Two Weddings and a Festival

Where to begin?! So very very behind because we’ve been so busy doing things it hasn’t left any time to write about them! There is a lot to tell so I’ll try and keep each thing brief but informative.

I’ll start with the weddings. I went to 2 in as many weeks and even though what I witnessed was the “Western ceremony”, it was quite different to what I know of weddings back home. The first of the two was Dave’s principle’s son’s, and the second, which Dave didn’t attend, was my co-teacher’s (the woman at school who is in charge of looking after me). I already tried writing this briefly and it didn’t work so I’m going to have to write in bullet points – I’ll just mention the things that were…different…
    Wedding 1: In the foyer there were 5 or 6 big prints of the bride and groom, all very posed and airbrushed, some wearing wedding outfits, others looking casual in jeans, matching t-shirts and geeky glasses. I thought it was pretty cheesy but the photos were well done and Dave seemed to like the concept.
    Before each wedding started, the bride was perched on a throne in a small room, smiling, scared to move in case her makeup fell off, and being gawked at by all the guests. But they were sights to behold. Total Disney princesses, complete with tiaras!
    Wedding 1: There was a long catwalk down the middle of the wedding hall.
    Wedding 1: The bride walked down said catwalk to what can only be described as the standard wedding tune (dun-dun-du-duuun…) but with some strange kind of electro-dub-KPOP-“put-a-donk-on-it” thing happening in the background.
    A large number of guests waited outside the hall and didn’t watch the ceremony at all.
    All the guests talked throughout the whole thing.
    At both weddings, the groom serenaded the bride with some kind of cheesy ballad.
    Wedding 1: The groom had to prove his strength for the honeymoon by doing press-ups on the catwalk…in his tux.
    He then took his shoe off and ran around the room with it for people to put money in.
    Most people only seemed to be there for the free food. Ok that’s not so different.
    It turns out my co-teacher was 3 months pregnant on her wedding day! Luckily for her she didn’t start to show until a couple of weeks later…
    Wedding 1: We gave a gift of about 30,000 (pretty cheap of us) and were given 10,000 back because we weren’t going for the meal after…even though we did! Oops!
    Wedding 1: All the guests were dressed in dark wintry colours, unlike me who rocked up in a bright orange dress! And they were all dressed really casually, which was lucky for Dave who decided to sport the David Tennant suit-and-trainers ensemble.

Well as you can imagine with all the romance of the weddings and the joy of 2 free lunches, Dave and I were in search of more lovey-dovey activities to fill the glorious spring weekends. So our next stop was Jinhae, home of The World’s Best Blossom Festival (aka Korea’s best). As they say, a picture can show things with images much better than I can write them with words so here is a little sample of what we saw…

Obligatory cheesy picture

Nice blossom picture

Us and some blossom

Dave, Alicia and Chris.
Attempt at an Abbey Road style blossom picture
but Dave just looks "special"

Statue on the way to the navy base.

The day was lovely and we even got to see Korea’s biggest naval base…which involved an hour long walk along a road that was like something out of Scooby Doo – you know, when they are running down a corridor and pass the same vase 5 times? Well it was like that but with trees and driveways and the occasional sailor – anyway we got to the end of the road and hopped on a bus to head back, which ended up taking us through the base. But it wasn't very interesting anyway. It didn't spoil the day though because we got to walk and hold hands and look at blossom and take cheesy photos and even the smell of silkworms couldn't take the magic away.

Note: Silkworms have become my least favourite smell in the world (not just Korea) and I don’t understand why they have to be sold everywhere when I never even see anyone eating them!!!!

RIP Vans

...But long live the random vans.
This will be my last post on vans, I promise, so prepare yourself suitably. I’ve been taking lots of photos of vans and I’ve been getting lots of strange looks and experiencing lots of strange smells. Everything that has a beginning has an end, and if you remember, at the beginning I promised you the crème de la crème of vans, the Supervan if you will. Now it’s the end, here comes the cherry, on the icing, on the cake, on the hooker’s stomach. The Royal wedding was nothing, this is where the excitement begins...
No, this is not the supreme van you all crave for. This is the handyman van. Need an odd job done, then call this guy and he’ll come whizzing around the corner and cut you a key, fix your piping, replace your water pump. All from within his van - he has power tools and everything all hooked up.
This is the shade van. Koreans hate the sun as much as I do and often need to escape from its cancerous rays so they have vans which will provide you with cover when the sun is brightest. Don’t expect to use this at midday unless you get a ticket from the ticket van.
This is the nap van where you can catch 40 winks on a smelly mattress. Also known as the shag van... or clap van.

You had the flower pot men, now you have the flower pot van!
Picture this scene: You are late and it’s your anniversary and you have bought nothing. Well the flower pot van will save the day. You are meeting someone you hate who has hay fever. The flower man comes in handy again. You just ran over and killed someone in your car. Don’t worry, the flower van will not only provide the flowers, but also the sticky tape to attach them to the bloodstained lamppost.

So you have a cold or you think your new girlfriend may be a witch? No problem; the herbal remedy van will sort you out.

And now, the moment that you’ve all been waiting for. It’s the big daddy, the el padrino, the Supervan van.. Picture yourself on a sunny day walking down your local street and you realise you’re a little peckish... Well, fear not because the crème de la crab van is here.

No, not the venereal disease crabs but the friendly face hugging crustacean! Imagine this parked up on Oxford Street: “Crabs for sale, get your crabs love!” I ask this question to any Korean out there: “When are you ever in need of a crab as a snack?” It’s the most inconvenient snack food ever; you have legs, you have shells, you have claws! From the country that sells the convenient jenga drink-snack, I deplore the complexities of the crab snack!

Well the vans are “pinishedee” (finished) as my students would say. Join us again soon when we’ll update you about more weekend funtivities and we’ll (yes, I’m still here!) be starting a new feature soon.

There is life after vans.

The snack vans are dead...

Long live the clothing van. It’s been all about the land fish van, the herb van and the protein wet dream van. Now this week, we are going to explore the clothing van. I find these incredibly helpful as you never know when you might need a spare t-shirt on those hot sticky summer days.
We’ve all had the bad dream where we’ve been walking somewhere and suddenly realised that we are naked and need to cover our shame. Fear not people! Because in Korea, they are so frightened by this very concept, they have decided to place vans that sell everything you would need to cover up your wobbly bits. For instance the t-shirt van will hide those manboobs you have from eating all those fried snacks and chicken feet.
The sock van will not only help protect your feet but also provides you with a vital aid for a man when he needs to cover up his dangly bits.
This van not only provides socks but tights. For all you wannabe superheroes and Robin Hood impersonators out there, Korea is the country for you! Imagine Clark Kent leaving the house without his Superman outfit, well he could just buy some more tights and make a makeshift superhero outfit. Actually that’s just stupid; he can easily fly home at super speed and get his own costume – so why does the tights van exist?
The cap van that buzzes around town sure is cool. I think he should also sell sunglasses but maybe I’m just crazy – you’ve got a market, stick to it. It’s a shame he doesn’t do the Robin Hood style hats cos then, with the tights, you could really complete the Kevin Costner Prince of Thieves look when you have forgotten an outfit to the fancy dress party. Note to self: Stop mentioning Kevin Costner in the blog.

Well after this van, I’m starting to think if I did wonder the streets naked and could only wear what I found in van, I would be getting closer and closer to becoming a drag queen. Fully fitted with tights, head bands, earrings, and necklaces – Me and Eddie Izzard would be ready to hit the town.
If all else did fail, I guess you could always wrap yourself up in seaweed.
See you soon...

Happy Birthblog!

As some of you may know, Sunday was my birthday. Sadly, while those of you back home have been enjoying consecutive 4-day weekends, here in Korea we haven’t had so much as a Bank Holiday Monday! This didn’t stop me from having a lovely weekend though, which I will tell you all about now.

The birthday treats started on Saturday night. David and his friend Dan (who came to visit for 10 days) met me at a bar and David, being the sweetie that he is (LOL!) gave me my first birthday treat. It was the cutest muffin I have ever seen and it was pretty darn tasty too! What a lovely surprise J

The next day was really sunny and warm, as it always is on my birthday. Even when I’m halfway round the world, Mr Weatherman keeps the tradition alive. The first part of the plan was to go to the aquarium with a few friends. Seeing as it is actually located on the beach, Dave and I took the opportunity to have a little picnic and enjoy the sun before meeting everyone for the fishtivities. But before we bought our tickets, Dave had another surprise in store – another cake! But this time it wasn’t a panda, or even technically a cake. It was a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake!
Well this was a first for both of us and I’ll tell you now, it didn’t disappoint. Cherry and vanilla ice cream with chocolate-hazelnut frosting and they even threw in free candles! As delicious as it was, Dave’s favourite part wasn’t actually the ice cream…the cake was given to us in a polystyrene box and to keep it cold, there was a small bag of dry ice taped inside. So of course, as soon as we had devoured the cake we hunted down the first body of water we could find! Since we were a mixed-sex group, a toilet wasn’t a good choice and as much as Pete wanted to take it into the aquarium, we opted for a drain instead. The result was reminiscent of one of my favourite scenes from The Labyrinth…no not Bowie’s bulge! I was thinking of The Bog of Eternal Stench! It didn’t smell, but it was bubbling and smoking (or steaming?) and the bits of leaves and crap floating in the water just added to the effect. So we stood and watched it for far longer than anyone should ever stare at a drain, and then headed to the aquarium.
I was so very very excited about the aquarium, much to Dave’s annoyance. But it was my birthday so he couldn’t complain (in theory). It was a fun couple of hours, although it wasn’t really any more impressive than any other aquarium I’ve been to. But there were a couple of things I hadn’t seen before, including a sun fish, which they were mad about and had a whole section devoted to! It was a weird looking fellow and actually seemed quite pathetic, using all it’s energy just to stay afloat, just a couple of inches above the bottom of the tank…Poor Mola Mola…One very cool thing, that I didn’t partake in, is that you can scuba-suit-up and for a mere 70,000won (about 35 quid) you can get in the coral reef tank with loads of fish and a couple of zebra sharks! Oh and by the exit there was a car that had been converted into a fish tank…we were all very tempted to try the door handle but managed to resist.
Ok so once the 7 of us had had enough of the aquatainment, we headed back to the beach to do some people watching and have some magoli (Korean rice wine, it’s delish!). A couple of other friends came to join us and then we headed to the restaurant to meet everyone else for dinner. I chose an Indian restaurant by the beach that had been recommended by several people, and it didn’t disappoint. The portions were a bit on the small side but there was a good variety and it tasted just right. Dave got everyone to chip in for my meal which was nice, and then I headed home for a much deserved (football-free) early night.

Although that was the end of my birthday, it wasn’t the end of my birthday fun! Yesterday Dave game me my present – tickets to see a dance as part of the Busan International Performing Arts Festival. I’ll put the link to the performance here ( so the likes of Hazel can read more but basically it was called “Passivity and Headache” and consisted of 2 dances – the first being about the strong and weak in society, and the second being about God, with relation to the disaster in Haiti. They were both really good and I was very impressed with the dancing but we both preferred the first one. When it started, it looked like there were 4 people on stage but after about 3 or 4 minutes we realised there were only 3 people, and one life-sized doll! They made the doll walk and dance and it was really freaky but dead interesting. Then after the show we had dinner (teriyaki chicken, if you must know), and again headed home for an early night.

So there you have it, my birthday weekend J And what’s more, this morning I arrived at work to find a lovely little gift on my desk from a certain Sandbach-based family. Thanks! And thanks for all the facebook messages. I wish I could have celebrated with all of you at home but thanks to Dave I had a lovely time here.