Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Update No 1

So have finally finished in Korea - done, dusted and left the country!! The last 2 months were amazing though so was quite sad to leave - made some great friends up in Bucheon and Seoul and loved the jobs I was doing as well so many a tear was said on Saturday when it came time to say goodbye!!  
(Jessica - my bessie mate in Korea, love you lots and miss you loads - boracay's not the same without you at all. / Sara - know I only just met you 3 weeks ago but miss you all the same, buddy bar quiz nights were tres amusing and will be remembered. / Nicole - cheers for driving me to the airport and good luck with the beast!! Miss ya hon / Jenie - thanks for everything you've done to help me out and sorry for getting dumped on you. Miss ya loads though and KFF me still!! lol)
So anyway off I went back into the great wide yonder. After dealing with the excuse baggage saga at the airport and crying on them to give me a discount (Nicole - more dramas after you left!!), I finally managed to get on the plane and head out to Manila.
Arrived there at about midnight and was faced with the heat!! Makes a change from sitting in the snow making kimchi with the kids at school a day before!! Definitely no need for hats. gloves, scarves, sheepskin boots, coats etc!! Was picked up from the airport by the hotel owner and taken to the Townhouse.
Now as the name would suggest, you'd think it would be a nice townhouse in the city. A place to chill out and relax!! Uhhhhhhh NO!! It was quite a scummy place to be!! And filled full of very strange ex-pats who talked basically gibberish at me for hours as i couldn't excape!!! Anyway managed to finally get to bed and get a decent nights sleep!!
Got up in the morning and headed straight for the Glorietta Shopping Mall to pay a visit to good old Marks and Spencers - man did I need to pay a visit there!! Korean washing machines + underwear = saggy arse pants and broken bras!! So spent a near fortune stocking up on underwear and then headed to the airport to catch my flight to Caticlan (Boracay).
Almost missed the flights due to M&S shopping but luckily the lady was kind and managed to fit me on the last flight. Then spent most amusing time in the airport counting the korean couple wear t-shirts!! OH MY GOD - you have never seen so many in your life - on my flights alone there were 20 sets, and the flights only held 50 people!!!
For those of you that haven't been to Korea - couple wear is when a boyfriend and girlfriend wear the same t-shirts to show they are TOGETHER!!! Like as in identical t-shirts - it is a most amusing concept that us foreigner have a giggle at. 
So on the plane to Caticlan - it is a very small plane - and just after take-off the plane fills with smoke!! Now having been on this flight before I knew everything was A-OK but was amused to see the many koreans getting alarmed that the cabin was filling rapidly with smoke. Now to explain - it is the air con system - and it's actually steam - it's cos when the cold air from the air con hits the warm/hot air in the cabin it creates smoke!! Was quite alarmed the first time I went on the flight but now am a seasoned veteran of the caticlan flight so all cool!! See pic attached though to see what said smoke looks like!! 
So arrive in Boracay just as the sun is setting - see pics attached!! Staying in a place called Casa Camilla (owned by the townhouse people) but unlike townhouse it's actually really nice - it's basic but I have air con, hot shower and it's clean. It's at the end of white beach near boat station 3 and Red Pirates so a bit of a walk to the main entertainment but means that I have the entire stretch of beach to myself during the day to sunbath - no touts, koreans or screaming kids this end of the beach - so in bliss!! 
Doing my advanced diving course tomorrow for 2 days so looking forward to that. Should be great as going wreck diving tomorrow!! YEAHHHH
So all in all a good time so far - have only been here a day but already not wanting to leave!!
I do however, have to leave on Saturday 9th December - I fly from Manila to Melbourne and then melbourne to Christchurch. I will be staying in Christchurch for the week until Mum's wedding on the 17th and then flying to Mark and Caroline's in Masterton. I stay there until christmas ever and then back to christchurch for xmas with mum and my grandparents, and then boxing day to sydney for Amy's wedding. Stay in sydney until New year's eve when I fly back to Masterton. Then after that who knows!!
One of the guys here is talkign to his korean friend about me coming to the Philippines to teach, I have options in Kuwait and Nigeria, or just stay in New Zealand and chill out for a while!! No idea - you know what I am like - one minute here, one minute there!!
But all in all generally thins are good. Life is treating me well and I'm all happy. Oh and 20kgs (3 stone) lighter!! Found the great invention called Korean diet pills!! Have lost 20 kgs in the last 2 months in Korea!! Excellent smithers as one would say!! Only bugger is that none of my clothes fit me anymore - thank god the girl before me in Bucheon dumped all hers on me or would have nothing to wear!! (yeah thought I was losing weight in Korea but it was actually the washing machines stretching everything!!)
So things I have notced since being 20kgs lighter: 
1. Airplane seats really aren't that uncomfortable - it's just I had a big butt and have to squeeze myself into it!! Now actually have room on either side of the seat!! Quite a novelty!!
2. Airplane seats belts don't cut off your circulation!! Again the big butt thing - and now even have to tighten it!! Bonus!!
3.You get REALLY cold sometimes - especially in Korea - no layer of fat to keep you warm!! Brrrrrr
4. You don't sweat as much in the heat!! Excellent - now don't look like I've just run a marathon after walking slowly down the beach!!
5.You go down 4 dress sizes!! Excellent - now can shop in normal people's clothes shops and not the "Your fat and can only buy clothes here" shops!!
6. Even my shoes feel less tight than before!!
7. My backpack doesn't smack me in the head ever 2 seconds cos it's bouncing off my huge butt!! Easy travelling back again!!
8. You automatically get put in the emergency seats on airplanes without having to ask and them giving you the look of "you really think you can rush about in an emergency and help people"!!
9. Your boobs look bigger cos there's not that role of flab underneath them making them look like small fried eggs!! (I do suspect however that my boobs are decreasing in size due to weight loss!! ah crap!!)
Don't get me wrong people - I am no where near Kate Moss yet (And unlikely ever to be - that girl needs to eat!! Oh she also needs to stop taking cocaine!! lol) I still have another probably 20kgs to lose - which I suspect is gonna be a lot harder!! But hey have a 3 month stash of diet pills and decent gyms/swimming pools in NZ to go to so all should be fine - just gonna have to stay away from the pasteries!! Mmmmmmmm chocolate eclairs!! Damn, damn - salad, salad!! lol and grandma's peroshki's (although have been craving them so allowed to eat in the first week at home!! Grandma - please don't cut me off!! lol)
So generally all in all everything is cool for school and A-OK!! Having a fantastic time in Boracay and wish I could stay forever - seriously - when you come here you will understand - peopke should not be allowed to visit this island if they have to leave again!! It's like paradise!! Nothing I've ever seen before and could quite happily live here forever!! 

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Why oh why???

The countdown is now at 4 days!! I technically should be jumping for joy that I am finally out of this god forsaken country that I have been whinging about since about a month after I arrived!! But..........

Realised the other day that for the first time since being here I am actually really happy. Not only have I met some great people to hang out with in Bucheon and Seoul but I also am loving my job and have scored a really, really cool private with a TV station!!

The new girl came in yesterday and today to shadow me and all I could think was I don't wanna go!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh - WTF!!! I love the kids - they are so damn cute and they all almost started crying yesterday when they were told that I am leaving on Thursday!! Have put the feelers out though and said that I might be back in a few months (the new girl is now on a 3 month probabtion period!! lol) - it's like the coolest job in the world ever though - get to sing, dance and muck about all day with the kids which is soo much fun. (Maybe I could steal one and take them home with me!! lol)

Of course knowing me - I'll leave on Saturday, hit the beaches of Boracay and forget all about ever coming back to work in Korea!! But hey at the moment feeling a bit crap - hate packing too!! Definitely not going to miss this freezing cold weather though!! Mmmmm 31 degrees C here I come!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

On the final stretch!!

So I have less than 2 weeks before I quit Korea and head off into the great big, wide unknown again!!

Have spent 15 months in Korea now and have definitely had enough - well that's what I say now!! Life in Bucheon has been great though - like the place sooo much more than Ulsan. You don't get hassled by weird Korean men, you don't get your boobs grabbed by ajumma's on a daily basis, you don't get asked if your a russian whore all the time, you don't get asked by taxi drivers to have sex with them rather than pay the fair - all 2,000 won worth (US$2!!). General people in Bucheon are a hell of a lot more friendlier and helpful then any of the random Korean's I met in Ulsan!!

On the down side all my friends are in Ulsan - well those that haven't left already to head home or onto pastures new!! Bucheon has been - well boring!! lol - for a while I thought I was the only waygook here but discovered the foreigner bar the other day and about 100 waygooks drinking inside it!! Had a great night and made some friends who I have been hanging out with since!!

Still 2 weeks cannot come quick enough!! Think it has more to do with heading to Boracay again when I leave to dive for a week. Really looking forward to doing that. Hopefully my ears don't get fucked up again!! Have an overflowing supply of ear drops so fingers crossed!!

Heading to New Zealand after Boracay for Mum's 3rd wedding, my mate Amy's 1st Wedding in Sydney and Xmas with the family. Should be a good time but still a bit edgy about the whole thing. Not the best of times when around my family - usually many arguments, stress etc etc - so prefer to stay well clear!! lol - however, haven't spent Xmas with my grandparents for like 20 years so looking forward to that but will have to see how it goes!!

No idea what the plans are after that!! Have possibilities in Kuwait, Nigeria, New Zealand etc etc so will have to wait and see what takes my fancy!

To all those in Korea though - it was great meeting you and I will miss you all!! Stay in touch and no doubt we'll meet again somewhere in this not so small world!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2006


February 2006

Continuing on with the 12 scenic sights of Ulsan, I next decided to visit the Munsu Stadium and see just what exactly made this the pride and joy of Ulsan. The Munsu Cup Stadium, nicknamed the Big Crown Stadium, is located in Mugeodong and is surrounded by Munsusan, Namamsan, a lake and thick forests. The stadium took just under two and a half years to build and was completed in April 2001 at a total cost of 151.4 billion won (GBP88.4m / US$158m / CDN$180.5m).

The stadium was built for the 2002 Korean/Japan World Cup, and hosted 10 international football matches during the tournament. It is now home to the K-League Ulsan Hyundai Horang-I (Hyundai Tigers) football team – soccer for those non-Brits. The stadium also hosts many concerts and other sports events. Munsu Stadium contains both mechanical and environmentally-friendly imagery. The overall shape of the stadium is that of a crown, hence its nickname, which is meant to symbolise that Ulsan will continue to develop over the years. The stadium has 3 floors and 2 basement floors and has a total seating capacity of 44,474.

There is also a secondary stadium with a seating capacity of 2,590. The stadium, on close inspection, is a rather impressive building and well worth having a look at – is it not by any means designed by the same architect that seems to design the huge number of concrete tower blocks that can be found around most of Korea.

Although visiting the stadium itself may not seem like the most thrilling thing to do in your spare time, the surrounding area is worth a stroll around. Next to the stadium is Munsu Park which has a large lake, a fountain, and walking/bicycle courses that can be enjoyed by all. You can certainly idle away a good few hours walking around the area. The path around the lake is at least a few kilometres, so excellent for those of you wanting to walk, cycle or jog to keep fit.

You will also find that the area itself is remarkably clean and tidy, which will prove just how much pride Ulsan has in this building and it’s surrounding land. Again I think it is probably a place best visited in the warmer months of the year so that you can enjoy the area without freezing to death.

Unfortunately, I could not find what the upcoming events are at the stadium but I’m sure it will be advertised around Ulsan when there is one. Munsu Stadium is located at the top end of Mugeodong past Ulsan University.


February 2006

If you head down to the covered shopping area in Shinae, you will most likely find a large crowd  gathering in Princess Club. What is Princess Club you may well ask? Well, it’s basically a place where  Korean’s, young and old, couples, friends and families alike - all gather to take pictures of themselves in brightly coloured booths. After taking these pictures, they then proceed to decorate them with hearts, cartoon characters, writing, stars and the like, and then attach them to key chains, use them as phone bling or just stick the stickers any place they can.

Why do they do this? You may have noticed that Koreans love to take photos of themselves, whether it be with their mobile phones or digital cameras. When I questioned my Korean co-workers about this fascination, they looked a little confused. They explained to me that the reason Koreans take pictures of themselves is simply because they can. When I questioned this further they told me that technology in Korea has developed so quickly over the last few years that they are still in the “honeymoon” stage with it and therefore haven’t become bored of playing with it.

Although us Westerners may not be quite as fascinated with taking photos of ourselves, you will still find the Princess Club an amusing place. I have, it has to be said, been converted to the wonder that is Princess Club and try and find an excuse to go there any time I can dragging half of Ulsan with me – hey if in Korea do as the Korean’s, right?

The price for the photos depends on the size and the quantity you want, but the usual is around 3,000-5,000 won. This will either get you a large photo or around 20 small photos to enjoy and use to your hearts content. You may find that you have to wait for a few minutes till a booth becomes available but once inside it is fun and games to be had by all. You can choose the angle from which the photo is taken, delete the photo and start again if you find you have double chin syndrome or your eyes closed, and you can modify it after you’ve taken it to make the photo darker or lighter. A note to remember though is that though is that the booths tend to have a time limit, which seems to vary depending on how busy it is in the Princess Club. It does have a countdown clock, so just make sure you don’t run out of time.

Another amusing addition to the Princess Club experience are the costumes, hats and wigs that you can borrow for your photo taking experience. Most are rather shabby and used but you will still find some comedy things to don to make your pictures that bit more ‘special’. Once you have finished taking the pictures in the booth – usually 4 in total – you step outside to decorate them with stars, writing and various other pictures and colours. Again this has a time limit so just keep an eye out and don’t spend too long on one picture.

Once you have your picture in hand go to the desk on the left hand side of the shop. There, a lady will cover the picture with a glittery cover for free. Next to this you can buy various photo holders on key chains or phone bling – all cost around 1,000 won each. At the front of the shop you will find tables with several pairs of scissors. If you go with a group of friends then you can seperate the photos here, divide them up amongst yourselves and stick away to your hearts content.

A note to the boys – you are not allowed in Princess Club unless you are with a girl.  Although I doubt many of you would venture in alone, or without being dragged forcibly by a girl, it is something to be aware of.

Princess Club in situated in the covered shopping area in Shinae. If you are walking away from Holly’s, with Megabox on your right, Princess Club is about 500 metres down on the left hand side, past Fashion News, across the road from The Face Shop. If you get to the neon nightclub district, you’ve gone too far. There is another photo booth store called kitty-corner next to the D&I building.