Dinner and Umeda Sky Building

Asia, Japan

After a few hours wandering around the aquarium we were famished.

Tucked away in the bay area of Osaka are a cluster of traditional Japanese restaurants that we explored.

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In Japan, restaurants display models of the meals they serve. Quite odd, but really helpful.

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How cute are these steamed buns?!

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We had to stop and try real Ramen.

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Japan is known for having weird and wonderful Kit Kat flavours. I tried the green tea and red bean bites. They were really unusual but not bad.

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Quite full, we headed of to the Umeda Sky Building.

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The Umeda Sky Building is the 8th tallest building in Osaka. It consists of two 40 story towers that are connected at their uppermost stories. This astonishing building has a floating garden on the rooftop observatory.

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After a long ride up in the lift as well as a few escalators I reached the observatory deck.

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The view from the top was breathtaking.E_IMG_8431

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Osaka Aquarium, Japan

Asia, Japan

While we were in Japan we visited the Osaka Aquarium. As cool  as aquariums are, they would never normally be on my list of places to go while in another country. Buuuut, Osaka Aquarium is one of the largest and best aquariums in the world.

The layout is really unique. You take an escalator up to the 8th floor and work your way down in a circular manner. What I found amazing about the aquarium is that every section is totally devoted to a particular area in the world and is made to look exactly like it. One minute you are wandering the great barrier reef and the next you are in the amazon.

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How adorable is this?!

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What a grumpy little face…

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A whale shark!

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This is one of the cutest animals I have ever seen

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Seriously, look at that face!

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Kai Boi Boh

Kai Bai Boh

A series on life in Korea 

We have been in Korea for over three months now. Since we have been here there have been some weird, some interesting and some downright hilarious situations and realizations. I’m thinking about creating a kind of series on the blog documenting all of these as well as our funny moments with the kids. Here are 5 things in no particular order…

1) Now, I can’t speak for all of Asia (obviously), but I would like point out that the ‘Asian drivers’ stereotype is pretty accurate here in Korea. My goodness. They turn whenever they decide to, stop wherever they want to and park how ever they feel like parking. It’s just general chaos. Pedestrian crossings? Nah. Red robots? Optional. Kind of like this:

Nobody gets worked up about it. It’s just how it is.

2) It’s considered quite rude to smile at strangers here. That took some time to get used to! For me, it’s almost a reflex to smile at someone if I meet their eyes while walking past them. Not here though. One of the Korean teachers I work with explained that it’s kind of viewed that you smile at children, so by smiling at an adult you’re almost treating them like a child, or, that you are laughing at them. It makes sense, but takes ages to get used to. Far too many times I have started to smile at someone and then remembered halfway through and kind of turned it into an awkward grimace.

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3) We need to talk about Maroon 5. They are everywhere! I feel like no matter where I go in Asia, ‘Sugar’ or ‘Animals’ is blasting from the stores. When I ask the kids what English music they like, most of the time they only know Maroon 5. First it was funny, then it was annoying and now I don’t even hear it.

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4) On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I teach grade 3-6. One class in particular always makes me laugh. There are only 5 of them and they’re all crazy. Unfortunately for her, there is only 1 girl in the class. She sits in the corner by herself, doesn’t talk to them, and I swear she tries to set them on fire with her eyes. The boys irritate her constantly. Every time she lifts up her arms they make crazy underarm hair motions and pretend to die from the smell (typical 11 year old boys). They are always trying to ‘tell on’ each other to get the other one in trouble and it’s usually something silly or a joke.

The other day I had my back to them while I was writing on the board and they were all shouting something at once about what someone was doing. Assuming it was rubbish as usual I just ignored them. Eventually I turned around and caught it. This girl had drawn a zap sign on the back of her page and was holding it up every time one of the boys looked at her or spoke to her. Pretending I hadn’t seen it, I quickly turned around and started writing on the board again. She kind of had a point…

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5) Okay. This is probably one of the craziest things I have heard here: fan death. Basically, most Koreans believe that if you are alone (particularly sleeping) with an electric fan blowing on you in an unventilated room you will die. Literally, die

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They offer a few explanations for this, but the most common is that the fast moving air around your face makes inhalation difficult and will lead to suffocation. If I walk into a classroom which has a fan running inside of it and close the door behind me a teacher or kid will run over and open the door or a window just a little. A few Koreans know that it isn’t true but it’s so ingrained into their culture that most of them avoid doing it anyway. At first I tried to explain it, but now I just go with it…

Kai Bai Boh

Kai Bai Boh

1) Dong Chim: this is probably one of the most terrifying things here. It pretty much translates to ‘poop needle’. Kids clasp their hands together in a kind of gun shape and then…ram those fingers right up your butt. There are even statues dedicated to this madness. dongchim It’s basically the Asian version of the wedgie and they think it’s hilarious! The best targets have their back turned and are usually concentrating on something else. I very quickly learnt not to turn my back around little kids. You have to always be on the lookout for small children creeping up behind you. As violated as you feel you can’t really make a big deal about it because all of the adults think it’s pretty funny too. It’s just seen as a harmless, childish prank. You just need to be on the look out or you’ll end up looking like this: 2) A really odd thing (for me) here is that kids come to school no matter how sick they are. Adults also usually don’t have sick leave and will be at work no matter what. So it kind of makes sense why they would send their kids to school when they’re really sick, but still. As a teacher it is the worst. We have kids coming here straight from the hospital with plasters over their hand where the drip was, throwing up, with crazy fevers and most commonly a terrible cough. I feel bad for them, I really do, but mostly I want to run away because they somehow always end up right in your face and breathing/ coughing directly on you. I’m just like…. 3) These kids go crazy for ‘candy’! It can be a tiny little lollipop or the smallest chewy sweet and they will do pretty much anything for it. It holds a ridiculous amount of power and makes bribery a dream. They go from crazy little monsters to this as soon as I say the word ‘candy’: I have had kids follow me to class chanting “candy candy candy” and when I write 10 new vocab words that they need to use in a sentence they somehow manage to make each one of those sentences about candy. It’s actually pretty impressive. 5) On being spoken to in rapid Korean. In no way can I speak Korean. Buuuuut, if someone speaks slowly to me I can usually recognize a few words and put them together with their hand gestures to figure out what they are saying. I get stuck pretty often. The other day I went to the Pharmacy to pick up some medicine. The pharmacist asked me (in Korean) if I speak Korean. Now, I have a pretty bad habit of just saying yes and nodding if I have no idea what someone is saying. I wasn’t concentrating and said yes. And then I realized what she had asked me. But, by then it was too late. She was chattering away in rapid Korean and I just stood there like: 5) This last one is another one of the odd things my kids do. Whenever someone is absent and I ask where they are or even acknowledge that they’re absent the class launches into an explanation and tell me the craziest stories to explain where the missing kid is. Spoiler alert: it always ends up in them dead. It usually involves someone killing them, being hit by a bus or being eaten. These ridiculous stories are their favorite way to kill time in the beginning of the class. The more creative ones are actually pretty entertaining. Sometimes. Mostly it’s just

Osaka Castle, Japan

Asia, Japan

A little while ago we went to Japan for the weekend. After a quick flight we landed at a tiny airport on an island in Osaka.

We got horribly lost trying to find our hotel and eventually gave up and flagged down a taxi. After driving about 200m (I’m really not exaggerating) we were charged R70. Madness! We won’t be doing that again.

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After navigating the complicated subway system we popped above ground again and set off at a stroll towards the castle.

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It was a beautiful spring day. The streets were lined with happy couples, budding trees, impressive architecture and laughing children.

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Before long the castle was in sight…

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We spent some time wandering in the gardens and taking it all in.

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We stopped for some ice-cream. I picked green tea and vanilla!

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After walking through the castle gates I spotted a time capsule. I was so intrigued. I’d love to know what is inside of it.

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It was such a lovely day and there was wonderful atmosphere at the castle. We strolled around the ground, up to the museum inside, out to the souvenir shop and back into the gardens.

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Osaka Castle was a wonderful first glimpse of Japan.

I’m still here…

Uncategorized

I know. I know. I have totally neglected this blog for the last for weeks.

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I have been totally overwhelmed by the amount of photos I have had to sort out and edit (no complaints though) and I have been quite preoccupied with a number of other things at the moment.

This is just a quick note to say I have finally sorted out all of my photos from Japan. I also have a ton of photos from Seoul and I still haven’t finished all of the posts from Thailand. So, I will be posting all of these over the next few weeks.

I am also hoping to spend a lot more time writing about our day to day life.

Peter and I arrived back from the Philippines this morning and I am super excited to share that adventure. We had the most incredible, idyllic holiday.

Cherry Blossoms

Asia, Busan

I adore cherry blossoms. I always have. I’m not even going to pretend that they weren’t part of the reason I wanted to move to Korea.

Spring arrived with a beautiful burst of cherry blossoms all over our town. There is a Japanese word to describe the act of viewing flowers, particularly cherry blossoms. They call it hanami. I wonder if there is a career in this and where I could sign up…

In the town next to ours, Jinhae, there is a wonderful cherry blossom festival every year. However, it is usually absolutely packed with people. I wasn’t particularly keen on anyone coming between me and my precious cherry blossoms and so we decided to go ridiculously early one morning before work.

Bleary eyed and shivering we made our way to Starbucks for some coffee before boarding the bus to Jinhae. Our plan was successful! When we first arrived it was totally deserted.

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I felt like a little kid running from spot to spot. I had no idea where to look first. Maybe I’m not cut out for a life of hanami

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As I woke up that morning and snuggled deeper into my warm duvet I seriously considered going another day, but I’m so glad I dragged my lazy bum out of bed and went. It is a day I’ll never forget.

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The walkway, which is covered in cherry blossoms, is interspersed with bridges that lead over the river and stairs that drop below. After walking a way along the path we took some old stone stairs that led us to the river and spent some time looking up at the cherry blossoms.

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Troll faces are absolutely mandatory when standing under an old bridge.

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As the icy wind swirled around us it brought with it cherry blossom petals.

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We left the river and took a stroll down the street just as the food vendors were beginning to set up.


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After a magical time at the river we took a taxi to another beautiful hanami spot in Jinhae, an old train track. By this time of the morning there were quite a few people there, but we didn’t mind.

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We made it snow cherry blossom petals for a while before just relaxing on a swing and absorbing everything around us.

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What a perfect and unforgettable morning.