Wednesday 29 February 2012

Subway drama

I have a theory. It goes like this; Korean subway = good, Korean passengers = bad. London Tube = bad, London passengers = good.

In London, the underground (or tube if you will) is crap. It's dirty and small. It's unreliable. It's horrendously expensive, in fact it's stupidly overpriced. It's old. It's actually the oldest underground in the world, and sometimes it feels like it's not been changed since it was opened in 1863. The men who dug the tunnels (yes DUG, by hand) went on to dig the tunnels of the Somme in WWI. That's a fantastic bit of history and incredibly impressive, however that was over 100 years ago. Shouldn't we have updated a little more since then? On the tube you can't use a mobile phone, a blessing really as people tend to talk really loudly on their phones in London. There's no air conditioning in the summer and you can't walk from one carriage to the next. Some of the stations (particularly Bank as it's on a bend) have MASSIVE gaps between the train and the platform. In fact I once saw a little girl fall through to the tracks. Thankfully a quick reacting passenger pulled her back up in time.

Having said that, the people on the tube, on the whole, are pretty polite. Now I'm sure there are many Britons who will scoff at this declaration. I challenge them to use the Seoul Subway and not come away with the same opinion. On the tube, even in rush hour, I have never ever felt someones fist in my back hurrying me to get on. NEVER EVER. If that happened in England there would almost certainly be a fight. and with good reason. That is incredibly rude and impatient. On the tube people generally wait until passengers have disembarked before getting on. This make sense, to me anyway. Generally people don't lean on you, fall asleep on your shoulder, stamp on your food, elbow you in the ribs, squash your hand onto the bar, so even if they do a 'sorry,' will probably follow. People don't push, unless they're in a rush, and even then a simple 'Excuse me' is suffice to get the space you need to get past. Obviously I'm not deluded enough to think that everyone using the tube is like this. But the majority are, and I hazard a guess that many of the ones who aren't are probably from a culture akin to Korea or China's.

The metro in Seoul is fantastic. It's clean, cheap and new. It's incredibly reliable. You can use your mobile and the free wi-fi. There's air-conditioning and heated seats. The carriages are huge. But the people on it are rude. No two ways about it. No 'cultural differences' excuses. They're rude. Even Koreans that I've asked say it's rude. They push, shove, lean on, elbow, stamp and stomp their way on and off. Nobody waits for anyone to get off. People literally run for a seat. If you leave a space between you and the door someone will stand in it. No matter how small that space is. They don't seem to realise or care that you are waiting to get off as well. And it gets packed! There are so many people using it. Especially on the circle line, which is the one nearest to me. At rush hour it's crazy, no one says excuse me and no one readily moves to let other people on so when it's busy everyone shoves. And you usually end up with your face in someones back, or worse in their hair. So unpleasant. It gets busy on the Tube but it's no where near as cramped as in Seoul.

My view at rush hour.
As I said, if you ask a Korean (and I have) they say that they don't like it, but they shrug 'That's just how it is,' That as it may be, but if you don't like it you should change your ways, don't participate in it.

A busy train on Line 2.

The Bus
The bus gets packed as well. A funny story about the bus; When I first arrived I was chatting with my co-teacher about the bus and she was shocked that we have a limit of passengers allowed to stand and that the bus won't stop if it's full to capacity. When Mary was here she asked me "When do they stop letting people on?" and my reply: "When they can't close the door anymore," Seriously.

This scares me every morning as I walk to the bus stop, literally a wall of people coming towards me.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Make up and Jewellery

 As we come to the end of February my birthday month is over. A short and sweet month, but one I managed to squeeze lots into. Teaching grade 6 for the last time, my birthday celebrations, pancake day and the start of Lent, a week away in Bali and filming adverts for a cable channel. 

I really like earrings, although I often forget to wear them out here in Korea because I don't have a proper jewellery box. For my birthday I received 4 pairs and decided to make sure I wore a pair everyday while in Bali. I've just discovered that I have doubled the amount of earrings I have out here since I arrived in 2010. So I think they deserve to be worn out more often.

Present from Wendy

Present from Mum

Present from May

Present from Nic
A while ago I remember chatting with one of my friends out here about make-up. We were lamenting the woes of buying eyeshadows. Buying individual ones takes up space in a make-up bag. Not practical for the traveller, but buying a pallet only inevitably leaves you with at least one colour that you never use. Well... Korea has come up with a marvellous solution. Fill your own eyeshadow pallet! I discovered this wonderful product by accident. There is a small Missha store at my subway station and I bought a cream highlighter shadow to replace my bourjois one. When I got it home I realised it wasn't in a proper case. Just a small plastic packet. Today I went to a Myeongdong branch and the very helpful lady showed me how it actually works. So I have now bought a couple more shades and fixed them into a case. Voila! Brilliant! Please bring this to Britain in time for my return!

Choose your colours (4,000 KRW) and buy your case (5,500 KRW)
I chose 2 small and 2 large shadows. Both small or large also available.
Stickers on the bottom of the shadow

Fantastic! Only colours that I want to use!

Saturday 25 February 2012

Phuket: Beaches

 While in Phuket, Nic and I tried to make the most of our proximity to the beach. Our first stop was Krabi beach. The sea was a little cloudy because of the sand on the seabed. There wasn't much shade but we managed to secure a spot under a tree. On our next beach day we decided to head to Railay beach which is a short boat ride away from Krabi. It was lovely and fairly quiet. The sea was really clear. We snagged a bit of shade, but some inconsiderate Europeans (with olive skin in no need of shade) sat directly behind us so when the sun moved around later in the day we lost our shade. After a few days we moved from Krabi to Karon and another beach destination. This time it was more built up and we were able to sit on beach beds with umbrellas. In a stroke of luck we managed to wangle not paying for the beds all day! The sand was very white and squeaked when you walked on it. It was also from Karon that we saw our most impressive sunset. The only bad thing about the beach is the sand. Let me say now, I HATE SAND. Horrible stuff. I'm very particular about keeping sand off of my towel, body and belongings. Most of the people I've ever been on a beach with aren't as fussy about sand as me and it was a running joke this holiday how much sand Nic constantly had all over her. I wonder how much ended up making it back to Ongar in her suitcase...

Krabi Beach

On the way to Railay Beach

Obligatory writing in the sand

On Karon Beach

Kata Beach

Heart Shaped (Lunar) New Year lantern

The sea, the sun and a boat at dusk.

Sand Angel

Nicola's sunbed. Even now looking at that much sand makes me uncomfortable.

Oh to be back in Thailand, lying on the beach...

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Good luck for lent

I always give something up for lent, and I always guilt trip my mum to give something up as well! It always used to be chocolate, which was a challenge but became a bit boring after a while. One year I gave up tea (normal enlgish tea, fruit and green teas allowed). Once I thought about giving up smoking (which would have been easy as I don't actually smoke...) This year I'm giving up bread. I eat bread everyday in the form of toast (usually with peanut butter) for breakfast. It will be difficult but that's really the point! So as of tomorrow I will be eating only cereal for breakfast. Wish me luck!

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Phuket: Food

Food. I love it! In particular, Food in Thailand is great! I've tried it before and had a great time! Nic and I had a great time sampling as much as possible, some Thai, some not so Thai but all really great. Even the curries that we ordered that ended up burning our mouths!

Aeroplane food, it can only get better from here on!

First meal, shared spring rolls

and Pad Thai. amazballs!

It didn't look very appertising, but tasted good.

Red curry, deep fried veg and satay chicken.

Grilled fish steak (that I thought would be tuna but wasn't)

Burger and chips.. and the first time I've had feta cheese in 2 years. It was simply scrumptious!

Pad Thai take 2.

Banana Split!

Deep fried prawns

Steamed mussels

Satay Chicken

Proper sausage sandwich. Another first for 2 years.

Lovely cookies, banana smoothies and our cool dude sunnies!

Indian. Lush.

Oooh a dippy boiled egg.

Sweetcorn on the beach

Prawn & Veg stir fry

Spring rolls, onion rings and calamari.