New Year’s Eve in Frankfurt

For a few New Year occasions now, my friends and I have planned short trips abroad when possible. Most of us are really over the overpriced and overhyped experiences that come along with the usual New Year’s Eve plans. Now, a house party, a little gathering at a friend’s house or venturing abroad is what I like to go for. The first two options are much less hassle than going to a club, cheaper and usually a lot of fun. The latter is memorable and there is much less pressure. When you’re abroad, that’s already exciting, so even if you find yourself in some random bar or ring in the New Year at the hostel with a group of fellow travellers from all over the world, it’s still pretty great.

My memory of this trip is a bit blurry, however I’ll try to piece together the details I do have. We booked our return flights with Ryanair (£72.55 inc tax) which flew from London Stansted to Frankfurt-Hahn airport. It was one of those early morning flights. The ones you get lured in by, because of the price and swear to never ever to fall victim to again. Repeat cycle. We got an easyBus from near Baker Street Underground station to the airport. We booked it in advance and it cost around £5.

Early hours at the airport waiting to check in.
Early hours at the airport waiting to check in.

When we arrived in Frankfurt, we got a bus to the centre near where we were staying. We were able to walk to the hostel from there. When we arrived at the Five Elements Hostel (booked using hostelbookers.com), we checked in and then went to find lunch. We ended up in a pub (go figure) and we ate and hung out there for a bit. After that, we explored the area when returning to the hostel. Our rooms were ready and they also informed us of a pub crawl they were having in few hours. We took our stuff upstairs and chilled out between there and the common area before it was time to go. The whole place was very clean, modern and decorated in a taste I liked. It was walking distance to most of what we did on the trip, had a great vibe and helpful staff. They also had lots of facilities and things to entertain us in the communal areas.

Guten morgen, Deutschland!
Guten morgen, Deutschland!

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Five Elements Hostel
Five Elements Hostel

On the bar crawl we walked and walked and walked, drinking along the way. It seemed like we walked forever. At first, it was fine because everything was new and pretty, but soon the cold started setting in and we were weary from our journey and being up since about 3am. Finally, we got to wherever our destination was… I have no idea where we were. We enjoyed drinks in a few different places and gradually the group fragmented as people stayed in some bars or left to find another. After a few hours my friends and I headed back to the hostel.

Gearing up for the bar crawl.
Gearing up for the bar crawl.
Walking around Frankfurt
Walking around Frankfurt

The next day, we went wandering around. Lots of places seemed to be closed, I guess because it was New Year’s Eve. However, we did find a lovely art gallery called Galerie Mensing and took advantage of that. Then we came upon a huge shopping centre called MyZeil. The architecture had us in awe. It really was a wonderful building.

Lovely art gallery
Lovely art gallery
MyZeil
MyZeil

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Really cool architecture
Really cool architecture

That evening we had drinks at the hostel with other guests, before heading out to ring in the New Year. There was a club we heard about (I can’t remember the name), that was walking distance. Along the way, people everywhere were setting off fireworks and firecrackers. That was fine, except most of them were doing it horizontally. Not cool. As we neared the club, the clock struck 12. We were just across the street from a square where lots of people were in the full swing of their merriment. The fireworks intensified. We admired them for a bit, but then literally had to take cover because other people in the streets nearby were setting them off in all sorts of directions. We decided to flee the area in haste and enter the safe haven of the club. There, the music was good, people were nice and I don’t remember the drinks prices being extortionate, so they must have been alright.

Pre-gaming at the hostel
Pre-gaming at the hostel
Absolutely insane and dangerous fireworks flying everywhere.
Absolutely insane and dangerous fireworks flying everywhere.

On our last day, one of the staff members I had befriended met us and escorted us to the train station. There, we went in search of CurryWurst! We had all seen it on The Apprentice (UK) and were determined not to leave Germany without getting some!!!! We found a place and enjoyed it on the spot. It was the perfect end to our short break in Frankfurt.

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Currywurst yaaaaaaaaa!
Currywurst yaaaaaaaaa!
Happy Currywurst bunny
Happy Currywurst bunny

~~~The Wandering Pier

Why I don’t mind when it rains in South Korea

It is no secret that the weather in London leaves a lot to be desired. It’s always raining and when it’s not raining, it’s gloomy. Then you have 33.33% left for any other types of weather that exist. I do not miss it at all. Not one bit.

Rainy day at beautiful Regent's Park
Rainy day at beautiful Regent’s Park

In Korea however, when it rains, I don’t mind. I don’t mind for a few reasons. Firstly, apart from summer time when it usually does rain and it is expected, when it rains, it rains and then it stops. The end. Even if it’s for a long time. There is seldom that inbetweeny rain, where you kind of need an umbrella, but you don’t.

Secondly, when it rains here it reminds me of London. This is a good thing. It may seem weird given my introduction, but when you’ve packed your bags and moved thousands of miles away from home, weird things do happen. I guess this is one of them. It reminds me of my family and my friends. Of pubs and of Tower Bridge. Of Nando’s.

London is lovely at night. Tower Bridge is one of my favorite sights.
London is lovely at night. Tower Bridge is one of my favorite sights.

The third and most important reason, the reason I’ve even written any of this is that there may be a chance, even if small, that my coworker, Cleo, will make pajeon. This is no small issue to me. Pajeon (파전). It is a Korean dish, that I can best describe as a savoury pancake. It has lots of tender, young spring onions in it. You can get kimchi pajeon (김치파전), garlic chive pajeon (부추파전) or seafood pajeon (해물파전). She has told me on a few occasions, that when it rains, it is tradition to eat pajeon and drink makgeolli (Korean rice wine). Cleo and another Korean friend have previously made pajeon on rainy days for us earlier this year.

Fresh chilies going into the kimchi pajeon
Fresh chilies going into the kimchi pajeon

Today, when I left home, I didn’t know I would be feasting on kimchi pajeon. And she also added meat to it. The best part is, it didn’t even rain, it snowed. Oh lovely snow, thank you! She said she made it because of the weather. I had mine hot and crispy, straight out of the pan. It was beautiful. The aroma is still clinging to everything in the teachers’ room. That’s no bother to me. Because of this and because of her, I really don’t mind when it rains in South Korea.

In the making & smelling great!
In the making & smelling great!
helping out
helping out
Ready to go in my belly!!!
Ready to go in my belly!!!

In search of Autumn

A few friends and I headed up to Jeonju last weekend to stroll around Hanok Village (전주한옥마을) and take in the beautiful autumn leaves. Hanok Village is an area in Jeonju that has traditional style buildings, good food and usually some sort of festival or entertainment going on. There were lots of people milling around, taking pictures, enjoying live music on the street, browsing at the various shops and stalls and eating. 

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We were pretty hungry upon arrival, so after taking advantage of some photo opps, finding food was our mission. Unfortunately, the first couple of places we tried wouldn’t take us because they were full. We carried on walking and then happened upon a lady selling pajeon at a stall with some seating. I love pajeon! It’s a savoury pancake that comes with spring onions in it as standard, but you can order different kinds which have more ingredients in it, like kimchi or seafood. We ordered and sat down next to the infamous Makgeolli Man. Prior to this visit, I had never heard about the Makgeolli Man, but apparently I’m the only one *sob*. He sells makgeolli (Korean rice wine), but also gives you a bunch for free. We ordered one bottle and he kept topping it up. Only three of the six of us were drinking so it actually became a chore for them. But it was all good, we started calling strangers over to drink and talk with us. The pajeon came. It was hot and delicious. It was laced with chilies and very spicy, but that was fine for me.

Pajeon feast with makgeolli
Pajeon feast with makgeolli
Some kid joined us for makgeolli
Some kid joined us for makgeolli

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After this, we went into an area where people were playing traditional games. There was also some jump rope action going on which we got well into. Then, we explored more of the area, walking down side streets, getting lured by an array of quirky shops and nice smelling things. After a bit of shopping and a few more nibbles, the sudden drop in temperature got our attention. Time to head home. Upon reflection we didn’t actually spend much time admiring the leaves. Most of the ones we saw were similar in colour, so I guess after we saw some we were taken by other things. It was a lovely way to spend our Sunday afternoon.

Waffles, meat on a stick, churros filled with cream cheese and Katie trying some ginseng beer.
Waffles, meat on a stick, churros filled with cream cheese and Katie trying some ginseng beer.
달고나 - Dalgona, a treat made of sugar. If you eat around the shape without breaking it, you can get another for free!
달고나 – Dalgona, a treat made of sugar. If you eat around the shape without breaking it, you can get another for free!
New purchase, prompted by their cuteness and the evening chill.
New purchase, prompted by their cuteness and the evening chill.

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Gunsan Goodbyes

The time to say goodbye in this expat life comes more frequently than one would like. I have made some great friends here. People I can predict will be friends for life. Being so far from home, away from your family and those dear can be rough. For me, most of my close friends here I pretty much view as my family.

My mum's visit. She, Lawrence and I in Jeonju. First time for all of us.
My mum’s visit. She, Lawrence and I in Jeonju. First time for all of us.
Will trying out some tuho (투호) at Hanok Mall. Traditional Korean Village in Jeonju.
Will trying out some tuho (투호) at Hanok Mall. Traditional Korean Village in Jeonju.

I’ve had to say lots of goodbyes during my two year period in Korea and it’s safe to say that it doesn’t really get easier. At least not for me. I always feel the loss for longer than I’d predict, even with a buffer. Then there are places, activities, songs, foods that take your mind straight back to them.

Friends at the beach. Dana, Katie, Peter & Estie chatting on the shores of Sunyudo Island.
Friends at the beach. Dana, Katie, Peter & Estie chatting on the shores of Sunyudo Island.
Josh & I on the ferry back to mainland Gunsan, after our birthday/goodbye weekend for him on Sunyudo Island.
Josh & I on the ferry back to mainland Gunsan, after our birthday/goodbye weekend for him on Sunyudo Island.

I’ve learned that keeping busy definitely helps, whether it be work, social life or distracting yourself in some other way. At the end of the day, I’m grateful for all the relationships and bonds that I’ve formed. They have all added immensely to my journey through this chapter in my life. Even though it really, truly sucks to say good bye, we’ll always have Gunsan 🙂

Phil taking a break after our night out. This year for NYE, I went to Italy and met his wife & kids!
Phil taking a break after our night out. This year for NYE, I went to Italy and met his wife & kids!
Group effort at Korea Burn 2012. Photography by Dana Felthauser.
Group effort at Korea Burn 2012. Photography by Dana Felthauser.
Estie, Cayley & Dana strike a muddy pose at Mudfest 2013 in Boryeong.
Estie, Cayley & Dana strike a muddy pose at Mudfest 2013 in Boryeong.

I’m dedicating this blog post to all my friends who have left and especially two friends in particular, simply because I knew what the double impact of their leaving would do. They definitely shone as bright lights in our little community and I knew when they were leaving I’d miss them tons and really feel the difference of not having them around. Estie and Peter! Two adventurous souls who came to Gunsan together and really left a stamp on those who met them.

Peter & Estie <3
Peter & Estie ❤

I shall hopefully be spending some time with them in their homeland of South Africa next year. I'm very much looking forward to that. Below are some pictures from a little goodbye breakfast we had for them.

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~Enjoy your now and savour your memories of great times with great people~

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Catching sunrise at the Marine Park to end our night out~~~^^
Catching sunrise at the Marine Park to end our night out~~~^^
My Super Saturday partner. We always had a blast every Saturday.
My Super Saturday partner. We always had a blast every Saturday.
Will and Mario preparing some food for our first BBQ of the year. Will's coming to Trinidad for Carnival next year :D
Will and Mario preparing some food for our first BBQ of the year. Will’s coming to Trinidad for Carnival next year 😀
Josh & Mario relaxing with some shisha at our BBQ in the park.
Josh & Mario relaxing with some shisha at our BBQ in the park.

You can see more of Dana’s photography here: Korea 365 http://danafelthauser.blogspot.kr/2013/08/korea-365-365-goodbye-korea.html?m=1