Gunsan to Muju – Snowboarding Trip

I wanted to get at least one snowboarding trip in for the season, before I left Korea. I’ve never lived anywhere where the slopes were so accessible. Also, here had been the first time I’ve snowboarded on real slopes. Prior, I had just had a couple of lessons at the indoor slopes in Hemel Hempstead, back in London.

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A colleague helped us book this trip. The operator picked us up from Lotte Mart in Gunsan at 6:10am. We left Muju Ski Resort to return to Gunsan at 4:50pm. For the shuttle there and back, lift pass and snowboard and boots rental it was about W75,000. It’s a little more if you need to rent clothes.

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The bus was like an oven, but we managed to get some sleep anyway. When we arrived and went to pick up our gear, there were no lines. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen Muju like that. ‘Twas great! It was fairly early in the season and there hadn’t been much snow yet, so that’s probably why the masses weren’t out yet. 20140130-100331.jpg

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The queues for the ski lift moved moderately quickly, so getting a few runs in in a short space of time was easy. Not for me though! As always, it took a while for me to get back into it. My first run down the slopes was tough and took me a long time. Last season when I went snowboarding at High1 Ski Resort, I had an awful, awful day on the slopes. I think that messed with my mind on this trip, so it took a while to shake that off an regain some confidence.

The next run was better. I was more confident and less afraid to fall. Oh and I fell! That doesn’t phase me so much though. It only really has a big impact on me if I’m really tired, then it’s draining to keep getting up from a tumble. It takes a huge toll on your knees, bum and arms.

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Then we took a break for lunch and then decided to take a nap in the snow, in a sun beaten patch. After that, I got a few more runs in. My confidence grew with each, but so did my tiredness. As the day drew on, the snow also became really icy, so we decided to call it a day and just relax and wait for the bus back to Gunsan. It was a good trip and after that, I wish I had enough time to do one or two more trips for the season. But I’m grateful that my last experience out there ended on a high. 20140130-100441.jpg

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Victoria Falls: “Mosi-oa-Tunya” the Smoke that Thunders

20140312-090708.jpgAt our guesthouse, there was a free shuttle to Victoria Falls everyday at 10am. We made our own way back by taxi. Private taxis costs K28-30 ($7) or sharing with other people costs K8 ($1.50) each to get back into town. From Livingstone to Victoria is about 10km. You can ride it if you want, as some places have bicycles for hire. Just make sure you have lots of water and are covered to avoid sunburn. The route there is flat the entire way.

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Entry for adult foreigners is K100 ($20). It seems like you can spend however long you like in there. No re-admittance. There are guides if you would like one, but we didn’t use any. Opening hours are 6:00 – 18:00.
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We followed the pathways along the falls. The really do thunder. We got soaked right through, which we didn’t mind. Take a rain coat or something water proof if you don’t want to get drenched. There isn’t a way to walk along the provided path nearest to the falls without getting wet. If you have a smart phone you can put it in a ziplock bag and use it just fine to take pictures. We got some pretty good shots. 20140312-092542.jpg20140312-092902.jpg
There are lots of lovely rainbows down the falls to be spotted along the way. At the furthest point we could get to, we could see Zimbabwe across the way. There were also people bungi jumping from a bridge to the jagged rocks and shallow waters below!
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The width of these falls is truly something to behold (1708m/5604ft). It seems never ending as it disappears from view behind the constant misty spray and the natural curve of the land.
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We came across a newly married couple, Katie and Max, having a photo shoot at the falls. Katie looked gorgeous in her wedding gown and they made a rather cute couple. Both from Vancouver. I thought it was excellent use of a wedding dress! Good idea, Katie!
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After that, we walked along the back way to exit, which wasn’t along the falls. You could see the large gorge down below, where the Zambezi river continued along its way. It was a fantastic experience and one that my mum was extremely happy to tick off her list. She said next up is Angel Falls in Venezuela.
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~~~The Wandering Pier

Lusaka to Livingstone by bus

We went to the the bus station the day before travelling to buy our tickets. It was right up the road from the Levy shopping centre. We were told that you could call to book, but it isn’t always reliable, because people who reserve often don’t turn up. So occasionally, a ticket you reserve may get sold to someone else.

There are two good companies. I forget the name of the other one, but we used Mazhadu. It’s a blue fleet of buses. They have two kinds of buses, the more comfortable of them having two sets of seats either side of the aisle. We took that one departing at 9am and it cost K140 ($28). I was told it took 7hr but when I got on the bus, a girl on there told me, 9hr. We made it in 6hr 20min.

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They stopped a couple times for people to get on and off, but there was only one pitstop. For us, that was 3hr into the journey. The seats were fairly comfortable. There was AC, though we were still a bit hot. They gave us a carbonated soft drink and a little cake each.

When we arrived in Livingstone, it was hectic. We were bombarded by taxi drivers, who were standing right where everyone is pushing to get their bags from the storage under the bus. We stayed at Jollyboys backpackers, which they state is a walkable distance. It is, but after the journey and with bags, in the heat, it’s best to just get a taxi. It would have been nice if they had advised that as well. It is not as close as you would gather from the way they put it across.

That was our journey by bus from Lusaka to Livingstone.

~~~The Wandering Pier

Ice Skating with the Famalam <3

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My sister arranged for us all to go ice skating at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. It’s probably the only time of year I get to do it. Prior to leaving London, I’d (very) occasionally go down to the rink in Streatham.

I wrapped up warm and met everyone there, including our friend Hayden who sorted out the tickets for us. It was my mum’s first ever time ice skating. I had no idea. Even getting the skates on and walking to the rink was a feat. Then, as she got on the ice she gripped the side bar with one hand and my brother’s arm with the other. She made it!
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We had a look to see if the little kiddy section was open so she could take it slowly and so we with our rusty balance memory, could get the hang of things in there, however it was closed. After a short 10 minute stint mum decided it was time to head back in. I was proud of her getting those things on and giving it a go.
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My brother, as it turns out is somewhat of a pro at this ice skating lark. I had absolutely no clue. Mum explained that she used to take him to Alexander Palace when he was younger. He was lapping us, doing those cross over steps and going backwards. I thought it was so awesome. 20140518-230956.jpg

As always the skates there killing my feet. They feel like they’re being crushed. I even got a shoe size up this time, but it didn’t help much. I got off the ice a couple times and took them off for some relief. It turned out to be a good spot to sit in to see my sister land on her bum not too long after. The three of us did a few laps together before heading off the ice. It was a really nice family affair to kick off the new year.

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Brighton with El Belle

We spent the night in Catford and went to bed far too late for my confused body clock, but it was a good catch up session with Elahe & Ladan. In the morning the next day, Elahe and I packed and loaded up into the car. Road trip time!
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The weather was sunny and bright, a good day to take to the roads. Traffic was minimal, so we enjoyed cruising along, chatting and listening to some music. We arrived in great time, making it there in an hour and a half.
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To the shops! We browsed some stores in the local shopping area and made some good purchases. Elahe even found a dress for a wedding she’s going to later this year. Yays. After that, my longstanding desire to couple fish and chips with any seaside visit had to be fulfilled. At this stage the weather was simply awful. Driving along the beachfront was just short of terrifying. The waves were menacing and they looked like they would leap up and swallow us at any moment. The wind was a force to be reckoned with, which we eventually had to face without the security of the car.
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We went to Buddies, which was a delightful fish and chips restaurant and takeaway, that was across the road from the beachfront. We both had cod and chips, which they fried upon request. The mountain of chips that arrived was beyond my appetite, but extremely enjoyable, as was the fish. Crispy and crunchy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside. Perfect. To get back the car the wind assisted us by blowing us down the street. Literally.
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Finally at the house, I got to meet Elahe’s parents. They were so warm and inviting, I felt right at home! After we rested, talked and went through our new purchases, Elahe’s mum said she’d make a start at dinner. What an understatement. The woman produced a feast! It was my first time having Iranian food and it was soooooooo good! I don’t even know what my favourite thing was, I just know I can’t wait to have it all again.
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Well, prior to the meal my new bff Jet Lag was hovering over my shoulder. After the meal I was carrying a food baby in the front and Jet Lag in the back, piggyback stylie. I knew I wasn’t going to make it out. That, I was disappointed about. I was in the mood to have a night out on the town and Elahe had already made some arrangements for us, but my body just wasn’t having it.

The next morning, I reluctantly peeled myself out of bed. I had woken up around 1am for a couple hours and then again at 5am. Grrr! I had an 11am train back to London to catch. After getting ready, I followed the aroma of freshly made waffles down the stairs (from scratch!). We ate breakfast hurriedly (mmmm Nutella) and headed for Hove train station. Elahe and I said our farewells. It will be months before we see each other again. I had a great time in Brighton with her and her family and I can’t wait to hopefully do it again in the summer. Minus the terrible jet lag. 20140201-233239.jpg

Tea time, treats & talks

My friend got married and bought a house while I was away! I didn’t get to see her when I visited last year, so this was a treat in more than one way. I got to see her beautiful new home and hear all about the lovely ideas she has for it. We spent quite a bit of time on Pinterest too, looking at some fantastic pictures and ideas.

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All this was done over fresh baklava ❤ and something new I tried called kaymak, a Turkish cream, on fresh bread with a drizzle of honey. It was a wonderfully tasty accompaniment to the great company. The occasion was also a stark reminder of the things you miss when you live an expat life. The trade off.

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