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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Korean BBQ – I am still in Korea and I miss it already.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Nora Bang with Jess (my uk friend) in Korea
Use the photo booths
See Asias biggest Budda (luckily located in Daegu)
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
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
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.
Go to Holi Hai
Go to Mudfest
Dance all night in Pacha
Have a phone conversation in Korean.
Find a Korean Mentor.
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.
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.
See the DMZ
Travel on the KTX
Stay up until the first subway
Make Welsh cakes
Try an out door gym.
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
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!
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.