Friday, 30 April 2010

Dream Concert tix

Don't think I mentioned this, but I managed to get Dream Concert tickets for next month! It's an uber K-pop concert 'for charity' that costs only 5,000 won a ticket (about 3 quid). Apparently, the K-pop fans are so dedicated that one year a fight broke out between two different sets of fans - bear in mind that these fans are mostly 15 year-old girls - and someone died :O Needless to say, it's gonna be badass :P I just hope I don't accidentally cheer for the 'wrong' K-pop group and get headbutted by a middle school girl :/

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Here they are!

This weekend I went to Ganghwa, an island just off of Incheon, to see some cherry blossoms. And I found them, yey \o/! After being in Ganghwa for a few hours, and after having an amazing duck lunch, we went to Jayu Park! It's a large park located in the more 'touristy' part of Incheon and there were cherry blossoms and sights galore :) Plus, the weather was amazing, which was a pleasant surprise seeing as it's been raining a lot here (apparently it's the worst spring here for 30 years). It's raining as I write this, actually. Here are some pictures from the weekend:

This is a picture I took in Jayu Park in Incheon of a cherry blossom tree. Notice the moon in the background :) And, no, I'm not a professional photographer... this photo is 'semi-professional' at best anyway.
'Is that a phone in your pocket or do you just love cherry blossoms that much?'. (Me in Ganghwa).

Me in the woods at Ganghwa.

Me collecting fresh spring water in a bowl on a stick. (I later found that it was a communal cup and everyone had been whacking their lips all over the rim for god knows how long... I'll update the blog in a months time if I get lip herpes.. :/)

Me on a beautiful road leading up to the above forest in Ganghwa. Needless to say, it was gorgeous :)

Monday, 26 April 2010

4:30am wake-up call

Picture this: you're in your bed at 4:30am fast asleep when the fire alarm goes off; you think 'ah sod this' and you bumble out of bed to go to the 'safety point' to wait for all the excitement to end so you can get back to sleep. It's happened to most of us, halls at university springs to mind or when your at a hotel. But this crap happened to me this morning and I was actually panicking a bit because it's twice as bad being a foreigner in Korea.

So, I hear the alarm and it does the usual ringing sound but in between rings it has some voice informing the building of something in Korean.. A fire alarm is inherently panicky anyway but add this unknown Korean into the mix and you can guess how freaked out I was. So in my dazed state, I was rushing around grabbing clothes and my phone and that and rushing out to leave the building. I peak out into the corridor and I just see a load of Koreans shuffling around and using the elevator, which I don't really think is a good idea in the event of a fire but I was on the 8th floor and half asleep still so I wasn't about to walk it. While in the elevator I just say in a bit of a loud voice 'what's going on?'. Some guy spoke a bit of English and just said 'fire alarm' - no shit, I thought. I stick with him and we make it out onto the street. It doesn't look like there's a fire and it didn't look like many people cared anyway because there must be hundreds of people living in my building and there were like 10 people waiting outside. 'This is a joke..', I thought. It was a bit surreal because I chose to take the obvious things, wallet, phone etc, but some woman came out in her PJs - which didn't really leave much to the imagination - while holding a dog in her arms (Koreans don't really seem to think that dogs can walk and so decide to carry them everywhere like a handbag). Another kid I saw was carrying a musical instrument in a box, which made me think he was either playing it before he came outside or thought that it was the most valuable thing he had so he grabbed it. The former wouldn't surprise me..

Anyway, I managed to work out what the bloke I was 'with' was telling me which was that we had to stay outside until the fire brigade came but after 2 minutes the woman with the dog walked back inside and apparently this was good enough for him to think that 'the coast was clear' - I'm not sure whether she had any experience in the fire service or not but he seemed to value her opinion high enough to follow her into what could've been a burning building, so, naturally, I followed him. I got into bed as quickly as I could and I actually dreamt of being outside when the fire alarm went off again. Weirdest fire alarm ever.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Deja Vu

Sometimes when I'm on the bus to work it feels a little bit like I'm in the Truman Show. I don't mean I feel like I'm being watched, but that it all feels a little too similar. For example, I have got on the exact same bus for 4 days now - I can tell because the graffiti on the seat is the same - and that's both to and from work! Also, I keep seeing the exact same Korean midget crossing the road at the same time my bus hits the traffic lights. As well as that, there's the same ajumma scrambling around to get off the bus and she wears the same grubby clothes everyday too - a purple anorak and tracky bottoms. Seem to sit next to the same middle school girls and they even scoot up at the right time to let me past 'cause they know when I'm getting off... Things seem to run like clockwork and it's a little too perfect for my liking. I might just be late to work one day to mix it up... Interesting bus journey though.. especially when I spot the midget :)

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Where are all the cherry blossoms?

Last weekend was supposed to be the big weekend for cherry blossom (known as 'sakura' in Japan and 벚꽃 (beotkkot) in Korea) blooming in Seoul. So we trundle all the way to Seoul (Yeouido, to be more precise) and what do we find? Leafless trees and overcast weather... great. Or so we thought :O

We wander around and take in the area a bit and we see that there is a huge bike route going down the side of the island along the Han River. Sod it, we thought, lets hire out a bike. 4000 won (I think) for an hour rental? Doddle. Bike with a basket or mountain bike? I wanted the one with the basket, but it only had one gear :/ so I went with the more masculine bike in the end, which worked out for the best :P Check out facebook if you wanna see me on the cycling trip because I've just realised that I was taking pictures of my friends on their bikes because we were on bikes and so we could only really take pictures of each other... but here are some pictures of me at Yeouido just wandering :) :

Me posing in front of one of the many Seoul skylines.

The shore we were cycling along - and no, we weren't cycling on the rocks... our bikes weren't that good and I'm not that skilled ;)

After this epic wandering around Yeouido, we taxied it to Yongsan where we had an amazing Italian meal for lunch (I had carbonara :O) in this HUGE mall where they have about 6 floors (no exaggeration) of tech ranging from cameras to TVs to video games. And right at the top they have like a 'nerd floor' where they have a gaming 'arena' - I only saw a stage type room but there were pictures of an arena on the wall - and a huge PC bang. Yongsan is impressive to say the least. Here are a couple of pictures:

Not the best picture, but if you can imagine stands similar to this stretching back quite far on every floor for 6 floors then you can begin to think of the scale of this place.

Oh yeah, and they have a Hooters bar in the adjacent building :P needless to say, we had a beer there.

Afterwards we went to Hongdae (surprise, surprise) and stayed in a 찜질방 (Jjimjilbang) in Sinchon, which was.. interesting :P but amazing! Apparently, we went to a crap one, but you turn up, pay like 9000 won (approx. £5) and you get to sleep in a sauna for the night! The catch is we had to change into 'prison style' clothing and sleep either on mats on the floor or on bunk beds. And it's really hot in there. Oh, and there are about 100 other people sleeping in the same room too, both men and women (I woke up to the sight of some woman's legs..). Had the best sleep I've had in ages - no joke.

Still looking to find a better jjimjimbang in Seoul that might have massaging on the go or a swimming pool or something, so let me know if anyone knows of a decent one please! :D

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


OK, so, I walk to the subway station at some ungodly hour (7am I think - cue the gasps) and board the train to Bupyeong so I can change there and head to Seoul for LOTTEWORLD (:D :D :D!). I board the train and it doesn't seem too busy. However, the closer I got to Seoul the more people piled on. And I mean piled on lol.. I managed to find some of my school's students waiting at Bupyeong for the transfer to Seoul and, after a couple of stations down, we got closer than I cared us to be - sardine style. It was interesting though :P

Anyway, so after the mission to Seoul, I turn up and there are thousands (4000 apparently) students on school trips. But I had no issue finding my school luckily as they seemed to be the loudest there lol.. This is underground entrance to Lotteworld! I think I was more excited than some of the students :P :

I went round the park with a group of third grade lads, who were pretty decent at English when it came down to it, and I had an awesome time. So much in fact that when I was having lunch with the rest of the teachers I was just itching to get back to touring the place lol.. here are some pictures of me at the park :) :

This is me with one of the students I hung out with all day. He was all jokey with his English at first, but then actually busted out some conversation later on which goes to prove that it is mainly due to lack of confidence that Koreans tend to not want to use the English that they clearly know.

This is me at "Atlantis"! We queued up the longest for this ride (50 minutes) and it was awesome! They were small carts rather than long trains so it felt like you were going faster than you were. Great fun. The guy in the previous picture wanted to sit next to me but I knew he didn't want to sit at the front, so naturally I parked myself straight in the front seat so he had no choice lol. He was petrified ;) For some reason Koreans tend not to really want to sit at the scariest part of the roller coaster - the front seats. Whereas, certainly in the UK, there are separate queues to sit at the front of the coaster :S I would say that the rides are tamer here, but, after that T-Express at Everland, I would be very wrong :P

This is me at the end of the day all tired chilling out with some more of the students.

Also, Lotteworld has two kind of 'flag ship' thrill rides that everyone seems to rave about. These are 'gyrodrop' and 'gyroswing' - no marks for guessing which is which:

They were awesome btw, but not really anything that I hadn't experienced before. Still felt like an eight year-old at Christmas after I had been on them though ;)

Anyway, I don't think I'll be getting a WEDNESDAY as good as that for a long time :P

Monday, 5 April 2010


Everland was amazing! The best part (by a huge margin) was going on the 'T Express'. It's the world's fastest and steepest wooden roller coaster and it scared the crap out of me :P It was probably the most exciting roller coaster I've ever been on. While I was in the queue, I saw the people who were just finishing up on the ride clapping and I was like 'what kind of mug claps a ride? The engineers who built it aren't watching..'.. it was so awesome I ended up becoming one of those mugs.

Saw some white tigers, polar bears, and sea lions up close in the 'safari' section of Everland, which was pretty cool too.

As it was a really nice day, we went to the 'beer garden' section, which actually was a row of restaurant stalls selling various draft beers, and I had some random beer (that I can't remember the name of) and some 'fish and chips', which actually was a battered fish!! but the chips were sort of half crisp, half chip, and that was odd. But I wasn't being picky because it was the closest thing I've had to 'real' fish n chips since I've been here so... :)

next up: Lotteworld!

Friday, 2 April 2010

The next week...

... is going to be epic! Tomorrow I am going to Everland ( with my mates and then on Wednesday I'm going on what my co-teacher described to me as a 'business trip' to... Lotteworld (!

You can rest assured that life in Korea is going well :)

teaching is getting easier. some classes are a bit rowdy, so i'm going to have to implement some kind of discipline system for those classes. On the whole, though, everything seems to be going well. Getting into a routine too which goes something like this:

1. wake up
2. go to have cereal
3. realise that i've forgotten to buy milk
4. eat a cake on the way to work
5. fall asleep on the bus on the way to work
6. work
7. fall asleep on the bus on the way home
8. meet friends and do whatever (eat, drink etc)
9. sleep
10. wake up to the sound of my toilet running
11. sleep

I promise I'll write a better blog next week because more stuff would've happened by then :P this week has literally followed the above :)
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