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Yangsan Half Marathon

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Ran the Yangsan Half Marathon today in 1:36:24! Not sure what I’m most excited about: my time, my shiny new medal, or the carton of raw eggs I received in my finisher’s goodie bag. #onlyinKorea



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Boyfriend and I were Street Fighter characters for Halloween...

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Boyfriend and I were Street Fighter characters for Halloween 2014. Costumes were met with respectful nods or cluelessness.


About the girl

Hi, I'm Stacy. I am from Portland, Oregon, USA, and am currently living and teaching ESL in Busan, South Korea. Busy getting into lots of adventures, challenging myself, and loving people. Something more than an ethereal will-o-wisp.

Thank you so much for visiting and reading.

Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, LastfmFlickr, and FacebookAsk me anything

 


Vlog Entry #11: Fall School Festival

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Each year, on a Friday in October or November, public schools all over Korea host something known as Sports Day or School Festival. Students spend the day playing games (or in my school’s case, trying a bunch of different sports) and making crafts. Meanwhile, the teachers retreat to the adult cafeteria to enjoy a variety of tasty Korean dishes and several bottles of rice wine. Then, in the afternoon, everyone gathers to watch group after group of students perform their favorite songs and dances.

The day was an absolute blast, and I enjoyed not only hanging out with the students and trying my own hand at some of their sports, but also performing for them with my own hidden talent! Enjoy!



Live the movies!

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I am a Geminian. Colorful dreams and vivid imagination are a mandatory part of my package. Books and movies have been the vessels of transportation by which I have become a princess living in a castle, an adventuress discovering new treasures in uncharted places, and also by which I take a peek at the luxuries ways of the world. Airbnb, I believe, is about to transform all my fantasies into reality!
If you like movies and living the movies or if you are thinking of travelling for your vacation, you can get Rs.1,500 off on your rentals for your next vacation anywhere in the world through my link here.


Lady of Pemberly

Count me in. Even for a day, I would love to live in an English Castle in the countryside like the one described in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It would be a dream come true to walk the estates, sleep in the four poster bed, feel the stone walls, to be waited upon and have a ball at that place! Will the dreamy Darcy be included in the deal, do you think?

An English Castle ~ Pemberly Style
An English Castle ~ Pemberly Style is first on my list


Swiss Family Robinson or Robinson Crusoe inspired : Private Island

All the comforts of the home with a bit of adventure and stunning views! I could immensely enjoy solitude of a private island living for a week  or even more, drinking in the peace, watching the world move by.

Private island living~ Robinson Crusoe style but with the comforts of home
Private island living~ Robinson Crusoe style but with the comforts of home


Titanic Luxury

What could be better than spending a few days rollicking in the sun and blue waters, reliving the luxury of a private yacht in the Titanic style (skipping the tragedy at the end, of course)? Sharing the luxury with the soul-mate, of course!

Titanic Luxury
Titanic Luxury


Hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It is not a dirty wet hole, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole (~from The Hobbit). With perfectly round doors, ample space and comfort within, overlooking a meadow, sloping towards the river. Very similar to the hobbit-holes portrayed in The Hobbit and the LOTR movies, this place cannot be missed by its true blue fan!

Hobbit-hole, and that means comfort
Hobbit-hole, and that means comfort


Ewok's Nest

Remember the cute little teddy bear creatures in StarWars VI with whose help Leia and Han Solo overpower the clones to destroy the shield generator of the Death Star? They lived in such cute little nests up in the trees! I would love to live high up in the air, catch in the first drop of the rain, take in the first rays of the sun, wake up listening to the call of the birds, surrounded by lush green vegetation!

Ewok's nest
Ewok's nest

Now to live the life in the movies... Thank you Airbnb.
Check out my list: Live the movies
My referral link for you to get discounted rates: My Referral link

This is an entry to the Indiblogger Happyhours #AirbnbWishList
All the pictures used are from Airbnb.

The Reasons I Left Korea

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Faisal Akram (https://www.flickr.com/people/72847119@N00)

I'm back!!  It's been nearly 4 months without a single post, but I have been busy trying to settle into life in a new country, Australia, so give me a break.  To be honest, compared to living in Korea, it is just like living in England just a bit sunnier, more laid back, and with barbecues everywhere.

So why did I leave Korea?  I had a decent job that I liked, a very comfortable existence, was saving money and had lots of free time.  In recent months I have had times where I thought, "Jees, what am I doing?", especially as I have had to fork out quite a lot of my saved cash in tuition fees and work very hard here in Oz.  Here are my reasons:
1. The English Teaching Went Stale

I remember how keen I was to teach when I started my High school teaching job, I gave it everything and I was so creative in my lesson planning.  I enjoyed going to work, in fact I'd even turn up 45 minutes early everyday!  By the middle of my third year however, I was getting lazy and irritable, the challenge had gone and I was working off old lesson plans.  Everything, including the lessons themselves became less enjoyable. It was time to move on.  On top of this, could I ever be anything but an English teacher in South Korea?

2. Disappearing Friends

A friend of mine commented on Facebook the other day something along the lines of, "another year in Korea and the friend count continues to fall."  This is very true.  If you stay for a year or two, you make loads of new friends and keep your old ones, if you stay for longer, the new friends leave and you're out of sight, out of mind to your friends at home.  For me, I am always looking for new experiences and England has grown stale also, so it is with great regret that I have distanced myself from friends back home.  In Australia, I can at least make friends through my sports and there is less of a cultural barrier as well.

3. I was Becoming too Immersed in the World of the Internet

This blog was partly to blame for this, but also the nature of my job and Korea as a whole.  Too many spare hours on the computer at work sent me into a world that isn't quite as it seems, where faux outrage, trolling and political correctness reign absurdly supreme and debates always end on a sour note due to implied aggressive tone and the lack of a human face (or even a real name) to hold each person back.

I was afraid, frankly, of becoming one sad bastard who spends hours arguing with morons and reading other people's worthless blogs (I can see the irony, really), looking for something to blog about.  Live in the world of the internet for too long and you forget what the real world is all about, and that it is much better to live in.

It isn't all negative; I grew a much thicker skin, discovered the very real problem of political correctness for myself, and most importantly created something.  That something might only be a shitty opinionated blog, but I think it is important to have an outlet, to produce something, which is a large part of why I'm writing this post now.  What it means is that posts on this blog will be far less frequent than in the past, but that this site is not dead!!!

4. Something New, but not so Stressful

What can I say, I get bored easily these days, both with jobs and the places I live.  I want to see the world before I die and experience many different countries and cultures.  However, I want to live in these new worlds and not simply pass through them.

Korea is a place I am sure I will return to - I have family here after all - but for now the spice has gone and too many things were rubbing me up the wrong way, a long break was needed. When I do return, it will be to study Korean first, as my lack of fluency in the language is probably my biggest regret in my time living there, even though I could get by OK, I just couldn't have very deep conversations.  When I can speak properly, I can argue with Koreans in their own language and that'll be really interesting!

Australia is somewhere different, but not too different.  It's a taste of home, but with kangaroos, Koalas, and possums!!
 

 

5. Too Easy

The above is one of my favourite Aussie sayings I hear a lot over here, so I thought I drop it in to describe how I felt in Korea in general.  Soooo comfortable my life had become.  I have never been happy being comfortable; when it lasts for too long it becomes a rut, a furrow in the path so deep that it becomes impossible to blaze a new trail and go to new, exciting places, both literally and metaphorically. Through discomfort, the challenge of something new, and associating myself with new people, I have learned and achieved a lot and gained great life satisfaction in the process.  Korea was certainly this way for a time, but all good things must come to an end.

6. Freedom!!!

There was always the feeling of constraint in Korean society, the feeling that I couldn't really do and say what I wanted.  I couldn't just be me and be accepted by Korea, I would never be accepted that way, I would have to conform.  To be fair I have felt this way in England as well, but the flavour of it in Korea was certainly sharper and more pronounced.  I even felt pressure to not voice my opinions on this blog, so I often held back (believe it or not).  I believe my blog was censored by Busan's Ministry of Education (according to a chap on Asiapundits).  I felt like I was one blog post away from getting in trouble. I say that, but just as I was leaving, I kept on getting requests to join radio debates in Seoul (had to keep refusing, but I did one on the phone about the Sewol disaster and safety), so someone must have been reading and thinking I had some valid points or at least a debatable opposing view.  Perhaps I was just being paranoid and that actually I was one step away from recognition as a truly insightful blogger on Korea (could be dreaming on that one).


Note: Stay tuned for some more perspectives on Korea, except now from the outside looking back in; I guess I am still on the inside in a way, as I have family, so the blog title can stay the same.
 


Teen-Aged?

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This post is a part of the #WillYouShave activity at Blogadda in association with Gillette.


This cute teenage boy I know, who had recently sprouted more than-the-average-amount of facial hair, was flummoxed. He was trying to conduct the games at his little brother's birthday party. Last year his party games were a big hit with the 5 year olds thronging for his attention and enjoying every minute of the party games, even refusing to go home. This year, his cracked voice was not making any kind of impact on the kids. They were totally wild and distracted. As he was striving to get their attention, I noticed one little girl crying to her mother in the corner. As I go near her, I hear her say, "Where is Darshu Anna(brother)? Why is this uncle boring us?".

My heart heavy, I resolve to turn the tables for the Darshu, the furry yet sweet teenage boy. Mustering as much innocence as I could, I ask my husband why this handsome yet bristly teenage boy was sporting so much stubble giving him a scraggy, shaggy and shabby look. Before he could answer, I coax him to share his secret of smooth-as-a-baby's-butt face. Bursting out with joy and pride, he walks straight towards the disconcerted, hairy teenage boy.

"Ok, kids! Cake time!" cries my careless husband, much to the bewilderment of the hostess and pulls the nice yet stubbly teenage boy aside. "You want to play in the big league from now on, my friend, " he says, "you better get ready for it! I recommend Gillette." And, walks straight away to try the cake.

Few days later, I notice the clean shaven, smart teenage boy at a potluck luncheon, merrily chatting with his friends. It was obvious that he was getting favorable attention from the pretty girls around as well.

Later on, when the little ones were cranky just when the adults were trying to fall into the daze induced by good food and great company, my husband calls out to the smooth faced, well groomed teenage boy. "Darshu, why not conduct some games for the kids?", which sent the kids to a joyous spree. "Sure uncle, not a problem. I can manage the little kids as well as the big sharks", said the confident young man.


IPLgeek, TangyTomatoTwist, I nominate you to take up the Gillette challenge. Enjoy! Read the contest rules here.

Wonhyoam Hermitage – 원효암 (Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The view from behind the main hall at Wonhyoam Hermitage in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located on the far eastern slopes of Mt. Palgongsan, tucked away in a valley fold, lies Wonhyoam Hermitage (which should not be confused with the more famous Wonhyoam Hermitages in Busan or Yangsan).

Up a zig-zagging road, you’ll finally come to a ledge that acts as the hermitage’s parking lot. It’s just past a sandy cliff that you’ll arrive at Wonhyoam Hermitage. When you first approach the diminutive hermitage, you’ll notice the amazing views from the valley below.

When you get your fill of the views, you’ll first encounter an old storage shed that must be several hundred years old and is still used to the present day. After circumnavigating this natural wood building, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with the beautiful new main hall. The exterior walls to this hall are decorated with some of the more beautiful Shimu-do murals in all of Korea. As for the interior, and housed upon the main altar, sits a solitary statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). To the right and left of the main altar are two red murals. One of these murals is the guardian mural, while the other is dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

Just past the hermitage’s kitchen and dorms, and slightly up an embankment, sits the temple’s Sanshin/Dokseong-gak. This shaman shrine hall houses a very impressive Sanshin mural. The elderly looking Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) is standing on a ledge with a staff firmly in hand. He is joined by a dongja (assistant) and arguably either Sanshin’s wife, a female Sanshin, or simply another dongja. This painting is joined to the right by an older style Dokseong mural.

The entire hermitage, especially in the fall, is beautifully framed by colourful autumnal hues.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gyeongsan Intercity Bus Terminal, you can catch Bus #803. After 64 stops, you can get off at the Solmaegi stop. You’ll need to walk an additional 15 minutes to get to the hermitage.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. Wonhyoam Hermitage, like the other Wonhyoam Hermitages in Korea, is beautifully, but remotely, located. Because of its remoteness, it is serenely located. In addition to its beautiful location and views, Wonhyoam Hermitage has one of the most masterfully executed murals dedicated to Sanshin in Korea. So if you have the time, and you’re up for the hike along Mt. Palgongsan, you should make Wonhyoam Hermitage a stop along your way.

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The view from the hermitage parking lot.

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The amazing view as you first approach Wonhyoam Hermitage.

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The old storage building at the hermitage.

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The main hall at Wonhyoam Hermitage.

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A beautiful Shimu-do mural that decorates the main hall.

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A look inside the main hall at Amita-bul on the main altar.

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The guardian mural also housed inside the main hall.

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The intricately painted main hall.

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The plainly painted Sanshin/Dokseong-gak.

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The view from the shaman shrine hall.

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The Sanshin mural.

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The older Dokseong mural.

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A look around the main hall at some of the fall colours.

The post Wonhyoam Hermitage – 원효암 (Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do) appeared first on Dale's Korean Temple Adventures.


Wash Away the Winter Blues at Seoul's SK-II Boutique Spa

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If the recent drop in temperatures and merciless wind are any indication of what's to come this winter, we're in for a long, cold season. And if you're like me, this weather is anything but enjoyable. Between the incessant time spent inside and the pain endured in the frigid outdoors while in transit, coming down with a case of the winter blues is almost always inevitable.

Contrary to popular belief, however, there is a cure which does not require a prescription. All one simply needs to do is to head down to SK-II Boutique Spa for a truly healing experience.



The therapists at SK-II are far better (and friendlier) than any doctor I've ever paid a visit to and this becomes apparent immediately upon entering their Seoul branch, nestled on the periphery of Doosan Park in luxurious Cheongdam-dong. After being greeted warmly and led to the reception area, guests are treated to a cup of tea while treatments are explained and customized to fit their preferences. And although their services are mostly limited to facials and massages, there's an option to make even the pickiest spa-snob satisfied.



In need of some winter relief and a good pampering session, I recently paid two visits to SK-II Boutique Spa.

On my first visit, I opted for the LXP Royal Program (₩330,000). This 100 minute treatment includes a foot bath, LXP Massage (facial), body stretching and a scalp treatment. Customers can choose from three kinds of facials and considering that this would be my first time using SK-II's skin care products, the receptionist recommended I try the Prestige Revival Massage. Revival... just what I needed! The brochure noted that this specific facial "instantly provides your skin with ample moisture and nutrition by using a pitera mask and the best LXP massage of SK-II, which contains highly enriched pitera."



For those that are wondering, much like I was at the time, pitera is a liquid produced in the fermentation process of yeast and is often regarded as the key to clear skin by women across Asia. A recent search on SK-II's website revealed that these masks retail for $95 USD, so considering this, the price of the package is really a steal.

The VIP Room on the 4th floor created a calming environment. Low lights and soothing music set the mood as I changed into a robe and settled in for my foot bath. My therapist, Serena, added fragrant bath salts to the water as she gently massaged oils into my legs and worked the knots out of my abused feet.





Communicating in English throughout the entirety of the session, she directed me to the bed for the facial. Being heated and extremely comfy, it invited sleep, but I was determined to stay awake to enjoy it. And by golly, I did. Serena began the facial by cleansing my skin. After opening my pores with a steam machine, the typical multi-step Korean skin care process began. Toners, serums and creams were layered before that famous pitera mask was placed on top.

In fact, one of the best things about SK-II Boutique Spa is that they use their own products, so you know exactly what's being used on your skin. And it's common knowledge that SK-II's skin care line is the very best in Asia, if not the world.



While the mask worked its magic, Serena treated me to a massage, moving from my back and shoulders to my arms and hands, constantly checking to ensure the pressure and stretching weren't too much. She finished off the treatment with a scalp massage, in which she applied oil to my hair. This is essential during the Korean winter, when everything gets dry. The only problem, however, was that I had an appointment just after the session and didn't have time to wash my hair. So, those booking this session should be sure they don't have plans afterwards.

Serena wrapped up the session and after changing back into my clothes, I was brought back into the beautiful lobby for a spot of tea and a slice of cheesecake while taking in the pretty Christmas decorations. I checked out my skin and noticed that it was glowing! Never in my life have I seen my skin glow, so I was shocked. This effect lasted a few days and I was very much content with the moisture boost the facial gave my skin. I was eager to see if the next treatment would be just as amazing.



And of course it was. Repeating the same process as the day before, I was briefed on the Body Lux Relaxing Program (₩275,000), a treatment promising to "detoxify the body from stress and fatigue and activate the lymphatic circulation, eliminating swelling." This option includes a body pack that can be added to the body part of the customer's choice.

I was brought to a treatment room that was less luxurious than the previous day's, but it was just as clean and relaxing with the same kind of heated bed. My therapist, Sun, spoke English just as well and was very attentive to my needs.



Beginning with my legs and working up to my arms and shoulders, Sun lightly scrubbed my skin with an exfoliant before massaging my muscles with aromatic oils. I was surprised that a woman so small could be so strong!

Mid-massage, she added the body pack to my stomach. Yes, my stomach... I know it sounds strange and although I'm sure most people choose their shoulders or legs for this option, I had watched a video just a week before explaining that a tummy massage greatly helps with pain and digestion. The process was slightly uncomfortable but in the end, my stomach did feel better.

I'll admit that I don't always treat my body well and because I spend a lot of time behind a computer screen and carrying heavy bags around the city, my back and shoulders are in a constant state of tension. So, having these neglected muscles worked out felt like heaven. By the end of the 90 minutes, which can only be described as religious, I walked out the treatment room feeling like I had a brand new body.

I was once again given a sweet treat- this time, a waffle- and some tea and was also provided with a gift that included a few skin care samples as well as a body loofah and a ₩30,000 discount coupon for my next visit. All international guests are treated to this nice little surprise, which makes one's visit that much better.

SK-II Boutique Spa is truly an oasis and the treatments were just what I needed to feel revived and refreshed. And considering the luxurious facilities, unrivaled customer service and professional staff, this spa is unquestionably the best value for the price in all of Seoul.

So, do yourself a favor and get yourself a treatment at SK-II Boutique Spa. Your body and mind will thank you for it. And for those winter blues? Well, they don't even stand a chance.

More Information: SK-II Boutique Spa

Address: 8 Dosan-daero 45-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Phone: +82-2-3447-0275

Hours of Operation: Daily, 10am- 9pm

Prices: Click here for a complete list of their services and prices

Reservations: By e-mail (click here). The spa operates strictly on first-reserved, first-served basis, and weekdays tend to be less crowded than weekends. They do not accept reservations that are more than 6 months in advance.

To Get There: All nearby subway stations require a 20-30 minute walk. As such, it is advised that visitors take a taxi from Sinsa Station (Line 3), Apgujeong Station (Line 3), Gangnam-gu Office Station (Line 7) or Hak-dong Station (Line 7). Click here for a map and additional directions.



Disclaimer: Although the services mentioned in this post were provided free of charge by SK-II Boutique Spa, the opinions are, of course, my own.

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.




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The 2014 Busan International Fireworks Festival coincided with...

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The 2014 Busan International Fireworks Festival coincided with Halloween celebrations this year. Audrina and I had just as much fun as we did four years ago, but we sure welcomed the additional company this year.

Note to self: Must arrive around noon for a front-seat view of the fireworks. Also, few things are better than having my feet in the sand with no one to block my view of the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen.


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