Embracing the Idea of Change

I can’t believe I’ve been back in Korea for almost two months, time really does fly when you’re having fun.  And I really have been having fun!

I’ve spent as many weekends living in a tent as I have in my flat.

I’ve spent many a Sunday morning watching the sun rise in this land of the morning calm.

I’ve ‘white water’ rafted…..although little of the water was white!

And bobbed down rivers.

I’ve climbed mountains up north…

I’ve climbed mountains on southern islands…

I’ve even biked up mountains (well, pushed the bike up them!)

I’ve pier jumped….

And swam in crystal clear sea.

I’ve watched fire dancers on the beach…

And hung out with a bunch of hippies at Korea Burn

But still I’ve found myself thinking about returning to England, how I could go about it, what I would do if I did, and where I would live if I did.  Whenever I think about it I never know, or even have an idea of where to start with the answers….until today!

Today I had an idea, and I’ve looked into that idea, and not only found a type of employment that I actually want to do, but also between my old career in the UK and my last 4 years of traveling life I am completely qualified to do!  Maybe, just maybe, July 2013 will be the year I finally return to the UK……

Koreas Got Talent!

On Saturday afternoon I went to one of the most fun festivals I’ve been to in Korea.  It was billed as an International Culture Festival for Peace and was being put on by Mannam Volunteer Association.  I found out about it a day or so before from a friend who was involved, not really knowing what to expect, but wanting to support her I convinced another friend to join me and we went along.  I’m so glad that we did because I didn’t stop smiling all afternoon.

We arrived late on in the day, and on entering the site were given a choice of a red or blue ribbon to have tied around our wrists.  The girl who did it then told us that we had to high five the other people we saw with the same ribbon, a nice concept to get people talking!  We then went straight to my friends tent ‘The Canuck Hut’ to say hi.  It turned out that all of the tents were about to close for the main performance of the day, it would have been nice to have seen what the different tents were offering (I’d particularly wanted to go to the Nepal tent having seen that one of my running friends was there and making traditional Nepalese food!).  But, as the performance started all thought of anything else disappeared as we were thoroughly entertained by performers, and performances from across the Globe.

There was a lovely Laurel and Hardy inspired show, these guys faces just made me smile so much!


There were classical musicians, there were opera singers, there were girls doing traditional Peruvian dance, there were children demonstrating traditional Korean games  (with their display including doing cartwheels over shoulder high rope they were so impressive!), there were cheerleaders, there was even a beat box guy!

There was traditional Korean dance


There was a very cute vocal harmony group


There was Taekwondo


Very impressive Teakwondo!

And then there was my favourite act!  Onto stage marched a group of young men in army uniforms, carrying guns that all had flags of the world in the barrel and they put on a show that was as impressive as it was hilarious!  It combined perfectly timed drilling with an enormous amount of camp…..only in Korea!

The show ended with all of the performers on, and infront of, the stage singing a song, during which they managed to get every member of the audience (well almost…Phil and Iris!) dancing and singing too.    I don’t remember the last time I laughed so much, or danced so much (at least danced without the influence of JD!).  We must have spent a good 15 minutes jumping around, doing the konga, pretty much all of the things you would have done as a kid at a disco….it was brilliant!

I was up on stage as the show ended in an explosion of streamers. I couldn’t get my camera out quick enough, but looking up just before I took this shot they made a beautiful rainbow of colour in the sky, right after I took this shot they all landed on my head and I was trapped in a net of streamers and laughing too hard to get out!

Life Philosophy

I just got this from my Dad and it made me smile so I thought I’d share it…..

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in
front of him.

When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty
mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the
jar. He shook the jar lightly.

The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was

They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.

Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full..

The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured
the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space
between the sand.

The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to
recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children,
your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything
else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house
and your car..

The sand is everything else—the small stuff.

‘If you put
the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the
pebbles or the golf balls.

The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never
have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children.

Spend time with your parents.

Visit with grandparents.

Take your spouse out to dinner.

Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter.

Set your priorities.

The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer

The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’

The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

In my next month of busy fullness I can’t wait to share a long overdue beer with my family and friends in the UK

……a very loud air-raid siren goes off at the same time as some jets fly past and it only raises a mild curiosity in you about whats happening.


(Turns out – according to a post on Facebook by Say Kimchi Recruiting – it was just an earthquake drill, I think the jets flying past as it happened was just a coincidence!)


Reason number….. (I don’t know, but its high!) that I love Korea – STRAWBERRY SEASON!

Unlike the UK Korea definitely has fruit seasons during which time the prices hit rock bottom, we just got to strawberry time, and its fair to say I'm overdosing, but then its hard not to at 3000won (about £1.50) for a kilo!

I decided the other day that I had to make the most of the prices and buy a lot, after all it wont be too long before they disappear again and can only be found for crazy amounts of money; by crazy I mean that only a few weeks ago the same quantity, that I’m paying 3000won for now, in my local shop cost upwards of 25000won (£14).  Freezing them, with the minimal freezer space I have, isn’t an option, so I decided to try my hand at strawberry jam!  I made plum jam last year and it turned out great – how much harder could strawberry jam be?  Quite a bit it turns out!

I looked at all different recipes on the internet, and pretty much every single one used preserving sugar or pectin, or both.  I figured there was no point in even going looking in the shops for some (although maybe I should have as I discovered the other day that my local Lotte Mart now stocks gelatin sheets, its getting more western by the day!) and opted instead for hoping that a couple of lemons would add enough pectin for it to set.

I tested for the setting point lots of times, and I'm not too sure if I past it, never reached it, or was never going to reach it without the pectin, but what I've ended up with is a semi set strawberry compote.......not that I mind, it still tastes amazing stirred into a bowl of porridge!

Update 18th April 2012

My second batch (that I had to make because I just couldn’t eat the berries I bought quickly enough!) turned out to be much more jam like!  I don’t know if it’s because I boiled it harder for longer, or if it’s because of the grated apple I added to the boiling mix, either way it’s definitely jam this time 🙂

I’ve recently decided to go on a saving mission, saving half of my salary each month.  I’ve actually been meaning to do it ever since I arrived in Korea but never have, there’s been far too much to see and do, and quite frankly I just enjoy living a decadent lifestyle!  This month I meant business and sent the money home as soon as I got paid.  I could blame running out of money on having needed to visit the doctors and the dentist, but really I think its just a case of I’m out of practice at budgeting!

So it got to Monday and I didnt get paid until Friday, I had 10000 won in my purse (about a fiver) and needed that for my Yoga class on Tuesday.  I like to eat, that and the amount I’m training at the moment meant the one meal a day at work was never going to keep me going.  Looking in the cupboards at home and they were about the barest they’ve ever been – some herbs and spices, rice, rice paper, flour, sugar, custard powder, a tiny bit of jam, and peanut butter; the fridge with its pint of milk, butter, and onion wasn’t much better; the freezer with a few prawns and a chicken leg was even worse!   It was going to take some creativity to turn that lot into anything interesting to eat!

Turns out I’m more creative than I thought……..

Peanut Butter Cake
Turns out egg free cake is really easy to make, with a cup of tea it makes for a delicious breakfast, and a great evening snack when covered in custard too!

Prawn and Rice Parcels
Rice cooked with lemon grass, chili, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, lime juice, wrapped with prawns in rice paper and dipped into Teriyaki sauce - yummy!

Curried Rice and Chicken
Rice, curry powder, an oxo cube, an onion, water and chicken, all baked together in the oven, who knew something so simple could be so tasty!

Pulling Out of a Marathon

Up until about three weeks ago I’d been having some great runs, I was feeling confident and happy and my preparation for the Seoul Marathon looked to be well on track!

But then the weather turned icy cold!  I went out training all the same, and on one late long run it all went horribly wrong.  I’m not sure exactly what happened, I just know that by the end of the run I was in agony.  After resting for a week I then carried on my training, refusing to believe that I was hurting badly enough to stop.  Two thirds of the way through a 28km training run I started to hurt, I’d got no way of getting home other than under my own steam so I carried on…all be it that I had to walk for 40 minutes to the end.  For the following week it felt like the only way I could move my right leg forwards was to swing it round to the side a bit, I’d got shooting pains through my groin.  I asked all of the dancing and yoga people I know what I could do to make it go away, they all said the same thing – rest it.  I’ve not ran since.

With my holiday in Taiwan to look forward to it didnt bother me too much, but after returning on Tuesday I spent the rest of the week feeling really low….and more than just the normal post holiday blues!


After climbing Mudensan yesterday with one of my friends I decided that I needed to sort out a training routine that would still let me exercise while not stressing the muscles I’ve injured.  I decided that I’d opt for swimming, and increase the amount of cycling and yoga that I do.  For some added inspiration I looked in a runners guide book that a running friend had lent me and I came across a section that jumped off the page at me; it was about the psychology of dealing with injuries.  It describes the process that you go through as……..

Denial – Often runners will not accept their injuries and continue to run in pain until it forces them to stop.

Rage – Runners acknowledge they should stop running.  However, they refuse and subject their bodies to further abuse.  They may take their frustrations out on others.

Depression – After the anger subsides, runners become depressed and experience feelings of helplessness.

Acceptance – Runners accept injuries, and contain training within levels of tolerance.  They may participate in alternative exercises to ease their depression.  They develop an intelligent plan to return gradually to their preinjury fitness level.

Renewed neurotic disequilibrium – As runners begin to regain fitness, some forget the cause of injuries and neglect the warning signs of further injury.  Too often they dont learn from experience and again attempt too much too soon, or train for goals that are beyond their present physical and psychological capacity.

(The Complete Runners Handbook – Bob Glover and Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover)

Its describes what I’ve been going through to a T!  Who knew that you go through the same emotional process whether its a death, a break up, or just dealing with an injury!!

Between yesterday and this morning I’d quite happily decided that I must have reached the acceptance stage and breathed a sigh of relief (Thursday and Friday were shit!).  So, moving forwards its back to some gentle exercise and gradually building up the running again.

That said, I came into work this afternoon and my bib for the 1st March Gwangju half marathon was on my desk, I really want to do it, I wonder if I’ll be sensible or if I’ll hit stage 5 – Renewed neurotic disequilibrium!