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