicious. A new favourite for us both. This was accompanied by the ever popular Yaki Soba noodles. Our bellies are happy. kyotoday1_3 kyotoday1_4 kyotoday1_5 kyotoday1_7
We didn’t venture out tonight since sleeping on friends floors has taken it’s toll but tomorrow it is a bright new day filled with temples, monkeys and bamboo forests….and hopefully more okonomiyaki. The rest of my night is Jacuzzi baths, fruit beers and keylime pie cheesecakes. Japan I’m never leaving! kyotoday1_8 kyotoday1_9
So its さようなら from us (or sayonara/goodbye if like us you don’t speak a lick of Japanese) . I would love to promise I will write on here every day but we all know thats not true but I will try my best to keep you updated (Hi Mum) and so that I don’t let those little memories run away from me. I have the memory of a gold fish with amnesia.

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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

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

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Helpful Korean Phrases – If we can do it, anyone can!

8th January 2015

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Some Korean street art

Last year one of my favourite people in the whole world and also one of my oldest friends came to visit me for two weeks. I can’t tell you how touched I was that she headed across the world to catch up with me.

I wanted to help her out when she arrived so I wrote down some helpful Korean phrases so that if she got lost in this mysterious land she’d be able to at least order a beer.

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Jess came to visit!

So we thought we’d share it with you.

Korean Phrases

Hello – An-nyong-hasaeo 안녕하세요

Where are you from? – Awdisaw-o-syay-aw-yo 어디서 오셨어요?

I’m from the UK – Cho-nun young-gook saram imneda 저는 영국 사람 임니다

Goodbye (when you are leaving) – annyeonghi gyeseyo 안녕히 계세요
Goodbye (when you are staying) – annyeonghi gaseyo 안녕히 가세요

I don’t speak Korean –Hangookah-lul mo-habnida 한국어를 못합니다

Where’s the toilet? – hwa-jang-schil-E Awdi-a-o?  화장실이 어디예요?

Thank you – kamsa-hamnida 감사합니다

( the first Korean number is when ordering food and the other is for counting objects…I know…its weird!)

One—– Hanna / il

Two —- Duel / ee

Three —- Set/ Sam

Four —-Net/ Sa

Five —- Dasa/ O

Six — Yasa / yuck

Seven —- ilbon / chill

Eight — yudail/ pall

Nine — ah-hoe/ goo

Ten — yull/ ship

Can I have one beer please – Mik-jew han jan gesaeo

Can I have two bibimbaps please – Bibimbap Du gay gesaeo

(Gesaeo = please

Jan = bottles

Gay = objects

Myoung = People)

mik-jew = beer

Soju = sweet potato vodka…very cheap and very strong

Makgeolli = Milky rice wine … very potent and if flavoured its amazing!

Wine = Wine (for some reason they hear white as red so pro-nounce-i-ate!)

Cider = Cider is lemonade in Korea

rsz_dsc_0604 Bibimbap 비빔밥 = mixed rice with selection of veg and a red pepper hot sauce..the staple of Korea, you probably had it on the plane. Very good. When you get it use the spoon to mix all the ingredients up and then eat with a spoon.

Kimbap 김밥 – looks like Sushi but is bigger and normally filled with a few different ingredients like radish, ham, cucumber and sometimes meat or fish.

Kimchi 김치 – like it or hate it this food sums up Korea. Its fermented Cabbage in garlic and hot chilli’s that they store in pots underground for 2 years. You will get it free with every meal and drink you buy.

Sam Gyap Sal – Korean BBQ. You will see these restaurants everywhere. They give you the meat and you cook it infront of you. You have to put the meat in a lettuce leaf with sauce and wrap it into a parcel. Then you eat in one bite! Delicious

Mandu 만두 – very similar to Chinese dumplings. Lots of different types and all really nice.

rsz_dsc_0611 Dabokkie – Weirdly this spicy red sauce tastes a lot like English spaghetti hoop sauce. Then they put rice cakes which are basically Gnocchi in it.

Chicken 닭고기 (Dak gogi)

Beef 사고기 (Sagogi)

Pork 돼지고기 (dwae ji gogi)

Tuna 참치 (Cham Chi)

Seafood 해산물 (Hae san mool)

Water 물 (mool)

rsz_dsc_0635 Address 조수 (Joe soo) – (almost always the taxi drivers have GPS so if you say ‘Joe soo’ and then show them the address you should be ok.

In Seoul taxi’s are very hard to find. Avoid the orange ones as they don’t use a meter and like to rip you off. Koreans might be a little wary of foreigners (Waygook) but they are normally very nice. (Since she visited last year this has got better. The Korean government now issue huge fines if a taxi won’t take you somewhere)

Pharmacy – When you see 약 it normally means they sell medicine.

Hoff – hoffs are bars but they do like you to order at least something to eat. The food is normally cheap and nice though with very big portions.

Toilet 화장실 (hwa jang shill)

Subway 지하철 (ji ha chawl) but most Koreans know the word subway

Station 역 (Yock)

Bus 버스 (busu)

It sounds weird but if in doubt just try adding vowels on the end normally works. Change is Changie, Coke is Coke-u, nice is nice-u (seriously!!!)

 

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These ice creams are EVERYWHERE in Korea

I hope this very basic lesson helps you out just a little on your trips to these lovely lands…or maybe just impresses your Korean friends back home.

Coffee in Korea is more than a drink..it's a sport. They do it well. Luckily coffee in Korean is 고피 or Coppi

Coffee in Korea is more than a drink..it’s a sport. They do it well. Luckily coffee in Korean is 고피 or Coppi

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Living the Monk life – A Korean Temple Stay

7th January 2015

rsz_dsc_0988 As the end of my time here in Korea quickly approaches I am making a big effort to check off lots of things on my Korean Bucket List. A huge thing I wanted to check off that has been on my list since before I stepped foot in Asia has been to do a temple stay.

What is a temple stay you ask? Well, a temple stay is exactly what it sounds like. You book a weekend in a temple and for two days and one night you live life as a Buddhist monk.

I am not a practicing Buddhist but the belief system of Buddhism has always appealed to me. I like that it is mostly about being good to others and about strengthening your mind. I wanted to experience the real ways in which monks live and maybe detox my poor liver a little in the process. So this weekend I headed into the mountains with my good friend Nini who was the perfect partner in crime.

There are many temples in Korea that do these experiences but we chose the beautiful Dongwasa 동와사 at Palgonsan 팔곤산 (mountain) in Daegu, since it was close to home and it is a beautiful place.

We took the hour long bus with our ears popping as we climbed higher and higher into the Daegu skies. When we finally arrived we realized we’d been a bit too enthusiastic and that we were over an hour early…opphs. So we did what any good westerner would do, we drank wine. Yes I realise this is an awful thing to do before a peaceful, clean living temple stay but in our defense coffee was more expensive than wine… I mean, it would be rude not too.

rsz_dsc_0979 After we drank the dregs of our vino we headed further up into the mountains. The temple stay was centered on Dongwasa’s main temple but the space you sleep and do some activities in is housed about a 5 minute walk away in brand new buildings. Don’t worry too much about the ‘brand new’ label since time and care have been spent to make these new buildings look as authentic as possible with good, thick wood carved all around the place. I’d be surprised if they didn’t last for 100 years.

rsz_dsc_0987 rsz_dsc_0999 Our room was basic, which is what we’d come to expect in Korea. We had a private bathroom and lots of bedding for our massive floor beds. It was a shame that the under floor heating was as hot as the sun but then again it is January and every steam, pond and water droplet was frozen solid all around us so I suppose we should have been thankful for the joy that is Ondol heating (Korean under floor heating)

First up were our monk’s clothes. Imagine getting dressed into giant pink marshmallows and you will easily be able to imagine what we were wearing. They were stupidly comfy. So we set off to our first experience, layered like trifles under our marshmallow suits.

rsz_rsz_dsc_1019 We were the only two westerners which wasn’t a problem at all since the lady in charge spoke fantastic English (even if she didn’t think she could). We had chosen to do the structured stay which means we had activities to do instead of just sleeping in the temple, and boy did they have activities for us.

rsz_dsc_1101 In the first day we had tea with a monk, watched a great stop motion orientation video (which they played twice, once in Korean and once more in English just for us two…eppp), we ate a delicious dinner made of fresh vegetables, rice, soup and noodles and had time to wander the forest. This was all in just a few hours. Next up was the 5pm drumming. Every day at 5pm the monks play the drum to sooth all the injured and suffering animals. It was incredible to watch and the sound echoed through the mountains. I’ve seen the drum in many temples but I didn’t know it was for the animals. It touched me to think that’s why they play it. There was also a bell that was rung 39 times for the deceased and wandering spirits, a wooden fish that was played to sooth the aquatic creatures and a metal plate what was rung to thank the birds for their existence. It was a beautiful ceremony and exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to learn about on this trip.

rsz_dsc_1056 Humbled and happy we headed back to learn how to bow. The bowing was the part of the temple stay I had feared and looked forward to all at the same time. In Buddhist culture you do many things in 108ths . The number 108 symbolizes the 108 struggles we face in our life such as anxiety, stress, anger and so on. The bows are quite intense. You stand and half bow, then lower yourself to the floor, place your head on the floor with your hands by your ears, you turn over your palms and raise them up as if someone was standing on them and you were lifting them to the sky, then you raise up onto all fours , sit up straight on your knees and without bending your back you stand up. This may sound easy to read but monks must have thighs of steal because these bows aren’t slow ‘think about your life’ kinds of bows. They are fast moving, thigh burning punches to the gluteus maximus that make it impossible for you to think of anything else but the task at hand….which I gather is the exact point. When we did our bows we had the added bonus of making a beaded necklace at the same time, so every time we lowered ourselves to the floor we’d thread a bead. I can’t thread a bead when I’m sat still for about ten minutes, let alone in-between bowing like a mad man and looking like I’m ‘Hulking up’. By the time we finished Nini and I resembled extras from the burning man. Our hair was all over the place and our skin was a delicious shade of puce. I can safely say that this beaded necklace is now one of my greatest possessions since I worked so hard to make the bloody thing. Those monks are heroes to do that every day….jeez

After all that exhausting activity we were invited to join the nightly meditation. It lasts from 8pm to 3am but since we had an early start (and by early start I mean earlier than any human has ever needed to start) we were only allowed to do half hour.

Meditation has always intrigued me. As a teenager I tried it once or twice. I loved the idea of centering my mind and relaxing but I had never had a guide and felt kind of silly sat in my dark room with my Care Bears bed sheets.

We were taught how to sit before entering and then we sat, quite simply we just sat, for a long time and you know what, all my worries about going insane over the half hour, all the aches and pains from the bows and all my thoughts just slipped away. I spent the time trying to thank each person in my life but I couldn’t tell you if that’s what I actually thought about since it felt like seconds later we were being woken up to leave….that was HALF HOUR? My brain was in shock. It felt great.

rsz_dsc_1081 By this time it was 9pm and we were shattered. For someone who is use to a bed time of 1am this was an achievement for me. We tried our best to get some sleep but the hot floor fought against us. What felt (yet again) like seconds later, we were being woken up…once in Korean over the sound system and then a few seconds later in English…a personal message just for Nini and I to wake up. Not embarrassing at all. Oh I seem to have forgotten to tell you what time it was that we woke up…yes that’s right…3AM!!!! Now I’m not a scientist but 3am does not feel like the time anyone should be waking up. We begrudgingly put our marshmallow suits back on and followed our monk to the morning ceremony. Was it worth it? Definitely!

The walk in the dark, cold night was horrid but because we were a small group we were allowed to slip into the temple and experience the real ceremony with the other monks. We entered the massive impressive temple, did our three bows (which my still aching leg’s did not appreciate) and followed along. The monks sung, chanted and rang gongs to welcome the day. We bowed a lot more but it was so peaceful and humbling that I didn’t even care it was 3am.

When the ceremony was finished, Nini and I looked at it each other (still too tired to talk) and smiled a knowing smile that we had just experienced something really special…..so now could we go back to bed please! Our wishes were granted and we had half hour rest before breakfast.

rsz_dsc_1206 rsz_dsc_1210 I should mention at this point that this food was incredible. It was healthy, vegetarian, colorful and tasty. Not too spicy and full of flavor. Whatever you put on your plate you have to eat so it made me over cautious and probably made me eat the right amount instead of giving myself huge portions like I would at home. Before eating you bow to the food since it is an offering from the monks and you eat in silence. It might have been the tiredness but the silence was great to gather your thoughts. We cleaned our own dishes and then headed back to meditate again. After the night before I was excited to try meditation again, unfortunately I was far too cocky. What had been an easy task the night before seemed impossible today. I couldn’t stop moving. My knees hurt. The clock was too loud. The room was too quiet. Is that an itch on my nose? A million thoughts were in my brain and none were helpful. This may have been because we were meant to meditate for an hour instead of half hour like the night before or that I was over tired but for whatever reason all I wanted to do was open my eyes. Sitting for so long was going to be impossible and then suddenly we were getting called to finish. It is a strange experience being made to sit still and quite for so long without knowing how much time has passed. I think it’s something I’d like to do more but that morning I wanted to pull my hair out. I need a lot more practice. Once that was done it was to the room for another 2 hours sleep….ahhh bliss.

rsz_dsc_1106 rsz_dsc_1165 When we woke the night had turned to dawn and we were off on a hike. We climbed the surrounding mountains just in time to arrive at a shrine as the sun rose. It is the first part of the mountain to see the sun. We could see Daegu surrounded by mountains below us and we meditated at the top of the mountain for a few minutes. This was much easier but probably had something to do with the lovely surrounds and the fact I may have been more asleep than meditating.

rsz_dsc_1133 rsz_rsz_dsc_1127 The rest of the day was spent learning how to serve Korean tea in the traditional manner. The ceremony is beautiful to watch and very intensive. People train for years to do it properly. Nini and I were commended on our tea making ability (which we still aren’t sure how we achieved since we did the same as everyone else) but it was really interesting and another thing to take off the bucket list.

rsz_rsz_dsc_1171 rsz_dsc_1191 rsz_dsc_1195 rsz_dsc_1198 We toured the temple , ate lunch and painted on wood. It was a relaxing and restful day. Once we changed out of our marshmallow suits we brought our bags up to the main temple and were ready to say our goodbyes. We thought that we had escaped a weekend in Korea without the weirdness but oh no….then there was a slide show. Throughout the weekend the leader had been taking lots of photos. This was then edited together with Korean songs and played for all of us to see. If it’s possible I looked worse doing my 108 bows than I thought. Seeing yourself awake at 3am is also not something anyone should experience but it was funny and made us all laugh.

rsz_dsc_1235 rsz_dsc_1239 rsz_dsc_1248 rsz_dsc_1257 rsz_dsc_1264 The experience was everything I hoped it would be. It was in the perfect setting as it wasn’t too commercial or tacky (apart from the slide show) as I was afraid it would be. Everyone was friendly and happy that you wanted to learn.

rsz_dsc_1274 rsz_dsc_1280 If you are in Korea, or coming to visit I would definitely recommend a stay, even if it’s just to get the lovely gifts at the end of the trip. We received beads (that I didn’t sweat over to make), a note book and some perfume that left us feeling happy. They were very kind mementos that I’ll cherish…. Just don’t tell the monks I said that about material possessions …ok?

Have you ever stayed in a temple? What did you think? If you haven’t experienced it is it something you think you’d like to try? Tell us your stories. We would love to hear your thoughts on the concept.

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2014 Our Favourite Bits

27th December 2014

Some how when we weren’t looking, the year dissapeared. We have almost been in Korea for two years and sometimes if feels like meer hours. As 2014 gets ready to hang up it’s hat it’s the perfect time to reflect on what a fantastic year it’s been.

There have been many things that I’d love to include but we’ve narrowed it down to some of the top moments from the past year.

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  1. Dumplings in Shanghai

In August this year we went to China. Our first stop was Beijing where we ate our weight in duck and noodles. We thought it couldn’t get better than Beijing, but then we went to Shanghai. If Beijing is the traditional brother then Shanghai is the kooky nephew. In Shanghai the first things we noticed before we checked in was the fantastic smell coming from a small hut next to our hotel. This little booth contained a very hard working woman. She made dough in the morning and filling in the night. She was our dumpling supplier for the rest of the holiday and by jove were they delicious. At 30p a pop we easily lived on them for the entire holiday. You will notice a theme with this list…food will be featured heavily.

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  1. Being in North Korea

When we decided to move to Korea we knew that we wanted to visit this almost mythical mysterious place. The DMZ is the dividing line between North and South Korea and you can visit it on a tour, run by the American Army. I don’t know what I was expecting before I got there but this place utterly shocked me. It was a very jaring and humbling experience and I think there is definitley something to be said for understanding the country you are living in and the hardships it has and is facing. The day we went it was cold, grey and snowy which only added to the somber atmosphere. There isn’t anything I’ve experience as terrifying as coming face to face with a North Korean soilder. Stepping over that dividing line, even for 5 minutes isn’t something I ever thought I’d do but I’m very glad I did.

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  1. Visiting my brother in Scotland

I’ve only ever been to Scotland twice in my life and both have occurred over the last two years. This seems shocking to me now that I live in Asia and travel far and wide. Our home of Wales and Scotland are stupidly close. What’s even more shocking is that up until January this year Lee hadn’t been at all. Luckily My brother is living in Edinburgh so when we traveled home in January we decided to pop up there and celebrate his recent engagement to his beautiful fiance. Edinburgh is one of those cities that just blows me away. The history, architecture, people and food are the best around. Sitting in a resturant eating haggis, drinking hot toddys and laughing with my brother has been one of the best parts of this year.

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  1. The Nightmarkets of Taipei

Taiwan just blew us away. It you sit still for two seconds any where near me I will tell you how Taiwan is just the best place I’ve ever been. One of the lovely things about Taipei was the amazing night markets. The crazy amounts of delicious food, fresh fruit juices, fun games and lovely people are what makes Taipei feel like the perfect mix between traditional China and kooky Japan. I still dream about the cheese sticks and lime juice there. This overlooked city is waiting to be discovered by the masses so get there quick.

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  1. Taroko Gorge , Hualian Taiwan

There are some places you visit that even photos can do justice. This is one of those places. The towering pillars of marble, the clay filled rivers and the bluest seas I’ve ever seen. We were in awe the entire time. We even managed to see a wild monkey which is a first, although I hear when we visit Indonesia next year we will be sick of the little blighters. Everyone should go and you should go now.

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  1. Conquering the Great Wall of China

We did it! It was tough, it was the hottest day of the year and we went to the wrong part of the wall so had to do it twice. It was a big thing to cross off the bucket list and I was so happy to share this moment with Lee since we’ve talked about it for a long time. If you are going to visit, take about twenty bottles of water and a camera to take a million photos.

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  1. Holi Hai in Busan

Hoil Hai is the Indian festival of colour but it is also a big deal in Busan , Korea. When I first heard about it last year we had just missed it so I was stupidly excited to experience it this year. It also happened to fall on the same weekend as Saint Patrick’s day which meant it would have been rude to not celebrate with our Irish friends. We spent the weekend covered in green shamrocks and powder paint. It’s made us move a trip to India up the bucket list because if Busan was fantastic I can only imagine how great the real thing is.

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  1. My Best Friends Wedding

In April this year I had the privilage of being part of my best friends wedding. She has been my friend since I was fifteen and it was an honor to be her bridesmaid. It was the first international flight I’ve taken on my own and it was so bizzare to travel the world on my own. I was only in the UK for four days but it was completely worth it. It also helped that the wedding was on my mum’s birthday so she, my sister and my brother were all there. Traveling the world for a dance party like no other was very worth it. Plus Wales is just beautiful. Any excuse to see these sunsets is worth a twelve hour flight.

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  1. Dancing the night away in Shanghai

When we heard that there was an all you can drink nightclub in Shanghai, situated in a building that is a cross between a Victorian manor house and a eighties music video. To set the scene for you there was a see through grand piano in the bathroom and a stone statue of king Arthur wearing an afro. We danced and laughed all night, that combined with being chatted up by some very beautiful escorts made it a crazy night. Thank you China for the ego boost and good time. There isn’t many things in life I love as much as dancing but dancing with my Lee is one of them.

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  1. Lee’s family learn to Noreabang

I’ve known Lee’s family for as long as I can remember. When they decided to come and visit us in Korea we were over the moon. We took them for Korean bbq, we laughed over Makgolli and showed them the beautiful temples but the memory of us all ina norebang singing our hearts out at three a.m not because we were drunk but just because we were having so much fun we didn’t want to go home. They are my heros and there is nothing better than sharing Korea with people when they come to visit since it makes us fall in love with the place all over again.

 

Well that is just some of the great moments from our year. 2015 is shaping up to be a BIG year. My new diary is embarresingly already filled with flight details and hotel names as we get ready to leave Korea for good. We are reved up and ready to set off on our four month trip around Asia before finding a new home in Australia. There are terrifying yet exciting times ahead.

I hope you have all had a fantastic year and we thank you for also joining us on the new adventrue of starting this blog. It’s only been up and running for a few months but the response has been incredible. I hope we can get to know you all a bit better as well as share more of our adventures.

Happy New Year everybody.

 

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Our Christmas Weekend

15th December 2014

snow It’s CHRISTMAS!

I remember sitting in the cinema many moons ago with my lovely tall man and watching ‘Elf’ for the first time. After the first ten minutes of the film he turned to me and whispered ‘oh my god, it’s you’.

It is true, if I had a spirit animal it would be ‘Buddy the Elf’. I get excited by everything and have been known to talk about a good dog I saw that day for far too long. This is me all through the year so you can only imagine what I’m like at Christmas. Luckily for me Lee is just as bad.

We have put off celebrating for as long as possible but this weekend we went into full on Christmas mode.

The tree went up. The first red cup was drunk. The smells of homemade Baileys, eggnog, fudge and ginger biscuits filled our small flat and Nat King Cole was played constantly.

We checked off quite a few items from our  Christmas bucket list.

I even watched Die Hard and Lethal Weapon for the first time. At 28 I realise that is shocking but I have righted the wrong.

We hope you all had a fantastic Christmassy weekend. Or if you don’t celebrate Christmas, we hope you had a warm snuggly few days

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Autumn in Korea – A Photo Essay

21st November 2014

header Ahh autumn in Korea. Autumn is pretty in most countries but Korea seems to have won the race for ‘best display of colour.’ Unfortunately it is just a mere fleeting season. After about two weeks the leaves fall and everyone starts the indoor hibernation away from the cold. All these reasons make the autumn here a must see. Here is a photo essay of some of the things we’ve snapped over the last season in this beautiful country.

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