Santa Monica and Sun

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I was only in Santa Monica for the day. When I first arrived, I spent my time walking through the Palisades Park. It provided great views of the beach and of the Santa Monica Pier, which was my next spot to check out.

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I took a very leisurely stroll along the pier, stopping for photo opps, people watching, ocean watching and taking in the pleasant melodious surprise of steel pan in the air. That was provided by Trinidad and Tobago national, Desmond Bedlow, one man band and steel drummer. There’s is something about steel pan that undeniably sweetens the vibe of a place. That made me smile. We chatted briefly and then I made my way down to the beach.
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I walked along the coast for a bit, dipped my toes in and thought about how happy I was not to have gone there in the hopes of swimming. Still, it was refreshing to have my feet in the chilly splash of the waves, with the sun beaming down on us.
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I sat for a while, listening to the waves, playing with the sand between my toes and taking in the scene of the vast pacific. I love the ocean. Then I saw London written in the sand which brought a wave of excitement about heading back there in a couple months. A group of Korean students came by. That brought up happy thoughts of my former students back in Korea. These girls were brimming with excitement. It was so cute.
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After that, I headed over to the 3rd Street Promenade for some lunch and then meandered my way along the promenade, browsing in shops as I went along. By around 4pm I decided to close off my time there and I headed on back. It was indeed a day well spent.

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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

Sunflower Festival Fail

A couple weekends ago my friends and I ventured down to Gochang to check out the sunflower festival there. We got a bus from Gunsan to Gochang and then one of our mates met us at the bus station and we drove the rest of the way.

The countryside in Gochang is absolutely beautiful. There was green all around and the mountains stood wonderfully majestic and the green crops looked like an emerald carpet. As we neared our destination I noted a few little patches sunflowers along the way. Very wilted sunflowers, hanging on for dear life.

Gochang countryside
Gochang countryside

As we pulled up to the sunflower field, there was an obvious lack of sunflowers. The were dead! We got out of the car and meandered through the field in the blazing heat. I thought sun was supposed to be their thing, they are sunflowers. There were a few survivors. They were easy to spot… Haaa *straight face*

Sunflower field
Sunflower field
Dead
Dead

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After a some photos with the survivors, we found refuge across the street in a building that was part of the “festival”.

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Yay, some live ones!
Yay, some live ones!

The day wasn’t a complete waste (as if!). After that we drove down to a river. We relaxed on the shady banks for a couple hours and cooled off a little in the water.

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Cooling off
Cooling off
A small dip
A small dip
Relaxing in the shade
Relaxing in the shade

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Obviously, I was greatly disappointed by the failure of this quest. I had such wonderful visions of prancing around a huge field of sunflowers. But frankly, I found the whole thing rather hilarious. I’m just grateful we didn’t journey for hours across Korea only to be met with that.

How it should have looked: My friend, Amber in Gangwon-do Province. I guess it was cooler up there.
How it should have looked: My friend, Amber in Gangwon-do Province. I guess it was cooler up there.

London soon

I’ve been so occupied with other things that any excitement for this trip has been overshadowed. The main thing was getting everything ready at work for the cover teachers coming in while I’m away. Other than that, I’ve just been busy running around getting little pressies for people and seeing friends for the last time in 2012.

Must.start.packing.
Must.start.packing.

Last night I FINALLY opened my suitcase (new suitcase that I’m quite fond of) and started getting some things together to put in. This definitely fostered some excitement. However, excitement for the trip was quickly dashed by the wayside and replaced with excitement about news from my friend- SHE BOOKED HER TICKET TO KOREA….WOOOOO! I was so excited I could barely sleep last night.

It started raining today.. preparing me for British weather!
It started raining today.. preparing me for British weather!

Anyway, now my departure nearing. I leave home at 6:30am and it’s 4am now. I’m ridiculously tired and hoping to get lots of kip in on my very long journey. My sissy and my friend I just mentioned are both coming to meet me at Gatwick. I cannot wait to see them.

Toodles!

Dry cleaning makes me feel fancy

I don’t know what kind of life you guys live, maybe this is normal for you. For me this is a great, big, exciting novelty 😀 Dry cleaning is awesome! Everything comes back to you like brand new *YIPPIE*!

 

My only previous experience of dry cleaning was being denied it by my mum when I was younger. Instead, she put my suede shearling coat in the washing machine without me knowing. Obviously it got ruined 😦 This also happened with a silk top that I ADORED. I bought these with my own money when I started working and I loved them. SIGH. 

Throwback: Let's have a moment of silence for that coat :(
Throwback: Let’s have a moment of silence for that coat 😦

 

Everything is expensive in London, so I always avoided buying items that needed dry cleaning. Since I got to Korea though, this has changed. Many, many things are much more affordable here, including dry cleaning *whoop*. I had a winter coat that desperately needed to be cleaned in time for this winter. So, for the first time ever the other week, I took  some things to the dry cleaner. I took my winter coat, along with a cardigan, a pair of leggings and four vest tops for good measure. When I went to pick them up, the bill was a whopping $20. How great is that? You’re looking at Miss Fancypants over here. It makes me feel so grown up.

My "new" coat!
My “new” coat!

 

Today, I took a few thick knitted tops, a giant knitted scarf, thick knitted legwarmers- all of these with those annoying fluff balls that knitwear get, a top and a cardigan. I can’t wait to pick up my new wardrobe on Wednesday. Those people are magicians, I swear. I’m going to enjoy this new element in my life while it lasts.

Signed,

Miss Fancypants

 

More than just a girls’ night in

Since I’ve been here it’s been mens, mens, mens. “Sweeeet!” I hear you ladies sing…well, at least I would.. heh. Heh.

Heh.

When I moved to Korea, I obviously had no friends *sob*. A friend of mine moved out here about a week before me,  but he lives 4 hours away *tear*. The other teachers at my workplace were two guys and a lady named Clare, who was married with a kid. The guys Andrew & Tae were (and still are) great fun. We clicked. Tae also worked at the Air Force base so a lot of people he introduced me to were from there. More mens. Heh. I have made a few really great guy friends from there. Then most of their friends were all guys. More mens…..heh. Yeah, I was still heh-ing at this point.

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Night out with my co-workers, Andrew & Tae.

Then came the point where I just needed some girl company. Eeeessh. I was really, really missing my sissy and my friends back home. Yes, I’d met some females, but there was always something just not there. I’m a picky one I guess. That’s really not to say they weren’t nice & maybe even capable of pooping out a rainbow. I just like what I like.

FINALLY, I met a couple girls that fit my bill. One Korean and one “foreigner” (as anyone non-Korean is called out here) hailing from Texas (TEXAS STAND UP!) with a Mexican twist- this excites my belly 🙂

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Checking out an art gallery in Jeonju with B. In the park for Cinco de Mayo, cooking up some goodness!

So at first, I was like girl, play it cool! You don’t wana seem desperate. Inside: *sob* please love me, don’t leave me *sob*. We are still cool and I definitely consider them my friends. Then a few months later, there seemed to be an influx of new girls in town. Time to go trolling. Joke. However, along the way through normal social avenues and minimal stalkerage, I’ve met some really wicked (the good kind), down to earth chicas.

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Shisha & bubbles at Aladdin’s Lamb restaurant 🙂

A few weeks ago, I got a text message from one of said awesome chicas asking if I’d like to join her and some other girls at her place for some vino, snackies and a chin wag. It was really great. I hadn’t had that in over a year! Conversation was a mixture of everything you’d want- funny stuff, family stuff, life in Korea, travels. It was just a really good, much needed experience. I remember walking home thinking about how grateful I was that she’d thought to text me & that I’d bothered to go- it was a school night & I was tired.

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All this was before the waffles and ice cream! 😮

Hopefully we’ll have some more like those, because I think as a female, in some sense we need that. I love my boys and I wouldn’t trade my relationships with them for anything. However, sometimes you just need a break, a breather, a change in the tone of conversation or prettier faces around you. I think I’ve found that here. That’s why for me, that was so much more than just a girls’ night in.

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