England Korea Life & Reflections Scotland

Monthly Life Update: March 2017

With an overflowing folder of unpublished blog posts, I decided that it’s time to get back to basics.  I love having this blog as an outlet to share what I’ve been up to but, truthfully, a lot of my tales and photos are distant memories to me by the time I hit that publish button! Now that Vee and I are about to take our big trip, it seemed like the perfect time to start a monthly series- maybe this blog can actually be *kind of* in sync with real life (for a while!)


It seems fitting that I started this monthly series in March since it was a pretty action packed month with lots of changes taking place.

March began with us bidding a long overdue farewell to the old ROK!

Although I learned a lot (and saved a lot) in Korea, it was no secret that I had mentally checked out a long time ago…. Cultural differences that used to be quirky started being annoying and I began to resent the country quite a lot.

It was definitely the right time to leave but, weirdly enough, now that I’m gone, I miss it a lot. I miss the neon lights, the sound of k-pop blaring out of phone shops and, of course, the food.

What to eat see drink do Jeonju

The things I would do for a bowl of bibimbap right now….

I’m well aware that I have a huge case of the grass is always greener syndrome and that I’m looking back at my old life there with rose tinted spectacles.

The pollution, the vanity and the severe nationalism that used to annoy me haven’t made their way into my sentimental thoughts. I know that the things I’m missing don’t represent the full picture of my life there. But, nonetheless, it was my home for the past few years and it’s only natural to feel little bit homesick for it.

Scotland

Leaving Korea, I was so excited to spend a whole month at home. I’ve returned home twice over the three years that I lived in Korea but this was the longest trip of all of them. Plus, it was Veeran’s first time to visit The UK so I was on tour guide duty.

Most of our time at home was just spent enjoying being reunited with friends and family and spending precious time with them. We didn’t make too big an effort to see a lot of the country because, although 4 weeks seems like a long time, we knew it would be over in a flash.

These were some of the highlights:

Loch Lomond

Luss

I live just a stone’s throw away from Loch Lomond; one of the most scenic places in Scotland. Growing up, I didn’t appreciate where I was from, at all. But, since moving away, I’ve really grown to admire it and every time I return, I feel like a tourist seeing it for the first time.

While we were home, I was excited to actually go hill walking in Scotland! Although hiking was my favourite hobby in Korea, it’s something I never had any interest in when I lived at home. On my birthday, we walked up The Conic Hill which has amazing views out over Loch Lomond, and then we headed up Ben A’ann on my penultimate day at home.

Bonnie Sheep of Loch Lomond

With my lovely mum on Ben A’ann

I would have loved to have done some more hillwalks but the time just didn’t permit for it. Aims for the next time I’m home are to bag a few munros and maybe nail the West Highland Way!

Edinburgh

It would have been a crime to have taken Veeran to Scotland without taking him to Edinburgh. Plus, I was secretly missing my it myself as well. For such a tiny city, there’s lots to see, so we spent 3 days exploring and catching up with my  wee sister and other friends.

The Grassmarket

I used to live in Edinburgh but haven’t really enjoyed the city as a “proper tourist” since I was a wee girl.

Having lived there for a year and half, I thought I would have been the perfect tour guide but, when Veeran started asking questions, it turned out that I was clueless about almost everything apart from the castle (and the pubs….)

Blending in with the tourists by trying on See you Jimmy hats on The Royal Mile…

 

… and taking photos with William Wallace

So that Veeran could actually learn something about the city, we did a free walking tour, which was surprisingly enjoyable, humorous and informative. We also did a tour of the haunted underground with City of the Dead Tours.

The haunted underground tour is something I would definitely recommend to anyone who likes getting a wee fright after their dinner. It’s a fun and interactive way to learn about Edinburgh’s dark past, plus, it’s 2 for 1 on Wednesdays so perfect for mid-week budget travellers!

You can have a look at the tours that they offer, here!

Glasgow

Glasgow is my university city and, also, the closest city to my home town. Although I’ve only spent one year of my life as a Glasgow resident, it’s the place in the world that I’m most likely to call home.

While most of the days in Glasgow where (once again) spent sampling the many pubs around the city, I did devote a bit of time to being a tour guide.

Ashton Lane

We were lucky enough to be in Glasgow for the first big heatwave of 2017 (which, obviously, was in the same week as a snowstorm…) so, we had the rare chance to enjoy having mid-afternoon beer garden pints. We also saw a few folk “taps aff” so Veeran got to experience that lovely part of our culture…

Apart from that, my sightseeing agenda included some places I was very familiar with like Glasgow Uni, The Botanic Gardens and, obviously, a swatch of the good old Duke of Wellington! I had my own firsts in the city, though, at The Lighthouse where we enjoyed an amazing view over a strangely sunny Glasgow!

However, my favourite part of being home was just moulding back into my old life there. The best bits were all the well overdue nights out and impromptu pub dates with my friends. Glasgow, for me, is still the best city in the world and I’ve yet to come across a place that even compares. I’m already eagerly awaiting my next trip back to the homeland!

Manchester/Liverpool

Before I start, I should point out that I know neither Manchester nor Liverpool are parts of Scotland- although they’d fit right in if they were! One of my best friends from Korea, Faye, lives in Manchester and we were well overdue a catch up so I decided to make a 2 day trip out of the occasion.

We spent one afternoon in Manchester with Faye where we drunk coffees and cocktails in the Northern Quarter, just catching up and reminiscing about our crazy jobs, lives and friends in Korea.

Veeran and I decided to take the train to Liverpool that evening so we could see some of the Beatles sights around the city before returning back to Glasgow the next evening

Although we just had half a day in Liverpool, we still managed to see a fair amount of the city as it is quite compact. We went into a couple of the museums around the docks then had a pint in the Cavern Club before grabbing our bus up the road.

Liverpool has such a cool vibe and the people are so friendly and chilled out. (Plus, scouse is, undoubtedly, my favourite UK accent!) I’d love to return again for a more relaxed weekend of brunching and just hanging out next time I’m home.

Any Other News?

Guys, I fell off the veggie wagon. After forgoing so many KBBQ nights before leaving Korea, I ended up being enticed by all the square sausage and black pudding back in Scotland.

I’m realising that, while it was easy to be vegetarian when I was preparing my own food, it’s rather awkward to be when you’re staying with other people and generally travelling around. I’m still being wary about what I eat and choose the meat free option when it’s there. But, I’m just not being too religious or picky about it.

When I’m fully settled somewhere, I’ll definitely go veggie again. For now, though, I need to focus on developing a healthy travel routine for myself, and then I’ll start adding other factors into the equation.

I Turned 27!

Yup, this wee gypsy is not so wee anymore.

Can you see the look of panic on my face?!

I spent my 27th with my mum, my sister and Vee- this was actually the first birthday that I’ve had in Scotland since I was 23 and it was lovely and chilled.

Like I mentioned, we went a walk up the Conic Hill which was admittedly rainy but I still loved having a panoramic view over the Loch. Afterwards, we came home and went out for a Chinese meal. Pretty much my idea of a perfect day!

My woes about officially entering late 20s status were soon put at ease by new Sony A6000. Aims for the next few months are to learn how to use it properly and seriously up my photography game.

What I’ve Been Reading

Aquariams of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag

Towards the end of my time in Korea, I started to develop a fascination with our Northern neighbours after reading Yeonmi Park’s amazing autobiography.

Aquariams of Pyongyang is the second book that I’ve read about the infamous hermit state and it was a pretty horrifying read. Written by a defector of one of the country’s most notorious concentration camps, this grotesque account gives a rare insight into the daily life of North Korean prisoner.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of the flowery language in the book, I felt it was a very worth while read. Living in South Korea, it´s easy to get into a bubble and forget what’s going on at the other side of the DMZ. I´d advise other expats in Korea to read at least one book about North Korea in their time in the country. This would definitely be a good starting point although I did personally prefer Yeonmi Park’s book.

Living in Korea, I found that co-workers and Korean friends tended to just brush conflict with the North under the table. It’s one of these things that you need to do your own research on to learn about and books like these are a great tool for that!

From Excuses to Excursions: How I Started Travelling the World

Before leaving Korea, I was getting pretty apprehensive about our big move. With the UK exchange rate looking the way it is just now, the prospect of travelling is quite scary at the moment. Part of me was thinking it would be a much better idea to head to Japan and get an ESL job until the pound strengthens a bit again.

I was craving security and the thought of crossing continents with no concrete plan was worrying me.

Glo’s book was exactly what the doctor ordered. Taking a step into the unknown is absolutely terrifying and I needed a voice of reassurance in my life from someone who had been there.

I found the book so inspiring but, most importantly, it had a touch of humour in it that I needed at such a stressful time in my life. I pretty much devoured the whole thing from cover to cover on my flight to London! If anyone’s looking for a bit of travel inspo, this book is it!

Harry Potter

Haha, nope, no new discoveries here!

People might be shocked to hear this, but I have never read Harry Potter past the first 3 books and have only saw the first movie. So many people have passed comment on this over the years and I’ve always said that I’d eventually get round to reading the series and then watch the movies. (There are so many movies that I will probably never see because I always say this….)

When we did our free walking tour in Edinburgh, there were a lot of Harry Potter references that I didn’t understand.

We were in the graveyard of Greyfriar’s Bobby and were being shown Tom Ridley’s grave. Veeran was about to tell me who exactly Tom Ridley is (since, in his words, I’m never going to read the series anyway….) when I decided that, nope, enough is enough- it’s time to finally conquer Harry Potter.

(Plus, all the books are available on kindle unlimited…)

I’m now onto the third book in the series and I’m enjoying have a nice, quick light read that I can get through pretty easily. Fantasy isn’t always my cup of tea but after reading 2 books about North Korea and a book about Hiroshima, I needed something a bit less “real.”

New on the Blog

It was a light blogging month with the spotlight on Japan! In case you missed them, here’s a recap of my posts in March:

Most Popular Instagram Photo

I’m having so much Japan nostalgia and can only imagine how gorgeous this view is with the cherry blossoms right now!

 

Saving and Spending

March was pretty indulgent month- I’m not going to lie! Like I said, I pretty much molded back into my old life there. What I failed to mention was that I molded back into my old spending habits, too. We enjoyed lots of days in beer gardens and evenings in restaurants, bars and clubs. A bit more indulgent than our usual travels but after a year of saving, we deserved it!

I decided that March was going to be a light working month since I wanted to concentrate on spending time with my family and friends. I had a huge freelance writing client who I decided to let go of before leaving Korea. I’ve now started offering VA services and have an awesome new client who I’m really enjoying working with, too! (If any of you guys are looking for some blog, life or Pinterest assistance, get in touch and I’ll ping you my rates!)

In other news, I’ve also started blogging and vlogging for The Hostelgroup as an Independent Hostel Reviewer. Veeran and I stayed at St Christopher’s Inn in Edinburgh for a few nights in return for our services- you can check out our review here!

What’s Next in April!

I write this update from Veeran’s family’s house in Johannesburg. It’s Autumn here and 27 degrees so it’s safe to say that I’m loving life.

(Plus, they have avocados the size of my face.)

We’re here for 6 weeks in total and plan to visit Kruger National Park, Durban, Cape Town and the Garden Route in that time. Any tips on things not to miss in any of these places, or Johannesburg, please let me know!!

I can’t wait to update you guys with tales of South Africa (all good ones, I hope) at the end of the month.

Have an amazing Easter weekend everyone- I hope it’s filled with chocolate and long lies!

Disclaimer: I was a guest of St Christopher’s Inn and received complimentary passes for the City of the Dead Tour. As always, all opinions are my own. 

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