Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My First (and probably last) ever half marathon!

So after 4 weeks of being unable to train due to a dodgy (extremely painful) knee, I made the possibly ridiculous decision to run the half marathon that I had signed up for when the going was good in April.
The 3 of us with our medals.

The week of the marathon I completed two 4 mile runs and one 7 miler, in my fancy knee support and therefore pain free (miracle!).

I don't think I was prepared for A. The 13 miles or B. The 29 degree heat.

The first 10K there was at least some breeze and we managed to do it in 56 minutes, new record for me. I was happy to have that as my achievement for the day. BUT, I had decided to run it in a bid to not let my good friend Kate down. We had signed up together and therefore shall complete all 13 miles of pain, sweat and a little bit of pee pee TOGETHER!

With 3 kilometers to go, and hour and 45 mins in, I wanted to cry/die/quit/question my mental state. Absolute agony, seriously. I walked between the final 2K and 1K, making myself feel better by telling myself 'the last 1K I will not stop, can not stop, must not stop, running.'.....and I didn't, although I was close to crawling over the line 2 hours 9 minutes AND 46 seconds (every second counts when your legs feel like lead) after crossing it initially.

Kate, finished in 2 hours and 5 minutes, she was heroic out there. Her aim was 2 hours but in that heat she ought to be proud of finishing in such a great time and a personal best for her fourth half marathon!

Another one of our friends Chloe also took part in her first 10K in Korea, finishing in an hour. Think in future I will stick to decreasing my time over 10K, I'm definitely more suited for power over endurance....but who knows what Autumn will bring! Now, I'm off to cream my severely burnt and peeling nose.

Well, here we are:

Kate finishing her half marathon.
5 minutes later, here I come.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Korean Music.

Here in Korea the music hype is focused on the likes of Korean Pop music- Kpop. Which is fast infiltrating peoples ears around the globe and being warmly embraced due to its upbeat tempos and cheeky innocent sound (for the most part), its how pop music once was, before it was dirty and slutty (Although it can also be the latter here too).

Heres a little snippet of K-Pop:

2ne1 these ladies are a tad more gritty than the average Korean pop band and thus I like them a little more.

You have to love abit of english being sung from time to time though:
Miss A: Two members are Chinese much to Korean people dislike!

Then theres the boys:
Big Bang: The biggest boy band in Korea.

All this being said I no very very little about Korean Pop music and although Its not really my kind of music I can appreciate that is its fun and LOVE the dance moves!

I have however found a Korean band I can enjoy, 10 cm (ship cm- ship being 10 in Korean). This is there song 'Americano' which is huge here at the moment. Yes, its about coffee.

The song is both humorous and....sarcastic! Can you believe it. I am trying to learn the words with my co-teacher and the boy has been trying to learn the chords.

The song goes something like:

'Americano, its good, its good, its good.'
'Americano, strong, strong, strong.'
'Do I want syrup, syrup, syrup'
'No thank you.'

The verse goes on to talk about different situations when they need coffee:

  • After jajangmyeon (a cheap korean dish of noodles): Sarcasm, as the noodles are so cheap and the coffees so expensive.

  • After they pay the rent and have no money to eat....AMERICANO!!

  • When they have girl problems.

  • After a marathon.

Ah imagine singing about coffee back home, odd, no?! Here in Korea its just fine! They do love coffee.

Also in July we get to see them perform live at Jisan Rock Festival! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Proactive Payday....helping the family

So I'm pretty late for this proactive payday...

I have been researching various companies and was a little unsure as to who to donate too.

Then my big brother posted a link on his facebook in a bid to raise 500pound for cancer. 

Decision done.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tasty, Tasty Duck!

A little while ago my co-teachers, Paul and I went out for some tasty tasty Duck. The usual duck meal here is o-ri bulgogi and is duck in a spicy sauce served with garlic, bean paste, salad and kimchi, all, in the usual fashion, wrapped in a lettuce leaf and popped in the mouth- Delicious!

This time we were in for a real treat, we not only had the wonderful o-ri bulgogi but also bbq'd duck. It may be my favourite Korean dish,nom nom.

The bulgogi, once its nearly over they throw in rice its great!

The skewered duck, bean paste (samjan), garlic and salad

BBQ'd/ Rotisserie duck
 The duck restaurant is situated in Edong, head down the main street (down hill) towards Krazee burger, turn right at krazee burger (as if going to gogi king/ giant step) and keep walking quite some ways (its a maze, I'm sorry) I think it may be the second to last turning on your left (but who really knows, sorry!).

Goodbye Hair.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Moments of greatness...

Today my 5th graders created profiles on themselves to play a game similar to guess who. I chose a profile at random from the mystery bag and read hints from the paper such as 'nickname', best friends name etc. After telling the class 'I am a boy, I have many nicknames' I moved to the next question: 'What's your hobbies?' Only to read this:


Laughter and some confusion followed. I showed my co-teacher who nodded and said 'you know, stay home' I couldn't help reply (as I was partly confused) through laughter 'and just bang cock?' 

She didn't get it at first, but apparently to stay home in Korean is 방곡 which the student had wrongly translated into English phonetics bangcock. Good times.

This situation was actually reversed on me later in the day when I told my grade 3's 'Don't cheat' to which they all broke into fits of laughter and shouted 'Dongchim Teacher?'

Dongchim= Students clasp their hands together, pointers out and stick those two delightful fingers up your bum (they do it to just about anyone and everyone and no one gets angered!?)! Pretty hilarious as they were all standing in a line at the time with their backs to one another...

'Mum, Corey Teacher told us all to dongchim each other today, Corey Teacher's pretty cool.' At least to Korean children I would be!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sharing Korea.

Koreans share, EVERYTHING!

When we first arrived in Korea we found it odd to order food as a group (although we are never responsible for ordering and rarely given a choice when dinning with Koreans). At the dinning table everyone shares the food, which is great as you get to sample many dishes (IF there are a variety of dishes available, many restaurants specialise). 

However, the sharing in Korea goes beyond just eating out. They literally share everything, its quite lovely at times and fairly confusing at others.

There are numerous stories told by foreigners here about being unsure if it was OK to eat  by themselves when they had taken an apple to school as part of lunch, as you feel obliged to take an entire bag of apples. 

Also, if you do take food into school and leave it in a communal area, say an office fridge, its likely it will be gone upon your return. This perceived minor theft by us foreigners is a great example of cultural differences. The week before the people who ate your goods probably stocked the fridge for you to enjoy too, only you had assumed that food 'belonged' to someone and steered clear based on your own morals. Who's the better man? 

It is still pretty weird when people start helping themselves to 'your' things.

On school trips students back packs are crammed full of sugary snacks, enough to feed a family and well, thats their purpose. The students share their snacks throughout the day with friends and teachers- I love school trips! The students parents also provide an unimaginable amount of food and drinks for teachers too. Glorious!

The Korean mindset to share to such a great degree leaves us foreigners often in a state of perplexity. Should we share the one orange we brought for lunch with the 7 other teachers in the office (who's name you may not even know and have probably only exchanged daily greetings for the past 6 months) or should we gobble it up as its part of our lunch as the school lunch of seaweed soup and rice you just ate did not suffice?!?

I discussed this with some teachers during our field trip and they assured me they sometimes get confused with it all too, but always end up sharing. My co-teacher told me the principle of sharing all you have is based on a prophecy:

"If you have just one bean, that too must be shared."

Another explanation as to why everything here is sold in bulk. I had better start stocking up!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I want to ride my bicycle...

We decided to stay in Pohang this weekend and hopefully save some money. I think I failed the latter. Saturday we headed to the beach for a little kick about, however it was darn windy and pretty cold so we soon dashed indoors for a hot drink. After purchasing our tasty drinks we were 'serviced'...sounds abit naughty hey. In Korea, JUST because we are foreign (maybe a little bit because everyone thinks Pauls a model too) we get serviced everywhere. It's usually a free fizzy drink in a restaurant. However, those 2 giggley Korean girls in Yogerpresso really know how to service people. FREE, frozen yoghurt, cereal, chocolate sauce, nuts and cherries. The freebie actually cost a little less that what we had spent. Winning.

On our way home we decided to check out Lotte Department Store. Its a huge mall here and pretty pricey as it contains only brand stores. What it also contains is the most delicious food court that shall now be visited more regularly by us. Kebabs, quesadillas, sushi, breads, cakes, doughnuts, sandwiches ah theres so much more.

After purchasing some tasty red wine (which we got 'serviced' 2 free wine glasses with, the wine was about 6 pound!), we headed up a walking trail behind our house. It's truely beautiful back there and just a 2 minute walk from our abode. We took the wine and guitar for a little hippie hang out time. Followed by curry and some drinks with friends.

Buddha's Birthday is just around the corner.

Once sunday rolled around we had decided it was time to head back to that delectable food court in Lotte and go food crazy. So, we did. We picnicked on the beach with our friends Tawny and Chris, who introduced us to Krispy Creme doughnuts Variety pack.

In a bid to erm, burn off all those eats we hired a 4 man bike, of which only 2 people can actually ride and Tawny and I were chauffeured about the beach. It was highly enjoyable if not a little scary when the boys decided we simply must do the little ramp onto the beach. Yes, they did have to get out and push to get us back up!

Once our 30 mins of beach buggying were up we decided to hire some new reclining bikes, these bad boys were immense!

He was having a good time too!
This badboy put those bikes to shame.
We looked like mini folk on mini folk bikes. They were also pretty tough to cycle and steer as you had to lean sideways to turn. Many a crash and tumble followed. Yet we were just warming up for some serious collisions in the football game that followed.

After such an active day we were pretty exhausted and headed home for delicious pasta bake using my favourite pasta sauce from home, which I also found in Lotte. Told you its a goodie!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Poetic Korea.

Here in Korea, English is inexplicably HUGE. It is quite possibly the most successful merchandising tool for just about everything from clothes to music (bands are considered more talented if they throw in a few English lines)to school stationary. 

If its got English on it, they have got to have it. What seems unimportant is the actual meaning behind the English, for example, theres a brand here named 'Morning Glory' which makes stationary. Now, you and I both know the first thing to mind when hearing such words. However when my sweet third grade student shows me their pink, adorable, fluffy pencil case brandished with the words 'Morning Glory' and asks teacher 'What?' 

As you can imagine what follows is a description of a beautiful morning, the sun shinning, its warm, birds chirping....

This is by no means the most surprising use of the English tongue, I've heard stories about students in clothing with swear words, walking along naively with their little tiger back packs and telling the world to 'do one'.

Whats worse is the utter nonsense plastered on everything, a great example of this is:

'Listen I told you how I love you. You are the moon and I am the sundrops (not bad hey?!). Always my eyes watch your condition.'

As displayed on a 10 year olds pencil case.

There are endless images you can find online illustrating either Konglish (Korean+English combined, used to describe either a wrong pronunciation such as copee, as coffee is known in Korea, or a word made from Korean and English) or just hilarious English phrases. Also I'm sure theres a fair few of us foreigners that buy items with Korean on and have no idea what it says, I only hope the Koreans enjoy it as much as we do!

Moments of greatness...

In my after-school class yesterday, we had a new student. All existing students requested English names and I therefore did a lil research and starred at their sweet little faces for some time (choosing names is a big responsibility) considering what suited them but was still pretty cool and would age well with them as the grow older.

I ended up with 

  • Alex
  • Kai
  • Euan
  • Tom
  • Olivia
  • Ellie
  • Molly
  • Indica
  • Willow

Now these students have their English names they are obsessed with all new students having a name and actually insist that the student has 'no name' at all until I give them one. So, the new student required a name and I asked for some time to think. However, little Tom (sometimes terrible but always Terrific) tells me:

"Teacher his name, Jerry"

I look at the kid thinking 'Jerry?' thats an odd one, not something I would of chose but it does kind of suit him. Then as if reading my thoughts Tom shouts..

"No teacher I Tom, he Jerry, Tom & Jerry."

What a kid hey.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Caffeine Withdrawal

3 days into my no CRAP detox and I must admit I have broken the 'P' many times. Firstly, I didn't realise just how many foods are processed (does this make me stoopid?!). Also, not all processed foods can be bad for you, surely?! I'd love to eat a completely natural diet, however while living in Korea and being a fussy eater when it comes to cold food (there's not much hot food I don't like) lunch times are hard here aaaand I love cereal- both the cereal and milk are processed, lose, lose.

However, 3 days in and no caffeine nor refined sugar has passed my lips (I bloody hope theres none of the latter in Bran Flakes). The results thus far.... INTENSE 2 days of headaches, sleepiness (I've been in bed at 9pm and 7pm both days) and serious lack of motivation for life. I usually drink around 3 cups of tea and coffee a day and thought that was a pretty low amount, perhaps this suggests otherwise.

I have also discovered the research on caffeine withdrawal symptoms is endless, as are the side effects :( I am tempted to give in, especially as I must stay awake until at least 11pm the next 3 nights for Hapkido class and a run. I'm an old woman aren't I, yes. Caffeine makes me slightly more youthfull and energetic oh and tastes delicious.... 

So, whats stopping me!? I'm actually starting to fear what the hell caffeine must be doing to me. I felt pretty crappy after just 36 hours caffeine free and I'm hoping I will wake up tomorrow without this killer headache and sluggish body/mind. I think I am going to try and stick at this caffeine and sugar free lifestyle in the week forever more and just have some in moderation over the weekends. Let's see how long that lasts...

So glad Easters always on a Sunday!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Jolley Old Korean Birthday!

This weekend marked my second birthday in Korea. Oh how time fly's...It seems like only yesterday we were cycling around Gyeongju beneath the beauty of the cherry blossom trees-out to wish me a very happy birthday!

My celebrations began Friday in school, with a mini surprise party, cake, chicken and gifts...lucky me!

For my second birthday here we decided to head up to Seoul and indulge in some of my favourite things.

1. Shopping: Thats right I had a little spree.
2. Picnicing: Bread, cheese, biscuits, crisps and red wine all eaten at...
3. The Zoo: Seoul Grand Park Zoo is amazing! Its on Subway line 4 and takes little time to get to from central Seoul. The area features a Theme Park, Botanical Garden and Zoo. Ticket entrance for all + dolphin show is just 6000Won (thats under 4 pound). The Zoo is huge and new and the animals seem well kept which is nice as a previous zoo I visited here was in a pretty bad state.
4. Mexican Food & Drinks: SERIOUSLY over ate= no partying or Norebang :( next time.
5. Thai Food: Delicious spicy thai salad and cashew chicken with Sangria- oddballs.
6. Ice Cream Cake: My first ever one, it was 4 flavours, chocolate, mint, cherry and Almond. Which are pretty much my top 4.

I was also spoiled rotten by my wonderful friends here and especially by the beau. I now have 2 lovely new cameras (although one broke on Saturday hence the minimal pics, once my friends get theirs up I'm going to steal a few more for you to see), lots of cool new clothes, mini cacti plants for my classroom, pick n mix, a necklace-watch and jigsaw for hours of fun.

All in all my second birthday in this delightful country surrounded by the greatest people here was splenderific (sounds like something the BFG might say and he's the man so).

Our favourite breakfast delight!

Breakfast time.

Lost looking for the subway, tourist info please.

Thai Restaurant

Nom, Nom, Nom.
So schleeepy

What to do with the leftovers? Make a fort.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Today, I started a detox (kind of) and I fear that later today I will finish that said detox (positive thoughts).

So heres what I am trying for a week, no CRAP:

  • Caffeine (I think it should be carbs too, but I'd be lost and darn hungry).
  • Refined Sugar.
  • Alcohol.
  • Processed foods.

I've never really been strict with what I eat and I'm giving this a whirl out of curiosity and also as I'm bloody always tired at the moment. The A & P should be just fine. However, one morning in and I long for a coffee or a brew, I LOVE caffeine. 

Also, no chocolate, boo. A week without it won't be so bad to be honest. Also I'm going to go hogwild on the stuff in just under 2 weeks, as long as I am able to find enough on the Easter egg hunt to do so.

Until then I'll be chocolate free. Rooibos tea (its caffeine free so I'm told) and water shall be the only liquids to pass my mouth. No treats or caffeine pick me ups.

I'll be amazed if I last a week and I'm pretty sure I'll break it a few times unintentionally as I'm a little unsure as to what qualifies as processed or what has refined sugar or non-refined, blah blah. I shall try.

If in a week I feel like a whole new being, I might stick at this no CRAP stuff. Then again...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Moments of....oddness.

Ah Korea, never does stop surprising me!

On my journey to the school toilet this morning I was met by crowds of bustling students brandishing white sticks in the air. The students were all happy and energetically waving their white sticks. Upon seeing "Colee Teacher" coming toward them they leapt at the chance to proudly show me there white stick. I was confused. Especially as I turned into the bathroom to see a mob of students waiting for the toilet, white stick in hand...

Routine pregnancy testing at primary school!?!? Pahaha, perhaps thats the trick.

Seriously though, they were so happy to show me their pee sticks! Even happier when they thought I had come to the bathroom to join in on the pee-party.

Luckily not one child was using the 'western toilet' and all were waiting on the squatters, perhaps they improve your aim.

Upon leaving the bathroom I noticed a sheet of paper on the windowsill in the hallway with a numbered table and some of the pee sticks attached. A teacher then appeared and tells me 'pee test day'. I told her the students had been proudly showing me their pee-sticks to which she replies 'no,no toucheee, dirty!'

So, my first 'pee-stick day' has arrived in Korea. Maybe its my turn later?!

Monday, March 28, 2011

My first ever 10K event

Not only did Sunday mark my first ever 10K event but it was also only about the 5th time I have run in 9 months (how lazy). Kate and I had decided we wanted to do it in an hour. We figured this was a good time considering how little we had trained and would be a good starting point for our training for the half marathon to come in May.

It took us a while to find said 10K, we had expected a large event. However there was a tiny tent and banner marking the start point with around 20-30 people waiting to begin. Most were middle aged plus, waiting to do a half or full marathon and looking like retired athletes! We thought we had actually turned up to a club run.

Anyways the race went well and was located in a beautiful area of Daegu which made it a little nicer. We finished the race in 56.40 which we were both very happy with. Now, on to the next race in April and the half marathon in May.

Looking rather rough after the run!

My certificate and medal!

Eating, running and Eating some more.

So this weekend was a weekend of relaxing, eating, shopping and running!

Early (very early 8.20am in fact) Saturday morning I headed to Gumi to meet up with my friends Kate and Adalet. I arrived in Gumi around 10 (thanks to the direct bus, if you make the mistake of missing this infrequent blessing it takes an extra hour to get there) and headed to Kates new abode. On entrance to her new place I was hit by mass amounts of sunshine, followed by mass amounts of jealousy! Our place gets no sunlight, a brick wall greets us inches from 2 of our windows and the sunlight creeps around the corners of three buildings out of another window. Its dark and gloomy but we have made it cosy.

Kate's place was perfect, she deserves it!

We then headed downtown for a wander about. As Kate and I are both food obsessed we soon started discussing lunch (and dinner and how many snacks we could fit between). This is what we gorged on for lunch: 

Cheese Dalk Galbi: Chicken in a spicy sauce.
Placed into a leaf with garlic, bean paste and some chilli if you like.
and stuffed in the mouth!
It was THE best Dalk galbi I am yet to have here. Delicious. This is one of my favourite Korean dishes.

Following lunch we explored a little temple close to Adalet's home, it was rather pretty indeed...

 after which we headed to Gumi market where we witnessed such things as...

Rice cake fest- this is a traditional cake in Korea made from ground rice and is a great gift idea for Korean friends or colleagues. 

Turtles- To eat (mother look away)! We were told they are delicious and taste like chicken.

Mini Kimbap buffet.

The market trip was followed by shopping and more eats:
Italian restaurant...sangria?!

Must check out this restaurant next time.

Pretty sweet Italian.

The day ended in an early night ready for our 5.45am wake up call...