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A journey of a 1000 miles must begin with a step.

Welcome to Katie's Travel Page. Here is where I will be keeping a record of my travels for all of you to read. Through pictures and short descriptions I hope to take you on the adventures with me. Please feel free to leave a comment. :)

Diary Entries

Tuesday, 07 September 2010

So long South Korea, so long.

We have left Korea and landed in Hanoi, Vietnam to start the next travelling adventure.

"Cover the earth, before it covers you." - Wall of 365 Hostel Beijing

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Location: Korea (South)

As my final reflection on my one year stay in South Korea I have decided to make two lists. The first and shorter of the two will be the things that I will not miss about this country. After, to end on a happy note because I have truly enjoyed my time here will be the longer list of things that I will most definitely miss about this country. (In no particular order)

The "I will not miss..."
- The horking. The loud, drawn from deep within the nasal cavity hoking that is done outside, in elevators and subway stations by both men and women. Gross.
- The elbow thrusting, shoulder dropping, "I will run you over with my cart" Ajummas (elderly ladies). Do not get in their way.
- The smell. My nostrils will not miss the offensive smells that sneak up out of nowhere.
- Pickles with pizza. What are you thinking? Not to mention that they are sweet pickles.
- Students slamming doors, being demanding, sprinting in the hallway. Somebody tame them!
- The lack of organization, communication and consistency within the school (classes and curriculum)

The " I will miss..."
- No tipping! The waitress will run after you and return your change if you have left behind the equivalent of 50 cents.
- Korean socks! I always love new socks. So cheap, so cute.
- Transportation. Every day convenience as well as weekend travel on a luxury bus. You can get across the country in a lazy-boy for under 30 dollars.
- Customer service.The greetings and smiles that you get when you enter a store. These greetings range from a loud "annyonghaseo" to a small dance, in costume and a song from a microphone. I also can't complain about the "service" which is free stuff that they give you for making a purchase.
- Korean food. You can check out my album for some pictures.
- Cheap shopping.
- Cheap taxis. The drivers may be weaving between lanes, on their cell phones, hitting their GPS or watching the craziest Korean game show on TV while they drive...but they get you there and it's cheap!
- Feeling like a celebrity. "HELLO KT TEACHER!" :) "You so pretty. I love you."
- No liquor rules. It's in the convenience store, the supermarket and...juice boxes! They don't have many public restrictions either. A beverage in the park? Okay.
- Feeling safe. Where's my purse? Ah, way down there...and open...no biggie.
- What to do this weekend? There is always a day trip, mountain to hike, friend to visit, baseball game to watch.
- The baseball games. Bring your noise makers, your own drinks and food, admire the cheerleaders and follow along as the fan section cheers for the entire game!
- My "ladies". Oh, how I will miss these gals. The Lady with the shiny headband that always smiles, the Lady that works in the restaurant, the Lady that knows my scone order at Tous les Jour, the Lady that smiles at me on the morning bus and my fav - the Lady that bows to me every morning at school and giggles when she tries to say hello in English.
- Kimchi. That's right, I said it.

It goes without saying that the friends that we have made here will be missed dearly. Our regular Canadian crew, the arts center bench posse, the Yeonsu buddies, the students, and my coteacher/Korean sister Julie have made my year in the ROK an unforgettable one.

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." A.A. Milne

Friday, 27 August 2010

Location: Korea (South)

Last Sunday I played my last game with the ladies of Seoul RMT FC soccer team. I have had a great time getting to know my teammates, trainers, manager, fans and coach Phil. The team is made up of foreigners from all over the world and we play Korean teams. It was truly a unique opportunity to play Korean teams and to experience a different part of the culture. After all games we would take our picture with the opponent and usually have a lunch to show our gratitude. We are not part of a league yet so we appreciated all teams that were able to take time out of their school league, recreational league and others. We even took on a men's team!

I had a great time and I'm so fortunate that I was able to continue playing soccer during my year abroad. Thank you so much ladies for all the games and laughs! I hope to see some of you again on home soil or perhaps our paths may cross during our future travels.

All the best as you take on the second half of the season!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Location: Korea (South)

Boryeong Mud Festival 2010.

Last weekend we headed out of Incheon by bus and went south to Daecheon beach in Boryeong. Our goal? Get muddy at the 13th annual Mud Festival. For this event they bring in truck loads of mud that is said to be rich in minerals and great for your skin.

At the festival there were thousands of other guests dressed in bathing suits and ready with waterproof cameras to take the plunge into the mud. The options were endless when you finally made the decision to "get muddy buddy!" They had mud painting, mud sculptures, mud wrestling, mud buckets, mud prison, mud slides, mud obstacles, mud hoses and more!

The festival is held on the main strip beside the beach. The easy access to the water was useful for a quick rinse. Our friend's band called "The Noise" took the stage on the beach and played a crowd pleasing set on Saturday afternoon.

It was a wonderful weekend. We watched fireworks, made friends enjoyed barbecue, swam, and even got in some sun bathing when the sun decided to come out on Sunday.

Boryeong Mud Festival, CHECK! Six more weeks in South Korea and I'm still getting through my 'to do' list. :)

Monday, 28 June 2010

Location: Korea (South)

World cup dreams for the South Korea Taeguk Warriors has ended. They were successful in advancing to the knock out round (16) but they were defeated by Uruguay 2-1. The Korean team out played Uruguay and were arguably the better team. However, it is the goals that count and Uruguay finished up by 1.

We gathered at Seoul city hall to watch the game with thousands of supporters. Watching the World Cup here in South Korea has been a wonderful experience. Koreans truly know how to support their country.

I was able to watch the games in number of different locations:
- South Korea vs. Greece - at Seoul City Plaza.
- South Korea vs. Argentina - at Munhak Stadium. In the city of Incheon they opened the stadium doors for all of the fans to watch on the big screens.
- South Korea vs. Nigeria was aired here in SK at 3:30am on a work night. So, I set my alarm and watched this one from my bed. I opened all of my windows and could here cheering from the local bars. The time difference did not stop the Korean supporters.

Most recently, Korea vs. Uruguay back at Seoul city hall. I became a true fan of the South Korean team. I went to every game with a crew of faithful wayguk supporters. We had a great time! The South Koreans had a good run and they have a promising future in soccer. It truly broke my heart when I saw how upset the Koreans were after the game. The were amazing supporters and they made this World Cup the most memorable one for me so far!

대한민국! Daehan-minguk!
(The Korean term for South Korea)
Make sure you check out the pictures!

Friday, 04 June 2010

Location: Korea (South)

Perhaps Seoul had a change of heart? Maybe there is hope for reunification rather than confrontation.

Article from the Korean Times reporting "Is Seoul softening stance on Pyongyang?" I agree with Moscow and Beijing, it would be best to keep peace on the Korean Peninsula.

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/201...

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Location: Seoul, Korea (South)

We finally did it. We made the trip to the DMZ. The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. It was a strange feeling to pass from busy Seoul into wide open land with with armed watch towers and tall fences covered in barbed wire. We learned that many families have been torn apart and are now unable to properly communicate. They had a ceremonial bell that they ring in hopes that surviving family in the north will hear it and those that have passed on will be honored in this way.

I learned a lot about North Korea. I found myself feeling sorry for people that live there and I wish there was a way to know what life is really like for them. The communist state is a one-man dictatorship, ruled by Kim Jong Il. In a country of 23 million people they currently have 1 million members in the military. They gave us the comparison that China has a population of more than 1 billion and they have under 3 million in their military. North Korea enforces universal conscription. For men a mandatory 10 years of military service and 7 years for women.

I do not consider myself educated enough on the idea of reunification to make a statement. I do hope that the current conflict settles down over time. After seeing the wishes of family members and messages hung on a fence because that is as close as they can get, it is hard to not to wish for peace and unification.

I created a photo album of the photos I was allowed to take. They have strict rules on photos and attire. I really was a different experience. North Korea is trying hard to keep the outside world - on the outside.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Location: Beijing, China

May has arrived! Nilan and I combined our Korean holidays with an extra day and took off to Beijing for five days. We were able to meet up with my friend Laurie to welcome her and her boyfriend Roman to their new home for a year of teaching! They spent two nights with us and then headed off to their new home in Daqing.

We stayed at a hostel in the Qin Men area. We were very close to a number of tourist attractions and the subway. We only had five days and it was a whirlwind tour of Beijing! We were busy but it was a great opportunity. They have done an excellent job of preserving political and cultural aspects of Chinese history.

The details of the trip are best described through pictures.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Location: Korea (South)

Cherry blossom season in Korea has come and gone. The trees were beautiful when they were in bloom. They helped brighten up the dirty smelly streets of Incheon! We went to the Cherry Blossom festival in Seoul.

Last weekend we went to Mokpo to visit our friends Erin and Jon. Mokpo is in the south and it took 4 hours on a very comfy bus to get there. They were wonderful hosts!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Location: Korea (South)

Hello friends! I never thought I would have a blog because I don't like writing. Six months in South Korea and I have caved, I will try this out as a more in-depth description of my adventures.

I will start with our most recent trip to Japan. February 13th we decided to leave Korea for our Lunar New Year holidays and travel to Japan. My boyfriend Nilan and friends Sabrina, Taylor, Jared and Jordan were with me for the adventure.

Trip description: (If you don't enjoy reading I won't be offended if you skip right to the pictures!)

Day 1 - Asakusa, Tokyo. In this area we were unable to find any nightlife entertainment but we were pleasantly surprised by the daytime tourist attractions. We found traditional lanterns, temples, pagodas and a never ending stretch of souvenirs! We took an overnight bus to Kyoto to save some money.

Day 2 & 3 - Gion, Kyoto. Kyoto is the former capital of Japan and is one of the major cities that avoided physical damage from the atomic bomb during WWII. As a result, Kyoto has many pre-war buildings with original architecture with important traditional significance. We visited a tea house, castle, sushi trains and a variety of temples. Back on the overnight bus!

Day 4 through 9 were spent exploring Tokyo from our home base in the Shinjuku area. Tokyo had a much different atmosphere than Kyoto. Everything was fast paced, the subway system was complex, and there were huge buildings complete with designer names and flashing lights. The pictures will better explain but we went to a Sumo museum, shopping in Shibuya, exploring Shinjuku, admired the fashion district of Harajuku, and checked out the nightlife in Rappongi and Shibuya. We met some Australians, Germans and Americans in our hostel and had a great time sharing stories and Japanese beer.

I absolutely loved Japan. The city was remarkably clean and the people were overly friendly and helpful. The biggest downfall is the expensive living it has to offer. We were over our budgets and ready to get back to cheap living in Korea!


Photos - Click Below

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