ARRIVING IN SEOUL

Almost two weeks ago now, we set off from Cyprus to Seoul, South Korea. It took us almost a day to arrive. As there are no direct flights from Cyprus to South Korea (or anywhere other than Moscow, Britain or Greece) we had to stop off in Dubai. The layover was actually very brief, although it felt like an eternity! We reached Dubai at around 1am, and it looked a little like a war zone with people sleeping anywhere and everywhere they could find, it was wise to closely watch where you were walking. After we had made it from one end of the airport to the other, it was time to board; and so we did, amongst 600 other people! This was the busiest plane I’d ever seen! Unfortunately we were smushed into the middle surrounded by middle-aged Korean men who smelt of kimchi and only wanted to sleep, and drink complimentary wine. This made the next 10 hours a little more interesting!

Upon arrival, it was time to eat junk food and sleep off the horrendous jet lag. The next day we were up early to view potential apartments! I think we viewed 5 apartments that day, after looking and assessing them all we had set our hearts on one which just seemed to be perfect, in hind sight, maybe too perfect? The next day we went back to the estate agents to tell them, “Yes, we will take the perfect one please!” We went back to view the apartment one last time, and for some reason the estate agent couldn’t get in. This was because a couple of hours after we had viewed it the previous day, somebody had snapped it up and signed all of the paperwork already. So they had changed the lock code on the door. This was devastating news as all of the other apartments seemed not as good any more. There was one more apartment in the same building to look at, it was a little smaller, and a little lower down, which meant it was darker as the surrounding buildings create a shadow over it. One spontaneous decision later we were back at the estate agents going over the contract. We put down a deposit of KRW 1,000,000 as the banks were closed and no signing of the contract could happen that day. After this we got a call saying that the owner would like to meet us before we signed the contract, one can only assume because we are foreign. Her earliest available date was Wednesday, it was currently Saturday.

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday went by, we had been selecting furniture (its very uncommon to find a furnished apartment for rent in Korea).

I’d just like to point out here how cold it is in Seoul compared to Cyprus! I have the Realfeel temperature app on my phone it was showing crazy numbers like -18. I wore every single item of clothing I own! This is compared to the nice all-round 25 degrees we were used to.

Wednesday came by and the owner of the apartment didn’t show, the estate agent had never seen this before and didn’t quite know what to do! We spent the rest of that day viewing every single apartment available in the area we were looking at. The first one, we liked, but some people currently lived there and they were unable to move out until April. The second one, was perfect, much like the first one we saw! Only the owner had some debt issues, so if we had given them our deposit they most likely would have run off with it and then our apartment would belong to the bank, and we would be homeless once again. We viewed many more until we decided on the third one we had seen that day. All systems were go, and a meeting was arranged with the owners the next day.

Success! We signed a contract, we now had somewhere to live! However our furniture couldn’t be delivered until the following Monday.

Monday rolled around, we made our way to the apartment with all of our suitcases and many bags of things we accumulated within the two weeks of living in a hotel. Slowly but surely, we watched the empty apartment turn into a place that we would quite like to live! First the sofa came, then the Ikea delivery, then a giant fridge (I think I fit in it), then obviously the most important, the kettle and toaster. You can take me out of Britain but you will never take Britain out of me! Finally the bed and dining table arrived!

Today is Tuesday, we are waiting in for more things to be delivered, like the washing machine (its been a long time since any clothes washing was done) and a TV, we also had the internet and telephone service set up. Its all starting to come together. Once everything is in its correct place I can share photos with you all!

Some things take some getting used to.. You turn the tap on with your foot? I could only think that’s to save your hands from getting wet, but if you’re about to do the washing up it seems kind of defective. We don’t have keys, we can either type in a code or use a card and the door unlocks! When you enter the front door to the building the lift will automatically go to the first floor to meet you! You can also call the lift to the floor you live on using a screen inside your apartment, this saves time if you’re in a bit of a rush! I’m sure there are still things we haven’t even discovered yet!

Speak to you all soon! 🙂

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12 HOURS, ONE MOUNTAIN, A FEW PONDS, A LAKE, A WATERFALL AND A SHRINE LATER….

So last week Andrey and I booked ourselves onto a guided tour to see Mt. Fuji, and some other sights around Japan.

We woke up at 6am to catch our bus from Shinjuku, where we went straight to Mt Fuji 5th Station. Unfortunately we picked the cloudiest day in Japan’s history…ever. Just kidding, but it was pretty damn cloudy. The tour guide stopped us about 10 minutes away from the 5th station as she could see the top of the mountain was visible and it would no longer be visible from the station. So we all got off the bus for a maximum of 3 minutes and took various selfies with Mt Fuji in the background! Forget the picturesque scene of snow capped Fuji that you have in your mind, as that only happens in winter. The peak was brown. Still a very iconic peak to see, but nonetheless, brown.

Mt. Fuji!
Mt. Fuji!

That mysterious looking thick foggy cloud you can see on the left is exactly where we are heading to next; 5th Station. This is the highest point you can get to via transport, it’s just less than 2/3 of the way up. Here, it was really cold! They had a post office where I sent my family the coolest post card I’ve ever seen, literally a piece of wood in a heart shape with an little Mt. Fuji engraved into it. (Its now taking prime position on the mantle piece). There was also a gift shop selling every Mt. Fuji souvenir you could ever desire! I picked up a little something for my mother, which Andrey and I found hilarious, but it will also make a good gift! (I will post it to you soon mum don’t worry!) As our time here was limited and mostly taken up by sending cool post cards to our families we spent the remaining minutes just walking around a little, we bumped into a little shrine.

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Wishes that people write onto wooden blocks and hang at the shrine.
Wishes that people write onto wooden blocks and hang at the shrine.

NEXT STOP: Oshino Hakkai

A cute little place with several natural formed ponds from the mountain water. Here we saw a guy with a pet monkey?

The closest I've ever been to a monkey!
The closest I’ve ever been to a monkey!

This place was like a small village filled with lovely scenery and little cafe’s and gift shops. Lots of corn is grown here too, and the Japanese farmers have come up with a new meaning of the word scarecrow….

Yep, that will definitely scare a crow.
Yep, that will definitely scare a crow.

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NEXT STOP: Lake Kawaguchi

This is actually where we stopped for lunch too. We had traditional Hoto, which is thick flat noodles in miso soup with vegetables. It was quite tasty! We only had 45 minutes here so Andrey and I tried to eat lunch as quickly as possible so we could go and look at the view, which was amazing! So good that I took some panoramic shots.

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NEXT STOP: Shiraito No Taki

The waterfalls! We climbed down 100 steps to reach the ‘White thread falls’.

The entire wall is lined with small falls which is how it got its name.
The entire wall is lined with small falls which is how it got its name.

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LAST STOP: The main Shinto shrine dedicated to Mt. Fuji.

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What a day! Concluded by a 3 hour bus trip back to Tokyo. One last thing to add, our tour guide was very good at her job. She could speak for hours! But oh my, if you have been awake since 6am, and you  are in desperate need of both coffee and more sleep – a loud voice, louder than the music coming from my headphones is bloody annoying! She was very good at explaining all aspects of Japanese culture though.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

ASIAN ADVENTURE: PICTURES

As our Asian adventure is coming to an end, what better way to reminisce than with a series of photographs! We have seen, done and eaten some amazing things, here I can share our experiences with you.

 

Celebrating my 21st birthday in South Korea with my love!
Celebrating my 21st birthday in South Korea with my love!

Beautiful Buddhist temples
Beautiful Buddhist temples
'Interesting' fish..
‘Interesting’ fish..

Love T-shirt engrish! #engrish #tshirt #korea #busan #highfives #themostchampions

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Hong Kong!!
Hong Kong!!
Busan Tower!
Busan Tower!

My first baseball game! #busan #giants #baseball #matchingtshirts #lotte

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Cute puppies in Seoul
Cute puppies in Seoul
Selfies everywhere!
Selfies everywhere!

Palace
Palace
This palace was amazing!
This palace was amazing!

The beach and the city! #vscocam #busan #haeundae #beach #ocean #city #southkorea

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Giant cicada!
Giant cicada!
Tokyo ♥
Tokyo ♥

Tomato Haagen-Dazs anyone?
Tomato Haagen-Dazs anyone?

Tamagawa firework festival! #vscocam #vsco #fireworks #festival #tokyo #japan

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I think this definitely shows some of the weird and wonderful things we’ve seen on this trip! 

TOKYO ADVENTURES

Actually, this isn’t one for the squeamish. I’m still recovering myself! 

When in Tokyo, there are so many opportunities and adventures to be had that sometimes you just can’t decide. However one thing really stood out to us: Tokyo Parasite Museum. 

Yep, you read that correctly. A museum dedicated to parasites! 

Worms anyone?
Worms anyone?

This museum showcased everything there is to know about different types of parasites. Including a tapeworm over 8 metres long, with an example tape the same length just so you can compare… Yuck! There were plenty of cross sections of animals with worms spewing out of their insides, as well as a whole preserved turtles head with worms all around the eyes. 

 

This place left me with a mixture of feelings:

– I’m itchy, everywhere.

– Paranoia that every itch is a parasite digging its way into my body.

– I’m never letting my dog lick my face ever again.

–  Raw food is a no go. 

– Or any food for a couple of hours!

– Particularly bean sprouts.. You’d be amazed how similar worms and bean sprouts look. 

 

Even though explanations were in Japanese, I was still perfectly capable of understanding my surroundings. While we were there, they were showing a demonstration of live parasites. They looked similar to small thin leaches, I can’t say I stayed long enough to get a good look! 

The museum has two floors as well as a gift shop, although I was temped to buy my family a parasite postcard each, I refrained as I don’t think they would appreciate it. But they are available if anybody wants! Free entry was a benefit, they have small donation boxes around so you can donate money if you would like. Attached to the museum is a parasite research lab, I guess it makes more sense as to why there would be a building dedicated to teaching the world about different parasites. 

If anybody is visiting Tokyo and is looking for something to do this is definitely something! Placed in Meguro about a 10 minute walk away from the subway station. 

And now that I’ve just relived that memory I have all of the feels all over again. ITCHY. 

 

Let me know, have you ever been to an obscure museum? Thanks for reading 🙂 

TOKYO TOWER

So for a week now I have been able to see Tokyo Tower from where ever I go! Our hotel is in Roppongi, conveniently in the same region as Tokyo Tower. 

Two days ago we finally went to see it! There are two observatories, one 150m above the ground and another 250m above. Built in 1958, the structure of the tower is similar to the Eiffel tower in Paris, only a little bigger, except in a striking red and white. 

The tower is still used as a TV broadcasting tower but only for close by regions, as it was discovered that the tower wasn’t tall enough for digital broadcasting, so another one had to be built! 

But anyway, the view was the best part, which can only be explained through pictures! We arrived just in time for the red sky after the sunset and once the sun was entirely gone for the day a thunderstorm uncovered its self high up in the sky. It was incredible to watch!

TOKYO STORM
TOKYO STORM
SUNSET OVER TOKYO
SUNSET OVER TOKYO
SUNSET OVER TOKYO
SUNSET OVER TOKYO
CITY VIEW
CITY VIEW

And just on a side note, Tokyo is pretty massive! ~~

OH, TOKYO IS PRETTY HUGE
OH, TOKYO IS PRETTY HUGE

 

Thanks for reading! 

 

JAPAN

So a week ago today Andrey and I left South Korea for Japan!

Our last week in Korea was pretty hectic, with a trip to Seoul as well as mass packing, multiple trips to the post office as our stuff literally just would fit in our suitcases! And of course, saying goodbye to the friends we had made.  

After little sleep and some frantic travelling we made it to Tokyo, Japan! 

 

Some small differences I’ve noticed this week between Korea and Japan: 

– Japanese food is well tastier than Korean (in my opinion, nobody take offence!)

– Japan is SO much more expensive! I think we had been spoiled by the cheap prices in Korea, rarely buying anything that cost more than £5. Whereas in Japan, I went to buy some toothpaste which was £6. Yes. 

– Japanese people dress a lot more conservatively, to the point where I cannot understand. It’s 35 degrees outside, with a very high humidity rate and people are wearing what I would describe as a winter outfit! 

– There appear to be way less mosquito’s here in Tokyo. 

– Cicada’s in Japan sound like no other cicada in the world, and they are freaking huge!! 

– Convenience stores in Japan are exactly that – Convenient. 

– Korea has way better internet with free WiFi almost everywhere, even at the beach! Japan are stingy with WiFi. 

– Smoking culture is very different between the countries, being much more relaxed in Japan. 

 

Anyway, just a quick update to let you all know we made it to Japan! 

Next post will be up in a few days, about Tokyo Tower! The view was amazing! 

 

P.S. Living out of a hotel sounds appealing, but it definitely has its drawbacks! 

 

 

BEAUTY, FASHION AND MORE

Check out my latest summer project!

A blog all about fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Being in South Korea has broadened my horizons to so many new beauty and cosmetic products as well as new styles and fashions, so I’ve started to document them down in a a separate blog.

So far I’ve written about some FASHION FINDS as well as a review on the skincare brand DR JART+

I plan to continue updating the beauty and fashion blog after my Asian travels as I feel it will aid my job hunting. So keep up to date if you’re interested!

You can find the whole blog here: http://louisabeth.blogspot.kr/  

Enjoy! ~ 

SUN, SEA AND SAND

I’m talking about the beach! Possibly my favourite part about Korea. 

There are two main beaches which we go to  (as well as literally millions of Koreans). The one closest to us being Gwangalli, this is the one with the big bridge if any of you have seen on my Instagram. Its two subway stops away from us, but sometimes is easier just to walk, it takes about 20 minutes walk. The other is Haeundae Beach, recently we have been going to this one more, even though its further away! It takes about 20 minutes ride on the subway to get here.  

We first started going to Gwangalli because it was so close, and we noticed that’s where a lot of people our age go, you pay 5000₩ for an umbrella and you can stay as long as you like.

As we have been having a lot of hot weather recently we decided we would try out Haeundae too. Turns out we like it more! The sea is a lot cleaner, although its a lot busier we find that if you walk along a bit a little past the majority of hotels its not that busy at all, we got an umbrella with two sunbeds for 7000₩ (about £3.50). They also give you a mat as the sand gets crazy hot! Upon request they also give you inflatable rings for the sea. Andrey was cool enough to bring his own though, its got owls on it.

Riding the Haeundae surf

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I just love the beach! #vscocam #beach #haeundae #busan #korea #ocean #wave

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Throughout the day there are people walking up and down the beach trying to sell you fried chicken, beer, water or ice cream. One particularly enthusiastic lady just kept repeating ‘HITE COOL, BEER COOL‘ to us.

One thing I find very strange is that you can be on the beach soaking up the sunshine, whilst listening to the waves and then you look up and you see skyscrapers! Its like the beach isn’t meant to be there, for a while we thought they were artificially made, but they’re not. They were there before the skyscrapers.  

The beach and the city! #vscocam #busan #haeundae #beach #ocean #city #southkorea

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On the way home I was laughing at Andrey  because he had really patchy sunburn, I later learned my lesson, my sunburn just developed a lot slower! Whooops! 

Thanks for reading 🙂 

P.S. as I write this, its 91% humidity and my clothes are stuck to me! Being at the beach would be an amazing thing right now. 

HONG KONG

DAY TWO

Today was the day we were to venture onto Hong Kong island. Andrey had read about this game ‘mall’ that he wanted to go to, and seeing as it was his birthday the following day I thought I better oblige!

After breakfast (so good), we took a taxi to the nearest subway station to the mall. That in its self was interesting! We were in the 8 lanes of traffic narrowing down to two which I mentioned in the last post. I’ve never seen so many near misses! Once we were dropped off we walked around looking for this mall for quite some time in the crazy heat, we eventually found it, it looked a bit grim but I’m sure Andrey was loving it! Games left, right and centre. He eventually found a vita game that he wanted so we snapped it right up!

Back out to the heat: We had no real plans for the day except for to explore! You’re only in Hong Kong for 3 days, what else can you do!

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One thing I have to ask.. Have any of you readers been to Hong Kong on a Sunday? You perhaps might have noticed the large assembly of Filipino ladies everywhere. At first Andrey and I were quite confused as to why they were there, just sitting in the streets in big groups. Not to sound offensive but they looked as if they had no home to go to, sitting on cardboard boxes on the floor! Then out of sheer hunger and need for air-conditioning we went into McDonald’s hoping to have a quick snack and go again. That was not the case, I think this was the worlds smallest McDonald’s in one of the worlds busiest cities, and of course with it being Sunday, McDonald’s was occupied by the Filipino ladies! We later learned that these women do in fact have homes, and it just so happens that they all get Sunday off work, and its become a tradition that they all meet up in public areas to catch up!

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After shopping around and looking at all of the incredible buildings that Hong Kong had to offer (also being reunited with my one true love: Topshop), we decided it was best to start heading home to prepare for Andrey’s birthday celebrations! This time we caught the boat… I wouldn’t say I was scared… maybe more terrified! This boat was rocking from side to side like nobodies business! Upon boarding the rocking only got worse. Using every fibre in my being to not throw up and gripping Andrey tightly out of fear, a few minutes later we arrived back onto land, looks like boats aren’t really my thing, who would have thought it?! The view was excellent though!

Got back to the lovely air conditioned hotel, and whoops looks like we forgot the sun cream and one of us turned into a lobster! That would be me, the pale Brit. It’s been almost a year since I saw the sun last! Anyway, we got ready to dine like kings and queens at the Above and Beyond restaurant/bar that the hotel offered. To start there were Dim Sum, always go for the Dim Sum! They were probably the best Dim Sum I’ve ever had in my life. After Dim Sum (how many times have I said Dim Sum?) Andrey had a coral crab, to you and I that means a crab thats pregnant and has lots of roe inside. I ordered classic duck pancakes, however it was ‘Hong Kong style’ (I’m not sure what the difference was?) So the waiter brings out the duck and starts carving it, we’re talking half of a duck here. He carves about 7 slices and then leaves, with the remaining duck…. We were thinking ‘What…. Why have you taken most of my dinner away?’ Main consensus: The food was good, the atmosphere however was a little odd.

Needless to say, he never returned with the remaining duck.

Thanks for reading! More soon to follow 🙂

P.S. To my big brother… You’re famous in Hong Kong!
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HONG KONG

A short trip but definitely worth it!

We left Busan on Friday evening and landed in Hong Kong at around midnight. Our first experience… catching a taxi to our hotel with a British English accent… ICON Hotel please. To which the taxi driver understood ‘eecorn hotel?’ with a very puzzled look upon his face. After repeating our selves a few times with no success we pulled up the hotels website on our phones, and the taxi driver read the address. 30 minutes later and we arrived at our fancy hotel!

After check-in and checking out our room it was about 2am so we just went to bed ready for a full day of exploring the next day.

DAY ONE: Breakfast… what can I say… fresh dim sum, fresh fruit!! (this doesn’t happen in Korea), fresh pastries, juice, tea, coffee, pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast, real cheese! From this moment on I knew Hong Kong would be good! Whilst we were having breakfast there was a downpour of really heavy rain for about 10 minutes and then the sun came back out to play. Once breakfast was successfully demolished we got ready for the day and headed out. IT WAS 46 DEGREES.
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After walking around for about half an hour we soon realised we needed a drink. We stopped off at the InterContinental Hotel where Andrey had stayed as a child and got some iced tea in the lovely air conditioning! It was really handy, our hotel gave us a mobile phone to use to help us get around, so whilst having some iced tea we sat and explored around us on the map.
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After the tea we continued walking, still very hot outside we were ducking into any shopping mall we could find to cool down for a few minutes. Our hotel was actually on Kowloon so on day one we didn’t go to Hong Kong island. We ended up finding a very big shopping mall and taking a look around it and grabbing some lunch. Later on in the day we found our selves at the pool side enjoying the evening sun.
Dinner time? Yes please. Back to the same place in which we had breakfast. SO GOOD. To Andreys amazement there was a 3 tier platter of lobster. The boy was in crustacean heaven. The restaurant offered food from a variety of origins, all of which delicious. When it came to dessert, we noticed a funny smell in the air: Durian fruit. Never heard of it? Well here is what it looks like.

Literally the worlds smelliest fruit. To me it smelt like somebody had left the gas ring on without a flame to catch it. It tasted the same! No thanks.

Dog statues outside of The Peninsula.
Dog statues outside of The Peninsula.
Eight lanes of traffic trying to cut down into two lanes!
Eight lanes of traffic trying to cut down into two lanes!