Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"The Tourists"

 Well the month that passed was really a great, fun-filled, action packed one (all between school... of course).

The chuseok holiday kindly awarded me the opportunity of being a tourist rather then ARC holder in Korea, which was great because I saw Korea ad its people through a somewhat different set of eyes. As you might already know (from reading my previous post), my mother was visiting from SA. She arrived on 26 September after a looooonnnggg and tiring flight. The night she arrived saw the start of all things wonderful. We managed to visit most (if not all) of the major tourist sites in Korea and I'm talking from Seoul N tower all the way to the Noryangjin Fish Market. Each obviously had its own memorable moments which will last beyond a lifetime.

The Friday night of the chuseok holiday started our shopping extravaganza (addiction). We kicked butt at the Paju Premium Outlets and afterwards got our hands on the most DELICIOUS handmade burgers Korea has to offer (in my opinion). We dined at a cute little place called Burger Hunter Plus.. .And luckily for us the kind and friendly front desk guy spoke a little English. We finally headed back to Geumchon to lay down our tired heads in preparation for the following days activities.

When I first arrived to Korea there were many places in and around Seoul that I was fortunate enough to explore. One of the places which left a lasting impression on me had to be Insadong. Hence, first on our agenda was a trip to this impressive, beautiful and unique street which is filled with so much vibrancy. We walked the street, shopped, ate and experienced all that we could... After day-tripping we headed on out to take a quiet stroll around when we found ourselves in Gwanghwamun Square... AWESOME sums it up best... as the experiences there could only be lived.

Next we hit up The Korean Folk Village... Yupp all the way in Yongin... boy oh boy was this a trip or what... An average travel time of about 7 hours to get there and then back home (as we braved the chuseok traffic craziness) DRAINED us... but this did not get us down... It was totally worth the experience. To see Korea from where it started to the technologically savvy hub it is today was truly the greatest site for me. The village was packed with locals dressed in the traditional Hanbok and babies dressed their cute little dresses and hairpieces... it was quite the sight to see. We headed back home starved as there wasn't much Hindu friendly food to be found at the village... Mr Pizza gladly welcomed us though... we topped up our tanks and headed towards the subway.

Monday saw us head into Seoul to visit COEX Mall. And thanks to the holidays we got to watch a traditional Korean performance about the Korean Thanksgiving Holiday... and managed to squeeze in a little shopping too. The aquarium was overcrowded... but a change of scenery at restaurant Pho Mein, provided a rest stop on our days touring. We then headed to Seven Luck Casino...So different from gambling back in SA...Anyway we managed to lose ourselves some KRW... not too much though, we did not plan on breaking our bank balances. We ended of the day with our first tasting of Baskin Robins 33... which I fear has now turned into an addiction. :D

The following day we ventured into Itaewon, had ourselves a quick bite to eat and hit the streets. There's so much to see and do there, but one thing we could leave without doing was have ourselves some cocktails... which we did and man were they yummy and packed with a load alcohol.We traveled back to Geumchon for some kimbap, soju and good times with friends of mine who I met here in Korea.

Next on the to do list was to visit Seoul N Tower. We 'subwayed' and cable-car'd ourselves there late noon... There were several traditional performances and a flash-mob of teddy bears dancing to Gangnam Style... Yes, that's right folks... teddy's "Gangnam-ing". Following those antics, we headed into the Observatory just before sunset... what a beautiful sight to see. Seoul really looked its best from way up high. Yet another moment the camera could not capture. ***Still Breathless***... We departed from the tower and headed in the direction of Myeongdong... somehow we ended up at Shinsegae Department Store (to do more shopping) and then back to Myeongdong to look around for a bit.

The next day we hit down the Noryangjin fish market and gee wizz did it hit us back. Okay it was a little smelly, but that comes with the situation right. Anyway all in all it was a great site. I probably saw crabs the size of fully grown husky's and prawns the size of anacondas! It was a site I tell you. We got ourselves a good deal on some seafood (along with great service) and we headed back to Geumchon... cooler bag in hand... hoping we got all that fish back home safely. That night mom got to try the awesome Dduk Galbi that Geumchon has to offer. Along with the over consumption of more soju... I would say the day ended on a "high"!

A few days later we headed onto the Han River Cruise just before the Seoul fireworks festival. A beautiful site that pictures or videos could never capture It was experience that had to be lived. We were engulfed with the color that filled the nights sky. Soon after we were crushed by all the people trying to see the same thing we were. Koreans at that moment were not the most awesome people i thought they were. Never the less the experience was one we will remember for a lifetime. Next year however look forward to watching the you tube videos and skipping the crowds.

In the days that followed we visited Gyeongbokgung palace, experienced the closing ceremony of the Hi! Seoul Festival and munched at the best salad bar on this planet Maru Shabu!

Other sites we got to see was the Gwangjang Market (where everything looks the same). Mom also found the gem of Indian cuisine in Korea Saffron Resturant, a must for anyone who is missing that home-styled taste of food that they can only get in their mom's kitchen.

October 24th we trekked to Everland. Korea's very own version of Disneyland (apparently). It definitely did not disappoint I loved every site around me. I loved it even more when mom and I were getting out guts smushed around on the "Lets twist" attraction. Our trip to Everland was like the highlight of it all for me. So much so that I plan of getting myself annual membership and living there every weekend! (How I wish).

During moms last week here, we managed to get as close to South Africa again as we possibly could. We headed out to Braai Republic with the most awesome co-teacher (my co-teacher) anyone could ask for. We knocked back a few (too many) tequila's... had ourselves some awesome food (even a poitjie) and to end it all off... sampling the BEST milk tart the world has to offer. Even better then I've tasted back home (Durban).

So the final weekend dawned on us and I planned on going all out for this one. It was the last weekend my mom would ever see Korea in her life again (she doesn't plan on visiting or holidaying here again).

 So what better way to be splashy and pretend to be a millionaire ( I lie I wasn't pretending, I really felt like one ha ha ha) then to head to Gangnam, get pampered the entire day at a luxurious day spa, afterwards feeling so relaxed that we couldn't return to Geumchon, so we had to check-in at an amazing hotel after... 9pm without any luggage.... and starving for some " Gangnam Style" galbi. 
We painted the town red enjoyed all the soju we could (again) and headed out. Soon followed a Nanta show, a flower festival extravaganza and some de-stressing shopping at Coex Mall. Man did we lived the life that weekend. And even though the result of it all may have been a broken bank balance... it was all TOTALLY worth it.

The End

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's all going uphill

Well its a beautiful day to be in Paju... things outside are looking preeetttyyy awesome! The sun is shining, the kids are playing, the birds are singing....and all that other good stuff. Its a blessing to see such a wondrous sky after yet another typhoon swept us by earlier this week.

Apart from this days glorious natural wonders, the reason why today might be so beautiful is because in exactly one week my mom arrives! I'm super stoked and its going to be quite the adventure... also adding to the GREATNESS of this day is that my flight home in December has been confirmed! Its all been falling into place and it seems only good things happen in Korea. I eagerly await the epic-ness of the upcoming month, travelling with my mom...But then again its not so much what we do during her month here, but rather the time we get to spend together (Its the little things one misses when their parents aren't around everyday). And soon as that passes I shall get onto planning and organizing the most legendary NYE party... ever... The excitement is already building!!!

I cant wait to usher in another new year with the people closest to me... if you are reading this and if we will be singing/dancing in the New Year together (again)...I hope you are smiling...because you and I both know its going to be INSANE!

For mow i have to turn away from this beatuifl view and step back into the present... almost time to teach my kindergarten kids who patiently (NOT) await me downstairs!

Until we blog again

Yours truly

Monday, August 27, 2012

A little bit of this and that...

So today marks 20 days since my arrival in Korea, hence I thought it was finally time that I got down to starting that blog I wanted to. Things have been pretty great! I have already met some incredible people and was glad to have met my first friend who bumped into me the day I arrived. I could not have wished to meet a better soul on that day.

As I write to you... Typhoon Bolaven pounds outside my window and despite me hiding out... inside my apartment, it appears that the Family Mart opposite me never rests and the employees are feverishly unpacking the just delivered goods.

If you are a friend/family member of mine reading this, you know me well enough... but to the randoms I say... "Hi!" I am a South African (proudly) and as you read earlier on... 20 days old to Korea. This place is "home" for now, but my real home will always and forever be... Durban. I never stopped to look and notice its beauty until I arrived here. Not just its aesthetic beauty, but also the beauty of our people, culture and food!

There are many things I obviously miss about Durban, but family ranks the highest on that list. Its strange how growing up one wishes to move out of that tiny city which I grew to know all too well, however once you are out of there it makes you realise how much you should cherish every moment and not let it slip by as time is just not enough when you know longer have the comfort of waking up and saying hello to the people you love the most (in person and not on Skype).

Apart from all the mushy missing home stuff Korea is a great place to be! Korean people are also the kindest most generous people I have come across, they are ALL so helpful and caring which makes a foreigner feel delightfully welcome to their country. The foreigners who work here are also all really cool people and seem to find a family amongst themselves. I have had the pleasure of meeting some really GREAT fellow South Africans (and there appear to be A LOT around here) who when I am around make me feel so comfortable and happy that I wish I was glued to them (hahahahha just kidding)! But seriously they are great people.

So far thanks to a very pretty lady and here awesome friend I was honoured with the privilege of staying at a super great hotel in Seoul and got to explore the area for the first time a few weeks ago. I also was prevliged to attend a fun meet up that introduced me to a whole new culture which was really fasinating.

I have gotten around the country a little so far... and everything looks great! So much more to explore and find! I am still learning how the subway works and the buses too, but patience is key and I am sure sooner or later I will work it all out!

The rain continues to belt down outside and for now I will take cover, make myself a great cup of Five Roses tea (courtesy of the best parents ever!) and wait for this storm to pass!

Till we meet again!