MOVED!!

Hey everybody,

Just a note to say I’m moving things over to a new wordpress site. It’s not like this blog is particularly professional or anything but due to my love of food and cooking that’s developed over the last year, I’m going to be writing about traveling AND cooking, and especially a lot of the things I cook living in Korea.

Come and follow! http://www.kimeatsworld.wordpress.com

EDIT: This site will not be updated anymore!! Everything has been migrated to the new site.

 

 

Cheers!

 

xx

 

Facing Fears

Some people might know this about me, some might not.

I’m the biggest scaredy cat going around.

But people often think I’m really brave because I’ve done things that seem intimidating to others, whilst being petrified of irrational things (every time I’m on a boat, I’m convinced I’m going to drown. And just try taking me up somewhere high- it doesn’t end well.)

People always say, ‘oh you traveled around Europe by yourself? That’s so brave!’

‘You went to Russia by yourself? That’s so brave!’

‘You went to AFRICA!? You’re brave!’

Ha. Looking back, I sometimes can’t believe I’ve done some of those things. As much as I want to go back to Africa, the thought of going there now makes me more scared than I ever was before I left back in 2009.

I feel like the older I get, the more frightened of silly things I get. Moving to Korea didn’t worry me, because I had researched enough that I felt I was prepared for what it would be like.

But going skiing for the first time since my last abortive attempt ten years ago? Asking for trouble.

The closer the weekend got, the more my anxiety grew. A million thoughts raced through my head- what if I fall and break my leg, twist my ankle, hurt my knee. Ten years ago I was a petulant teenager who gave up after two days.

Something I try to do about things I’m afraid of is face it- I go on boats, attempt to climb church towers in Europe (sometimes) even though the results are almost always panic inducing. Just so I don’t look back and have regrets.

I’m pleased to say, skiing in Korea was a success. I’m never going to be a champion skier, and I’m probably always going to be so tense that the experience is never truly enjoyable. But maybe in time I can learn to enjoy the feeling of whizzing along the slope, slightly out of control but confident in my own ability to stop safely (snowplow, people!)

As they say in Kenya: slowly, slowly.

 

On the slopes at Konjiam

On the slopes at Konjiam

I guess the worst thing that could happen is looking back and knowing I didn’t try.

Chuseok in Busan

Chuseok is the Korean Thanksgiving festival. This year it occurred not too long after I had arrived in Korea, in September. I actually had no idea about it until a couple weeks beforehand when a new Aussie friend of mine said to me ‘you realise we have like 3 days off coming up?’

Chuseok is traditionally celebrated by visiting family and giving gift sets of Spam. No, really. Although I did not partake in either of these traditions, I did take the opportunity to visit Busan, Korea’s ‘second city.’

Busan is down on the south coast of Korea, and it has a great reputation as being a lively city, full of good food and entertainment, but a bit more relaxed than Seoul. Now, I LOVE Seoul, but I still find it mind boggling. And at this point, I’d only been in Korea a few weeks, and in Seoul a few times, so I was looking forward to exploring another Korean city that was perhaps a bit more chilled out than Seoul.

I had a disgustingly early train trip on the Thursday morning, but Chuseok had begun on Wednesday so I’d had at least one day of chilling out and doing nothing at home. I was off to Busan until Sunday night, when I would come back to Suwon station by around 1 A.M. Thank god I don’t start work early…

I was up and at ‘em, made it to Suwon station and was ready for the train with ages to spare. The trip to Busan was similarly uneventful, a little lengthy perhaps because I was too cheap to spend on the KTX (Korean version of the bullet train) but hey, it took me back to those glorious days of chuffing through the rolling green of the Balkan countryside.

I really love trains.

My hostel in Busan was a little empty of good company for my taste, but it was a really nice place. I had deliberately not chosen to stay in Haeundae (beach/backpacker/party area) because although I was keen to go over to the beach – the weather was still REALLY nice- it’s not my scene. And I was staying, my boss assured me, in the middle of a lot of great things anyway. Apple Guesthouse was clean and had helpful staff, although some could not speak English THAT well. As I said, unfortunately for me it was full of other Koreans/Asians traveling together, so I kind of missed that atmosphere of European hostels where there are lots of solo travelers looking to make new friends. But nonetheless I had few complaints.

Haeundae made me homesick!

Haeundae made me homesick!

And indeed I was. I was near the famed Fish Market, and in the middle of an area where street vendors filled up the streets at night time; I subsequently spent hours almost every night just wandering the alleys, eating fried chicken and mandu and hotteok for the first time. I was in heaven.

You can tell I was near the Fish Market

You can tell I was near the Fish Market

Korean Street Food

Korean Street Food

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Sit down dining… in the street

So much pajeon!

So much pajeon!

Nighttime is when it all happens

Nighttime is when it all happens

My beloved hotteok

My beloved hotteok

One of the best things I did was visit Taejongdae Park, which my hostel highly recommended. I had to take a bus for about half an hour, but when I arrived, despite the searing heat, I was able to walk the full circuit around, and enjoy the aptly named ‘Pebble Beach’, as well as some nice sea views.

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach

Something something historical significance...

Something something historical significance…

I also visited Haedong Yonggusa Temple, which remains the only Korean temple I have seen, thus far. I’m not hugely knowledgeable about this aspect of Asian culture, as my interest lies more in Middle Eastern and European history and religion. So, I’m not going out of my way to visit every single temple in Korea. But I was very happy I visited this one. It’s historically significant, having been one of the earliest temples, and is built on the coast, so is incredibly beautiful.

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Once again, I was surrounded mainly by Koreans also visiting the temple, which is one of the nicest things about going to ‘tourist’ destinations in Korea – you’re actually always surrounded by locals. Koreans have a strong sense of pride in their country and the many wonderful things there are to see and do here. They are always out and about on weekends, making the most of their nations natural attractions, or the never ending array cultural attractions offered in the big cities.

There is SO much to do in Busan, and although I did a few more things not mentioned here, I know I barely scratched the surface. In any case, these were the highlights of my little jaunt there, and I hope it gives you an idea of the city.

Sorry for the photo overload, but I loved Busan. I’ll be back!

Until we meet again

Until we meet again

Has anyone been to Busan? Or has tips for the next time I visit? As always, like, comment and share!

xx

A long overdue update

WOW. Just… wow.

It has been three months since I updated this blog, and as you can imagine, heaps has happened in that time! I’ve gone from being a total newbie with basically no friends to a semi-confident expat who can navigate Seoul (mostly) with many a companion to join my weekend adventures!

 

The last few months have been quite a whirlwind, to say the least. In that time, I’ve visited the coastal city of Busan for the Chuseok holiday, celebrated my 25th Birthday in Seoul, celebrated many new friends birthdays, done a decent tour of the clubs of Hongdae and Itaewon, eaten wayyy too much dolsot bibimbap, and ushered in the beginning of the Siberian winter to the Korean peninsula.

 

It’s been quite an eventful few months. I’ll be attempting to update on everything. But for now, the important thing to know is that, despite some minor annoyances about living in an Asian country where the culture (and food!) is different, I’m pretty happy. I have a huge variety of friends from countries all over the world, which, because Seoul itself is a pretty multicultural place, has led to some awesome experiences.
But I can’t pretend I’m not happy to be GOING HOME for the winter break! Bring on readily available zucchini, grapefruit, lemons, dates, Haigh’s chocolate and sun! I hope you’re ready Adelaide…

 

What’s everyone else doing for Christmas?

 

xx

An Adventure in Itaewon

Last weekend I briefly checked out Seoul for the first time. It was pretty hot and I’m not much in the mood for sightseeing, so I specifically went to check out the ‘foreigner’s district’ of Itaewon, with the idea of finding some food staples that are easily found at home, but not so in my local Korean supermarkets.

 

Found the stop!

Found the stop!

 

I know it sounds like a bit of a cop out to head straight there, but truly it wasn’t. I mean, I was still in Seoul! I still had to navigate the bus and metro to get there! It’s just that moving here happened so fast and whilst I’ve been enjoying it, I love to cook, and I wanted to stock up on a few of my own staples.  Lately I have found myself doing a lot of anxious eating of crap I don’t even like- chocolate bars and cookies- from the convenience stores near my place (there are THREE, dammit!) and it’s kind of feeding into a vicious cycle of anxiety and sugar dependency and hormonal craziness. So I knew that going to Itaewon and hunting down certain foods was essential, for the sake of my general health and wellbeing.

There were some great things about Itaewon, and some shitty things. I left with bags of food so you know, overall it was a successful trip but I definitely can see both sides of the coin.

What sucked about it was:

- The American chains EVERYWHERE. Not just Starbucks and McDonalds, but heaps of others too. It’s sad. And annoying.

-  Some creepy dudes. Kind of like how when you’re in some parts of Southeast Asia or India and as you pass they go ‘hello’ and stare at you really intensely. Well Korea has so far been mostly devoid of that, but it happened in Itaewon.

But what I LOVED about Itaewon was:

- The variety! Chains aside, there is a concentration of Turkish, Indian, and other ethnic cuisines all in the one place. I even found a Syrian bakery AND a vegan bakery I’d read about online. There are guys playing with the dondurma out the front of kebap shops- it’s like stepping into a little bit of Turkey!

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YUM!

 

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Also a Ben’s- How exciting!

 - Abundance of foodstuffs necessary to my cooking and eating habits! Thanks to stores like High Street Market, National Food Market and Foreign Food Mart, I was able to find a lot of the things I take for granted in Australia. It’s more expensive and sometimes not exactly what I’d prefer, but considering I can’t order online until I get my ARC card, finding almond butter in HSM was amazing.

Goodies from Itaewon

Goodies from Itaewon

- The random, fun atmosphere. I walked past a guy with a speaker playing ‘Stand by Your Man.’ ‘Nuff said.

Overall, I’d recommend Itaewon, and I know I’ll be back because I’m sure there’s a lot more than what I found. It’s a different part of Seoul that will sometimes be exactly what I’m in the mood for, and sometimes not. It all depends!

Has anyone been to Itaewon? Or has suggestions for other parts of Seoul? Comment and share! xx

And Then I Moved to Korea…

Hi gang! Long time no speak. What can I say, life in Adelaide just became too exciting.
And in a way, it DID! I was finally able to let go of a lot of the negativity that I had been feeling initially about being home, and just enjoy it. I connected in a really good way with some really important people in my life and I’m very grateful for that time. I was also able to stop worrying so much about what everyone else is thinking or not thinking about me, and over analyzing every single little thing for hidden meanings as to why certain people weren’t making the effort to be my friends anymore.

 

This isn’t meant to be a therapy blog, it’s a travel blog! But because I find traveling deeply therapeutic I of course like to sometimes share what’s going on in my life/psyche. So there it is. I feel the last few months of Adelaide have witnessed a lot of personal growth, which is really important to me at the moment. I really like myself (a lot of the time) right now, which is a huge step. It’s probably the first time in a decade that I’ve been able to say that about myself. I’m focusing really hard on being a positive person, which is hard because it doesn’t come naturally!

 

However, whilst Adelaide ended up being great, it was also transitory. I did apply for some proper jobs but my heart wasn’t in it. I knew that travel and I weren’t finished, because, despite my epic trip last year, I still really wanted to experience the life of an expat.

 

So I moved to Korea. South, obviously. (WHAT is with all the people who ask ‘North or South?’ Like, are you kidding me??) So I now live in a place called Dongtan which is part of Hwaseong city in the province of Gyeonggi-Do. Basically, I’m an hour by bus to Seoul. Awesome.

 

It’s hard to explain Korea, but so far everything has been just great. Despite an initial hiccup with my flight reservation, which meant my journey here was much more painful than it needed to be, I’ve settled in really well. My bosses and work are fantastic, and they’ve really made the effort to make sure I know where to go for the supermarket and basic stuff like that. I still don’t have a sim card for my phone or any wifi, because I have to get my Alien Registration Card first, which we’ll be working on this week.

 

Dongtan is a purpose built city, only a few years old, mainly inhabited by the families of people who work in the massive Samsung factory. It’s also home to the Metapolis towers, the highest apartment buildings in Korea. So, whilst it’s not particularly historic, it is home to some pretty cool stuff. It’s also very close to a city called Suwon which has a supposedly amazing fortress, so I’m really keen to check that out soon.

 

Anyway I think that’s enough for today, I hope you enjoyed the update and will stay tuned for more of my adventures in Korea! I can’t say that I ever imagined moving here but so far I’m really loving it!

 

I hope you’re all keen to continue to hear exciting stories. Has anyone been to Korea? Any advice? As always, comment and share xx

I Have Not Died

To the three people whose very existence depends upon this blog (yes, I’m joking) I’M SO SORRY I’VE DESERTED YOU!

Also, I know we’ve been here before. What can I say, I actually have had work and a semblance of a life the past few months. Also, I’ve been putting off blogging. I don’t know why.

Since I’ve been gone, I did drive the Great Ocean Road, and I also have made plans for the future.

Travel plans.

Ohhh yes, does that excite you? Stay tuned! xx