Wednesday, July 20, 2011

20 Questions on our experience in Korea

1. Describe your overall Korean experience:

Claudia: Korea has been amazing! I am so happy that we decided to come here and experience a culture that is so different to our own. I have grown so much this year and I have had so many laughs and happy times. Korea has forever made an impression on my heart.

Oliver: Awesome! And nothing else.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Korea...friends

First a tribute to Korea and then a tribute to the friends made in Korea!!! We love you guys!! Thanks for making our time here so special!!

video

Monday, April 25, 2011

Korea...a video tribute

We just made a five minute video to pay tribute to all that Korea is....hope you enjoy it!!

video

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Korea Fuck Yeah

With just under two weeks left I watched this video again. I first watched it before we came to South Korea and I was confused. Now I have watched it as my year came to a close and it all makes SO MUCH SENSE.


Friday, April 15, 2011

A climb to the top

Phew, can you believe it, Oliver and I are into our last month in Korea and it is steaming ahead quickly.

Last weekend we headed to a place we have been meaning to go to since we arrived, Seoraksan National Park. We know that Autumn is the most beautiful time to visit but we also know that that is when prices sky rocket and there are incredible crowds, so much so that you can't take a step in front of you without someone knowing about it. Now I am no seasoned mountain climber but that doesn't sound like an ideal way to climb a mountain. When I am huffing and puffing I need time to stop and having someone cramped up just behind me just would not be great. So we lost the best scenery for a more comfortable climb and it turned out to spectacular!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Valentine's Day...no...White Day...no, Black Day!

What?

Everyone of us knows Valentine's Day. It's a day on which big companies and corporations get to make lots and lots and lots of money. Or is it a day on which starcrossed lovers get to express their undying devotion for one another by showering the loved one in a hailstorm of gifts and goodies? Either way, we know what it is. Here in Korea it is very similar, the big difference being that the 'showerer' is the girl, and the 'showeree' is the guy, in layman's terms, the girl gives the guy gifts.

Exactly one month after the abovementioned day comes White Day, which I have talked about in a previous entry. Read it to get up to speed if you must. Very basically it's the reverse of Valentine's...so the guy gives the girl the gifts.

Here is now the final part of this amazing trilogy, and it has been given the oh-so beautiful name of Black Day. In Korea there is no issue giving a day this name, but I am quite certain that in other parts of the world, the name might not go down quite so well.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Big City Life

We have been living it up in the big cities these past two weekends. First it was Busan and then it was Seoul! I love big cities, there is something so mesmerising about them!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Horror that is Yellow

Korea has been wonderful. We have experienced beautiful people, amazing food, stunning places, and a society that is crime free and efficient. Sounds like a fantastic place, doesn't it? Well, let me tell you, it is.

So far (and were down to our last month here) we have had no major complaints. Sure there has been the odd Korean man or woman, who seems to have been suffering from xenophobia, and has treated us differently, but these could also have simply been horrible individuals, and let's be quite honest here, they exist everywhere.

I now have a major complaint. And the horrible thing is that it's not actually a complaint that I can share with anyone for the hope of it being remedied. It's a complaint that bothers me every morning, and no matter how much I complain and throw my toys, this complaint will arise every year for the forseable future. The complaint: Yellow Dust.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jangdari Sikdang

We sit down, starved after a day of sightseeing and ready to taste something new. We get the menu, pricey, hmmm. The hunger growls in my belly and I realise I don't care about the price, I just want food and I want it to be something I have never tried before.


Outside the restaurant

Turns out where were at the right place. Danyang is famous for garlic and this restaurant (Jangdari Sikdang) specialises in Garlic rice. Yum. 20,000Won for Garlic Rice. What? Oh well, we are here now and the waitress assures us it is amazing. We nod.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Won Cashing Girls 원캐싱

Everytime we spot an advert by the "Won Cashing Girls" Oliver gets very excited. I am not sure if it because they are pretty or it is because their music borders on iritating/awesome (a definite earworm). Or maybe, maybe, it is their very bizarre way of moving.

Here is one of their best and it was the first we ever saw


I love the guy...so weird!





Hope its stuck in you head...good and proper!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day...no White Day...wait, what day...?

Confused by the title? So am I. Let me explain.

I believe that most people that read this blog (the whole handful of you ;)  know all about Valentine's Day. It is a 'traditional day of love' on which to be-gift your partner, or nowadays basically anyone, with chocolates and gifts and anything else that may symbolise your love for them, or that you simply care, even if just a little. Still with me? Good. It's pretty simple.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Mallipo Beach

This weekend we headed out of Wonju toward the west coast for a farewell party.  I was nervous about going to the beach. Lately, the wind has been strong and nippy (to say the least) and as is the norm the wind is likely to be even less forgiving on the beach. But I was wrong.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pushing boundaries: Student's in South Korea

I recently wrote an article for Go Overseas about how hard children work in South Korea.

I looked at both sides of the argument and put together my opinion!

You can see the argument, which is very much my opinion, here.

Let me know what you think!!!

Claudia

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Standing on a River

The very first thing I am going to do is get a reason, or an excuse out of the way. If you believe what I say, then to you it's a reason, if you don't it's an excuse. Either way, this is the story:

As anyone who reads this blog knows, we have been pretty good at doing updates on the blog, which given schedules and happenings is not always an easy thing to do. The last month or so has been particularly bad with regards to any news from the ROK. As Claudia mentioned in a previous post, she had to rush back to South Africa, due to medical issues in her family. Luckily though, things have taken a sharp turn for the better, and Claudia will be returning to me here in Korea in a couple of days. YAY!

So Claudia had some big issues, which is why she has been struggling to do any updates on the blog. But why have I not done anything...? Quite simple and straightforward really. About 3 days after Claudia left, I fractured two bones in my wrist while snowboarding. Joy of joys. So for the last 3 1/2 weeks I have been stuck with a massive splint on my arm, which was kindly dubbed 'the claw' by my friends. The 'Claw' made it incredibly difficult to sit at a keyboard properly, and aside from the pain, made typing anything near substantial a very difficult and tedious event. Happily for me, the Claw has been retired and will now be serving duty as...well, nothing really. My hand feels 100 times better, although not 100% yet, and I am able to type again. Another YAY!

Buy it or not, that is the reason for lack of updates from my side. So here is a new update.

About 2 weeks ago, I was invited by my co-teacher and friend Sunny to go fishing in Jinbu. Fishing is not something I'm crazy about, and in my eyes it is an activity best performed wearing no t-shirt, having a cold beer in my hand and sitting on a riverbank in the South African summer sun. This was a little different.

A view of the river


In the clothing department, I had to don more than just a pair of shorts. The extra itmes included a pair of long thermal underwear, long jeans, thick socks, a long thermal vest, a long sleeved t-shirt, a t-shirt, another t-shirt, a jersey, and a thick winter jacket. So the attire was a little different, OK.

Was I holding a cold beer in my hand? Nope, the ice cold beer was replaced with a very rapidly cooling cup of hot....oh wait, no it was hot, now it's gone cold, coffee.

Was I standing on a river bank? No. I was standing on a river, a frozen river.
So it's a little different. Was it awesome. Hell yes.

The technique involved holding a little 'fishing rod' (more of a little metal rod with some fishing line) above a pre made hole, and bobbing it up and down, in an attempt to convince the fish that the lure is indeed a living creature. Did it work? In my case, no, I obviously do not have the motion down to a T yet, but there was definitely no shortage of fish being caught all around us. Sunny and her friend Veronica didn't catch anything either, but it was all made up for by a boy from Sunny's church that was with us, who caught 4 fish! It felt like he didn't stop pulling them out.

Sunny and Veronica showing off their technique

The champion fisherman

After the fish had been caught, people had the option of simply taking them home, or going to a nearby restaurant, that sells all manner of fish related dishes, or for a very minimal fee (3000 Won or about R20) they would cut up the fish for you, so you can enjoy it raw, with some veggies on the side and some dipping sauces. Our mind was made up...the latter choice was ours, and what a good choice it was. Pieces of raw Trout dipped in a mixture of Soy Sauce and Sesame seed oil...heaven.


The raw fish...mmmmm

A spicy fish soup

Anyone coming to or living in Korea should really do this. The joy of spending a day in the cold (dressed appropriately, of course), enjoy the Korean winter sun, and tasting a fish you yourself (or a friend) caught is fantastic. Definitely worth the time and effort and a highly recommended winter activity!

Somebody's catch of the day

Veronica doing her best!

Veronica and Sunny in beautiful Jinbu

Heading back

Today I am heading back to the land of morning calm to finish what I started.

The month in South Africa has had its fair share of ups and downs...thank you friends and family for trying to help me where possible!

You will be happy to know that my mother is doing much better. She is still a little sore but you can't compare her to what she looked like a month ago. So now that things are OK on this side I am going back to Korea.

It will only be for a short bit (another two months before our contract ends) but I am so grateful that I get to go back and so good bye to my kids, my friends, the food and the country in general.

When I left in January I was disraught because I did get to do any of these things and I felt as though I was not done in Korea so I am thrilled I get to go back!!!

So..instead of being sad that I only have two months I am over the moon that I have two more months and I am going to live it up Korea like crazy!!!

So you will be seeing a lot more activity on the blog once I am back!

Cheers,
Claudia

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kitsch Korean Art

Modern day Korea is kitsch and much of the art in Korea is also kitsch yet I wouldn't have it any other way.


Any attraction on Korea is bound to have photo opportunities, places where you can stand by hearts and be cute. Being cute is a very important quality in Korea.....its something I struggle with; I have never been good at batting my eyes. There are also bounds of abstract art things I don't quite understand.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Gangneung Unification park

A couple of weeks ago we headed down to Gangneung. A little coastal city that may Wonju residents love to visit. We prepared ourselves for a array of seafood and a look at some of Gangneung's best attractions. One of the most impressive was Unification Park. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Some Fabulous Pics

Just some fabulous and random shots from around Korea. To see some more of Oliver's magic have a look at our galleries (above) or join his Facebook Page or Tumblr Page.

I have put our blog into a manuscript with amazing pictures and cool sub-categories. We are thinking of publishing. What do you think? Could you think of a publisher that would be interested in our sort of material?

We look forward to your feedback

Enjoy the pics....















Monday, February 7, 2011

What to check when checking in

One of the greatest things about travelling in Korea is the abundant supply of affordable accommodation. If you don't understand Korean then it is best to not book in advance.

Often online accommodation that is in English is overpriced. What you pay online is still cheap but you can get similar accommodation for a better price if you scout out places while on foot.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Here's an update

Wow, things have been crazy and now is the first time I have a chance to update you on the situation.

My dream was to go to Korea and have one-year without any drama. A year of fun and awesomeness. Yes, a gap year.

Unfortunately, life doesn't quite work that way.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Crisis

Hi there,

I am sorry that the blog has been quite. I had a bit of a family crisis (my mother is very ill) and had to unexpectedly fly back to South Africa.

I am back in SA and not sure when or if I will get back to Korea before our contract is up! I am very sad that I had to leave Korea...but when duty calls.....

Oliver is till in Korea and he will write posts and keep pictures coming in...it just won't be as frequently!!

Thanks so much for your understanding!!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Our Rainbow

If you remember during Autumn Oliver and I did a trip to Nami Island!

We had a lot of fun and the colours of the autumn leaves were so beautiful that we couldn't help but make a rainbow out of them.

So, like real nerds, we found a table and for two hours we collected leaves and made our rainbow. It got a lot of attention from people passing by and we were (and still are) very proud of our rainbow!

This is just a short post to gloat, so here are the pics:







Our lanscape has changed so much since Autumn...these colours seem like a lifetime ago! I love it!

I forgot about our little nerdy/awesome project until I discovered these pics on Oliver's computer the other day!

Hope you like them!!!

Post by Claudia

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

King Kong

Today was a good day!!!!

Very good indeed!

Except for the fact that as each day goes by I am getting more and more sad that I will being saying goodbye to my kids!

I am nervous that the next teacher will undo the teaching I have done.....and most of all I am sad that I won't get to act like a complete idiot and have people think that it is awesome!!!

Today, with my eldest class (14 year olds), we played a game that involved shooting people. On shouting shoot you point your hands at two different people, whoever has been shot the most has to do a dare!

I was a great mastermind and managed to get two girls to act and sound like elephants for ten seconds. Despite being red in the face they were also rigged with laughter!

Eventually all the shots were pointed at me and it was time that I endured some of my own medicine.

I was told to act like King Kong for 20 seconds. I was instructed that I had to make sounds and do actions.


Taken from Horrorphile.net

So I did.....Fists pounding away at my chest I began making some unsightly sounds and ran around the classroom like a crazy person. I teased the girls and as I was hoping towards the boys, fists punching wildly, they got up and started running.

What followed was a frenzy of laughter and craziness. We ran around the classroom for a bit with the boys constantly crashing into each other like drunk drivers before I climbed onto the table and did a final King Kong drum-roll on my chest!

I then said goodbye, and chased them to the front door!!!

Oh, how I will miss for being loved for being an idiot!

Post by Claudia

Monday, January 17, 2011

Frustration, ice and clothing

Oh my...I think I might just SCREEEAAAAM!

Washing machines are not my favourite thing in the world and that cannot be more true for how I feel about our washing machine in Korea.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Joys of the Cold Season

Ok. I have no real excuse. I was planning on telling you why I haven't written a blog entry in months. My idea was to tell you that I'm simply far too busy editing pictures from my friends' wedding. Also I would tell you that I am swamped with a huge build up of pictures from the past several months of travelling Korea. I would also tell you that I am so busy enjoying my first real snowboarding season, that barely anything else manages to penetrate my mind other than thoughts of flying down slopes at fantastic speeds and throwing myself at rails and grindboxes. And I would tell you that I am swamped with a huge amount of work from my 3 different schools...

And these things would all be true. Ok, maybe the last one is a lie. But I have been neck deep with images from all sorts of trips and I have been having a right whale of a time enjoying the slopes at 현대성우리오트 (Hyundai Sungwoo Resort). But too be totally honest, none of those are any real excuses for not putting some effort into the blog. So here's another entry, albeit a short one ;)

So, as some people may have noticed, we're sitting pretty much in the thick of winter. The skies are no longer boasting a proud blue colour, bespeckled with the odd cloud, no, they are no far more reminiscent of days gone by that are not as cheery and upbeat. The average sky has become one of grey and white monotony. Overcast weather is the usual order of the day. We do get the occasional blue sky, but they have become more of a rarity than during the sweaty, hot summer months.

The temperatures have also made themselves more known. In the last 2 weeks the temperatures here in Wonju have dropped down below -15 degrees several times, once or twice even dipping below -20. To a couple from 'Sunny South Africa', where winter temperatures reach 0 degrees at 3 in the morning (on occasion), these temperatures are beyond absurd. Being somewhat resilient we have managed to adjust and have also found the brighter and more fun side of winter. The one thing we have both down is to get ourselves season passes to one of the local ski resorts. This being Korea, we even got a 'couples discount'. Yes, that exists.

The other thing we did just recently is to go back to one of our favourite haunts, Wonju Tattoo Stadium. This is the same arena that has hosted all sorts of events ranging from farmer's markets to the International Marching Band Festival. This time around, however our arena has been converted into an ice rink.

It took about 2 months of preparation and waiting for the temperatures to drop significantly, but we now have our own outdoor ice skating rink.

We decided to go a couple of weeks ago with some friends. We did our duties of arriving on time, and headed off to the renting counter. Claudia had no issues securing a pair of skates in her size, but when my turn came around to ask for skates in my size, I got the unfortunate reply of "Eobso-yo", which roughly translated means: " They do not exist here," so no. I asked for the biggest size they had, and with a few small 'ohhs and ahhs' managed to squeeze my yeti sized walkers into the skates.

Next on the agenda: have fun. Fun was something we found in heaps. It was lying all over the ice rink, scattered like wondeful little pieces of happiness....*^-^*

After about an hour we all figured we wouldn't make it as professional, or even as horribly bad beginners, so we retired ourselves. I cannot speak for the others, but I think this may well have been my first and last ice skating experience in Wonju. As great as it was, my feet both have to big scabs on them, where my skin was rubbed raw by the under sized, malfitting ice skates.

All in all a fantastic amount of fun, and definitely something to recommend to friends. So anyone who's reading this, feel free to head on over to our neck of the woods and join us (or Claudia, at least) for a happy-happy round of ice skating!

Here are a few pics of this glorious occasion:

Claudia stoked, on the rink


Claudia again, this time doing here thing

Our friend Mike, receiving instruction from his girl, Aekyoung

A general view of the Wonju Tattoo ice rink

Post by Oliver

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Other blogs

Today we had a bit of a loazy due, one because we are broke and two because our bodies are broken from snowboarding.

So I took this spare time to do something I have been meaning to do for a while, set up other blogs.

As you know mine and Oliver's time in Korea is slwoly coming to an end and we will be doing a backpacking trip around South East Asia, so I have set up a blog to document our preperations for and experiences on our adventure. You can see this blog at http://www.cobackpackingadventure.blogspot.com/

Then, because we have several adventures coming up, including Oliver going to Ghana for a couple of months, our backpacking trip and hopefully my studies abroad, we have set up a centralised blog where all of our adventures can be viewed from. That can be seen at  http://claudiaandoliversadventures.blogspot.com/

I hope you will join us on our new, exciting, upcoming adventures.

Up to fourth place!

Yay, we are currently in fourth place in the Hi-expat favourite blog poll, which is great!

Voting closes on the 21st of January and the bloggers and blog topics range from everday life, to photography, to Q and A.

To read more about the poll, click here and if you would like to vote, click here.

Have a great January!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Jimjilbang......naked and steamy

Yay, I finally found enough courage to go to a Jimjilbang! I have been toying with the idea since we got here eight months ago but was super nervous. I also didn't want to go alone! Yikes!

So, what am I talking about! A jimjilbang is were Koreans let everything (and I mean everything) loose and relax. How exactly do they do this? Well, they get naked and relax in steaming hot baths of course!

Yip...now you know why I was so scared! Being naked in a room full of strangers sounds like a nightmare but in reality it was empowering and relaxing!

The most difficult thing about the whole experience was actually mustering up enough courage to drop my pants and just get on with it. Once everything was off and I was standing in the locker room in all my glory, I realised that no-one even blinked an eye! Relief set in.....phew!

Lauren (who was just as nervous as me) and I went to Dragon Hill which is a famous Jimjilbang in Korea and is apparently one of the best in Seoul. Go big or go home! We went big.


The entrance to Dragon Hill

So, let me set the scene for you! 

We arrive, we are spotted as being outsiders (surprise surprise) so one of the admin ladies takes it upon herself to help us. She explains how a Jimjilbang works and where all the good stuff is (I will get to that later). She also tells us several times that we are allowed on the third and second floor. We must not go to another floor (unless we want a whole bunch of penis in our face....no thanks!).

So we take our shoes off and head to the correct floor. We walk into a very large dressing room with naked women everywhere. Heart is pounding. Doof Doof Doof. Pants come off. Sigh of relief! Phew! OK, now what...well, we had to walk past the reception  area with nothing but a towel. And I am not talking about a big luxurious bath towel that you can wrap your around your whole body, no no, I am talking about what would be considered a hand towel in may other parts of the world, but is a legitimate towel in Korea. So the towel is strategically draped to cover important bits and we walk past the reception and down a flight of stairs...Eeeek...penis....No I am just kidding! We were safe, only women in sight and lots and lots of showers.



So we followed suit. We gave ourselves a good scrub down and got nice and clean...then we headed to the baths. Baths are really a luxury in Korea. Most people will only get a chance to bath if they stay in a pension (a slightly fancy motel room) or are lucky enough to have one at home. So bathing is definitely a novelty. I love baths! Hmmmm, so I was now in heaven!

They had tons of big baths ranging in temperature, some as hot as 49 degrees Celcius and others as cool as 29 degrees Celcius. My best combo was warm bath, hot bath, cool bath! Hmmmm, so nice!!! My muscles were so relaxed and soft!

And that's not all! If you have a little extra money on you (which I sadly did not) you can get a scrub down, a pedicure, a facial, a massage, etc. Bliss! Let me tell you a little but more about the scrub down. Although I didn't get to get one myself , I did get to see a couple being done (everything is open). So, you lie on the bed butt naked and an ajuma (old lady) with black underwear on scrubs you down, she really scrubs you down. She gets into all your nooks and crannies and makes sure you are spotless! And she is not gentle (I liked that, I hate massages that are soft).

These were some of the extras you could pay for
I get most of them, but some, I have no idea what they
are on about, but it makes me laugh!




But wait, there's more!

We decided to go the dual floor (where men and women can go together). Noooo, we are not still naked. We have to put on clothing, which Lauren aptly compared to clothing people would have to wear in a concentration camps. Seriously not flattering, but comfy and thick. Thick? Well, yes! Because the dual floor is a whole bunch of different saunas where you can go and sweat it out. There are straight up hot saunas, there are cold rooms, and there is a crystal sauna! The saunas were cool but they were packed with people which made it a little uncomfortable, so we headed back to the baths in all their naked awesomeness.

The cold room

The crystal sauna

People lying on crystals in the chrystal sauna

Looking flushed in the hot sauna

All in all we were at the Jimjilbang for just over three hours...whooop whooop! And when we left we felt so relaxed and revived...it was unbelievable.

Other benefits to Jimjilbangs, they are cheap (often costing between 6,000 and 12,000 Won to get in), there are internet facilities, there is a food court, you can sleep there (yip, for a very reasonable price you can pull up a piece of floor and sleep there overnight...super useful if you don't have enough money to get a motel room), and they are everywhere (Saunas and Jimjilbangs are a Korean past-time).

My only regret is that it took me this long to get naked and take a bath! sniff sniff!

Tomorrow we are going snowboarding the whole day and I plan to take full advantage of the jimjilbang at the resort! Hmmmmm....it makes the deal that much sweeter.

My advice to anyone who is a little nervous...just do it....bare all...

Post by Claudia

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New years!

Welcoming 2011 was great fun! And I think we started it in just the right way...with good food, good friends, good drink and a good amount of emotion!

Well, to start off we found ourselves in a sky lounge in Seoul. We had a wondeful buffet consisting of everything from Sushi, to friend meat, to salad, to soup, and to cake! It was wonderful. Coupled with our food were a couple jugs of beer and several bottles of Soju.

 For some reason we had black tape...hahhaha

Conversataion started to flow and I befriended the waiters by giving them Soju. I remember working n New Years behind a bar, it is difficult to not feel sorry for yourself. Anyway, midnight was approaching and we decided that it would be a good time to get down to the main street. This part of the evening went by in a flash for me.

At about 23:30 I got all teary eyed and started crying about random stuff (in South Africa we call this dronk vir driet). However, the tears didn't last long...soon we were dancing next to men dressed in traditional gear playing drums...I joined the line and thought I was a rockstar, in retrospect I probably looked more like a drunk foreign girl mixed in a crowd.

video

Soon we were sandwiched between people and were merely moving along with the crowd. At the next sign of a gap we jumped out and found ourselves right by the celebrations stage. What luck!

video

Before we knew it the countdown was underway and boooom 2011 was here! Can you believe it?

Most people filtered out after the countdown and some die hards stayed. It was bitterly cold so Oli and I decided to grab a coffee...but all I did was happily sleep on the nice , comfy sofa...Ooops! After a very brief nap it was back to the party and soon we were eating street food ...yum! Which sobered me up, phew! Then we were playing darts and talking rubbish in a cool little bar!

Then, bed time was upon us! So all in all, we had a very eventful evening! What a party it was!!! And the best part, I only woke up with a mild headache...the street food was my saviour!

Happy New Year to all of you again! I hope that this year is eventful, fun and full of adventure!

Post by Claudia