Tuesday, August 30, 2011

3 days, 10 rotis

I'm writing this from an internet cafe in Kuala Lumpur, and you wouldn't believe the security measures I've had to go through to log into Gmail, Facebook et al. There's also no SD card slot or active USB port on either of the computers we're using, so my photographs are stuck on my camera for the time being. Damn.
KL has been a great stopover stay, although we feel like we've done everything on offer here. Except for eat enough roti cenai. Like the green backpackers we are, we paid waaaaay too much for our first meal before finding a couple of roadside stalls selling roti in many variations for 1 ringgit (40c).

And because this is a blog about Korea, here's what I miss already:

My students
The public transport
No touts

More blogs when we can. Off to Kathmandu via New Delhi later on this evening. No big deal.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jeju Randomness - Photo Post

Deliciousness at Bagdad Cafe, Jeju-si
Creeping cloud near Seongsan Ilchulbong, the crater/peak we climbed on our last day. 

Particularly disturbing art at Love Land.
This girl was cowering as her parents had sex in the same room.
Trying to escape 'The Kiss'
Jangmun Beach. 70% empty. Despite beaches on all sides, most Korean people can't swim.
Beaches here are heavily guarded and there's even a net keeping people in the right place.

Troublesome art in Seogwipo
It's troublesome this passes as art. Chocolate Land, Seogwipo. (Save your 2k won, it SUCKS.)

Making faces in the Ripleys Believe It Or Not mirror...
... the other side of the mirror! Spent 10 minutes here laughing our asses off!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Sorry for the lack of updates from me lately. We've both been really busy and I haven't really had time to write anything. At the moment we're at Incheon airport in Seoul about to fly to Kuala Lumpur. We'll be there for two nights before going to Nepal for a week and then India.

I'll post about leaving Korea a bit later on, but in the meantime I thought I'd share an email one of my students sent me. Their summer holiday homework was some written assignments that they emailed to me for checking, stuff like thier favourite movie or describing Korean food. This assignment was to write about their hero. Here it is. . .

"Hello, Thomas.
I'll send my last e-mail to you.
This e-mail is about my hero, Adolf Hitler.
He was born in Austria.
He was a German  politician.
Although he caused the Second World War, he killed jews and he was a dictator, he made Germany to rich.
He constructed expressway.
And he worked for German.
So I admire him and my hero is Adolf Hitler.
And I think that he is the real man and real hero.
Don't you think so?

I want to see you soon.
Good Bye."

I don't actually work for the school any more so I think I might "forget" to reply to that one.

My 'Hawaiian' Birthday

Continuing my posts about Jeju.... I don't care if you're sick of them! My birthday fell smack bang in the middle of our Jeju trip and I spent the day being badass (like every other day.) It started with cake in bed. 

Korea does AWESOME cakes and they're usually less than $20 NZ, just pop into one of the many 'French'-named bakeries and take your pick. This little number is from Paris Baguette.

Hidden in that stack of fruit is TOMATOES. 
Between the four of us we managed to polish off most of the cake before taking a bus to take a ferry to U-do, or Cow Island. Udo is on the east coast of Jeju, and the bus to there from Seogwipo takes years. It's only 40 or so kilometres, but as we stopped at every. single. town. on the way, it took an hour and a half to get there. Korea has rad public transport so I was surprised at how much the transport on Jeju sucked. Get on to it, Jeju!

Anyway, we caught the ferry to the island which was a 4,500 won round trip - cheap as chips! Somewhere online it says the trip to Udo is an hour by boat, but that somewhere is a dirty lie, it took 15 minutes max. It did however take about 30 minutes for the local bus to leave and take us to the nearest swimming beach. The wait was worth it though - the beach was the prettiest I've seen in Korea.

We spent an hour or so there swimming and watching the large group of people in white shirts do various team-building exercises. You can see them crowding around the boat in the picture above.

It was a bit of a mission getting the bus back to the port from the beach - I think there's only one bus and it does a full circuit around Udo and then stops for 30 minutes at a time to let the driver have a smoke and chat with the fishermen at the port. Fortunately the island is only 17 kilometres in diameter so the circuit doesn't take long.

When we got to the port we checked the only thing off our to-do list for the day - hiring motorised vehicles! For 60,000 won ($67) we got a quad bike and a golf cart and two hours to hoon around! It was amazeballs.

Bangin' rides

After very reluctantly returning our awesome rides we headed back to the mainland and got some dinner. Amazing food, fantastic company, wonderful birthday.

Aaaand.... matching couples!

Friday, August 26, 2011

More Jeju: Waterfalls Galore

We spent almost an entire day of our 5-day stay in Jeju looking at waterfalls. And fair enough, they're super pretty! Two of our four nights on the island were spent in Seogwipo Harbour, which occupies a good part of the southern coast. We stayed at the excellent Jeju Hiking Inn which is super cheap, super comfortable, and has super WiFi and a superb roof to drink on in the evenings (I should know.)

A short walk from the Hiking Inn is the first of three Jeju Waterfalls we visited - Cheonjiyeon. Like almost all of the natural attractions on Jeju there's a fee (2,000 won) and then a short walk to the falls alongside the river. The falls are beautiful, and there's a large, clear pool beneath them writhing with freshwater eels. 

Also writhing were the tourists. 

This is the least tourist infested shot I got.
 The next stop on our waterfall tour was Jeongbang Falls. These falls are unique in that they cascade right into the ocean. It's a pleasant 20 minute walk from Cheonjiyeon to Jeongbang, around the coastline. 

If I thought the first falls were crowded, it was nothing compared to these ones. The crush of people started at the top, amongst traders hawking everything from chocolate to coconuts.

From the top, it's a steep walk downhill to the falls themselves (after handing over your ticket, of course.) While impressive and beautiful, the hordes of people are somewhat distracting. Tom and I picked through the crowd and were drenched by the spray of the waterfall - no pics unfortunately, didn't want to bust my camera.

The masses clambering over the rocks.
Spot the daring waygook!
The last falls we visited are apparently Jeju's most famous but were the least crowded. Cheonjeyeon Falls are close to Jeju's Jangmun Beach - a popular tourist spot - but I didn't feel the press of people as much as I had at the previous two locations. Perhaps because it was a bit overcast that day.

The beautiful carved bridge to the falls.
Reminds me of home!
It's about a 10 minute walk from the gate to the falls themselves, and at the top of the walk is a deep, clear, cold pool of water. The day we went there was a fine mist rising from the pool itself which made everything feel kinda eerie.
OK, it was still pretty crowded.

The main falls are downstream from the pool, and for a few minutes there were only 8 people on the viewing platform. An impressive feat, considering the business of all of the other falls we'd been to.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mini Mini Land

The only place in Jeju you can:

Inspect the Taj Mahal;
Capture the Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate Bridge, Niagara Falls and the Opera House in one shot.
(and some plastic ducks)
High-five Tinky Winky;
Make out with Socrates;
Capture a matching family walking past the Beehive; and
pick the nose of Our Lord and Saviour.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Korean Things I Have Eaten

It's been a while since I wrote one of these, so here goes. Tried two new things this week. Both were gross.

Item number one:

It's a corn flavoured ice block. CORN.

What are those little flecks of yellow? CORN.

This tastes of sweetened milk and corn. I took enough bites to take this picture and then threw it out the window of my bus. CORN.

Item number two:

I don't know why I thought this would be good. It's 'Breakfast Tofu' with blueberry. I know that some people use silken tofu in smoothies, and one of my favourite foods at school is soondubu (soft tofu) with a soy dressing. This tofu is not soft.

This is a chunky, grainy tofu with a soft, blueberry centre of grossness. The only thing I enjoyed about this tofu was faking that I liked it and then feeding it to Tom who made the best face ever.

Also comes in Kiwifruit.

맛있는 없습니다!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Koreans Love Soju This Much

Tetra pack!

Jeonju! Jeonju! Jeonju! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Right before our trip to Jeju we went to Jeonju for the night and caught a soccer game. My students are MAD for soccer, and mentioning Park Ji-Sung even in passing gained me instant entry into their cool books (even if only briefly.) Korean adults are about as keen on soccer as their kids are so I figured watching a game would be awesome!

It kinda was. Jeonju stadium is a 15 minute/8,000 won cab ride from the bus terminal so it's a long way out of town. The stadium's huge - seating just under 45,000 - and was built for the 2002 World Cup. Our taxi driver dropped us at the wrong end so we missed the first half walking around the edge and finding a ticket booth - ask for the East entrance if you're using my blog to figure out how to get there!

When we finally got them the tickets were cheap - 10,000 won each ($11.30). Before going in we stocked up on fried chicken (10,000 won a box outside the gate) and BEER! Unlike NZ, Korea lets you buy booze outside and take it inside, but we grabbed a six pack of Hite just inside the gate. A bit pricier than normal at 15,000 won ($17).

The stadium was mostly empty, although one end was packed with green-shirted Jeonju supporters chanting and drumming and bowing. I would have chanted with them but after watching about 5 minutes of game play I realised that the Jeonju team are cheating bastards! I've never seen so much acting in my life. It made for an entertaining game though, I was almost happy they didn't win. Next stop: Baseball game. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Possibly my Best Evening in Korea

Last week we visited Jeju-do, an island off the southern coast of Korea usually described as Korea's 'Hawaii.'

Although not as tropical as advertised,* the island boasts a number of cheesy/hilarious/touristy 'lands' dotted all over the place to entertain the locals. Some of the lands available include:

  • Mini Mini Land (small-scale models of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower etc)
  • Teddy Bear Museum
  • Chocolate Land (not as good as it sounds)
  • Psyche World
  • Stone Land
  • Love Land
The last one's my favourite, and I've wanted to go for months since Haesindang Park gave me a taste for this sort of stuff. It's a park full of statues of people doing it.

For the technical stuff - the park is a 9,000 won cab ride out of Jeju city. Entry is 7,000 won and it's open from 9am until midnight. It takes about an hour to walk around the park and I've been told the best time to go is right before dark. At night, the statues are lit up in all of their sexy glory! Now, on to the pictures. 

Oh, and on the off chance you hadn't figured it out already - extremely not safe for work.


There are vending machines all over Korea. This felt appropriate. 

NZ represent!

Not sure it's water in the tub eh?

I got stuck in this sculpture and ended up bruising the hell out of my leg while my lovely (cough) boyfriend took pictures.
Birthday present to myself.
Loveland was amazing. I've got a few things I want to post about Jeju but this was the best, worth the round flight tickets alone.

*One of the best tricks I've used to cope in Korea is something I call the 25% Rule. 
Koreans I've met tend to be extremely patriotic (something I think New Zealanders can learn from) but sometimes this patriotism is a bit much and gets in the way of realism. Most of the time, activities and festivals and locations in Korea are about 25% as good as they're described by the locals. If you expect everything to be 25% as good, and the attraction is actually pretty damn awesome, it's a great feeling - my visit to Geumsansa was far more awesome than expected. If an attraction sucks and you've expected it to suck, the disappointment is a little less crushing. I forgot to apply the Rule to the Nonsan Strawberry Festival - just look at the beautiful pictures on that link! - and I was completely heartbroken when greeted by a muddy pit with barely any strawberries. The Rule. It works.