Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy 2012 everyone!

새해 복 많이 보내세요! (Much good luck/many happy wishes for the New Year!) ^_^

How was everyone's NYE? If you were lucky, I'm sure it was full of love and hope, spent with those dear to you. If you were super-lucky, I hope it was also full of fireworks! And possibly also at least a little alcohol. Because let's face it, that's what NYE is all about, right? Or maybe that's just the Australian in me talking... hehe^^

So I had quite a lovely weekend! Even lovelier because I took Thursday and Friday off so it was actually a four day weekend, and I got to pack some things to start sending home, Skype my parents, and (even better! Sorry Mum and Dad!) Skype my favourite Busan ladies, Nat and Christy! Even though Nat isn't actually there any more, I hold out hope that she'll be back before too long ^_^ This was a big thing because many failed attempts to navigate time differences and personal schedhules meant that Skyping opportunities have been few and far between. Oh and I also went to the boardgame cafe and actually WON a game of Settlers of Catan against Carey-Ann, aka Grand Catan-Master, and two others.

And then on Friday the real weekend started - Ryan and I set off for Deoksan, Resom Spaland and Moong Pension. I don't know if you know this about me, but I actually really like road trips, especially when they are to somewhere new. I love seeing the landscape change and looking for interesting buildings and natural formations, as well as having the chance to talk and listen to music and just chill productively with someone I like. Sound boring? Haha, maybe a little^^ Simple mind, simple pleasures I guess. The upshot was that the drive seemed to go pretty quickly, since it was only about an hour and a half away anyway, and we found our accomodation pretty easily too. It was a really nice place! Except for the fact that there was a distinct smell of gas in the kitchen (five minutes with everything open and some tissue stuffed up the gas nozzle later that night cured this) and we hadn't thought to bring any sauces or condiments for cooking (a good excuse to eat out!), it was lovely and very homey. There was plenty of space, and since it was an ondol style pension, the heating was fine and I think even the bathroom floor was heated a little too. Sadly we didn't have the time to really try the jacuzzi in the bathroom, but since we went to the Spa Castle anyway this wasn't such a big thing.
And OMG was the Spa Castle amazing! By the time we got there, it was getting a bit crowded since it was a Friday afternoon, and you could see why! We only really wanted to try the different spas, for which you pay the base rate of w24000 (our tickets were included in the cost of the pension), but if you want to go on any of the rides like the Tube Ride or the Wave Pool Ride, you have to pay extra for that - around w1000 or w2000 on average - as well as to rent the life jackets, so the cost can go up pretty quickly.
Oh and you have to wear those weird little Korean swimming caps, but you can wear a normal cap over it and frankly it wasn't a very heavily policed policy. But if you just want to kick back like us and relax in the many spas, there are plenty to try, inside and out. Warm water gets piped over the floor and stairs between levels outside so it's not so bad, but you can also just use the ones indoors if you want which are like big communal swimming pools.

Outside, as well as the various 'special water' ones like the blueberry and bokbunja (raspberry vinegar) ones, a hinoki spa (to help with skin irritations apparently) an 'alcohol' spa, and a green tea spa, there were 'themed' ones like the massage pool, the classic pool, the jazz pool, the gayageum pool and such, most of which just meant spas of various temperatures in some sort of special setting, like having classical or gayageum music played. There was also the 'romantic' spa, which could only fit about three couples in it, a really hot spa, a lukewarm spa, a spa-cafe (yes, the cafe is IN the spa), a dry sauna room, a 'health road' foot bath where you walk with one foot in the hot water and one in the cold (or if you do what we and most people did, you just want to sit in the hot water you can just about squeeze yourself in) and the most interesting one, a doctor fish spa!

It was only w5000 for half an hour or until the doctor fish ajumma kicked you out, and a full body thing, so we gave it a whirl. If you're like me and extremely ticklish, and also easily freaked out by things nibbling at you, it may take a while to get used to it, as the fish get spooked when you start giggling and will all swim away, but if you're like Ryan and quite calm, then you'll probably really get your money's worth and the only thing you'll have to worry about is fish swimming up your shorts. Some of the fish were quite big and not so cute (big as in maybe 5cms long) to have nibbling all the dead skin off you, but after we got used to it it wasn't too bad. Ryan even took the dare to put his face under for 30 seconds, but the fish were a) too scared or b) too smart to come near ^_^

So we spent a good few hours there. We might have tried some of the rides but it was getting late and had already gone dark and the temperatures were dropping - the attendants had actually started salting the walkways to stop them freezing over - so we went in search of dinner and had some delicious smoked samgyopsal and kalbi. The next day, we made good use of our kitchenette before we headed out and had a semi-English breakfast of baked beans, bacon, fried bread (no toaster) and fried tomatoes but since there were no knives or forks, or flat plates come to that, it was with a slightly Korean twist :) Ryan then headed off to his parent's place and I to Busan for NYE with Christy.

You know what I realised? I think that this is the first and only time I've stayed up to watch the sunrise for NYE. I stayed up all night last year, but that was just so we could catch the first bus back from Seoul and I was in a nightclub in Seoul anyway so the rising sun could have been the Teletubbies baby for all I knew. At any rate, it's also definitely my last, at least my last in any Northern Hemisphere country where you risk freezing various parts of your anatomy off to wait for the bloody sun to take it's sweet time to haul itself over the horizon at 7.34am. Unfortunately it was a bit of a disappointment, and we never actually saw the sun or any kind of sun-coloured glow in all the fog. The only reason we knew it was sunrise (apart from the lightening sky) was when they let off all the golden wish balloons people had written their wishes on, which is supposed to co-incide. Apparently it's a little foggy every year, but this year was particularly bad.

And no, I was not wearing a skirt that said "skirt" too :p
Anyway, at least we had a fun night waiting for the non-sunrise. We had some yummy tacos for dinner, played Apples and Apples (a word association game), let off fireworks at midnight on the beach (freezing our arses off), went to a hole-in-the-wall makkolli place that did particularly yummy bacon-wrapped ggochi (꼬치 - snacks on sticks; I don't even know what everything was, besides wrapped in bacon!), and, of course, noraebang. I think all of us bar the superstrong Christy and Jessica micro-napped at some point in the night, and Tom and Bailey headed off home around 3am (now that they're an old married couple and all we could excuse them^^) but the rest of us more or less made it in one piece!
Midnight at Haeundae beach with Bailey, Danielle, Tom, Val, Dan, Jess, Christy
Christy showing off her incredibly long limbs - "It's like you're not even a real person - you're a cartoon character!!" (Jessica)
Rockin' it out at the noraebang!
Trying to use breakfast at Breezeburns to stay awake... ㅠㅠ~~~~~~*

So all in all it was a good NYE, and although there was no actual sunrise to see, it was fun seeing in the New Year together and a good start to 2012 to spend the last night of 2011 in such good company.

Which I suppose brings up New Year's resolutions - old hat I know, but it seems to be expected, going from everyone else's blogs. Let's see how many I can write with a straight face, haha :p

1. Ok, this sounds a tad bitchy, but it's one I've made every NYE for the last three years and the only one I've actually managed to keep and find useful. Don't waste time on people who aren't worth it. Conversely, spend more time with those who are and who appreciate it. I know I don't seem like it at times, but I'm kind of sentimental and an old-fashioned romantic about some things, and one of those things is about believing in people and friendships. So up until I made this, I found myself committing a lot of myself to certain people and certain friendships that ended up being a waste of time and energy, and finding myself ultimately disappointed when I should have been more realistic. People are sometimes unreliable, or two faced, or use other people to get what they want, or just plain jerks. It happens, move on, appreciate the ones who aren't.

2. Be more health conscious. Now I like to think that I do fairly well on this in general - I'm not and never will be an exercise junkie, or a gym person, so making a resolution to go to the gym every day is just unrealistic, but there are other ways I can keep fit and that are more than feasible, like resolving to exercise at least three or four times a week, even if it's just taking an hour long walk or going to a bellydancing class, which by the way I am keen to continue when I get back! This also involves being better about keeping to a low-GI diet (which I pretty much gave up on when I came to Korea, a.k.a. white-rice kingdom) to keep my IR in check, and making sure I get enough vitamin D, folate and zinc to help keep my immune system up. I haven't made much effort with those last three either lately, which may or may not have made any difference since I'm exposed on a daily basis to those little germ hotbeds known as 'children' and have had bronchitis three times this year, tonsilitis/throat infections twice, numerous colds, hayfever and gastro-enteritis. I've actually got bronchitis again now, which makes it twice in three months, and had an awful, nauseous, painful and very disgustingly mucousy two days when I ran out of medicine on Monday night until Ryan took me to see an ear nose and throat doctor yesterday who gave me some sort of nasal spray and bronchial steam thing, as well as more drugs. I don't know what the spray was but it was incredibly painful, so I'm glad it at least helped. Anyway, sorry for the digression! Upshot, be healthier, avoid germy children when possible.

3. Spend more time with my loved ones while I can. Good lord that sounds awful - ever since reading Evelyn Waugh's "The Loved One", those words make me think "corpse". But don't worry, I don't have a stack of corpses I keep and dress up and have tea parties with, I just mean close friends and family, especially in light of the fact that I've spent the last two years away from home, even though it's been great and I've made many new friends that are just as dear to me :)

4. Travel to at least one new country. Haha, there's always a selfish resolution in there somewhere, right? What's the New Year without a bit of self-indulgence? ^_^

Ok, done. I'm not going to ask for your ideas about anything I've missed, since I'm sure there are many things I need to improve about myself. But any constructive feedback is always welcome :)

Happy New Year y'all!

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