Friday, 31 October 2014

Day trip to Jeonju

Every year around this time the program that we teach for (GNET) take all of the teachers in the program for a day trip. I usually enjoy them as it gives me a chance to catch up with people and make some new friends. Last year we went to Haeinsa and it was such a beautiful area. This year we were told that we would be going to Jeonju.

Our bus left at 8 a.m. as it's a three hour drive from Gimhae to Jeonju. Our first stop was at an apple orchard to do some apple picking. It was in a gorgeous countryside area and the farmer had the sweetest little dog that we got to play with for a while.
I picked a few apples but we all managed to keep about 15 apples each (I'm sure there'll be a lot of apple crumbles being made this weekend in Gimhae!)

Myself and Jason on the bus bright and early.

The incredible views from the orchard.

The apple orchard.

One of the many apples that we picked

The adorable dog at the farm.

My lovely friend Ian took this photo.

After our apple picking it was time to drive in to Jeonju city and have some lunch. Jeonju is famous throughout Korea for having amazing food, especially bibimbap. After our bus getting stuck after going down a one way street we finally arrived at the restaurant. I'm not a huge fan of bibimbap (I have this weird thing where I hate mixing all of my foods together and that's exactly what bibimbap is) But we also got some paejeon which was the best I've ever had! Paejeon is a Korean style pancake made with lots of spring onions and usually squid too. It's really delicious!

Some of the GNETs enjoying our lunch.

After lunch we had 2 hours free time to explore the city. Jeonju has a big historical center right in the middle of the city where every building is traditional style. They had beautiful little stores and restaurants and a huge park with temples inside. After going to see the temples and the beautiful Autumn coloured trees surrounding them we decided to relax at a little coffee shop and people watch for a bit. Afterwards we got some delicious ice cream and wandered in and out of the shops.

The entrance to a small bamboo forest.

Autumn is well and truly here...and I love it!

The beautiful temple area of Jeonju...I just love those beautiful trees!

Then before we knew it it was time to head back to Gimhae. This was my first time visiting Jeonju and I'd 100% recommend visiting it to anyone that is visiting Korea. I'm sure that we were lucky that we went on a weekday because there were still tourists around...I can't imagine what it's like on weekends! But regardless, a part of me wishes that I lived there.

Myself and my good friend Ane standing in front of a 500 year old tree.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Hiking Mucheoksan

A couple of weeks ago myself Jason and Willy decided to go for a hike. Jason teaches right out in the countryside and sees a beautiful mountain everyday from his school. He's wanted to hike it for a while now so that Saturday was the perfect time.

The mountain in question was Mucheoksan in Saengnim. It is a beautiful mountain and is actually quite famous here in the south for it's rock climbing.

We had a great time hiking it, We parked the car and then had to walk up a road for about 30 minutes, that warmed us up quite nicely for when we actually got on to the path. We had left it quite late to begin the hike (3 o'clock) So luckily for us we didn't see many people of the trail.

Willy was off leash at the beginning but the more we hiked the more I realised how many scary drop offs there were and how close Willy was getting to them so we put his leash back on him.

It was at this point that I realised it was too dangerous for him to be off leash.
Jason and Willy on the way up.

It was one of my favourite hikes in Korea because after about an hour and a half hiking you reach a beautiful little lake with a nice pagoda and some benches to relax at for a while. When we reached the top we found a great viewing platform and were just in awe at the beautiful rays of light that the sun and clouds had formed. We stayed at the top for about 20 minutes, we would have stayed longer just taking it in but sunset was fast approaching and our stomachs were rumbling so we made the quick descent with an amazing sunset as our companion. The entire hike took about 3 hours.

The beautiful view from the top!

Willy wasn't too impressed at being stuck tied up to a tree while we climbed on to the ledge.

We made it!

Sunsets are something that you don't see very often in Ireland so it is the one thing that I never take for granted here in Korea and the places that I've travelled to. One thing I can 100% say about this country is that it has some beautiful sunsets!

That night we decided to cook some yummy pasta and relax with a movie. A perfect Saturday if I do say so myself! 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Beautiful Baenaegol

Last weekend our friend Derek invited us on a little road trip around Yangsang countryside with him and his girlfriend. With the weather being so beautiful we could hardly refuse. So we set off for an eye-opening day.

The drive to Yangsan itself was quite frustrating as we were stuck in traffic on the highway...not the best way to spend a Saturday. But once we met up with Derek we quickly got off of the busy roads and in to the countryside. I have to say that this area was probably the most beautiful area that I've been to in Korea!

Our first stop was at Gayajinsa which is a beautiful temple area along the Nakdong river. There were quite a few people cycling on the beautiful bicycle path along the river there. We went to meet Dereks two friends who had found a beautiful secluded little sandy beach area along the river. We spent some time just relaxing there and chatting before moving on to our next spot.

The beautiful Nakdong river.
Myself and Jason enjoying the beautiful sun!

Amy testing out the traditional swing at Gayajin
After leaving the beautiful riverside behind it was time to head to Baenaegol. Baenaegol is a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains on either side. It is filled with apple orchards, temples and pensions (Korean B&B's) It's a hugely popular place for Koreans to go during the summertime as it stays a bit cooler there than in other place in Korea and well it's absolutely beautiful there!

We had to drive over some beautiful mountain passes there and myself and Jason were both in awe at how beautiful the area was and how we had never even known about it before today!
After driving for a while we decided to stop off for lunch at a small family owned restaurant. We ordered some Samgyetang (Korean chicken soup). We were told that it would take about an hour to prepare but luckily for us they were situated right on a beautiful river so we were able to relax on the river bank while waiting.
It was the perfect day!
The river beside the restaurant

Jason and Willy walking along the beautiful river
Derek and Amy
A man and his dog.
I'm so lucky to have married him!
Me and Wil...

We enjoyed the peacefulness of Baenaegol so much that we decided to try and book in to a Pension next March with some friends to celebrate Jason's 30th. So without a doubt we'll definitely be back to this little slice of Korean heaven!

Enjoying the sunshine.

We got to witness this beautiful sunset on our way home.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

September in Korea Part 2

A highlight of September for me was that I got to catch up with my old co-teacher and good friend Ka-eun. I've always said that she is the most unKorean Korean that I know. She left her job to go backpacking in India and is now after moving to Australia to hopefully be a scuba diving instructor!

Myself and Ka-eun

She invited myself and Jason to her family home deep in the Gimhae countryside. It was so beautiful out there and the tiny little village that her mom lives in doesn't have a shop! We got to meet her mom and I could see instantly how Ka-eun is the way she is. Her mom is so loving and strong. She rescues dogs and they have about 8 or 9 dogs in their house. One of them she rescued from a University that was using it for animal testing, he was left blind in one eye but has a lovely home now.

Ka-euns wonderful mom.

This is the poor little guy that lost his eye due to animal testing :(

This sweetheart was blind and disabled
and Jason fell head over heels in love!

She lives near this beautiful cycling and walking path so we took a few of the dogs down there for a walk and finished off our time with some lunch in a Chinese restaurant courtesy of Ka-euns mom. Now that Ka-eun is after moving to Australia her mom was saying that she is lonely and would love for us to go visit her again so we've both decided that that is one date that we must keep!

The beautiful path by Ka Euns house.
Jason taking some photos of the nearby rice fields.

Isn't it just so beautiful!

Ka-euns village.

The yummy Chinese that her mom treated us to.

That evening we were so excited because my sisters boyfriend was going to be in Busan for a conference so he came a couple of days early and stayed with us! This was Jasons first time having a visitor in Korea and it was nice to be able to show Neil around and show him what our lives are like here. It definitely made us more appreciative about living here.

On his first night he had gotten straight off the plane in Seoul and then got a train to Busan where we collected him. We then brought him out for one of our favourite meals...Dak Galbi! We then brought him to our usual drinking spot for some terrible Korean beer and soju.

Ian playing a spin the wheel game while out in Gimhae 

The next day we all just walked around Shinae (the old town of Gimhae) and saw a beautiful temple that I had randomly just found one day. That night we brought him for our other Korean food which is beef barbecue. He seemed to really like all of the food and was a pro at using his chopsticks! We were back in school on the Monday so Neil went for a run and then we all went to Haeundae together (where is conference was being held) Myself and Jason were so excited to have some yummy western food there (always a highlight of our trips to Busan)

The beautiful temple that I random found one day.

It even has Koi fish.

Inside the temple.

It was one of the nicest temples that I've been to.

This is in the park right by our apartment.

Looking out to the light rail and our apartment.

This was Neils view from his hotel room!

and to the other side!

Jason and Neil on Haeundae. I wish I had taken more photos
of his time here.

Beautiful Haeundae at sunset.

And before we knew it September was finished! It was a great month and we got to make lots of new friends too which was especially great!

Here's hoping October will be just as fun!