Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Leaving Korea

It's been 6 months, a great adventure full of new experiences and friends and I'm ready to pursue what I love most... Horses. I have missed them dearly. My plan is to take my BHS (British Horse Society) Exams which I have been putting off. I need the education and Certs to back up my experience, most legit horse jobs require BHS. So fingers crossed I can look back on this year and know I made the right decision.

I'm gonna miss Korea, even though Korea & I have a love/hate relationship. Mostly I'm gonna miss Shane who will be here until November and then coming to Ireland for a short European adventure with me before he heads home to Texas for Thanksgiving, which he is already extremely excited for!

I don't want this to be a sad post! I want to reflect on my great adventure with Shane, know I'm gonna see him again very soon and look forward to MANY MORE adventures with him, which no doubt we'll have!!!



A slight rip off from Ashley's Blog but I feel the same so here goes:


Things I WONT miss about Korea:


Hagwon life


The communication fails


Language Barrier


The nasty beer


The price of cheese


Scary Adjumas


The smell of fish everywhere


The smell of sewerage everywhere


Squid


Everything is last minute & mandatory


Being sick after eating anything


People parking wherever they feel like


Speakeasy


The noisy cats from the cat castle
Living & breathing in TIGHT Asian spaces
The lack of horses




Things I WILL miss about Korea:


SHANE (but I'll see him soon enough..wohoo)


The cute kids I teach


Shabu-Shabu (Favorite meal here)


Cheap drinks


Cheap food


Cheap health care


Cheap everything


Crazy cab drivers


There are No traffic laws


There is No copyright laws


There is No open container laws


How safe it is here


Riding bikes by the river


The transport systems


Twilight & wine nights with Kelly & Kelsey, the Cullen Sisters


Songs & the Irish girls & Co.

The Ridge
All my FRIENDS!


Maybe I'll be back someday. Not to teach.


But to once again experience the crazy culture it has to offer.


Bye Korea!!!


Monday, June 1, 2009

Woah Beefy Koreans!!!


Yesterday, Shane & myself attended a Bodybuilding tournament in Gwangju. One of our instructors/friends at our gym was competing. It was ridiculous. Beef Beef Beefy Beefcakes!
They were like an ARMY of muscle!

Nice panties boys!


There was a half time show that I know Aine would really enjoy as she is the 'Spinning QUEEN', also... Mam you might pick up a few cool moves for your spin class at Westwood! ha!
(See Video below!)

video


This is our friend 'Jay' doing his thing... beefy!
(Video below!)


video

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sinji-Do Beach Trip

Last weekend, ten of us... Shane, Justin, Caitlin, Matt, Ashley, Kelly, Kelsey, Jesse, Lucas and me went on a beach trip to Sinji-Do beach. We got a 2 hour bus ride to Wando which is on the south-west coast of Korea and then a local bus over a bridge to Sinji-Do Island (Follow the link for a map). From the beach you can see some of the thousands of Islands that dot the Korean coast line. It was a really pretty view! Saturday was a little overcast but still nice enough for shorts and hanging out on the beach.


Myself & Kelsey enjoying the sun chairs

We stayed in a Minbak which is basically a room which you can share with a bunch of people and they provide sleeping pads and blankets. Ours actually provided a bed and a small kitchen area. It also had a great view of the beach and there were a few small local stores dotted along the boardwalk to buy beer, supplies and of course fireworks. ha!
View from the Minbak

Beach of dead bodies

Korea apparently has a strict beach season of June to August, so the beach was mostly bare. There were a few families hanging out and a few groups of Koreans having relay races.
We grilled on Saturday night, which consisted of sausages and buns, veggies, dips and chips. Then we shot off some fireworks.
On Sunday, the sun was out. Justin cooked us all toast and scrambled egg breakfast sandwiches and then we all lathered up on sun lotion, packed our belongings and headed down the beach to set up camp for the day.


The Boys - Shane, Matt, Justin


Shanes flying catch

Ashleys Korean Beach Pose
Some beach reading - Caitlin & Kelly

We attracted 3 Italians who hung out with us on the beach and another Canadian guy, not to mention the random Koreans that came over to get their picture taken with us. Later that day we headed back to Gwangju, just in time for a pizza dinner with Shane. Great Weekend!!!


My adventure in Korea is nearly over, only a week & a half to go.

Gonna miss my Shane...again. x

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jimjilbang - The Naked Truth

For my Birthday... Ashley, Caitlin & Kaisa brought me to the Korean Jimjilbang which is the naked hot-tub & sauna spa. A tad arkward at first, it ended up being a great way to nurse my Sunday hang-over. Once you excepted the nakedness, it was perfect, so relaxing and refreshing.



The Jimjilbang is such a huge cultural thing in Korea. Mothers, Daughters, Aunts, Grandmas, old, young and ladies of all sizes partake in this spa. It all begins where you pay approx. 5,000 Won ($4/3Euro), you are given your locker key, two towels and off you go, into the unknown.

You head into the locker room where there are little concession stands, you can buy all sorts of body scrubbers, snacks and different random toiletries. The when you reach your locker, you strip down, you may as well forget trying to cover yourself up, as the towels you are given are tiny.

Then you take your toiletries and head for the shower area. You must scrub before you enter any sauna or hot-tub. Korean ladies of all sizes are hanging out, scrubbing each other, scrubbing their children and socialising, all naked, all very comfortable in their surroundings. If you were on your own, no doubt they'd offer to scrub your back for you. They gave us the odd glance, no more than when I'm walking down the streets in Korea. I felt like they gave us less notice in the Jimjilbang which was a relief, we were just more naked bodies hanging out. If took a little while to get used to the idea.

As soon as your clean, your ready for the baths. You may choose from several different baths of different temperatures and types. There is a green tea bath and I've heard of Jade baths and charcoal baths. Some are freezing cold, some are scalding hot, some have power jets and others have fountains. You can also visit the sauna and steam rooms where the ladies all sit on the hot floors chatting to each other. You can also order a large bowl of ice coffee to share with your group. Perfect!

If you want a massage, mud mask, full body scrub or hot stone treatment, you can pay extra Won for this. The ladies giving the massages in the back look scary. They put you on a bed, straddle you and then pummel every part of your body. I did not partake in such torture, although I was tempted.

You can spent hours here and in most Jimjilbangs there is a room with a heated floor that provides blankets and sleeping pads where you can spent the night for no extra charge. Amazing!

I don't have pictures for obvious reasons... and yes, where there is a ladies Jimjilbang, there is always a guys equivalent next door.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Special Lockers @ E-Mart

So even though I've been here 6 months & I've shopped in E-Mart weekly, I've only just noticed the special lockers by the door. There is a line of lockers where you can put your bag while you shop (which I've used) BUT as you get to the end there are "special lockers" with transparent doors and airholes. With closer inspection they have pictures of puppies on them and some Korean writing.

Dog Lockers for when your shopping!!!




I could just imagine Americans trying to shove their labradors in the tiny lockers if Walmart had them! haha!

Tigers Korean Wedding

My experience of a Korean Wedding KICKS everything elses ass I've seen in Korea. It was by far the most cultural shocking event I've attended!
It was Tigers Wedding, he works at my school. Yup...that's his English name. Aaaand I named him... haha! Seriously... He was wearing a Golf shirt when he asked for an English name, we couldn't remember or pronounce his Korean one, so I immediately though "Tiger Woods", although no matter how many times I correct him... he's positive I named him after the animal and growls and paws at me DAILY!!!

I don't even know where to start to explain this Wedding and I know I'll never do it justice... it was a "you had to be there" sort of experience, but I'll do my best!
So Koreans get married in a Wedding Convention Center or a "Wedding Factory" as we called it. There is several rooms with several Weddings all happening simultaneously, AND Weddings back to back in each of these rooms, one after the other. They just pump them through every hour. Everyone from all the separate Weddings congregate in the large hallway connecting the rooms waiting their turn. The groom and family are hanging out there too but the Brides have their own special poka-dot decorated small room, where they sit for pictures. The Wedding guests line up outside these rooms to go in and congratulate and take pictures with the Bride.

Tiger was a General in the Army so he had some Soldiers as an escort for him, lining the aisle the Bride and Groom walked down... with SWORDS!


(Check out the fake smoke above)

The Mothers (wearing Korean Traditional Hanbuk Clothing) were escorted in first by these girls I can only describe as air stewards dressed in pink and black. (below)


Then the Soldiers did their march and positioned themselves with their swords making an arch for the Groom to enter alone and then the Brides entrance with her Father. When Tiger walked in... they played some "Eye of the Tiger" pumping background music for his entrance and the Bride had something similar but more of an electronic beat. Strange!


The once they were at the stage/alter (I don't even know what you would call it) the Korean man/Priest??? waffled on in Korean for a while, while fog machines blew out fake smoke every now and then... giving the illusion that the Bride and Groom were standing on a cloud. Tacky and jaw-dropping!


Then some Korean guy sang them a love song, followed by a ten minute slide show of the couple, all professional taken pictures, all pretty much the same. All of this must have been part of their wedding package.

At this point the Bride was balling crying (I would have been too!). Then the Soldiers returned for their exit walk, which began with the Wedding March anthem and quickly changed to an electronic version which trailed off... As a planned joke, each of the Soldiers would put their swords in front of the newly wed couple as they walked back down the aisle and made them do a task so they could pass...The Wedding guest were all laughing! They made tiger do push-ups, they had to hug and then Tiger had to speak into her boobs??? Seriously!!! The Bride is still crying hysterically at this point.

To top if all off.... WE.. as in the foreign teachers, there was probably 10 of us invited, were in the Wedding photos. I don't think any of us even knew Tigers Wife's name?!!!

In the audience for this Wedding... people were answering their phones, kids were playing their Nintendo, people were asleep and I even saw one man attend in a pair of sweat pants.

Following the Theatre performance/Wedding, we were handed meal tickets where we went to a huge Buffet dining hall along with all the guest of all the other Weddings taking place that day and found a table to sit down and eat!

video


It was the craziest, most impersonal Wedding I've ever attended.
Korea YOU WIN!

video

Baseball Game.:.Gwangju Kia Tigers


On Sunday I attended my first ever Baseball game. I was told there are a few differences between Asian baseball games and the rest of the World. Firstly, in America they check your bags and you can't bring alcohol into the stadium. In Asia we arrived with bags full of beer and a lot of the Koreans had huge boxes of fried chicken to snack on (when the fry chicken, they fry the WHOLE chopped up chicken... necks, feet...etc! Gross!). Secondly, they told me that Baseball games aren't generally as packed, we had to stand because the stadium was teeming with people. Apparently there's no fire codes in Korea so they just keep selling endless tickets and letting more and more people squash in.





I perceived Baseball as more of a social event rather than a sporting event, despite peoples best efforts to explain what was happening on the field, I hadn't a clue... and didn't really care, I was busy hanging out with everyone, enjoying a beer (well that's an over-statement, Korea's beer is crappy!) and taking in the sun. I think I'd like to experience my next game... post-Asia.