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...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pop a squat Grandma.

Following our glorious 10K today (info shall follow shortly) we were en route to the subway station only to witness a sweet old granny, pants around the knees, bare backside out, squatting a little off the pathway and I'm hoping having a widdle (she had been there a while as we could see her from the distance so a number 2 isn't out the question here!).

SERIOUSLY! It was an horrific sight, yet not so unusual here in Korea.

That's right here in the ever so respectful, use two hands, confucianist society of Korea, public peeing is erm 'excepted'/'OK'/ 'tolerated'. Whatever the Koreans view is, it is quite common to see men peeing here there and just about everywhere. No, they dont hide away like those who risk a fine might in the UK. They get the urge drop em, turn away from society (most of the time) and go!

This however was the first time I'd been witness to the female public pop squat and oh how I hope the last. I must add all men I have witnessed performing such acts are usually elderly so perhaps with age and thus respect in Korea comes the freedom to whip out your dangley and have a widdle!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Proactive Payday

So today for EPIK teachers all over Korea its payday. I have decided to make my paydays more 'proactive' by donating a small amount each time to a various program providing aid around the world.

I figure I'll select a different program each time, this month I decided for obvious reasons to donate to Japan. Although there are many great programs out there that strive daily for a more just environment, the current situation in Japan has left many in shock and devastation. Those people's lives have been changed forever and left them in a current state of vulnerability (both individually and as a society) and they need our help now more than ever.

My thinking is, maybe just maybe, once I donate each month and give you guys the link, maybe you'll be more inclined to give it a click and donate a little too...go on, such a little amount to you can help in so many ways, its kind of like duplicating your money and using it for good!

So heres the link for my first ever 'Proactive Payday':

There are many other programs on this site helping put right some of the wrongs occuring everyday around the globe. So have a little look about and maybe donate to a cause you feel more passionately about, if the above doesn't appeal to you.

The weekend approaches....10K time!

Ah its Friday, glorious....

The weekend that is ever so near shall be spent relaxing in Gumi Saturday followed by an early night in preparation for an even earlier morning on Sunday.

This Sunday Kate and I shall be running a 10K, I say running, I hope to run it all. Now I know 10K is not very far in the world of running, in fact my university tutor once told me:

 "Any person of average fitness (as in whats required to be healthy) should be able to run a 10K, easily." (Physiology tutor LJMU).

An that guy knew his stuff.... So the run should be a breeze, ha. 
I was hoping to get a few runs in this week, give myself some confidence. However, it would seem my lovely adorable students have again been delivering their germs to me. Consequently I have been wholly sedentary.

6 miles isn't actually that far but I was hoping to get a good (ish, for being me) time to spur me on for my next one in April, followed by the half marathon in May. Yes thats right, I hope to run a half marathon in May.

I started training for one last year and was up to running 10 miles once a week as well as 3 shorter, faster runs. However my running buddy at the time departed and I lost motivation, shame on me! 

This time I am self motivating (with a GPS watch to help), it also helps that running in Korea is fantastic.  Firstly I can run alongside the beach front for up to around 14 miles or so (should I ever be crazy enough to want to do so). Secondly, Koreans are always out in mass on the routes I run, power walking and find a little waygook running either a. unfathomable or b. motivational. I have come to these 2 conclusions as I usually get a solid stare or as I run past a walking fellow, I find them then jogging behind me, usually for around 2 minutes maximum-I am inspirational.

Theres also the constant shouts of "PIGHTING" with clenched, no they don't want to give me a swift left hook, " Pighting" is similar to 'good luck/good work/keep going' in our culture. Although it might just be that I'm training so hard they assume I am in fact a female Rocky. 

What ever the reason Koreans LOVE to spur you on with good luck cheers and I love them for it.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring teaser

Yesterday was a glorious day here in Pohang. We were sure Spring had arrived. Until we awoke today to rain, alas!

So heres our day in pictures:

The day began with a huge and wonderful breakfast...

Followed by a stroll along the water front....

and down to the beach to socialise with fellow English Teachers.

Followed by Curry at a new restaurant on the beach named 'Sweet India', it was delicious although some what lacking in meat. However, it did only cost around 5 GBP for a curry and a naan.

The day ended with ridiculous amounts of Soju being consumed by the beau and I, our good friend Caspar, a new arrival Kerry and 2 new Korean friends Hong and Clare. It was a great, great night.

Today- 'We die'.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

JUMP! Seoul

A few weekends ago we took our good friend Kate to watch JUMP in Seoul for her Birthday. Jump is a martial arts comedy show and has toured the world with exceptional success. We were real excited to actually go to a theatre in Korea and the show didn't fail us in any respect.

Although we were unable to take photos during the show, the actors lined up for pics and signings. We purchased one of the wooden blocks used in Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido shows (also within the show Jump) and had it signed by all the actors.

The 'couple'

The Grandfather

The Thief

The Narrator

The Drunken Uncle

The Cast

The show was exceptionally entertaining and humorous. The show features little spoken dialog and all that was included was actually in English, therefore its easy to follow for foreigners to Korea (its basic english so those from any country would be fine). The martial arts skills involved in the show were close to miraculous and members of the audience were hand picked to be involved in the action.

I would highly reccommend checking the show out if your ever in Seoul or Busan. To book tickets have a little look on here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A hair-free phase?!

So, I am currently going through a phase of being quite in awe of females with shaved heads. This all began a few weeks ago with the release of Black Swan sending Korea into Natalie Portman swoon-ville. 

Now, she's a good looking girl, yes but next Mila Kunis, really?! In my opinion the latter is much more interesting and beautiful....but, then I came across a picture of Portman with a shaved head:


Now, I get it! Seriously, with a shaved head she looks edgy and her face is strong, without, shes just too girl next door for me (I know she's a damn pretty one, you wouldn't mind being your neighbor right?!)....and so began my new obsession of loving the shaved head look on women.

Its so strong and free (from gender conformity and of course hassle), inspiring and illustrates a huge amount of confidence! Its like a power cut!

Granted, not all people can pull this off (another reason why its terrific) and old Britter's (Spears) did a terrible job of helping me out on this shout out for the shaved head.

Well I only wish I had the balls (take this as you will) or face structure to rock a shaved head and utter respect to those that do, how liberating!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Moments of greatness...

A new school year begins and so comes with it the most delightful/naive/ mistranslated/ humorous English from my students to make us all smile (I hope)...

Today a student brought into my classroom (after school had finished), a dwarf hamster! She was teeny! He informed me in very cute yet broken English that it was in fact a she and her name is 'Ham', which I'm pretty sure he made up on the spot.

She lived in a toadstool house and was being taken home by the lovely 4th grader in a taxi. I was also encouraged to stroke her and pick her up, however after some struggle to catch her we both gave up! Pesky little things.

I love these guys! I only wish I'd taken a photo...apologies.

Monday, March 14, 2011

White Day in Korea

Aha, today is 'White Day' in Korea, one month on from Valentines day and its time for the boys in the relationship to pay back the girls (ridiculous I know). In Korea the gift of choice and of course thats all people's choice (being Korea and all) is sweets!

So, yes, I do have a boyfriend but no I shall not be celebrating White Day (I truly do not enjoy neither Valentines day nor this new day imposed upon me by Korean society). However, in a way that only there sweet little round faces can, my students have made me enjoy such a day, a tad.

They have bombarded me with lollipops and sweets throughout the day and they have looked so very happy doing so! My co-teacher tells me most students probably even purchase the sweets out of there own money (which I'm assuming is 'pocket money').

What they do not realise however is...that in a few weeks when there happy little studious faces get to the beloved and longed for 10 sticker mark in their books and they bounce on over to me for 'candy'....theres a high chance they paid for it!

Every days a holiday here, see also

Monday, March 7, 2011

Volunteer Korea

So I have been wanting to get involved in volunteering whilst here in Korea for some time, it was in fact a big part of the moving out here plan. However, the past year has flown by and any volunteering I was able to find involved mostly more teaching to students who may not actually want to be there. Also I wanted to get involved in Human rights and do some more hands on work.

So, last weekend I got down to some serious research, sent emails etc and joy of joys I now have some wonderful opportunities to look forward to....

1. Volunteering for PLUR 
2. Amnesty International in Korea.
3. Tour guide for the 'House of Sharing' in Seoul.

I will keep you all updated and have a little look see, maybe you can get involved too!

Koreanism's: Petting the Waygook

So, I am foreign to this country and I am a classified as a"registered Alien" whilst living in Korea. When I first received my Alien registration card I thought nooo surely not, we could not get away with such 'lingo' in the UK, however, its pretty accurate to how you will sometimes feel while living here...

Example 1: Intense starring....

So people stare here alot, I think mostly at us foreigners (however I'm sure they at least give each other the once over as appearance IS everything after all). They do not just merely look over at you but hard stare, eyeball you, up and down, down and up sometimes with their faces in closer proximity than you could ever desire to be with a little old lady from the fish stall at Jukdo market or a wobbly Soju intoxicated ajoshi (old man).

My students also like to hold my face in their hands and stare at me very closely, usually followed by opening my eyes wide to look at my 'lenses'.... I've been wearing them daily it would seem for the past 12 months!

This brings me on to what usually follows the stare;

Example 2: The touching of the alien....

My experiences vary from little children's hands feeling my eyelashes (that happens alot?!), my arms (once the warm weather arrives my arms are something to marvel at for them?!), my neck and even back (because they have cold hands, very inappropriate) and prodding my belly...I'm sure theres some I am forgetting.

What made me write this post was a little halmonee (old lady) on a bus the other day who began by touching a ring on my finger followed by rubbing my hand and wrist and smiling whilst telling her friend something ("Ah she feels like cheese too"?? Who knows?!).

I have also had an old man sit next to me on the bus and insist on showing me the pressure points of the body followed by how to relieve stress-massage. on a bus. full body attempted. NOT cool.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Palawan Arrival

Palawan was our final destination in the Philippines and it was worth the wait. We had wanted to visit the scuba diving haven of El Nido whilst there, however, it was a pretty long journey and as we plan to visit the Philippines again during our travels, we figured we would save it for later!

Our accomodation was close to the downtown area of Puerto Princesca City, named 'Hibiscus Gardens'. The rooms were large and of a simple design, we almost wished we had stuck to native huts, however these are almost impossible to find in Puerto (or so we were told). The surrounding garden however was wonderful!

We checked out the downtown area upon arrival and were pleased that it was much less touristy than Bohol. Local restaurants and shops lined the streets, which pleased us greatly after a week of searching through German/Swiss inspired menus for some traditional pinoy food!

There were also numerous wood and craft shops, which made the most amazing intricately designed native style furniture, jewellery and clothing. I wanted EVERYTHING! I know where I am going to furnish my house!

Much of the furniture from the shops was actually situated in the garden of our hotel.

Our first full day arrived and we had to accept that here in Peurto we would have to be full-on tourist with a guide, travelling about in a little van...oh how we hated such people when we were driving through muddy dirt roads, soaked through in Bohol (this story will come soon). However, we couldnt find a scooter here and were advised that some of the tourist locations required registration, therefore it was better to go with a tour guide.

Our first tour was to the Subterranean underground river. The river is the longest navigatable river of its type (underground) in the world and was currently (or at the time) in the running for the title of one of the "7 natural wonders of the world".  So here it is:

Our new friends for the day!

Paul was the light man

Our guide was awesome and we actually made some new friends, one of which might have wanted to adopt me (theres a first for everything), some locals from Manila. After our little tour of the cave, during which the boat guide was cracking a joke a minute, we indulged in some delicious Philippine BBQ and headed back to the hotel. 

We were hoping to go Splunking on the way home, however the rain prevented such an event. However, if you ever go on the river tour you should definitely ask your tour guide to stop at the Ugong rock and give splunking a try. An 84 year old American woman did it so why can't we!