Monday, August 15, 2016


Hello, hello!

Literally only 2 weeks left in Korea and I'm feeling content with that. We'll see what the next 2 weeks bring. 

You tried.
 I missed blogging last week because I had to get ready for my big trip, so here's a quick summary.

The second week of camp is more fun with cooking and market day.

For cooking day we decorated cakes. We had red and blue food coloring and used whipped cream as frosting (which was a nightmare to order and also to keep from melting in the summer heat). I tried to make purple?
Close enough.
 Friday is market day so we watched Inside Out while the kids got to use the money they earned to buy things.

It was fun. Camp was a nice way to finish Korea in that it makes me relieved it's over and I never have to do another one.

Immediately after camp being done I decided to dye my hair as I have been wanting to do that for like ever.

Red hair don't care!
I really dig it.

Sunday we had dance class with a different teacher since Soo Yeon was sick. I'm sad we don't get to finish with her, and we had 3 different teachers for our last 3 classes, but we had lots of good times.

This week was Miss A, who we learned in our second week like a year and a half ago. I cannot believe we have been at the studio that long. Dancing here is one of the things I will truly miss a lot about Korea.

Anyway, Miss A's "Hush"

Super Fun. Amazing. I loved it. 

After, we practiced for our performance and went home. I got ready for my trip to Dokdo.

I had to be at the SMOE headquarters at 3:30AM, so that was fun.

But really the trip was awesome.

If you don't know Dokdo, it's highly contested territory between Korea and Japan. It was the first place Japan occupied during their reign over Korea, and it has a lot of economic, patriotic, symbolic, and any other -ic importance to both countries, though Japan is more hush hush about it.

If you're in Korea for a week and don't hear about Dokdo I would be surprised.

Here's the Wikipedia entry, although some people will find contention with the idea that Dokdo is located in the "Sea of Japan" as that name is also contested - Korea calls it the "East Sea" and I can def see why calling a sea that reaches their mainland Japan's is not great for Korea.

In Japanese, the island is called Takeshima, but before 1905 they used to call it something else... and Ulleungdo (the other island I visited which is closer to the mainland than Dokdo) was called Takeshima, so that's confusing.

The French call it Liancourt Rocks.

I still think it's Korean.
It's really, really important to them 

It's a real honor and privilege to get to go to Dokdo. Many Koreans never go, and the journey is quite difficult.

First, the ferry from the mainland to Ulleungdo is over 3 hours. Then you have to take another 2-3 hour ferry from Ulleungdo to Dokdo. Ulleungdo is 120 km from the mainland, and Dokdo is another 87 km from Ulleungdo. So you're literally in the middle of the ocean.


And there's only about a 30% chance that you can even dock the boat on Dokdo due to the rough sea conditions. The tour supplied motion sickness medicine for us and they really hammered home that it is not and never will be a smooth ride. Even in good conditions, the sea is quite fierce.

So I feel really lucky that SMOE provided this trip for us. Everything was paid for, and I got to experience so much without feeling really bogged down by it being a propaganda trip.

Anyway, here are some pics:

My nametag that we had to wear everywhere

First sight of Ulleungdo

Lunch! Squid and mussel fried rice.

Second day lunch: spicy fish stew

Finally for dinner on day 2, some beef!

day 3 bibimbap pre-rice. All the ingredients came from the farm we visited.

Seafood is big here. 

Side note: for those who don't know, you cannot play Pokemon Go in Korea. Due to some Cold War and North Korea issues, Korea blocks google's GPS location stuff. So Google maps doesn't work suuuuper well here, and the Pokemon Go app cannot function without the GPS from google. 

As a result, a city called Sokcho in the north west of Korea is a glitch where the blockade doesn't work, so people go there to play.

Fortunately, Ulleungdo is also outside of the blocked range, so I got to play for a bit while I was on the island. 

Gotta catch 'em all

It was a fun perk of the trip.

Back to the real things:

View from the resort room in Ulleungdo which was up a fucking mountain. Seriously the incline was like 45 degrees

One of the ports
 After a long 4 hour bus ride and nearly 4 hour ferry ride, we went hiking after lunch. But it was foggy so I was pretty sure we were in Jurassic World
I drifted away with the mist~



It was not as hot as Seoul, but we were still dripping with sweat when we got back to the buses.

We had some more adventures in the harbor and went to our resort, and a 2 hour lecture was thankfully shortened to 40 minutes. I hung out with Tina's friend Renny (from her Korean class!) and some other British and Irish people. I have never been the minority nationality so that was fun.

The next day we hiked to the cable car to see the Dokdo observation deck and saw the Dokdo museum.

Ulleugndo is so pretty in its own right, man.

Where is Dokdo?

Ah it's that way.

It says Dokdo. 
Different Dokdo names... The Sassy French Lady is my fave. 

We had a bit of free time after lunch to wander before we headed to Dokdo.

I cannot get over how lovely Ulleugndo was.

If you've seen the West Sea in Korea, the East Sea is much much much cleaner and prettier.

They kept calling themselves the "Non-Continentals" since I guess that's what they say in the UK but I kept being like why is that such a non-specific name. Anyway, clockwise from my left is Tom, then Renny (the brits) and then Sean, who is Irish. They were fun guys!
Finally we boarded for Dokdo!

I was okay on the ferry. I took a freaking ton of medicine though. My last ride from Jeju was not fun when I was sick for hours.

There were a lot of people getting sick, but I didn't. When I got up to use the bathroom it felt like I was being thrown around the ship a lot. But sitting was fine.

Dokdo sighting!
 The ferry ride was about 2 and a half hours, and we didn't know if we would even land. If you can't. you just circle the island and go back.

It's like really expensive too. I was looking at the prices I didn't have to pay. But a trip out to Ulleungdo and Dokdo can cost well over $500, which is absurd considering Korea's usually really cheap to travel in.

Anyway, we landed! They gave us Korean flags and we set off to take pics!

You only get about 20 minutes on the island, and you can't really go very far onto it. There are actually two big sections of the island, but you can only stay on the dock of one.

 You'll know when you can go no further.
In which I cannot hold a flag.

It was soooooooo windy

Got it.
 Even though the island is disputed, Korea had military personnel on the island. They don't get to interact with many people since the boats don't come often so it must be lonely. But it's a prestigious position in the Korean military, and allegedly they are chosen to be photogenic too.

I tried to take a selfie with this one but I am too short so I couldn't get us both in the frame. 
Apparently on Tina's tour they told them to give them snacks. We just took pics with them.

SO WINDY. Amused at the only interaction of the day on such a lonely island.
 20 minutes seems like a long time to take pics but it's not.

in the back you can see the fisherman's house. 

Dokdo Dog. 

First steps, taking it all in. 

It really was quite an experience to be there. 

Renny, me, and Sean. 

After 20 min you get right back on the boat.

My boat chingus (friends) Michelle and Sean. We are all the same intake and we were next to each other on all the ferries.
 We got back and had dinner and went back to the resort for lectures, but since we got back late one was cancelled and the other one ended up just bonding and chilling with the staff. We played drinking games haha. We learned a lot of Korean ones and taught the Korean staff (they all volunteered from Daegu University and were so great!) some too. Super fun!

One of our fave staff members~ 

Lots of hanging out

The next day we had a bus tour of Ulleungdo to see more of the sights:

This rock is supposed to look like a turtle?


so freeeeeeeeeee

Apparently the Japanese hunted all the sea lions. This came up in a lot of our books and the museum too. 

I am the prettiest sea lion.
 Driving around Ulleungdo reminded me of the Amalfi Coast in Italy because of all the hills and hairpin turns.

There are like 3 traffic lights on the whole island. 

This one looks like an elephant!
 We stopped at a bit formed by volcanic activity (as the islands all were) and hung out on the most stable bridge I've been on in Korea.

dat blue dooooooooooo

Jump shots 

Such a pretty sight

We're alive
Renny and I took some fun videos on his slow-motion camera. 

 We went to a farm for lunch and saw some traditional buildings before shovelling bibimbap in our faces.

We got some pumpkin candy since Ulleungdo is famous for pumpkin stuff, then headed back to the buses to the ports to go home.

My last shot of Ulleungdo.
It was so nice to be out of Seoul and have some fresh air.

My legs killed though.

Then we had another bus ride, ferry ride, and bus ride again so I got home around 11:30 on Wednesday evening.

My left ankle has been giving me trouble since we got back. I think all the strain and impact of the hills didn't help. I didn't have much time to rest it though.

Thursday Grace, Tina, and I went to the pension office to apply for it to be sent home. Fortunately there is one literally outside my house, so that was awesome. We hung out til we had dance practice for Cheer Up and Monster. We got a lot done that day!

Friday was so hot. Tina, Lauren, and I had booked a tour of the Blue House, Korea's presidential estate thing, months ago and we finally got to go!

It was cool to see, but the tour was not great. We had an audio guide but they weren't super clear on when we should be using it, and the information was a bit surface. And it was like 95 degrees.

Still, it's not something you can see every day, so it was cool!

You could only take pics in like 3 spots:

"This tree" is like 137 years old. 
The actual Blue House part. The blue coloring is hella expensive to make so only important buildings in Korea have it.
Pretty cool
Some people left the photo zone and the guards with us were like OMG NOOOOOOOOO and it caused some commotion. You can't take pics with anything other than the specified background.
Not gonna lie I don't remember what this was because they took our headsets early and I was so hot and dying. But this was the end of the tour. 

We had practice for dance again because it was the only time we could all meet before people went on vacations. My body doesn't like me much these days since I won't let it rest.

Saturday, Tina, Helen, and I went to see Giselle! It's one of my favorite ballets and this was my first time seeing it. We saw a different version before, but they changed the story, music, and dances so I don't really consider it Giselle. This one was though!

Here's Svetlana Zakharova and Roberto Bolle doing the Grand Pas de Deux in the second act. Love it so much!

We saw the same guy from Swan Lake. Dude has legs for days.

Final bows

Great show!

Helen is one of my favorite Seoul people


My timehop was on point that day too!
After we went to our favorite Mix and Malt since we were so close. Then we stopped for coffee and drinks at a cute cafe!

So good
Then Tina and I made our way home, but we did a little shopping and got too many socks. Gotta get them before leaving Korea!

It was such a good, relaxing day.

Sunday brought us to our final dance class. We were sad that Soo Yeon wouldn't be teaching us, but we had the same teacher who taught us EXO's "Monster" and we liked her a lot.

Tina hasn't been well lately so she watched and did the music, then recorded us.

Here's the song we learned: BTS "Fire"

Not gonna lie, I did not much care for the song when it came out. I actually don't suuuuuuper like BTS. I think they're a bit flashy and try too hard in their dances, plus they make super fast complicated moves when they aren't singing. I prefer groups like Beast and EXO that do the dance AND sing when it's complicated, but whatever. I do like BTS, but I think they're a bit overrated and their fans are notoriously one of the most vicious fandoms in Kpop. 

But since the song came out I've been digging it more, and I was excited but nervous to do the dance. It's pretty fast, but as we found out it's not super hard. The beginning and chorus took a lot of work, but the middle is quite chill. It ended up being really really fun!

Here's our class:

No teacher. Gotta hand it to Grace, she kills the one record squeaky part that none of us could do haha.

I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would, so that was awesome.

We had some practice for our group performance after, but my leg was bothering me and everyone was tired, plus half our group wasn't there so we called it quits and got Kbbq and ice cream.

I got home and finally relaxed a bit. Today is a holiday - Korean Liberation Day! Today Korea celebrates liberation from Japanese rule.

I'm on vacation anyway, but it's nice to remember.

2 weeks left til I fly home! Ahhhhhhh!

For more Dokdo and Ulleungdo pics, see here:

Away we go~

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