A Travellerspoint blog

Minor celebs

sunny 27 °C

Hello everyone,

Well I know it's been a longgg time since I updated my blog and I have much to tell. I promise I'll update you all on what I got up to during the summer this week but before that I wanted to write a quick note about last night.

So a few of us went out last night for a spot of dancing. Now although I do love being in Korea there is one thing that Korea lacks and that is decent wine. In a word, their wine is pretty 'rank'. I've tried some horrible stuff since I've been here and I was about to give up looking when last night, thanks to my korean co-teacher we discovered the perfect wine bar which had lots of different wines from around the world (I skipped the page listing the Korean wine - yuk). Anyway, after having nearly a full bottle of red to myself (oh, how I have missed it) we headed out dancing and that is where the fun started. We ended up in one of our local spots which plays a mixture of Western and Korean Pop music (known as K-Pop) which we love. Now this bar is very popular with Koreans so Westerns normally get some attention when they go there (well, maybe more girls than guys). Anyway, last night we seemed to generate more interest than normal and we ended up dancing in a group of about 20 people where we were the centre of attention. We were like minor celebrities. Each guy took his turn strutting his dance moves infront of us and if I'm honest some of them were pretty good dancers. Unlike guys from home whose dancing goes no further than the 2 step, Koreans are big into a kind of break dancing with lots of fancy footwork. Anyway, we danced until the wee hours of the morning and then called it a night.

Well, that's it for now. chat to you all soon

Posted by JuliaG 21:00 Archived in South Korea Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Eyes wide open

overcast 26 °C

Have you ever considered plastic surgery?

I never knew surgery was so popular in Korea. Last night was a real eye-opener for me (pardon the pun) as I sat and listened to 2 Korean girls tell me they've both had eye surgery to make their eyes bigger. Thankfully this is something I need never have to consider, I'm sure the 2 boys that used to bully me about my 'frog' eyes would agree. In fact one of the girls I was with had the surgery recently and was wearing dark glasses to cover the incisions. I got the shivers when she showed me them. Apparently lots of Asian women get this procedure done to give them bigger eyelids. I can't say I noticed a marked difference on this girl but I think I would have to see what her eyes looked like before.

I also found out that 'head surgery' is another favourite among Koreans. Smaller heads are all the rage these days. These girls were quite taken with my head saying it is very small. Since moving here I've been told numerous times I have a small head. One of my students frequently looks at me says 'teacher, teacher, small head, small head'. I'm wasn't sure whether this was a compliment but now I know it was. I always thought my head was normal, in fact I never really thought about it. The girls told me Koreans get surgery on their face to make their head smaller. I assume it's some sort of face lift. Oh, they also told that lots of people get head massages as this also helps in the 'head reducing' process. So for those of you out there that get regular head massages you'd better watch out, you might wake up one day having a head the size of Michael Keaton in 'Beetlejuice' (that scene was so funny).

Well that's my titbit for today. Bye for now

Posted by JuliaG 17:42 Archived in South Korea Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Mud fun

Slap on the mud

25 °C

It’s a while since I last updated this so I’ve lots to tell. So grab a cuppa and a wee biscuit while I tell you about my recent escapades.

So as some of you already know, a few weeks ago I went away for the weekend to ‘Mudfest’ which you can probably gather from the name is a festival with mud. The fun started at 7:30am when Val and I along with 200 others from Busan took a 5 hour bus ride to the East coast of South Korea (it wasn’t as bad as it sounds). Upon arriving we were escorted to our lodgings, known as a ‘minbak’ which is the name given to typical Korean accommodation where multiple people share a room and sleep on the floor. There were 16 people in our room, now this might sound like your worst nightmare but given that some other people had to share with 50 people, I’d say we were lucky. Oh, I forgot to mention that Mudfest is a festival that attracts nearly all Westerners living in Korea, so there were thousands of ‘Weegookens’ (i.e. that’s Korean for ‘Westerners’) at the festival. Most of which were American, few were Irish.

Anyway, once we arrived at our luxury accommodation (which it definitely wasn’t) we got talking to a few girls in our room, one of whom was from Bundoran in Donegal. The other girls were American. They were to be our new buddies for the rest of weekend. After we’d all grabbed our ever so clean bedding (haha) and marked out on sleeping spots on the floor, we all headed to the beach armed with a few beers to have some mud fun. As you’d expect, the beach was packed full of Weegookens and Koreans covered in mud and we did join in the fun (there are some pics to prove it which are on my blog). My take of Mudfest is what I picture American Spring Break to be like, except with mud.

Now I’m not sure if you all know that Korean couples LOVE and I mean LOVE to wear matching outfits. Up to this point I’d seen my share of matching ‘his and hers’ t-shirts but nothing prepared me for seeing matching his and hers swimming suits!! Yep, he was wearing shorts with some funky multi-coloured pattern and his girlfriend was wearing a swimming suit with the same pattern – SAD!!! Unfortunately I’ve no photographic evidence to back this up; it definitely would’ve been a keeper. But if any of you would like matching ‘his and hers’ bathing costumes just let me know and I’ll sort you out. Sav, I’ll get you and Baz some and you can wear them on your honeymoon. Maybe this could be my new business venture? Hmmmm

We stayed on the beach for a few hours until the heavens opened and the rain poured down. At this point we headed back to the minbak where we were told there was no hot water – brilliant!!! Luckily we’d washed off our mud at a beach shower on our way back so we just decided to be smelly and just get changed, however other girls in our room started complaining about how ridiculous this was. Now I do agree hot water isn’t a big ask but these girls made a big issue out of it and started saying they wanted to leave (they also weren’t happy with having to sleep on the floor even though we were told this before we arrived). Take a chill pill people, this is a FESTIVAL and it cost you about 50 quid (75 dollars) which included the return bus ride and accommodation, what were you expecting – The Plaza??

Now our night time partying definitely deserves a mention as most of it happened outside of a GS25 convenience store (think ‘Mace’ or ‘7 Eleven’). As it was raining so heavily we didn’t really want to stand outside and get soaked so a group of about 20 of us sat outside this store on the plastic picnic style table and chairs drinking our lovely cans of beer. It was actually very good craic. However the rain eventually took its toll and we all called it a night around 2am. Not much happened the next day as the rain continued to fall so there was no more mud fun to be had. We hung around aimlessly until 3 and then got the bus back to Busan. It was sleepy time most of the way home.

Even without the hot water and the rain, it was still a fun trip.

Posted by JuliaG 07:00 Archived in South Korea Tagged events Comments (0)

Bring on the culture

overcast 25 °C

Last weekend I went away for 3 days with a few teachers from my school and their husbands. We headed off to explore an area in South-West Korea called Jeollabuk-Do. On the Tuesday before we left I was given our 3 page, typed out itinerary where I saw the daily festivities started at 8am. I will admit I did grimace when I saw this. It was at this stage I thought, hmmmm, do I really want to go but I told myself to wise up, packed my bag and prepared myself for a weekend full of culture. Luckily I had Val was coming to and I knew we could escape.

On the Friday we visited a few temples and saw a lot of the countryside which was very beautiful. The first temple we visited, Haesin, was a working temple and we were lucky enough to arrive just in time for lunch which was right up Val’s street as monks are vegetarian. We feasted on tofu, kimchi, rice and some other veg which I don’t know the name of. The only strange thing about lunch was that everyone sat in silence but the food was good and filled a hole.

After exploring the countryside for a few more hours and visited another temple, we arrived at our accommodation which I knew would involve sleeping on the floor as it was a ‘Minbak’. Luckily the bedding in this minbak was clean compared to what we had to use at Mudfest and all 7 of us didn’t have to sleep in the same room. After some dinner and a few drinks we all went to bed as we knew we had to be up bright and breezy the next day. Anyway, after a not so good night’s sleep due to some very very loud snoring in the next room Val and I were awoken at 5:30am by the sound of someone chopping vegetables – breakfast was being prepared – a fine feast of curry and rice and of course kimchi which was served at 7:30am. I did manage to eat some curry but resisted the rice and kimchi. How can people eat rice 3 times a day, 7 days a week??

Anyhoo, it seems that Val and I weren’t the only ones kept awake by the snoring on Friday night as everyone was much more subdued on Saturday. Again we saw more temples and visited a traditional Korean folk village which is where we stayed in thatched cottages. Val and I were very pleased to have our own cottage so we were far away from the phantom snorer – lol.

Whilst at the village we were able to try on some traditional warrior style clothing (photos are on my blog) and listen to Korean music. Now, I tried my very best to appreciate the music but I just can’t see how people listen to it. In the words of my Dad, think of a cat squealing and you come close to what I had to endure for an hour. That was a long hour I tell you, no wonder we were dying for a drink later on. However, there were no bars to be found in the area so Val and I ended up sneaking out of the village to a local store to buy beer which we drank in a small park (oh how it brought back memories of days gone by). However, while we were walking back through the village at 9:30pm which you would hardly call the wee hours, an old Korean woman came running towards us shouting in Korean. I assume she was telling us to get back to our cottage. OK lady, calm your jets, it’s only 9:30.

What I forgot to mention about this trip was the number of times my name was called ‘Julia’, ‘Julia’, ‘Julia’. I think my name was still echoing in my ears when I got home. My teachers and their friends called upon me for translations, for explanations, for general chit chat, to ‘order’ me to try different food or to come with them to see something. I was also told/ordered to hop on the back of the scooter of a local man in the folk village. I thought I was just getting on so my teachers could take a photo but as soon as I got on he took off much to my amusement. I didn’t know what to think but I did find it hysterical. I knew I was safe - we were only going about 10 mph. He took me for a spin around the village and dropped me off at the place my teachers wanted to have lunch. Unfortunately I didn’t get a pic.

We eventually got home around 3pm which was much earlier than what was on the ‘itinerary’. I think after Friday it was clear that too much was crammed into the 3 days as all of us where drained. Although it was a rather intense weekend it was good to get the chance to see some of the less touristy parts of Korea, however I think a 1 day trip will be long enough next time.

Posted by JuliaG 06:51 Archived in South Korea Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

It's a dog eat dog world

Never in a million years

overcast 28 °C

WARNING – for those of you that are dog lovers you may want to skip this blog entry.

On Thursday Val and I went out for dinner with 2 of her co-teachers. We were chatting about this and that when we go onto the subject of eating dog. Now contrary to what people outside of Korea think eating dog in Korea isn’t that popular, in fact I’ve met few people who have eaten our lovable 4 legged friends. Anyway, back to dinner. The 2 teachers we were with told us they had tried dog but only once in their lives. One teacher tried it at a restaurant and the other teacher had tried it at home (for those of you that are interested, it tastes like chicken). Apparently the latter teacher’s father didn’t tell her it was dog and it was only afterwards she asked what it was and her ‘honest’ father told her but (and this is where it just gets worse), it wasn’t just any dog it was their very own PET DOG. I think my face fell to the floor as I immediately thought of being served my own beloved dog on a plate with some veg and potatoes. Imagine, eating your own dog for dinner! I think I’m still traumatized by this revelation. Poor Scruffie

Posted by JuliaG 20:16 Archived in South Korea Tagged food Comments (0)

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