Thursday, February 21, 2008
I've honestly surprised myself at how I suddenly felt shaken up by the news that my 2 co-teachers, who I'm extremely close to, won't be at my school this year. Through much tears, they both assured me that we'll still remain friends. I feel like I'm starting work all over again - from square one, where I know no one and am uncertain about everything around me.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
There's an episode in FRIENDS, just before Monica & Chandler get married where Joey feels disorientated and uncomfortable that so many things are changing within their friends circle.
Change is good, and I'm all for it. I think we can all learn and grow from new experiences. But at the moment I'm feeling like I've been thrown in the deep end ~ and I don't know how to swim.
I've been here since the end of August last year. I left my home, family and friends and trekked to the other side of the world to start a new life in a new country. Some will vouch for me that the first few days of arriving were extremely difficult. I had to come to terms that I was in an environment that wasn't English-speaking and that I had to either "fight" or "flight"
Six months later, it's evident that I chose to fight. I feel like I'm at the happiest point of my life and I'm doing things that I always dreamed of.
But I wouldn't have been so settled if it weren't for certain people who made the transition so smooth and easy for me. Within the first two weeks of my being here, they became my new family.
As we begin the new academic year at my school I am deeply saddened because the very people who I hold so close to my heart will no longer be at my school.
I'm really feeling very sad about this. Unlike other foreign teachers I know, my co-teachers are more than just that ...they became my big sisters, mother's and friends. Most of my day would be spent with them...and I grew extremely fond of them.
During January, when I ran my English winter camp at school for 4 weeks, I missed my co-teachers terribly and I couldn't wait for regular school to begin again.
I wish I wasn't the type of person to become attached to people as I do, but these things just happen...I'll take it as part of life and growing up.
Monday, February 18, 2008
TRANSPORT & NAVIGATION
Although I was only there for a week, I found the transport system to be fairly efficient. We only used buses, and had no need to use the tube. We were advised by many people not to use taxi’s as they are quite expensive.
Maps can be deceiving. What looks like a distance can merely be a ten minute walk from point A to point B.
Various shopkeepers couldn’t be bothered to keep us waiting while they finished their personal phone calls. Strangers on the street or on the buses were willing to tell us which bus to take to which destination.
Bus drivers are also generally OK, and a few even looked for us in their rearview mirror to tell us that the stop we were at is the one we needed to get off!NOTE: Always ask at least two people to verify directions (some people get a kick out of sending tourists in the wrong direction!)
I received my luggage the next day (Monday evening)
I was told that they’d try to put it on the next flight, and I was even prepared to wait at the airport for it. But there was no guarantee … so I went home, and I was assured that it would be delivered to me (for which I’d have to pay for!)
I flew British Airways from
I was pleased to arrive at
Who would have thought that a department store would thrill me nearly as much as a theme park?!
I walked into Harrods and looked around wide-eyed, like a child with unlimited access to Disney World! I was in absolute amazement. Situated in Knightsbridge, Harrods is apparently one of the largest department stores in the world, with designer labels everywhere ~ I mean everywhere!
It has over 300 departments, including clothing, jewelry, sporting gear, electronics, bridal wear, pet accessories, toys, food, furniture and so much more.
If anything, the food halls will make you feel as though you’ve died and gone to heaven! The proud owner of Harrods is Mohamed Fayed, an Egyptian businessman and billionaire.
It is home to some of the most famous faces in history, from the royal family to academics, writers, sportspeople, singers and actors.
I saw everyone ~ Julia Roberts, Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez, John Travolta, Salman Khan, Robin Williams, David Bekham, Hitler, Yasser Arafat, Nelson Mandela and Benazir Bhutto.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Until 1997, Kensington Palace was the official residence of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. The palace currently hosts an exhibition dedicated to the late princess, which includes some of her evening gowns that she'd worn.
The minute I stepped into the Cathedral, I felt a sense of calmness. Naturally, photography isn't permitted as it is a place of worship. The intricate designs covering nearly every piece of the cathedral is mesmerizing.
Services that have taken place here include Sir Winston Churchill's funeral, peace services marking the end of the First & Second World Wars and the wedding of Prince Charles & Princess Diana.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The view from the capsules make you feel like you’re really on top of the world. In fact, you don’t even feel it moving. The Eye is one of the most popular attractions in the city and again, I think we were very lucky to have excellent weather that day!
Taken from parliament.co.uk :
The first known royal palace to occupy Parliament’s site was Edward the Confessor’s (c1065). Parliament officially remains a royal palace and is still referred to as the ‘
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The River Thames is the longest river in
I was giddy with excitement when I caught the first glimpse of Big Ben from the river. It was simply majestic. The view of the London Eye and other spectacular buildings were beautiful beyond words. We were so lucky that we had good weather!
I think I was the only person running around snapping pics from the left... then the right... then the left again!
According to Wikipedia, the Crown Jewels have been kept at the Tower of London since 1303 after they were stolen from Westminster Abbey. They are considered to be the most valuable jewelrey collection in existence.
Let's just say there was more BLING than my eyes could handle *^^*
We drove over
Mum and I sat on the upper level on the bus, braving the cold! First, we were the only 2 people up there, until 3 ladies joined us. They seemed very excited and were snapping pics like crazy, even though the bus hadn’t even moved yet! I had an inkling that they could be from
….and then I heard one of them say “Hana, Dul, Set” (One, Two, Three in Korean). I jumped with joy. “Excuse me?” I said. “Are you from
They were! I was too excited to meet Koreans, because by this day I was feeling homesick (for
We bought tickets for a tour bus called Big Bus. It runs on a “hop on / hop off” system. That means that they drive around to all the major attractions, and you can get off the bus… explore on your own and then wait for the next bus to come around and take you to the next destination. The tickets are valid for 48 hours. You can also buy tickets to selected attractions from the bus company to avoid long queues… example:
The walk was great and I was snapping pics of all the magnificent buildings around me. 20 minutes later we found Jessops. We did a bit of shopping in the area and I found another mega store called HMV – I was going crazy… all my favourite TV series in box sets. If only had loads of cash on me!
I was thrilled when I found my absolute favourite British comedy on DVD – Mind Your Language. It’s about an English professor who teaches evening classes to a group of foreigners.
On Tuesday we took the bus from the hotel to Kings Cross Station and walked to the British Library. Hefty security guards met us at the door to search our bags, and after I showed the really big (yet hot) guard that I was irritated with him messing up my very organized handbag, he left me alone. Hahaha
When you step into the library, you may as well be stepping into an art gallery. Contrary to what may be believed, it’s not dark, dingy and eerily quiet. It’s airy and quite big with a few exhibitions on display.
We went to Southall – a South Asian residential district in
We had a bite to eat at a restaurant called Chandni Chowk. If you’re an avid Bollwyood follower, you’ll know that this term is often used in films. Chandni Chowk is actually one of the oldest and busiest markets in
On Sunday afternoon we took a drive to
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it in time for punting. This is similar to the gondola experience one can have in
(A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, designed for use in small rivers or other shallow water. Punting refers to boating in a punt. The punter generally propels the punt by pushing against the river bed with a pole – Taken from WIkipedia)
I flew Korean Air from Incheon Intl to Narita (
I sat next to two men – Japanese architects who were on their way home after spending several weeks in
We arrived in sunny
I prepared myself for the long flight to
It was the first time I was flying BA, and I wasn’t really blown away. There was junk in the seat pocket in front of me (probably from the previous passenger), and I found the airhostesses to be untidy and non-attentive to passengers around me.
I arrived at Heathrow at 16:20. It wasn’t as crazy as I anticipated. I got through immigration in just a few minutes, and I was soon met by my cousin who picked me up.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I found out exactly where the bus stop was, so just after 5am, I took a cab to the bus stop. When it arrived, everything was fine... till I kept seeing signs outside saying Gimpo Airport. I was worried that I got onto the wrong bus, but everything turned out fine. The bus first makes a stop at Gimpo Airport and then proceeds to Incheon!
All my friends were right - take the airport limousine instead of the taxi. They're efficient and MUCH cheaper. And they drop you off right in front of International departures!
Incheon airport has had many good reviews from travelers around the globe. It's easy to navigate, clean and staff are most willing to help.
I flew Korean Air from Incheon to Narita (Tokyo). I would then transfer to British Airways and fly to Heathrow...
How often will I be able to say I spontaneously booked a flight to
Where could I go? I was looking for visa-free countries with my SA passport. The only European countries I was really interested in was the UK & Switzerland…
I booked a trip to
Friday morning (January 25) I got the idea of going and by 5pm my ticket was booked and paid for. On Saturday I asked my mum to meet me. Monday her ticket was booked. Wednesday she arrived in the
I spent the few days before I left shopping for gifts to send back for my dad and brother in SA. I also had other admin to sort out, which went smoothly and pretty quickly.
Monday, February 11, 2008
By Lee Hyo-shik
A fire swallowed the nation's No. 1 treasure Sungnyemun - more commonly known as Namdaemun, meaning South Gate in Korean - in the heart of Seoul late Sunday.
The historic structure from the Joseon Kingdom was totally demolished four hours after it caught fire at 8:30 p.m. Firefighters stopped operation at 10: 30 p.m. as the blaze appeared to be extinguished but it flared up again some minutes later, spreading quickly beyond control.
About 30 fire trucks along with 90 firefighters rushed to the scene to bring the blaze under control. There were no reports of any casualties and the exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined, they said.
Police suspect someone deliberately started the fire as a taxi driver, identified only by his surname Lee, said he saw a man in his 50s go up the stairs of the gate with a shopping bag, while he was waiting to pick up a customer in the nearby area.
Lee said he then saw a spark like a firework and reported it to police, adding the man came down the stairs afterwards. The taxi driver said he drove around looking for the man but could not find him.
Read more here
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Mum & I took it pretty easy this morning. After breakfast, we went to the British Library ... amazing exhibitions! Then we went to another exhibition down the road about sleep and dreams.
We've walked so much, and I'm in awe of the buildings around me. As you can imagine, I'm going crazy taking pics!
We are definitely going to take in a show - I want to see SOUND OF MUSIC.. but we'll see.
Till next time... xxx
Monday, February 4, 2008
Yesterday, we went to Cambridge - took gorgeous photos. I'm taken aback by the buildings and architecture here.
This morning, we went to Southall...restricted myself from buying too many unneccesary things, but ended up buying a Bollywood CD from a guy cause he was so cute :)
Rode the red bus this morning :) and been seeing plenty of red phone booths and post boxes.
Mum & I have moved to a really snazzy Holiday Inn, with Madame Tussades and the British Library just a few minutes away.
I don't have much time to write, but basically:
I am really appreciating my home (in Korea) even more now that I am away from it.
I keep wanting to use Korean phrases like, `Ul-ma-yo' (how much is it?) and 'Gham-sam-ni-da' (thank you)
Not looking forward to saying good-bye to mum again.
Still wish I could see my dad & brother (LOVE YOU & MISS YOU!)
Gotta go... till next time xxx
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Quick update ... last week, I decided to do something outrageous and go somewhere during my week off next week. I looked for countries that are visa-free with my SA passport, and decided to book a flight to London!
This is the most spontaneous thing I've ever done in my life...
I was going to go alone, but the next day I convinced my mum to meet me here.
I arrived last night...mum arrived the previous day, and it was so great seeing my mum after all these months.
What have I done since I've arrived?
Spoke for 5 hours straight with my mum!
Shopped - even though I vowed I'd do no shopping
At the most delicious chicken burger (first time eating chicken in 5 months)
Mum & I will be staying at a hotel in London from Monday till the end of the week...
Hope everyone's well!
...till next time xxxx