Thursday, December 30, 2010

....and a happy new year!!!

I know its a bit early but HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

I hope that you have a cracker of a party and that 2011 is awesome! It feels like as I get older the years go faster and if that is anything to go by 2011 is going to be over before I know it. Soon I will be saying hello to more grey hairs, back pain, and bad eyesight!!! Bring on the future...yeah! year's resolutions. I have learnt to take better care of my body in Korea. I have lost weight not through dieting but through living a more active lifestyle. In South Africa we drive everywhere, in Korea we walk. I have also taken up gym and the healthiness of Korean cuisine also helped. So one of my resolutions for 2011 is to keep this up! I am terrified that once I leave Korea I will fall back into the same unhealthy routine. So here is to better cooking and living. My second figure out what the hell I am doing with my life!! Heehe! Oh, and my continue learning to speak Korea...even once I have left!

Hmmm, as for Oliver: I am not sure what his are...I will have to ask him. But if I know him at all....I think these will be among them. Get more of his photos published...and make more of an effort to make this a reality, also uphold his healthy lifestyle, master the art of snowboarding, and figure out what the hell he is doing with his life.

Feel free to comment and tell us some of your resolutions!! I love hearing resolutions because sometimes people say things that should really also be on my list.

As for our New Years Eve activities: Well initially we had planned to go and watch a sunrise on a beach. This is a tradition in Korea and hundreds gather on numerous beaches to celebrate the first sun of the new year...pretty neat idea. However, my hopes for this were dashed on two accounts. One, everybody thinks that it will be freaking cold...which it probably will be and I would more than likely be the first to complain. Number two....those festivals along with many others have been cancelled due to a recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Korea. Yikes! As if crazy neighbours weren't enough to worry about. Read here for more details on the outbreak.

Despite the festivals being cancelled because authorities are trying to avoid large gatherings f people...we have decided to head to the most populated city in the country which is bound to have tons more visiting for the new year celebrations. Yip, you guessed it Seoul!

And man oh man does it look like we are in for a party!

Check out some of these videos from you tube for New Years Eve parties in Seoul

I am not a fan of massive crowds where moving is a nightmare and finding a drink is even more difficult...I am sure it will be epic!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Korea style....whooop whoooop!

Post by Claudia

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another nomination

Hey all,

Good news! Our little blog has been nominated for another competition on another expat website. This time it's on They contacted us today to say that our blog has been nominated by their website to go up against other Korean blogs and let their users determine which blog is best!

This is very similar to a poll we were in with  in which we came in fourth place (Not too shabby Nidge!).

Hi Expat would like to expose expat readers, especially those in Korea, to material written by expats in the country. Their team has put together a fanatasic selection of blogs including Eat Your Kimchi, Grrrl Traveller, Farm Boy and City Girl (fellow South Africans) and Chris in Korea. There are almost 30 blogs on their give them a look! You may just enjoy what you find!! Give a vote to the one you think deserves it (which I hope is us...wink, wink, nudge, nudge). The winner gets a night out in Seoul as well as a featured article and biography...which is amazing exposure!!!!

Voting closes on the 21st of January. Here is the link to what the contest is about. Be sure to check out the mini-profiles at the bottom and the comments/discussions!

There are some on the list that I have never heard of before...better get reading while the going is good!

A Christmas in the cabins...

I simply can't believe that Christmas has come and gone! Phew...

As you all know this year we spent Christmas in a small lodge (known as a pension in Korea) with a whole bunch of foreigners! And it was a blast. A lot more relaxed than I anticipated but really good fun.

This is the one we stayed in if you click past the introduction page. Click preview. Click  Then click

You will get an idea of how beautiful our little pension was! Unfortunately, I can't download the photos so I thought this would be the best way for you to see what it was all about. Oliver and I weren't too good with taking photos this weekend.

As you can see from the layout of the pension, there were no beds and no private bedrooms so for two days we had a slumber party of note. It was quite peaceful actually.

Our Christmas day was broken up into a series of "times". Breakfast time, snack time, nap time, movie time, dinner time, game time, drunk time and hangover time. It just happened this wasn't planned...I promise!

Friday night (Christmas Eve) ended up being quite a bender....we stayed up until 4am giving Santa no chance to drop off our gifts. The others finished of a bottle of Tequila (bleh!) and numerous bottles of Soju. So on Christmas day there were a fair share of hangovers to go around.

 Oh, did I forget to mention that we had a disco ball and randomly started a
trance disco on Friday night..Bizzare!

Once up we decided to talk a walk to get some good food....Alas, many restaurants were closed leaving us with very few options. So after a 20 minute walk in the freezing cold we opted for the first restaurant we came across which was Bosam...Yum! Slices of meat, with herbs, lettuces and numerous other bits. It wasn't what everyone was after but at least our tummies were full.

Yummy leaves and fresh herbs!

After realising how cold it was we unanimously decided that we did not want to leave the pension again and we wanted to stock up on everything we needed. So we stopped off at a Family Mart. There must have been about eight of us there (we left three hungover souls at the pension) all kitted out with shopping baskets. We went, beer, snacks galore...I simply couldn't stop myself. I am not sure if the lady behind the counter was horrified at having so many loud foreigners in her store at one time or of she was over the moon because she just made more money off of us than she could have wished for on such a slow day!

On the walk back home we came across a frozen river....a novelty in our eyes. Immediately we started picking up rocks and trying to break the ice...but it was the boys got more adventurous trying to walk on it while the girls settled for trying to get small pebbles into breaks in the ice. After about half an hour half of us started getting cold and went back...but some die hard boys (including Oliver) played on for another hour! Nothing like some good wholesome fun on Christmas Day.

The amazing frozen river...take note of brock in his Santa outfit...he wore that all day!

Once back I got hard to work to make some pancakes! Hmmmmm...I love pancakes. And I had a special ingredient from back home...Stroh Rum. Horrible to drink but fantastic to cook with!

The things started to die down as movie and nap time started...we got to watch some great Christmas flicks like Home Alone, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Avatar (Ok, I admit this isn't a Christmas movie but awesome nonetheless).

With temperatures and wind chill factor leaving outside at -20 Degrees Celcius we decided walking wasn't such a hot idea and opted for pizza, chicken take aways and kimchi rice! Quite a feast!

 Our Christmas feast...mostly gone by now!

We then played a game to get Christmas presents which involved stealing gifts from others....Hmmmm...Let's just say some left happy and others not so happy. But then it was time for games....drinking games of course!We played everything from Korean drinking games like Bunny Bunny to classics like Sevens and funny ones like Obblydoobly.

Alas, despite our earlier shopping spree, our drinking supplies began to dwindle and the party faded at about two!

Thanks Friends for an awesome, chilled, and utterly funny Christmas!!!

The three South Africans (Oliver, Claudia and Stallone)

The two Brits (Natalie and Mike)

A drunk Korean (Aekyoeng) and a confused Canadian (Trevor)

My two favourite Americans (Brock and Lauren)

Everybody! Take note of Karolina's (the blonde at the back) very excited face!
and Matt (front). These two Americans very sneekily managed to dodge my camera in all other photos but this one!

Post by Claudia

P.S. If ever you decide to stay at this pension, the lady who runs it (a Korean hippie) is such a great laugh and will do everything in her eccentric power to make you comfortable!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas...Korean Style

Hello again!!!


We are about to head out on a train to celebrate Christmas with some friends in the bitterly cold weather in a lodge somewhere out there!!! But I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to all of you....Korean style.

Here are some Christmas songs done the Korean way (with all its kitschness, awkardness, and awesomeness):

Merry Christmas to all...and to all a good night! I have a feeling the jolly old man is going to spoil us this year!!!

From Sunny to Freezing

Hello all,

We are back from South Africa and we are finally starting to feel semi-human again. Two flights across the globe in under a week is exhausting!

Anyhow, we had a wonderful stop back home and were happy that we got a chance to see friends and family, even if only for a brief while. You will also be glad to know that the wedding was a huge success! Congrats again Carsten and Erica!

After basking in the awesome sunny weather in South Africa I realised two things. One, how translucent my skin has become as a result of being wrapped in clothing for the past three months...and it looks like it going to stay that way for another three. Have no idea how I am going to get a tan before my sisters wedding. Maybe before her wedding....powder, see-through white will be back in fashion (I doubt it).

Two, just how cold it is in Korea. I remember being told before we came that our little city of Wonju can drop to temperatures below -17 degrees Celcius. I thought no bloody way! Turns can. before we left to South Africa it dropped to -12 degrees Celcius. And today will be the same...but as soon as you factor in wind chill (which is significant) we will drop to -16 during the day and -22 during the evening. Brrrrrrrrrr!

If you don't believe me...check this forecast out:

It is going to be a cold cold Christmas!!!

And on that note MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone!!!! Have a wonderful weekend and I hope Santa spoils you rotten!

Post by Claudia

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Off for a week!

Seasons greetings everyone!

I hope that you are having a festive and happy season this far! Mine and Oliver's Christmas shopping is all done and...we are heading to South Africa today.

Two of our best mates are getting married and we couldn't miss it! So for a week we won't be in touch with all you lovely readers but I promise as soon as we are back we will be back in touch.

And Oliver has been working on a hoard of photos...we will have some beautiful pictures of Korea available for you soon!!!

Until then, have a wonderful time doing whatever you're doing!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The pride of Wonju: Dongbu Promy

There is not much to our little city Wonju......we have some beautiful mountains (which I am embarrassed to say we have not yet climbed), we are home to two fantastic festivals (the Hanji Festival and the Wonju Tattoo Festival), Korea's best female weightlifter Jang Mi-Ran is from here, and we have the Dongby promys who are both champions and have held several seasonal titles!

Dongby Promy...what the hell is that? Well, it's Wonju's basketball team!

Last night, I had my first ever basketball experience!!! And it was so so fun! Oliver finished work too late and had an insatiable snowboarding desire he had to have filled, so he wasn't at the game but boy am I happy I went along!

There were many people there to support their local stars....there were cheer-leaders and kiss cams, and free give-aways.

Before the game started

We tried our hardest to get in on some of the free pizzas, steaks, and ice-cream cakes but alas we are no longer children and we are not yet old so despite our best efforts at screaming and going blue in the face with energy.......we did not get any of the delicious food parcels that were handed out during ad-breaks. But don't you fret.....our little group of waygooks (foreigners) got their fair share of prizes.

Being a foreigner definitley comes with its fair share of good things. Being white, means that the local TV crews want you on TV. It sounds strange....but it's true!

First up, Lauren and Brock were spotted by the kiss cam and they gave the camera such a show that they were given 150,000Won's worth of beef. That's a lot of beef, and in the land of very expensive meat that is a fantastic prize!

Next, Steve was called onto the court to play rock, paper, scissors with a cheerleader....I am not too sure what happened because I was busy getting prepped for my time on court. Yip....I got to go on first time ever at a basketball game and I got to go on the court.....hahaha! YAY!

Before going on court

The Dongbu Promy Mascot

Once on court I had to pick a letter from the name Dongbu Promy....Then I was given a challenge. My challenge was to try and get a basket! So, I got into my best pose I could, bounced the ball a couple of times, tried my best to look like I had a blinking idea what I was doing, and took a shot...........I missed! Sniff sniff, weep weep. So much for all the months of playing with Oliver...when it counted the most and I was being watched by a stadium full of people....I missed...URG!

Then the announcer asked where I was from and I proudly announced I was from South Africa, I then proceeded to show him my South African Converse shoes. I totally forgot I was on national TV and acted like a nerd...I mean who shows off their shoes even if they are totally sweet because they are green and have the South African flag on them. What a turd!

My super cool shoes

Anyway, it was a good laugh and I got a prize!!! whooop whoooop! I got two day passes to Sungwoo Ski Resort which is super funny because just last week I bought a season pass for that resort! Haha! So because it is Lauern's birthday weekend I gave them to her as an early gift! Now I have someone who can spend the whole day falling with me which makes me happy!

And then, Brock and Lauren gave me a Dongbu Promy basketball with the team's signatures! Whoop Whooop! Who's the gangster now?

 The awesome Dongbu Promy ball

For the rest of the night I was super hyped up! I joined in the shouting and screaming to the extent that my throat is sore today! I love those environments and to top it all off our team won by a landslide!!!!

I will be going again!!!

Post by Claudia

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our first trips to the slopes: An agonizing and amazing experience

We have entered a new phase of our year in Korea, the winter phase!!!

We had our first snowfall just over a week ago which was great!! Snow is so magical. I know my one mates, Lauren, who is from Minnesota is not the biggest fan because of all the ice but then again she has lived with it her whole life and knows all the annoyances. I, on the other hand, can only see the magic of snow.....It reminds me of Christmas movies and romance...there is just something awesome about it!

After the first snow fall

Oliver being cute!

And with snow, comes a whole new outdoor experience! And by that I mean snowboarding, sledding, and skiing.

I love love love sledding. Yeeeeeah Ha! It is so fun and you do it with others which makes it social too. However, I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about skiing and snowboarding, that was, until yesterday.

We headed to the slopes to check out prices, etc. Hyperventilation appeared to be my only strategy for dealing with the huge costs of skiing for a season. Holy cow is a season pass expensive. It is a whopping 450, 000 Won  (which is roughly R2700 or 400USD). And that is just for the pass, then you have to pay to hire equipment, get the necessary clothing, and before you know it you have spent a fortune.

I sat agonising for a while as to whether I should just take the lunge, sacrifice the money, and get a whole new experience or be sensible and save the money. Man did I think and think and think! It was painful! In the end I took the lunge! Yikes!!!

When am I going to get the chance again to live in a country that is covered in snow and be as close as I am to a ski-slope? I don't know, so what the heck!

Rocking my gear

Oliver and his new best friend!
We made some adjustments, which means we will be living like peasants this month...but it also means we can do it from the top of a snow-covered mountain...which is a pretty sweet deal!

As for skill...hmmm...skill......ummmmm.....yeah....that is something that I need to work on. A whole bunch!

I went skiing yesterday...I have bad memories of snowboarding being bruised and frustrated so I thought I would give skiing a go. After falling, I really could not stand up....I kept sliding down the side of the mountain in absolute fits of laughter all by myself....I was a sorry sight. Eventually, I got back to my feet, only to fall again. This time in an awkward way that had my knees going in some weird direction which was bloody painful and must have been a ridiculous site! After some more sliding and the realisation that I had a lot more butt-sliding to do, a friend noticed me. Thank heavens!

Oliver (not my Oliver...another Oliver from Wales) taught me the to stand up, how to stop, how to manage my speed, and how to turn left and right. He was with me for about twenty minutes and boy did it help! For the next two hours I just kept trying and I could feel myself getting better and better. High Five!!!

While I was wading down the mountain in my slow, old lady, learning fashion. Oliver, Oliver and Eric were learning to do jumps, tricks and all sorts of crazy things. The boys were in such a happy place...pure joy!

We only ended up leaving the slopes at 23:10......CRAZY!!!

Oh, and can I just say, three hours of skiing really does make your bum and arms hurt. Ouch! I haven't been able to lift my arms above my head the whole day! I better look like a super model by the time the season is up!!! Hahaha....

So even though my pockets are dry and I cringe at the thought of how much money was spent I am super super stoked (happy) with my choice. Sometimes the reckless choice is the best one even if it means I am going to be covered in bruises for the next three months.

Post by Claudia

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Getting personal: Thoughts and questions about the future!

The life of an expat is a strange one. You feel so lucky and excited at the opportunity you have been given to explore a new land whilst at the same time feeling a little bit adrift from everything. It is an odd sensation. You have friends and family back home that have carried on with their lives whilst you forge new relationships abroad.

Yet, somehow, you feel detached. Detached from reality and detached from your life back home. I am not sure if it tis he same for everyone or even if everyone experiences these odd emotions I am trying to convey. It is not homesickness, per say. Sure, there are things and people from home I have missed...and I find that I have a longing for Africa that I cant quite place but I am also totally happy in the life I am living now. Confusing, I know.

As your time in one place comes to an end you find yourself looking to the horizon and asking questions about the next step. Staying is not an option for us. We love Korea and the lifestyle but we are not getting younger and life choices and decisions need to be made. But where to from here?

I have been accepted to the University of Sussex in the UK, which is fantastic, but there is no way in hell I can pay to go there. While I wait to hear on a scholarship I have to think about other options. And I must say, volunteering somewhere is Africa is very very appealing to me. Oliver, also needs space to further explore his photographic abilities. He might go to Ghana for a few months to stay with dad and explore that beautiful country.

Yes, this might mean that Oliver and I may have to spend some time apart but I think that is OK. Not easy, but necessary. We have been dating for six years and we find ourselves at a weird juncture where we need to set certain cogs into motion to secure our independent futures but at the same time we need to think about our joint future. Hmmmm......

We are not ready for marriage and kids but as friends start to get engaged, married, and have children we are faced with the realisation that although we are not ready for these things now (or anytime in the near future) we need to decide on where we see ourselves going. And by that, I mean location.

You see, we love South Africa, it is our home with our closest friends and family, It has people that smile and are amazing. In terms on landscapes, it has everything the world has to offer but there is one big black spot on this otherwise perfect country, and that is crime.

Crime in SA is high and violent. You become accustomed to living with it: looking over your shoulder when you draw money, crawling up to traffic lights at night, not walking on the streets, being aware of yourself and where your belongings are but when you leave and you get a chance to live in a country like Korea where crime is virtually non-existant you get a taste of how life is really supposed to live.

I love walking around in the evenings. I love that I can step out of work, walk across the street to get some groceries and make a few stops by foot before going home. Walking is great...and I don't feel afraid...not even a little bit. I have let my guard down completely and it feels so so good. Yet the thought of South Africa not being mine and Oliver's final destination, the place where we settle, hurts.

Man-oh-man. This entry started out as me wanting to tell how trusting people are in Korea, how honesty is just a way of life and instead I have delved into a whole bunch of thoughts that have been wracking my brain since I realised that we need to start thinking about the next step.

I want a Masters, and I want a PhD and I want to get them in different countries that allow me learn from people from across the globe. And I want to do that so I can take these skills back to Africa, my home! Oliver on the other hand needs to focus his photography and make a name for himself.

Hmmm, so where to, where to from here? Do we stay abroad and chase our dreams but feel afloat from our lives in SA, do we pick somewhere else and say this is it, or do we just keep floating for a little until we figure it out (probably my favourite option at the moment).

I am not sure any of this made any sense and I know it is quite different from our standard posts but here it is in all its glory. I think it gives a little glimpse into the minds of people who are torn between home and the excitement of outward travel or maybe it is just showing the thoughts of a twenty-something not quite sure on what her next step in life should be...who knows?

Post by Claudia