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Burns Night 2015

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A few months ago I was asked to give the reply from the lassies at Burns night. Dinner in the Hyatt was mentioned so naturally I agreed. It was as easy as it sounded to write the reply but I did my best.

For those night familiar, Burns night is an annual, international celebration of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. Poems are recited, songs are sung and general craic is had.In Seoul, we celebrated the night in the Hyatt Hotel.  We had a piper, Garret,  and the whisky was flowing so it was all very Scottish.

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A group of my friends came along and it was nice to be able to dress up and go out!

 

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In my research for the speech, I found Burns to be an interesting character. He fathered 12 children by 4 different women. He was so fascinated by women that he had couldn’t choose just one and had several relationships with different women. He credits the ladies with his abilities as a poet. He wrote some beautiful poetry, my favourite being;

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie,
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ ’twere ten thousand mile!

 

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We were treated to an amazing address to the Haggis. I’ve seen this done 3 times now, but this was the first time I’ve seen a woman do it. She nailed it  and I think it added a bit of flavour to the Haggis!

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That was followed by some recitations and song singing.

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Eventually, it was battle of the sexes as the Toast to the lassies and Reply from the lassies were made. In the toast to the lassies, Scott had everyone in stitches as he quoted some amazing dating tips from koreadatingtips.com. Check out this link http://www.korea-dating-tips.com/how-to-talk-to-girls.html Super funny stuff.

After all the speeches it was off home. Great event made better by the people who were there.

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Kinabalu National Park.

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Anyone who wants to climb Mt. Kinabalu will be heading to Kinabalu National Park. This trip, I had no interest in climbing it and Michelle had climbed it before but it being a UNESCO World Heritage site, we went to do some trekking.

There are two ways to get to the National Park, 1) Go with a tour and 2) Go by yourself. Tours were expensive so we decided to go there ourselves. To do that you must;

Get the bus to Ranau. One way will cost you about 20 rinngit. The bus driver will know where to let you off. You should know though that the Malay way is that the bus doesn’t leave until it’s full so the earlier the better.

The journey will take about 2 hours or so. From the road, walk up to the entrance and pay the entry fee of 15 rinngit. From there, you can go to the office and get a map of the trails. There are some wonderful trails of different lengths.

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Unfortunately, the day we went, it was lashing rain all day. We might as well have been swimming. At the end of the trail, there were no signs to indicate which way the main area was. Brilliant, it only took us about 10 minutes to decide that down hill was best.

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After some food, we headed back to get the bus back to the city. Unfortunately for us, there actually is NO BUS BACK TO THE CITY. You literally have to flag a bus down and jump in. It took us about 15 minutes before we succeeded but we did.

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All in all, if I were going back, I would rent a car. We were hoping to visit the canopy walk in the Park but from the main entrance, it was another 1 hour bus journey.

Kinabalu is a great tourist site but it still has to catch up on itself in terms of tourist conveniences.

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Kota Kinabalu- The islands

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Kota Kinabalu is a great place to go island hopping. Just a quick boat ride from the jetty, you can make it to Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik and Gaya.

During my visit, I went to Manukan and Mamutik. My friend had visited Sapi and the lack of anything other than a beach meant that I didn’t go. We wanted to go to Gaya but the jetty there was seemingly under renovation so there were no boats.

All the islands are beautiful. On the bigger islands, you can go diving, snorkelling and sea walking. From the jetty, you can buy tickets for the individual islands or for a day island hopping. The islands are part of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park so you must pay a fee when entering. On a day island hopping, you just pay the fee once and show the ticket at each island.

Mamutik Island- We spent a few hours snorkelling here. It has a long beach with restaurant facilities so everything you need for a day of relaxation. Unfortunately, the fish were a little nibbly and kept biting at us so I wasn’t all that keen to go back. While there were a good number of people there, it wasn’t over crowded.

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Manukan- My favourite place. this is a resort island so possible to stay for a night or two. The beach here is a lot bigger that Mamutik and there is plenty to explore. The night before we went to the island, there was a terrible storm and as a result a lot of debris had washed up on the beach. The water was also quite murky so we had to go far out to get decent snorkelling conditions. We saw lots of different fish and coral. It was a lot quieter here also. You can go trekking on this island also.

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Tips for the islands;

1. Go early. The weather changes in the afternoon and it usually rains for a few hours so the morning is the best time for the islands.

2. Instead of going with a company, try negotiating the price with the locals. We got the return tickets for less than what a company was offering and they picked us up at the designated time. (The company we went with to the first island forgot us and left us waiting at the island for over an hour)

3. Bring snacks & water

4. The toilets on the islands are rough so bring your own supplies of tissue etc.

How to change the code on your door lock.

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When I moved into this apartment, they had set each of the door locks in the building to the same code, 1234*. I immediately set about changing that and thought I’d share the process.

The brand of lock is Commax.

1. Take the cover off the battery pack on the inside of the door. You’ll see a black button just under the batteries.

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NOTE; IT’S THE BUTTON THAT SAY 등록 NOT THE BUTTON THAT SAYS 수동잠금!

2.  Open the door and stand on the outside. Press the black button for about 2 seconds and you should hear a beep followed by the keypad lighting up.

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3. Inset a 4 to 12 digit code followed by * and that’s your new code!

Registering for a race in Korea

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I LOVE doing races in Korea but registration is usually in Korean so I thought I’d do a blog with some vocabulary and instructions.

 

1. First, decided which race you want to do. Head over to marathon.pe.kr. You should see this home page;

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2. Across the top, you’ll see the different tabs. You should press the second from the left. It’s called 대회일정 (tournament schedule). Then you’ll see this;

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3. Now you should choose the location you want. Races happen all over Korea. Personally, I stick to the ones in Seoul and there are always a tonne in 여의도 (Yeouido). Choose your own and click on the link to be brought to this;

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4. Near the bottom of that page, you’ll see a link. That brings you to the home page which is where you need to go. The home page might look something like this;

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5. Now you have to look for the registration are. Some home pages make it really easy and others make it a mission.  Look for 참ㄱㅏ신청 (Application for registration). When you click on it, you’ll probably see some of the following;

개인: Individual

단체: Group/team

신청조회: Inquiry

Click the one that suits you and then you’ll see a registration form maybe like this;

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Here is the vocabulary you need to know;

ㅇㅣ름: Name

생년월일: Date of birth. ARC first 6 numbers

성별/남/여: Gender/male/female

주소: Address

연락쳐: Contact number

ㅇㅣ메일: Email

참가종목: The race you’re doing. Half, full, 10km etc

기념품: Gear

사이즈: Size

쿠폰입력: Coupon details

입금ㅈㅏ명: Name of person who will send the money

비밀번호: Password

비밀번호확인: Retype password

확인/최소하기 : Enter/cancel

Once you click “enter”, you’re done. Just transfer the money into the bank account. You’ll find the bank details on the home page of the race.

About a week or so before the race, you’ll get your package with your gear, number and chip.

 

Apologies if there are mistakes in the Korean. Any questions, just ask!

 

We Run Seoul 2014

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The Nike “We Run Seoul” race is one of the most hotly anticipated races in the city. So much so, that registration only opens 2 weeks before the event. On that day, Koreans everywhere sit beside their computers to get a place. The race only has 2 divisions, 10km and 21km. There are 20,000 spaces for the 10km and 10,000 for the 21km.

While I wasn’t exactly sitting and waiting for the registration to open, I did try that day and failed to get a place. My Korean friend, however, got a place and couldn’t do it so she gave it to me!

The gear arrived the week before the race and the pack was a simple Nike t shirt, a plastic bag (for storing your gear on the day), the number and a voucher. The chips were already glued to the back of the number so that made it more convenient than usual.

The race itself was a bit of a let down. First, it is important to show up early, as your gear must go into the lorries before 2pm. Since the start and finish points are different, the lorries go ahead of the runners and you can collect your stuff at the finish line. The race doesn’t actually start until 3pm. That leaves lots of time for lunch, coffee, stretching, whatever. Runners are divided into 4 categories, A,B,C,D.A & B are the long distance runners and they leave first.

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Hanging out in Gwanghwamun before the race.

 

 

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It looked like this for all 10km……..

I was group D and despite doing my best to get close to the top I couldn’t and ended up a long way back. I could hear the M.C. talking to the crowd and if I heard the “Just do it” slogan one more time, I would gladly have jumped up and shoved the microphone down his neck. A lot of people looked like they were there to try out for Nike models and looked fit to do anything BUT run.

Eventually the C group left and since there were just so many of us we got to leave together. Because the stage was by the start line and the M.C. was some famous guy, everyone wanted a picture which slowed the whole thing down.

The race started in Gwanghwamun and finished in Yeouido and it was lovely to see people either side of the road cheering you on.  The sheer volume of people made it close to impossible to run. I initially thought it was space out after the first few kilometres but it didn’t. A kilometer 5 there was a band playing and of course people just stopped up for pictures creating another pile up. Just as we were almost finished, the road narrowed and there was a bottle neck of runners. After that though, the sprint to the finish line was clear.

All in all it’s always good to do a race and it was great to see so many people getting out and involved. If you’re a serious runner I recommend you do the 21km. I can’t see myself do that particular race again but getting to run through the city was really nice.

 

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My friend and I at the finish!

 

 

Top 5 things to see on Jeju Island.

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Jeju is the perfect weekend get away if you’re looking for a break from the main land. Just a 50 minute flight from Gimpo, return tickets can be bought for as little as 100,000 won.

I’ve just returned from my fifth trip to the island and have compiled my top 5 list of things to see on the island.

 

1. Seongsan Ilchulbong- Otherwise known as “Sunrise Peak”, this peak is located on the east side of the island. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is said to have risen about 100,000 years ago after a volcanic eruption.

The entry fee is a mere 2,000won.  The climb to the top depends on how fit you are. It generally takes about 40 minutes. It’s not that difficult and there are little look out points along the way.

The view from the top is spectacular. It is also recommended to do the sunrise here.

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At the bottom, you can take the steps down to the sea. You can get a boat ride around the coast for 10,000 won.

You can also see the Haenyeo here. Haenyeo are the diving women of Jeju. For many years, these women have dived into the ocean in search of clams, abalone or seaweed. They are a very unique part of the Jeju island. You may be lucky enough to see them out diving in other parts of the island but twice a day, they do a show at the bottom of Seongsan Ilchulbong.

 

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2. Hallasan- You cannot visit Jeju without visiting Hallasan. Hallasan is a vocano and the highest mountain in South Korea. It has five hiking trails of different lengths and which one you choose depends on your interest in hiking. My mum and I chose a super easy 1.2 km trail (off the Eorimok Trail) which was difficult enough but the view from the top was spectacular. wpid-20140926_145512_pano.jpg

 

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3. Waterfalls- Jeju is full of waterfalls. They are everywhere. I’ve visited a few and my favourite are probably Cheonjeyeon beside the Botanic Gardens. In this are you can see three waterfalls. It is a nice walk from one to another and you cross the Seonimgyo bridge as you go. This bridge has seven nymphs on the side.

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4. The Beach-

Jeju during the summer season makes it worth visiting the beach. There are several around the island.  The one we liked best was Jungmun Saekdal beach. There are other things to see in that area so it is definately worth a few hours to visit.

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5. Yongduam and the coast road.

Just a few kilometres from the airport is an attraction calle dYongduam. It is a rock shaped like a Dragon Head. It is a nice thing to see (although it doesn’t exactly look like a dragon). Then hit the coast road for the next 8 kilometres to see the beautiful coast of Jeju. There are several things to do along the way.

 

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And a bonus………THE MYSTERY ROAD!!!!!!

Everyone loves a good mystery road. We found it on the drive around the coast ot maybe the drive on the way to sunrise peak. Anyway, we found it. There is a point in the road when you put your car in neutral and although the road looks to be a downhill, the car will mysteriously go uphill. WordPress wouldn’t let me upload it straight here so I uploaded to Facebook and here’s a link;

 

That’s all for now folks! Add your comments and questions below!!

 

 

 

 

 

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