South Korea, Travel

July Update

July Update

Playing Catch up

Time for our July Update! As you may know, it is now December (almost January). I am backtracking a good few months, I realise this, but bear with me! I’d like to continue our monthly updates, as memories for ourselves and to keep family up-to-date with our activities. While I’m feeling inspired in the holidays I’ll be playing catch up with our monthly updates! So, for now, let’s go back to July!

July Update – in a nutshell

In July, we were still in South Korea. Doing a part-time teaching contract while searching for new opportunities abroad. I hinted in our June Update that I had had some leads, but I was very hesitant to share too much before things were confirmed! Well, as you may be aware, things worked out and the job search was successful. July was a whirlwind month spent signing contracts, applying for visas, visiting embassies and booking flights. I got a job teaching English in Sweden, and was due to start at the beginning of August! In addition to this, we had a special visitor from South Africa and had to pack up our home and lives, once again!

South Africans in South Korea

My friend arrived at the end of June and we spent almost two weeks flitting around Korea in the extreme humidity, post typhoon! It was a bit of a juggle, with us still working a few hours a day and trying to take trips and do some galavanting. But it all worked out great! We went to the beach in Busan, got lost exploring Gamcheon Cultural Village (yet again), tried all the delicious food at The Nampodong street market, dressed up in hanbok at the grand palace and walked our feet off in Seoul! We were so excited to finally share some of Koreas amazingness with friends from home!

River Rafting

Our friend (and boss) Sunny has been such a blessing to us in Korea. She has helped us out and made our short time in Korea so homey, convenient and fun! As our time together drew to an end, we decided to do something adventurous to create some memories together. Her and her husband suggested going white water rafting (which is something I have always been terribly afraid of).

july update

We went west towards Jirisan for our day in the sun and booked into a pension for the night. There are plenty tour companies that run these rafting tours, and I can’t quite remember which one we used, but this looks like it! The rafting wasn’t really “white” and was actually quite slow and boring on many parts of the river. We were able to jump off and swim alongside the boat to cool down. Just when we started getting “bored” and wishing we had a cooler of beverages in the boat, we arrived alongside an oasis. This oasis was created by the rafting company and sold plenty of delicious snacks. We very quickly demolished ramen, pajeon and a kettle of makgeolli. With spirits restored, we climbed back into the raft and continued for another 300m. These guys did it right with making an extra little income stop shop!

Packing up Home (again)

All that was left after this was to finalise our move. We had to stay in Korea until we received our work permits from the Swedish embassy in Seoul. however, we couldn’t book flights until we knew when exactly we could leave. There were so many if’s and buts. We slowly started packing some things into a box to ship to Sweden. We determined what could stay with Mark and go in his bag IF I was able to go home to South Africa between Korea and Sweden. Of course, I didn’t want to leave Mark with too much to do should he be packing up on his own. But, I also couldn’t leave him with nothing for a week if I did get to go home.

I’m an Aunty!

One of the main factors of my decision to pop in for a visit back home was because my brother and precious sister-in-law had a baby!! On the 19th July 2018, while teaching a class, I got a text message announcing the wonderful news. I stopped mid -sentence, picked up my phone and shrieked with joy! The first pictures of our beautiful addition. My mind was made up…I HAD to go home! But… our work permits still hadn’t arrived. I spent the next 36 hours searching for cheap flights (as cheap as they get when you book 4 days in advance). The very next day our permits arrived! I booked the flights to South Africa and then to Sweden a week later. Mark booked his straight from Korea to Sweden.

South Africa for a Week

It was a whirlwind! After I took the longest route possible ever to get home – I finally met my gorgeous nephew. Much of the week was taken up with visits at my brothers’ house, just soaking his baby newness all in. I’m in love! I met another special friends’ 7 week old cuteness too. I was so lucky to have these two special women on maternity leave. I’m so grateful to have been able to spend some quality time with them and their babes.

I also got to celebrate a very special 5th birthday party, and hang out at markets with my mom and dear friends. Of course, I got to cuddle my precious puppy and have a few tea times with my amazing gran. It really was a “take in everything you love” week. Who knows when we will be able to get back home again. Thank you home, for filling up my love tank!

Goodbye Korea, Again

Just like last time, it wasn’t any easier to leave Korea. We rekindled old friendships, went on more adventures, and settled into Korean life with a great sense of ease and familiarity. korea will always be one of our favourite places in the world. Delicious food, unending adventures and a home away from home. Thank you, and goodbye, SoKo. We’ll see you again, I’m sure of it.

So that was the July Update! Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Augusts where you can see how we settled into our new home and job in Sweden!

South Korea, Travel

Korea 2.0 June Update

Korea 2.0 – June Update

So, our June Update is going to be a quick one. I’m a few weeks behind and for quite a valid reason. Things heated up quickly in June. I mentioned that I was job hunting in last months update, but in reality, I was actually already busy interviewing and crossing all fingers and thumbs and legs and arms or whatever else could be crossed. I was so hesitant to mention anything and didn’t want to jinx it. Anyway, all is well that ends well. But let’s start at the beginning (of the month).

Touch Rugby

Mark had a touch rugby tournament in Busan, his second one since being back in Korea. Thank goodness it was more local. I went along to watch and spent a glorious day in the sunshine, and got to watch them take home to trophy again!

June UpdateJune Update

Then, as thanks for supporting him all day, Mark went away that night on a fishing trip and left me alone haha. (Jokes it’s fine I don’t mind). I got to spend a lovely day with my Bianca having brunch that turned into lunch. We perused the balcony at a gorgeous coffee shop for well over 4 hours! We then spent some time grocery shopping at two different stores! Bliss!

June Update

Ulsan Roadtrip

Hyun Ju, Ha Yeon and I took a trip to Ulsan. The beginning of summer find all sorts of flower festivals popping up everywhere and it’s really just a great time to be outdoors. It was about a two-hour drive but it was fine for a day trip. We went to Daewangam Park for a walk first. It is a smallish nature reserve on the seaside, so think rock paths and coastline walkways. It was pretty nice.

Then we went to the site of a flower festival that had happened the previous week and just had a stroll, took photos, rented a bicycle car thing and had fun.

We had a pit stop at a coffee shop midway, feeling a bit tired from the heat.

And then began our trip home, with a stop for dinner and an ice cream.

June Update

June UpdateJune Update

Yoga Challenge

In June I managed to win our monthly competition in my yoga class (I’m pretty sure it’s just because I am the tallest person and required zero skill). So I won an ice cream cake and shared it with our friends.


One weekend we did an awesome hike. We parked at a temple in Changwon and hiked up to a pretty big and popular peak with ed and bee. To avoid doing the same route down we hiked along the ridge to another peak and tried to find another way down. It was nice. But we ended up crossing bridges, during ropes to scale rock faces and literally sliding down muddy, almost 90° hills. Also, we ended up in Jinhae after 10kms (in 6 hours) of hiking and took a taxi back to our cars in Jinhae. It was such a fun, adventurous and spontaneous day. Loved it.


Besides a few other bits and pieces, the most significant event was the arrival of My bestie! July’s update is basically going to be pictures of us. Be prepared.

Fishing, South Korea

소사소류지 a fishing spot in Ungdong

fishing spot
Catch a nice sunrise when you can’t catch any fish.

Fishing spot sweet fishing spot

Having a fishing spot close to your house is every fisherman’s dream. It means you can go there for an hour or two whenever you have spare time. Having to travel far to get to fishable water really limits the amount of time you can spend actually fishing.

During my first two years in Yongwon (용원) I was lucky enough to have a fishing spot within 15 minutes of my house. It really helped having a car as initially my fishing was limited to one dam that was reachable by bus.

Shattered dreams

On our return to South Korea I was really disappointed to find that this fishing spot was now closed to the public due to construction. On the upside this meant I had to go back into exploring mode to find somewhere to fish!

The search

I spent hours pouring over Google maps and Kakao maps (South Korea’s version of Google maps) searching for those blue spots that indicate dams. I needed a new fishing spot! This lead me to some interesting places in the area. I fought through thickets, traveled on little roads barely wide enough for a car and hiked through rice paddies to see if any of the dams held bass.

Success, somewhat

One of my first outings was a success as I found a little dam and spotted a small bass almost immediately. I fished here a few times but it only ever yielded tiny bass and fishing got progressively worse until i stopped going there. Alas, it was not the fishing spot I was hoping for.

fishing spot

I tried quite a few other little ponds and dams scattered through the area but couldn’t find any that held bass.

fishing spot
Weird little red eyed bass

The holy grail

Finally on a day when I had had enough and was heading home I decided to try one more place. I met a fisherman as I parked my car and established that he was fishing for bass. Success!! Sort of. I hooked a bass on my first cast! Then lost it. Then, not a single bite for an hour! Three more trips at different times and still no fish. I often spotted a few bass cruising around and loads of bluegills. I just couldn’t catch anything!

One fateful morning after waking up late to go fishing with a friend we tried this dam again. I landed a small bass within a few minutes. A short while later I hooked and landed a 40cm bass, which is to date the biggest I’ve caught in Korea this time around.

fishing spot
Tired eyes, happy smile

Since then I’ve been back a few times and usually manage to land one or two fish. Haven’t caught anything decent again but I know they’re in there!! The dam is convenient to fish with easy access from the road. About half of the bank is a cement road and the other half is overgrown wilderness, only for the brave during summer when it is overgrown and teeming with all kinds of insect/bug life. I’ve also spotted a snake whilst fishing. I will definitely be back at this fishing spot a few more times before we leave South Korea again. Where is your favourite fishing spot close to home?

Don’t be fooled by the big dam to the left. It is inside a military base and has some formidable fencing around it. Park on the road under the bridge and walk down to the small dam.

June update
South Korea, Travel

Korea 2.0 May Update

May Update

The second month back in Korea is almost done, hence time for our May Update. This month was a whole lot easier after a salary each and having our own little home so close to the school. I started yoga at the local community gym (which is brand spanking new – they had only begun building it by the time we left last year). I’ve been applying for some jobs, and after a long dry spell of no responses, I’ve slowly started getting an interview here and there. Progress! So please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

First Weekend

We celebrated Marks birthday for most of the weekend (and month actually – the guy is finally learning something from me). We went out for drinks on Friday evening and took our pack of cards with us. Yes, we are those people. We enjoyed a fun night out, chatting and playing cards at two of our favourite bars. On Saturday evening, We went out for dinner with Sunny, her husband and two of his friends. Dinner extended to drinks and fruit platers and pizza. This was followed by the third round of sake and Japanese food. Korean people cannot drink and not eat. I felt like I was about to pop!

May Update


On Monday we had a public holiday, due to children’s day falling on Saturday. We went with Sunny, her mom and sister to go visit her gran in Tongyeong, a group of small islands about an hour and a half away. Her gran lives in the cutest little village – DongPirang. It is a small hillside town, complete with tons of murals and cute cafes. As Teongyeong is a seaside town, naturally there is a fish market. Mark has been really keen to try out Nakji – which is Octopus/ But it is a live octopus that you choose, then it gets chopped up and put in a bowl with sesame oil and soy sauce (or something similar)… Thing is, when it arrives it is still all squirmy and stuff and you have to chew and swallow pretty quickly. Not sure about you but this is something I definitely cannot do.

After the fish market, we walked around Dongpirang and took pictures with all the cute murals. After that, we went back to Sunny’s gran’s house and had some more fruit and snacks and played with Sammy – Sunny’s cat who now lives with her gran. Before heading home, we had a (long) drive around the island before having one last dinner (I feel like we ate all day).  Like every city in Korea, Teongyeong is famous for its own food too. A specific kind of gimbab. It’s plain rice and gim, in small rolls. But with “very delicious” banchan (side dishes) of kimchi and spicy squid and odang. I mean, it wasn’t terrible and it did have its own charm, but nothing to write home about. BUT, because we had nodded in agreement with their exclaims of delight, we got given a whole bag to take home for breakfast, complete with some soup, double bagged in two packets. Yum – soybean soup, rice and seaweed for breakkie.

May Update

Second weekend

The second weekend in May brought a visit from our friend Sam. Sam lives in Suncheon so she grabbed a train after work and headed over to us. We met her at the train station and took her to O’Briens to indulge in some burgers, fries, mozzarella sticks and wings! Despite our town being fairly small – we are lucky to have a fair choice of western food options!

On Saturday Sam and I headed through to Busan to visit Gamcheon Cultural Village. It’s the sweetest little hilly village, filled with brightly coloured houses and cute cafes. Mark hates it, so chose not to come with us. We walked around, taking pictures and enjoying the outdoors (even though the weather turned quite chilly. By then, we decided to head through to Nampodong, our favourite little area in Busan. It is home to the Busan International Film Festival and has such a fun market and all sorts of alleys selling different things. My favourite of these alleys are the second-hand stores and the food street! Mark joined us here where we ate and shopped around before heading back to Jinhae (in the pouring rain). Ed and Bianca met us in Yongwon and we had chicken and beer and spent the evening chilling at our sweet little home (which I think was filled to capacity at 5 people).

May Update

On Sunday Mark went fishing with Son, and Sam and I decided to visit Yeongungsa – a temple on the edge of the water. Due to Buddhas birthday being the following weekend we assumed it would be beautifully decorated with brightly coloured lanterns every… It wasn’t. Even worse, the scaffolding was up all around the temple, in the early phases of decorating, so you couldn’t even enjoy a clean view of it up close. Here are some pictures of it when Mark and I went with Raina before we left Korea last year.

May Update

Third Weekend

Marks, fishing friend Son invited us to join his family and friends for a camping trip up near Jirisan, at Sancheong. We went up on Saturday morning and enjoyed a day of eating, eating and more eating. Thanks to Korea’s great love for technology, I was able to watch the entire royal wedding live stream on Son’s tablet, connected to an external power supply, right around the campfire. On Sunday morning Mark and Son went fishing at a nearby reservoir early in the morning and were back in time for breakfast. We ate three meals before 10:30 am when we decided to leave as they were preparing the fourth. Also, Sunday marked 4 months of being married – what a gosh darn adventure it’s already been!

May Update

Fourth Weekend

Mark left to go fishing with Son in Hapcheon at 7 am and returned at 10 pm. I watched half a season of The Handmaids Tale, had a shower and then watched Jersey Shore Family Vacation, before putting pajamas on and getting into bed. A great day. On Sunday we went to explore a nearby beach to prepare for summer. We arrived to find so much litter, a rocky beach, and millions of those prehistoric-looking cockroaches scurrying everywhere. We went home. Later I went to meet Kim (my old co-worker from Ungdong) in Gimhae for lunch and to meet her baby Jumi. It was so nice to catch up with her, and darn, Jumi is CUTE!!! Gyumi Jumi! (Gyumi means cute).

May Update

From there Mark and I went to Changwon and met up with Ed and Bee. We had an al fresco picnic dinner in the park. Yay for summer coming along (even though we have been avoiding winter since January 2017)!

May Update

Another month down already. I can’t believe that we have been here for two months now. Time is flying.

Lots of love, all around the world xx

april update
South Korea

Korea 2.0 April Update

Monthly Update

april update

So as I mentioned in our 2017 catch up, I would start making these monthly updates public. The last time we were here I made a PDF update every. single. month. for the whole two years. It was like a newspaper with different columns for each activity we did that month, compete with relevant photos. It was kind of the inspiration for our blog too, but a bit more personal and to keep moms, grans and aunties happy! I would just email the PDF document to my family. If you’d like to read those you’ll have to ask my mum. She probably has a flip file with every one of them printed and filed in chronological order! In this way, it’s a memory for us, as well as keeping me writing and something going on the blog regularly. So here it is, our April update!

Month 1 – April 2018

After the visa process taking so long with collecting, certifying and sending off documents, once we actually submitted our passports to the embassy, it took a day and a half. That didn’t give us much time to book flights and say final goodbyes to everyone but we had known we were on our way out so tried to make sure we caught up with people in the weeks before we left. sorry if we didn’t get to see anyone “one more time” – those do add up and eventually we just had no more time.

The Flights

Off we went to the airport with my parents (after a game of Tetris getting our bags and four people into the car). We met Marks parents and sister and brother-in-law and OUR niece and nephew (finally I can call them mine!) and said a quick goodbye. We checked in our luggage (which couldn’t be checked all the way through to our final destination because there were four locations and the luggage tag only supports three! So we had to make the choice of which airport we would like to collect and recheck our luggage. HMMMM. We chose JHB so that we could forget about it in a couple of hours. We are getting much better at goodbyes, that’s for sure. No tears from me this time and barely any from mum (thanks mum) also I turned away a lot sooner and didn’t look back! It may have helped that we were looking forward to our SLOW lounge visit as we had racked up a few from all that credit card spending we had been doing in the USA. So we had the consolation of food, drinks and massages awaiting us after goodbyes.

april update

Arrival in JHB and collecting and rechecking our luggage proved a little difficult. Apparently, Emirates and SAA have different scales so now our one bag was over 23kg. Despite the one weighing only 17kg and only having three bags instead of our allocated 4, we were made to repack the bags. Not fun. But, we made it through. We then had an 8-hour flight to Dubai, followed by a 7-hour flight to Hong Kong, followed by a 3-hour flight to Busan, our final destination.

april update

Pick Up

Marks old co-worker and friend (also our new boss), Sunny, and her husband came to collect us at 7am and take us to our accommodation. We didn’t get too much sleep on each flight (probably about 3 or 4 hours on the leg to Dubai) so by the time we arrived we were pretty zonked. Let me just tell you, this flight route to Korea is insane. The jetlag is insane and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Almost three weeks down the line, I still am battling to get to sleep and literally can not pull my eyes apart in the morning.

First on our agenda was a nap which left us feeling more like zombies than before. We had to go to school that day, but luckily just to get our schedules and get oriented. We went back home and decided to take a walk to the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival (Jinhae Gunhanje Festival) that had just started. Mark is not a fan, as the pollen really aggravates his allergies as well as the crowds of people at Korean festivals.

april update april update

Home, Sweet Home

We stayed in our friend Bianca’s apartment in Jinhae (she doesn’t use her apartment as she stays with her fiance). It was such a godsend for us as it meant already having a place to stay and all the things we’d need initially which takes a huge strain off moving to a new place. However, the apartment was about a 55minute bus ride from our academy, which meant spending 2 hours on public transport a day. It also only had a single bed, which we managed with for almost three weeks (thank goodness it was cold). So we began the hunt for an apartment closer to work!

Our new home is 265m from work and travel to work takes approximately 3minutes on foot. It’s such a huge convenience. With our work schedule being pretty irregular (we have an hour or two hour long breaks between classes sometimes) it’s such a pleasure to be able to come home and do stuff (like cook dinner on those days we work till 8 pm). Korean apartments are pretty small. Last time we just had a one-room each, equivalent to a bachelor flat – no separate living and sleeping area. This time, however, we have a two-room! Which means a bedroom and a living room! It makes all the difference in the world to our productivity and getting a good nights sleep! Speaking of a good nights sleep…we ordered our new mattress a few days too late, so when we moved in last Friday we were bedless until It finally arrived on Wednesday night! Also, now we have a living area so more place to host guests! Get on over here – spaces are limited!

april update

Weekend 1

The first weekend back, still jetlagged and me holding onto a nice big cold, we borrowed Sunnys car and headed off to Yeosu for the weekend. You may remember our friends Stephanie and Ryan from Hedgers Abroad who did our engagement shoot? They were packing up and about to head back to the USA for some travels at the end of April. We squeezed in one last reunion with them and Sam from There She Goes Again. It was great hanging out and playing games with everyone. Sam also couldn’t stay away from Korea and found herself back here after leaving for a little while. There’s just something about Korea it seems, that keeps you coming back for more.

April Update

We left early Sunday morning as our friends were heading to the Hwagae blossom festival. We were done with blossoms, pollen and pollution. I had absolutely no voice after playing cards and laughing and chatting ’till well past midnight. We got to have a rest and tidy up before meeting my old co-worker HyunJu and her daughter HaYeon for lunch and coffee. It felt like no time had passed since I last saw her in New York in June.

april update

Weekend 2

Our second weekend back, We headed to Seoul. Mark had seen that there was a touch rugby tournament happening with his old team and couldn’t resist taking part. Of course, I went along – our friends have a super lovable golden retriever who I can’t resist. Our friends also love board games just as much as we do!

april update

It was a pretty chilly, rainy day outside, along the Han River. I ended up doing the timekeeping for their games. marls team – Up&Go won the premier division of the tournament so that was great. It also meant bar tabs and a festive afterparty at Noksapyeongs Hidden Cellar. On Sunday we met up with another of Marks old coworkers, who now lives in Seoul. You may remember I went to her wedding (Mark missed it as he had curriculum training that finished late). We had lunch, met her baby and headed back to the bus terminal for our 5-hour trip back home.

april update

Weekend 3

Our third weekend was spent moving into our apartment. It took us two trips from Bianca’s house to our new place in Yongwon to move everything across. Ed and Bee came over for chicken, beer and card games to warm up our new home. The weekend was mostly spent settling in and nesting in our little home.

april update

On Sunday we went for a hike on a small island ten minutes from home. The island was called Gadokdo and we hiked a 5km loop up Cheongseongsan, down and around. It was a pretty overcast and dusty day so the views weren’t great. We should have been able to see water in every direction. We managed to get a slight glimpse of the giant bridge going to Geoje Island.

april update april update

Our fourth weekend was spent hanging on ’till payday! We went to Trivia at Next on Friday evening and spent Saturday doing things around the house. On Sunday Ed and Mark went fishing and Bianca and I went for a hike/walk around Yongwon. On Sunday afternoon we went to Sunny’s house for lunch as it was her husbands birthday. Sunday evenings are for scary movies!


See ya next month!


Fishing, South Korea

Irrigation Dam/Tank

irrigation tank

Irrigation tank aka “The Secret Spot”

This irrigation tank has been an incredible and strange spot to fish. Not sure if it’s even allowed but there are no “no-fishing” signs and nobody has complained. But to be safe I won’t be sharing this location. 
I have seen lots similar irrigation tanks along all the big rivers in South Korea and I presume they just siphon water from the river and then let it flow into irrigation channels which the local farmers use for their crops. Bass and other fish obviously get trapped in there and it becomes an ideal spot for them to breed and grow! They are usually a good spot to try if you’re looking for somewhere new.


irrigation tank

Trying our luck

Son (my Korean friend) and I drove past the irrigation tank one day on the way to Hapcheon. He said he had always wanted to try this place so suggested that we do just that. We had already tried a random river along the way where he caught a crucian carp on his first cast, so his luck was in. 

Fish on

It wasn’t long till he hooked a fish in the irrigation tank and it turned out to be a 40cm plus bass. Needless to say, we spent quite a bit of time here after that. The day wasn’t so great for me as I hooked and lost a few fish in the thick weeds, I was fishing with mono and it just wasn’t up to the task. 

Gear upgrade

Later Son lent me his spare rod with braid and things looked up! I hooked a decent size bass which we lost trying to pull it up the wall!! I did land a few in the irrigation tank though and most were top water strikes which are just super exciting. 

We even caught fish in a narrow channel that was about 1,5m wide and water about 0,5m deep, covered in weeds.

irrigation tank


Perfect spot for lunch

By this stage our lunches had also evolved from cup noodles to barbecues in the shade with a few beers to wash it down. These really improved the mood as the days were getting hotter and more humid as summer took hold. The area next to the irrigation tank was nice and level and a great spot to set up.

irrigation tank

Record fish

We have since been back there a few times and I have caught my two record bass in Korea there as well as a number of other bass. The fishing conditions will vary as the seasons change. The amount of weed growth by the end of summer nearly covers the whole body of water.

irrigation tank


irrigation tank


The fish at the end of this video are a type of carnivorous carp called 강준치 (Gangchunchi). They are abundant in the river systems here in South Korea. Most fisherman are annoyed by them and I’ve seen many left to die on the river banks after being caught. They are not the most fun to target as they have very small mouths and although very aggressive its difficult to get them hooked. They also just go limp after being hooked. Not an ounce of fight in them.

Korea, life in korea, South Korea, thelazyfisherman

Christmas in Korea

Being away from family on Christmas is not always easy. I get this intense fear of missing out on all the family events (and all the food) going on at home. Korea doesn’t really celebrate Christmas (even Christian families) in the whole festiveness of it all. You’ll find the odd Christmas tree and lights in certain areas and in some shopping malls, but generally, people work right up to and straight after Christmas. It’s so strange, but it makes me not really miss home and family, because it doesn’t even feel like Christmas!!

Christmas in Korea

But of course, we didn’t let this stop us from celebrating and celebrating well!! This is how we did Christmas in Korea!

Nampo-dong, Busan

Nampo-dong is home to a street market that takes place throughout the year. It houses our favourite (roads of) thrift shops (where we managed to find great ugly Christmas sweaters), as well as our favourite carts of street food (cart 63 is our go-to for mandu and pajeon for just W5000). It always has a festive atmosphere with crowds of people wandering around enjoying what it has to offer. In December it gets dolled up with lights and a giant LED christmas tree along the main stretch. This was enought to put me in a holly jolly mood for a little while. Streets too cold at night? Nothing some Scotch Blue Pocket can’t fix for you!

christmas in korea, christmas, south korea, expat, busan
christmas in korea, christmas, south korea, expat, busan
christmas in korea, christmas, south korea, expat, busan

Friendsmas Eve Dinner

Grab a bunch of friends, organise a pot luck dinner, everybody bring some food. Eat, eat some more, exchange Dirty Santa gifts, eat again, this time in excess, all while drinking mugs of mulled wine. Right after dinner, take some group pics and enjoy home made Baileys with coffee, cookies and pumpkin loaf. Follow this with fun group games and end by falling asleep on the couch and (warm ondol) floor while listening to random Christmas carol renditions via YouTube.
christmas in korea, christmas, south korea, expat
Thanks to Hedgers Abroad for the group snap!

Christmas Day Lunch

As if we didn’t eat enough the entire day before Christmas, this was our chance to do it all again. We had a delicious roast meal, with mulled wine, Korean wine, Christmas carols, Christmas movies. We even had real Christmas pudding (complete with the brandy and the flame) thanks to Ed’s family in the UK.  Bianca (baker extraordinaire) had some home made gingerbread men waiting for us and made some fresh mince pies with our tea after desert! Our Korean friend HyoJeong joined us too and experienced her first Christmas meal! What a mix of Christmas traditions, but so super special.

christmas in korea, christmas, south korea, expat
christmas in korea, christmas, south korea, expat

Christmas Themed English Camp

Since Christmas in Korea isn’t celebrated the way we are used to, I decided to theme one day of our winter camp around Christmas and let the students hear about how I (and some other western countries) get into the festive spirit. I taught them some Christmas vocabulary, showed some pictures of some decorated houses and made a Christmas wreath out of some super cool ball clay. After that we watched “Shrek the Halls” and then played Go Fish using Christmas vocab cards while listening to all my favourite Christmas Carols!

christmas in korea, christmas, south korea, expat, english teacher, winter camp

christmas in korea, christmas, south korea, expat, winter camp, english teacher

How do you celebrate Christmas? What’s your favourite holiday tradition? Do you find it difficult being away from home and family during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below! 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! With love, the Scroobletts xxx
Korea, life in korea, nature, outdoors, South Korea

Jirisan National Park – A Surprise Winter Wonderland

Jirisan National Park

Right at the end of November we planned a trip to Jirisan National Park. We had been before, doing a small hike to Ssangyesa Temple, but this time we went to a different part of the Park, to Nogodan Peak. My co-teacher had recommended it as an easy, yet pretty walk. One that was easy enough for her daughter to tag along too, without (too much) complaining.
We had hoped that there would still be some pretty, colourful leaves around (the “hike” is popular for this), but understood that it might be a little too late in the season and therefore may be greeted with bare trees and a dull landscape. Well boy were we surprised, and in for a treat!

Dangerous Roads

We arrived at the park entrance, only to be turned around, due to icy roads and bad conditions up ahead. We waited on the side of the road for Hyun Ju. As it turns out, they were only letting four wheel drive cars in – she totally misunderstood that one and reassured the guards that her car did in fact have four wheels and that we were aware of the bad road conditions (we have all had a good chuckle over this since! Can you imagine our little blue Matiz being a four-wheel drive haha).

Snow Much Fun

I was getting giddy with excitement at the odd patches of ice and snow on the side of the winding mountain road. We parked in a lot where a sign board had been placed to warn of snow on the road ahead. It was a 20 minute walk up to the actual car park, and entrance to the trail for Nogodan Peak. We quickly added an extra layer of clothing after feeling the wind race around us.

Walking up the road, we giggled profusely as we slipped around on the melted snow. We wondered how on earth we were going to manage this walk up! It got a little better, with much thicker snow and by now my excitement was all there! Clapping hands and stomping my feet I couldn’t contain it. Hailing from Durban, South Africa, snow is still a super exciting and novel thing, especially when its real snow and a SURPRISE!!!  So commenced the snowball fights (or more like snowballs to the bum from HaYeon) and the kids gloves were soaked before we even got to the trail head!

Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea
Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea

Jirisan National Park, winter, South KoreaJirisan National Park, winter, South KoreaWinter Wonderland

The actual walk was so beautiful. It wound along a little road that was completely covered in soft, fluffy, fresh white snow! I couldn’t stop ooohing and aaahing and saying how beautiful and magical and wonderful it all was! Despite the snow, we were blessed with fairly “warm” weather and beautiful blue skies. The walk to the shelter just before the peak took us a little longer than expected (due to many picture stops and the kids building snowmen at every opportunity). We were rewarded with great views and some wonderful soft white snowy areas to make some snow angels. We sat down to have our little picnic of peanuts and chocopies. Some very kind men next to us gave us one of their cup noodles to share! We love experiencing this Korean kindness!

Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea
Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea

Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea

Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea

We didn’t make it to the actual peak after having our picnic – the children were cold and tired. Mark and I also wanted to get going at a reasonable time. A 3 hour trip back home on a Sunday evening isn’t the best. In saying that, it is still an easy hike with great views and a great trail. We walked a total of 9,5kms (including the extra walk from the bottom car park) and it took us 4 hours (all that photo taking and snow frolicking). The entrance to the park was W3000 per person. We had such an enjoyable day, and we would highly recommend it to anyone! It was really great to see another part of Jirisan and experience it in a completely opposite season too!

Jirisan National Park, winter, South Korea
Fall, Korea, life in korea, National Parks, nature, seasons, South Korea, thelazyfisherman

Seoraksan National Park

Korea has an abundance of many things, mountains and National Parks are near the top of that list. What better place to show of your latest hiking gear in seasonal colors than hiking a mountain inside a national park? Or, if like us, you don’t have matching couples hiking gear and when you’re keen to head up a mountain you just wear whatever is handy and go. This often brings a few stares and questions like: are you going to be warm enough, cool enough and possibly some variations of are you seriously going up the mountain in that? Maybe they were just laughing at my skinny legs?

Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan is one of the better known parks and boasts an impressive number of trails to suit all abilities as well as a cable car if you really just want some nice views and no effort. We have been to Seoraksan twice, once in Spring and once in Autumn. I feel like each time we went, we were visiting a different park. The park also obviously boasts a temple (can’t turn around in Korea without seeing one of these), the largest, (seated, bronze) Buddha in the world and some impressive grounds and statues before you even get to the actual hiking.


Seoraksan in the Fall

Our second visit to the park was during Autumn and the main reason was the see the foliage in all it’s splendor. We were not disappointed. This time around we chose a shorter hike up to a cave that housed a temple (of course) as well as a monk who lived up there! The hike started  off as a pleasant walk through the forest with lots of leaves to oooh and aaah at. Things get a bit more rough underfoot as the trail goes along a river, which was quite impressive, there had been a lot of rain and it was in full flow. The rushing water provided a great soundtrack to our hike. After this things got a bit more serious as we started to climb. The trail goes past Biseondae, a rock which has some Korean folklore attached to it. After this you head straight up to the cave housing the temple. The view from up here is breathtaking and on a quiet day the monk will even brew you a cup of tea.

Cable Car

This is very well managed and you can buy tickets ahead of time for a specific time that day. This means you don’t have to wait in line for ages. Once you reach the top there are a few look out points and another short trail that goes even further up. Take this trail. It’s worth it. The trail goes to the peak itself, which unlike most viewpoints in Korea has no railings or platforms. Most people just scramble up the steep mountain side to see how high they can get too take the most impressive photo. Unfortunately for us it had been a rainy weekend and there were lots of clouds about when we got to the top.

If you’re looking for a park to visit in Korea definitely add this one to your list. It is also very close to Sokcho which has nice beaches and is easily reached by public transport. When we visited in the Spring we took a bus from Busan to Sokcho (it was long and torturous). This time, however, we visited Seoraksan National Park on Day 2 of our trip with Enjoy Korea (on Day 1 we had visited The DMZ and the 4th infiltration tunnel).

We don’t often travel with tour groups, but for something this far and action packed, sometimes it’d just easier. How do you prefer to travel – group tours or on your own?