…in the not so distant past, in the land of South Korea, Oreos were a mere figment of a foreigner’s imagination. It was a dark time where Oreos had to be obtained in care packages from home, visits to other countries, or succumbing to eating Cameos- Oreo knockoffs.
Little did I know that upon my return to South Korea, Oreos would be plentiful sitting on store shelves as if they had been there with the rest of America’s food imperialism for years. Even though you can’t find my personal favorites Golden Oreos (sad), or Double Stuffed (double sad), more than just plain Oreos are available.
Today I found these:
I’ve always been better with words, but today is a good occasion for some numbers.
Some nights in Korea it feels like you’ve been here for years and not much could phase you, let alone shock or surprise you.
Other nights, as you’re walking home with a friend from the Cat Cafe you take pictures with anthropomorphized alcohol!
Another thing I love is that in Korea, the person in the suit not only speaks great English, but also watches your bike for you while you try to win a little bottle of soju and instead win a packet of wet wipes.
Busan International Foreign School
back in February – a job I finally began last week – I understood that as part of this my son could be educated at the school during the duration of my contract, which my wife and I had decided would be a good idea since we had become concerned at his interactions with other children when he met them. Because of this, we didn't search for a place in a Korean nursery for him, but a couple of days after I signed the contract we found out he was 10 days too young to qualify for a place. The moral of the story perhaps, is to always check the small print yourself.
When I was tentatively asked to move from working part-time to full-time at
I’m not really writing about my trip to Japan in sequential order, so I figured I would jump to one of the most asked about aspects of my trip (mostly by my mom and her co-workers)- the capsule hotel.
In Kyoto there’s this capsule hotel that I found called 9 Hours, and it looks just as futuristic and straight out of a sci-fi movie as it does on its website. I’ve found that it’s actually cheaper to book through their website, and since I was staying in hostels the whole trip, this was the most expensive place I stayed in. But it’s all about the experience, right? It looked a lot fancier and sci-fi than a lot of the other capsule hotels I saw online, so I took the plunge.
Who wouldn’t want to sleep here?
… mushrooms and octopus.
I was really excited to try ‘real’ Japanese food on my trip, and I had heard great things about it from friends of mine who had been to Japan before.
It wasn’t all foreign to me since there’s quite a bit of Japanese food and influence in what Koreans eat, but it was so much better. The ramen shops were absolutely delicious, the dumplings were fabulous, most everything I ate was amazing.
One thing Koreans have adopted is the Tonkatsu, or fried pork cutlet and I had the best one I’ve ever eaten while in Japan. It also came with these fried potato cakes which were heavenly, super dangerous, and thankfully live far away from me.
I have never been one for giving people advice, mostly because I hate receiving it myself unless I ask for it. Advice is often given by self-interested people who want you to think and do what they want you to do and really don't want what is best for you. If people wish to give me advice without me asking for it, I am always wary and on many occasions I suspect their motives. All that being said, I strongly advise that (if you can afford to do so) you should visit Japan at least once in your life.
Lotus lanterns outside the 관악구 government office.
One thing that I found disappointing about Korea when I first started coming was the city-wide lack of traditional holiday celebrations. Living in Japan I was able to participate in many celebrations, parades, festivals, and occasions to wear traditional clothing, but in Korea even though they always talk about it or promote it abroad…. those things are more behind closed doors or just Calendar holidays that do not bring about anything very exciting or “cultural” for outsiders~ with the exception of Buddha’s Birthday!
I also got to see the base of Mt. Fuji from the train up to Tokyo, saw a huge firework festival with what felt like all of Tokyo. Things are big and moving fast here, but I'm having a great time and meeting really nice people. I'm really excited to write pages and pages full of stuff -with pictures-when I get back.
From Tokyo with Harajuku Love,
Hello JAPAN! So I've been in Japan for about a day and it is great! I have a free moment before I head over to the national museum. I wen to Harajuku today and seriously, it's way cooler than even Gwen Stefani makes it seem. Yes there giant Forever 21's and American Eagle shops, but the little small shops full of cute/weird/nerdy awesome things were amazing. As of right now (and I haven't seen that much so it's not a grand assessment, but right now it is my favorite place in Tokyo.
As well as the more controversial article I wrote the other week, I also posted a piece to another website, which was an adaptation of my blog post on my Korean family. I again received praise but also some quite fierce criticism. Most of the criticism was based around the argument that I was not trying hard enough with my Korean family. To summarise what was said I essentially needed to learn more Korean, stop being so selfish, not be so tight, and generally pull my finger out.
As a test of my writing ability and see if what I have to say about certain issues interests anyone I decided to post a couple of articles recently on two different websites; thethreewisemonkeys.com and asiapundits.com both of which are based in Korea and maintained by Westerners living in Korea. Both kindly agreed to run them, but the reaction to them was nothing I had ever bargained for.
Recently, I have posted some negative blogs about Korea, complaining on an array of subjects such as family, morals, Korean men, the treatment of animals, etc. It is therefore possible that I am leaving some of my readers with the impression that it is all bad and I would rather be back in my own country and as quickly as possible. This is not the case and I hope I am generally quite balanced with my judgments about Korea because the truth is when weighing up a life in England with a life in Korea the scales are quite evenly balanced.
It's also kind of hard to miss... and it may be everything you expect Asia to be.
Around the corner from my apartment, lives the cutest place in the world.
Usually, the women do all the preparing of food, set it up, and clean everything up at the end while the men just sit around eating the food and drinking alcohol around one table. On another table, food and drink is presented artistically around a picture of the dead family member, or if there is no picture a possession of theirs or a note. Once everything is in place, relatives of the deceased then take turns in bowing three times at regular intervals to the table, alcohol is poured into a bowl and spoons are placed inside bowls of rice and other dishes so that the spirit can eat if they choose to.
This month I had the pleasure (or the misfortune) of experiencing a traditional death anniversary with my wife's family here in Korea. Basically what happens is this: every year on the death of a close family member the family comes together to remember them and make offerings to their spirit in the form of lots of food and drink.
I headed to the north part of Bali with a view to escaping the noise, dirt, and hawkers to a black sand beach area with the promise of a possible dolphin watching trip. The journey through the Bali started off by going through all the dirty and polluted areas but once we got into the forests in the central mountains the views started to become rather beautiful and I was treated to seeing a huge number of monkeys on the side of the road. The monkeys were sitting on the road, playing around on the barriers and swinging through the trees, producing quite a unique experience. The mountains were also a lot cooler making the journey far more pleasant than the first part of the trip.
Books On Optical Illusion
The only thing which Koreans love more than taking pictures is having their picture taken. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to find in Busan an entire museum dedicated to the art of posing for funny photos. But still… I was surprised. The Trick Eye Museum, underneath the Heosimcheong Spa, is one of the most bizarre places we’ve been in a long time.
Before visiting Mt Bromo, I decided to explore Malang city with a couple of fellow Westerners from the hostel I was staying at, one from Germany and the other from Switzerland. The place was pretty grim and was also a place I didn't fancy walking around very much at night. During the day, all day, it was incredibly busy. Mototrbikes were everywhere and the noise pollution and the actual pollution, along with the general filth of the place and the heat made the general atmosphere oppressive and uncomfortable.
I had left the conservation centre, and to their credit they did make sure that I was safely booked into a hostel in Malang. I now had to figure out what I was going to do for the rest of the trip. I had two weeks without much of a plan, except for one place that I wanted to go and that was Mt Bromo, which was part of a string of volcanoes not far from Malang.
Order Soju Online
Are more than one haiku called haiki? I don’t think so, but I’m too drunk on soju to really care. Imo, another bottle, please! And you might want a few, too, before reading my haiku. (Is more than one bottle of soju called soji?)
Our Travel Books
A trip to the Gamcheon Culture Village was one of the stranger excursions we’ve undertaken during our time in South Korea. This neighborhood in the west of Busan has dedicated itself to art, with murals, sculptures and installations that occupy entire houses. Visitors are taken on a tour which snakes through narrow alleys and ends at an observation deck with an amazing view over the city.
This is what my "crazy" sister made for my sister-in-law who is laying over in Seoul, Korea for 10 hours. My sister-in-law decided to go with the option 2 and she thoroughly enjoyed lay over in South Korea!
Two Options Recommended
1) If you are tired, stay in the airport. You can still have fun.
2) If you want to go out and experience both local and tourist areas + local shopping, take the option 2.
Option 1: If you are tired, stay in the airport
1. Spa on Air
Since you are tired from the flight, you can first rest at Spa on Air (B1, East side) It costs 15000 won (about $15) and extra 10,000 won ($10) for private sleeping room.
When you think of popular holiday destinations in Asia, the most popular these days seems to be in parts of South-East Asia; Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Bali, and maybe India also. In the two years that I had been living in Korea teaching previously, I had only visited Japan outside of Korea. It was harder to get away in those days as I had no vacation time from my private school. So this time around with the opportunity to travel during my vacation from school, I wanted to sample some of South East Asia. I decided on going to Indonesia, but my experience has left me in doubt on whether I should travel to any other countries in this region again, as I left with a profound dislike of the place.
Relax At Home: Premium Massage Chairs
For our first trip to a Korean spa, we choose one of Busan’s biggest and most modern — Spa Land, in the Shinsegae department store. Twenty-two baths, thirteen distinctively-designed saunas, relaxation rooms, steam rooms, foot baths and more were ours to enjoy for four blissful hours.