Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016: Year in Review

     Well, here we are again! New Year's Eve, 2016. I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a tumultuous year for the world, and we're all going to have to do our part to improve things next year. But as I've mentioned before, this blog is not a news outlet, it's my personal space, so I'm reviewing my year, which has fortunately gone pretty well. It's been strange though, to have spent nearly the whole year outside of the UK, as I've been living and travelling in Asia. Coming home for Christmas is the first time I've been back since last January! Homesickness comes and goes, and some days are tougher than others, but I had to accept that it's part of the deal when I choose to live this way.

Collage of 2016 events, including Hong Kong, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Korea

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2016: Best Of

      I think the whole world will agree that 2016 has been pretty disastrous in so many ways. And while I'm by no means ignorant of the problems we're facing, and recognise that things need to be done about it, this blog is a personal space for me, and one that I try to keep largely positive. So, I'm sticking to my usual end of year posts, starting with my "Best Of" list, featuring my favourite things to have come out of this year, because fortunately, it hasn't all been bad.

"Best of 2016" text on fireworks background

Saturday, 24 December 2016

South Korea | 4 Month Update

      I'm home again! It's been a whole year since I was in Scotland, for last Christmas, and I still find it crazy that I was away for so long. My time here is brief though, as I'm around for just over a week before I have to fly back to Korea over New Year. It would have been nice to have a little longer, and maybe celebrate Hogmanay at home, but my school only takes 3 days off for Christmas, and I already requested to take 3 extra on top of that, to have a little more time at home, so taking anymore would have been really pushing my luck. A week is better than nothing at all though, and on top of the usual Christmas and Boxing Day celebrations, my granny is turning ninety on Christmas Eve, so I really wanted to be back for that. Anyways, this seemed like a good time to write up another update about how things are going in Korea so far. It's not a "Term One" update, like last year's from Hong Kong, as the school doesn't really have terms - all our holidays are so short, that it's really just one massive school year!

View over Nampo from Busan Tower, South Korea

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Live-blogging | 36 Hour Journey Home

     I must be utterly mad to be attempting this. The backstory to this is that I'm going home for Christmas, and haven't been home since this time last year. Journeying from Korea to Scotland doesn't need to take this long, but when I'm relying on public transport and flights are busy around Christmas, this ended up being the case. I've got a direct flight from Incheon to London, but since I live in Busan, to make it to the airport in time, I'm taking the train up the night before and staying in the airport overnight (apparently Incheon airport is quite comfy? And cheaper than booking somewhere and taking a shuttle in the morning). Then, limited Christmas flights give me a long layover in Heathrow before I fly north to Newcastle, where my parents will pick me up and drive us home. So while the flight time is 14 hours, then 1 hour, I'm estimating 36 hours door to door. So, to alleviate my boredom and maybe provide some amusement for others, as I get increasingly tired, I'm going to update this post continually (as much as possible anyway) throughout my travels. And for the sake of consistency, I'm listening all my times in GMT, as that's what I have to adjust to - Korea is 9 hours ahead of the UK. So in KST, I leave at 19.30 on the 22nd and arrive around 7.00 on the 24th, which is 10.30 on the 22nd and 22.00 on the 23rd in GMT. Everyone got that? Good, because I don't. Ok, see you on the other side...

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Boseong Green Tea Plantation Light Festival

     I've been round a few places in Busan so far, during my months in Korea, but I've only ventured out the city a couple of times. I got to check another place off my list last weekend though, one that I wasn't actually that aware of it until a friend offered the spare ticket she had. We were heading towards the Green Tea Plantation at Boseong, which was a 3 hour bus ride from Busan. It can be a little tricky to access by public transport, so we went as part of a trip organised by Enjoy Korea. The tea fields are worth a visit anytime really, especially since green tea is so popular over here, but at this time of year they also host a Light Festival, through December and January, so our trip lasted the whole afternoon and evening, getting back to Busan at around 10.30pm.

Hillside of green tea plants at Boseong Green Tea Plantation, South Korea

Monday, 19 December 2016

Outfit - Sweater Weather

      One of my favourite things about winter clothes is layering them in different ways to create new outfits - summer can be a bit repetitive when you just wear each thing alone, because it's too hot for anything else. Although it might look like I'm wearing a skirt at first, this is actually the denim dress that I've featured on here several times now, in various combinations. A jumper over a dress, like this, creates an entirely different look. I like the boldness of the stripes on it too, as I frequently choose interesting t-shirts or skirts, and pair them wth plain cardigans, so this is a bit different for me. I've been wearing leggings more than tights recently too, since the temperature has been dropping, and these black boots are a great winter staple, that go with so many of my clothes. Also, I had a lot of fun looking at these photos after taking them, and seeing how red my hair looks in the late afternoon sun!

Sweater Weather | outfit of black and grey striped jumper worn over denim dress, with black legging and high boots

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Cafes of Busan

     Busan is absolutely chock-a-block with cafes, something I wasn't expecting before I arrived here, given that Hong Kong had plenty, but most were of the chain variety, like Starbucks. Busan has lots of those too, both international and local chains, and of course these are handy for grabbing a coffee to-go when necessary. But Busan also has so, so many independent cafes to choose from, with selections of coffee and cakes on offer, and nice atmospheres to sit in for a while. A fellow coffee-loving friend and I have been to a few now, in various parts of the city, and I'm sure we'll find time to visit more, so I thought I'd share some of them now, for anyone else in Busan looking for some good cafes (and this gives me an excuse to share the photos I've taken of pretty coffees!).

Mocha coffee with snowflake / cobweb coffee art, from Marisstella in Myeongnyun, Busan, South Korea

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Fake It Till You Make It

     This has been a sort of motto of mine for a while now, and while there are definitely times when you probably shouldn't do it, it's remarkable how far you can get by pretending to be confident and know what you're doing, even when you haven't got a clue. Or, as I also refer to it, bullshitting your way through life. I feel like this is something I've been doing a lot in recent years, as I've graduated university, I have a job and am officially an "adult", but really I'm still only 22 and have no idea what I want to do in life and how to be a fully functioning adult. So, I'm faking it until I figure it out.

Confidence quote on a flower background | "Confidence is something you create in yourself by believing in who you are"

Monday, 12 December 2016

Outfit - Black As Night

     This dress is one of the most versatile pieces in my wardrobe. I've used it twice before in outfit posts, once as a super casual beach-y look, and once dressed up for a night out. This time, it's a more practical day-to-day look, which I even wear to work, and allows me to keep using what was initially a summer/warm weather dress all the way into winter. The dress is simple and floaty, so I chose the long, swooping cardigan to match. The dress can be a little on the short side, since it's an uneven hem, so I paired it with leggings to more appropriate for work (and to keep me warm!), and my winter boots to keep the outfit season-appropriate. I don't wear all-black too often; it generally features in a lot of my outfits, but with colours to break it up (which I did add in the form of this long pendant necklace). However, simple, dark colour scheme like this looks effortlessly classy, and helps to create a more elegant overall look, even though each individual item is quite casual.

Black As Night - outfit of floaty black dress and leggings, with long grey cardigan and chunky black suede boots

Saturday, 10 December 2016

A-Z of Hong Kong

     I spent a year living and working in Hong Kong, immediately after graduating university, and while I was terrified at first, and really didn't think I liked the city much during the first few months, it wound up being a place I fell in love with. My year there gave me plenty of time to explore as much of the city as possible, and experience a lot of the culture. I had my reasons for leaving, and I don't plan to live there again, but I would happily go back and visit again. So, since I've written A-Z guides for Edinburgh and Paris previously, cities I've lived or spent a lot of time in, I thought it was about time I put together an alphabetic guide of the most recent place I lived too.

     Alphabetic guides sometimes involve skipping sights with the same letter, so for my Top Ten Sights in Hong Kong, click here.

View of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Korea's Christmas Lights

     It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... and I'm so excited! Christmas has always been my favourite holiday, but in recent years I haven't gotten quite as excited about the build-up to it as I used to. I assumed this was part of growing up, but it was more than a little sad to lose some of the magic. However, this year, my excitement levels are much higher! I think a large part of this is because I'm going home for Christmas, and I haven't set foot on Scottish soil since January - this is the longest I've ever gone without being home. It's also nice because, while I love travelling and see so much of Asia this year has been amazing, Christmas is something familiar, something from home, and of course I've been a little homesick, having been away for so long. Christmas isn't generally as big a deal over in Asia as it is back home, since it's largely a Western holiday, but they do know about it and celebrate to an extent; though it is disappointing to see it so utterly commercialised here (which it is back home too, but we at least know more about the background and meaning of it - my students here just know they get gifts!). The Christmas lights though are something I can get very excited about, as they're just so pretty, and Nampo has a huge display in its main streets, which I went to check out last week.

Christmas Tree lights in Nampo, Busan, South Korea

Monday, 5 December 2016

Outfit - Winter Prints

     This cardigan is a new addition to my wardrobe, as I needed to stock up on some warm layers for the incoming cold months, and it's a much bolder print than I typically go for! It was on sale, which was definitely part of what pushed me to buy. I like making myself experiment a bit more though, and this pattern is a lot more fun than if I'd bought, say, a plain black one, but is still not too bold, with its muted colours. I've paired it with a plain dress, to balance the pattern, and both are made from similar knitted-type fabrics, which are very winter appropriate. I'm also completely obsessed with these boots with any kind of shirt hemline, especially this dress, since the knitwear and soft suede of the boots also blend together nicely. Definitely one of my favourite winter outfits!

Winter Prints | outfit of black and white bold patterned cardigan over a short purple knitted dress, with black tights and tall suede boots

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Hiking to Seokbulsa Temple | Busan

     This is definitely my first bigger hike in Korea so far! That said, it's not a very difficult hike at all - the only steep climb is the last 15-20 minutes or so up to the temple - but it's still more than I've done in a while, and certainly more of a hike than last week's visit to Taejongdae Park. Busan has many hills and mountains in and around it, but one of the bigger one's is Geumjeongsan, which is also pretty central and easy to get to (I took the subway to Oncheonjang to start). It has many hiking trails to choose from, and various temples and gates throughout, so our destination of choice was Seokbulsa Temple, supposedly one of the nicest and most interesting temples to visit in Busan. We went on a sunny, cool, autumn afternoon last weekend, and our whole trip only took a couple of hours on the mountain itself.

Seokbulsa Temple on Geumjeongsan Mountain, Busan, South Korea

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Travel Inspiration - Netherlands

     The Netherlands is a small (as are most European countries!) but fascinating country, and my time spent there was all too short. I was there for a brief couple of days a few years ago, during my big European trip, but as with most places on that trip, I hope to return there one day, to experience it a bit more thoroughly, once I'm living in the UK again. Amsterdam is, of course, the most famous place in the country, known for its pretty canals and beautiful architecture, and historically, was home to Anne Frank. There's more to the Netherlands outside the capital too though, and I got to spend an afternoon in the countryside, around the village of Edam (where the cheese comes from!). This part of Europe is called the "Low Countries" for a reason, as the country is very flat, and some areas actually sit below sea level!

Windmill in the Dutch countryside around Edam | Netherlands, Europe

Monday, 28 November 2016

Outfit - Beanie & Boots

     The temperature is definitely dropping now! It's pretty chilly when I walk to work in the mornings, so I've had to start adding this beanie hat most days - and black is easy to add to any outfit, especially when my leather jacket is black too! I'm actually wearing a cardigan under the jacket too, but you can't really see it in these photos, since the green and black top is short sleeved (I've previously styled the same top like this, with my old boots). Even when it's cold, I'll still wear skirts or dresses with tights, but there are also plenty of days when I just want to throw on some jeans; these grey ones are particular favourites of mine, and I like the charcoal tones of this whole look with the grey and black together. Finally, the boots are a recent purchase, as my old black boots were starting to get full of holes! They're fake suede, which is nice and warm actually, and they feel like they'll be sturdy enough for walking about in winter.

Beanie & Boots | outfit of black leather jacket, green print top, grey jeans, tall black suede boots & beanie hat

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Taejongdae Park | Busan

     Back when I lived in Hong Kong, I went hiking fairly regularly - I'm not the fittest person, so I'm not scaling mountains or anything, but long-ish easy to medium country walks with some hills suit me fine. I haven't really been out doing anything like that yet here in Korea (apart from some beach wandering), but last weekend I finally ventured into the countryside again. Some of the hills and mountains around Busan are on the larger side, so I opted to ease myself back in again with a visit to Taejongdae Park. Walking around the circuit here takes a couple of hours, but is all paved and only has slight inclines and declines, so it's more of a country walk than a hike, but it was still nice to be outside for a while.

Autumn foliage in Taejongdae Park, Busan, South Korea

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Exploring Seomyeon | Busan

     Seomyeon is one of the busiest parts of Busan, known for its huge range of places to shop and eat. It's also located on the intersection of two of the busiest subway lines, and is fairly central to the city anyway. I'm finding it to be a common place to agree to meet people, for dinner or coffee or drinks, whatever, since it's so central. It also has plenty of bars and clubs, so it's easy to find yourself here in the wee hours of the morning. However, I do feel like it lacks much else to do; where Nampo has Busan Tower and Jagalchi Market, and Haeundae has the beach and aquarium, Seomyeon is just shop after restaurant after bar after shop. I'd been in the area many times, mostly for dinner or drinks, but hadn't really explored it much more than that, so the other week I decided to take a couple of hours to roam around and see what I could find and photograph.

Street in Seomyeon, Busan, South Korea

Monday, 21 November 2016

Outfit - Purple Plum Patterns

     I think the colours in this dress are just perfect for the autumn season, when deeper, richer tones are all around us. Darker colours are typically what I lean towards anyway, like purples and black, but I like the addition of the brown belt that came with this dress, which feels very appropriate for autumn by adding in some warmer tones. I decided to play that up more with the brown boots too. I've previously used the dress in this outfit post, where I kept the whole look very light for summer heat, but now that it's cooler, I've added layers. Tights are great in the cooler month, but since this is a shorter dress, I've played it safe (and warmer!) by wearing leggings with it this time, and of course, adding a long, cosy cardigan for extra warmth. I sort of wanted a warm colour, to match the overall tones of the outfit, but as it's not a palette I typically wear, my options were limited, so I stuck to the muted tones of the grey. I've been wearing less jewellery lately (a phase I go through every so often), so sleeper hoop earrings are easy, along with the rings and watch I always wear.

Purple Plum Patterns | outfit of short black dress with purple pattern and brown belt, worn with black leggings and brown ankle boots

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Review - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

     It's back. Five years since the Harry Potter films were completed, but now the magic that filled my childhood is back, and it's wonderful. Having grown up with the original series, I was both excited and apprehensive of this new film. I was sure the magic would be amazing, as always, but I was nervous about new characters and settings and stories being brought into this world I love so much - what if I didn't like them? Fortunately, I enjoyed Fantastic Beasts so, so much, from the moment 'Hedwig's Theme' was played over the opening titles. (Mild spoilers ahead).

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie poster

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Queen's Banquet | Busan

     When living in another country, there's a whole host of new things to experience, and as well as adapting to day-to-day life, I like to try to see different parts of the country and learn a little about the culture. I had another chance to do that last week, when I went to watch a traditional Korean dance show, called 'The Queen's Banquet'. It takes place every night at 8pm - so if you're ever in Busan, it's easy to catch a performance - at the Haeundae Grand Hotel. Photography is permitted, but no flash, but I had assumed it wouldn't be so these are only phone quality photos today, no big camera. Anyway, it tells the story of the King and Queen hosting a Court Banquet, with special emphasis on the Queen's rituals, and then of the People's Feast, and the common people entertaining the royals in return.

Leaflet featuring poster design for The Queen's Banquet, traditional dance show, in Busan, South Korea

Monday, 14 November 2016

Outfit - Gossamer Dreams

     I'm in love with how floaty and delicate this skirt is! The fabric is so light and airy, which is only emphasised further by being semi-transparent, with those darker stripes breaking it up. There's a silk underskirt of course, though it is a little short so you do have to be careful sometimes! The longer length of the outer layer is different for me though, as I typically stick to above the knee since I think it suits my height, but I'm liking this one a lot! The black tights keep it more formal though, and I like the contrast of the delicate skirt with the chunkier and more grown-up ankle boots. I've stuck with dark colours for this look, as is my typical palette, and it feels appropriate on moody, overcast days like this one. I matched my earrings to my top, and I thought the Tree of Life necklace had the same ethereal, earthy quality as the skirt.

Gossamer Dreams | outfit of plain purple t-shirt, black cardigan, black semi-transparent floaty skirt and black heeled ankle boots

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Exploring Markets & Memorials | Seoul

     Last weekend I hopped on the train and zoomed up north to Seoul again (read about my last trip there in this post). The reason that brought about this trip was a friend of my parents was over in Korea for work, so I was going to meet up with her. And she'd brought over some goodies from home for me, mostly skincare and makeup products that I couldn't find here - ridiculous, given how big Korea's skincare industry is, but it's hard to know what to buy when you can't read the labels! - and some foodstuffs, because all I really need in life is decent tea, coffee and chocolate! Anyway, I figured I may as well make a whole weekend out of it, so I caught a train up early on Saturday morning and stayed until Sunday evening. I do like that Korea is small enough that it's easy to explore outside of Busan even in just a regular two day weekend, although I've yet to go anywhere besides Seoul so far.

Jogyesa Temple Autumn Chrysanthemum Festival

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Wanderlust Tag

     Even though I've seen so many new countries in the past few years, I'm always dreaming of the next destination. There's still so much of the world I want to see, beautiful sights to see, foreign cultures to experiences, and adventures to enjoy. Due to my current job, it will be many months before I can go somewhere new - though I can, of course, still explore the rest of Korea in the mean time - so for now, I'm filling in some tag questions about my wanderlust.

Wanderlust definition on background of snowy scene out an airplane window

Monday, 7 November 2016

Outfit - Autumnal

     Oh I do love autumn, and autumn in Korea suits me ever so well. It's cool, but still dry and sunny - excuse my squinting in the photos though, the only good lighting angle for the clothes meant the sun was in my eye - and the colours of the leaves in the sunlight are just stunning (I love Scotland, but our autumns tend to be in the wet, grey end of the spectrum). And I love that autumn is the perfect season for most of my favourite clothes and style choices, like light dresses, layers, and boots, all of which are in today's outfit, as you see. I've been wanting a white dress like this for a while, something delicate and girly, but which I can pair with pieces that roughen it up a bit, like this checked shirt, to be more in line with my style and personality. And it fits in perfectly with the season, especially when worn with my brown, very autumnal, boots. I don't know how often I'll trust myself to wear this dress, because you know, WHITE (it won't be going near my kindergarteners at any rate!) but I'm very glad I bought it anyway.

Autumnal | outfit of short, white lacy dress, blue and whited checked shirt, and brown suede ankle boots

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Haeundae Beach | Busan

     Being a coastal city, Busan has several beaches to choose from, if you want to spend some time in the sand by the ocean. I arrived here at the end of the summer, and the official "swimming season", when there are lifeguards around, ends then too, though you can still swim if you want, so I missed the properly sunny beach weather. That doesn't mean I can't still enjoy the beaches though! I've yet to visit most of them, and some are more difficult to get to, involving long bus or taxi rides. Gwangalli, where the Fireworks Festival is held, is an easily accessible one, with lots of popular expat bars on the waterfront too, and I've spent a few evenings there. Haeundae is the biggest and most popular, as far as I know though. It's a bit further out on the subway (Line 2), depending where you start from, but then it's a short walk down to the sand. I went once by myself a few weeks ago, then again last weekend with a friend.

Haeundae beach, Busan, South Korea

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

South Korea | 2 Month Update

     I've been in Korea for just over two months now, and I thought it was about time to write an update about how everything is going here. I was going to write this last week, until I got sick over the weekend - read my last post about the school Halloween party for more on that... I've written a few times about places around Busan, like the Nampo area where I live, and what my work days are like. I've been lucky enough to have attended a couple of festivals, and got to go up to Seoul during the 5 day Chuseok holiday back in September. However, all of these things make life sound really fun, which it obviously isn't every single day! So in this post I'll be covering more about what day-to-day life is like. Also, can you believe a year ago I was writing this same update about my first couple of months in Hong Kong? Life has been crazy this year!

Gwangan Bridge seen from Gwangalli beach in the evening, Busan, South Korea

Monday, 31 October 2016

Kids' Halloween Party

     So Halloween this year was a bit of a bummer, especially after last year's being so much fun! A big part of the reason was that I got sick over the weekend, so couldn't make it out on Saturday night, which was when most people were going out to celebrate. However, it sounds like it was a standard Saturday of bar hopping, just in costume, so I'm not sure I missed out on all that much. I think I enjoyed last year more than most Halloweens because we were doing something a little different (Rocky Horror and Bierfest). I have mixed feelings about Halloween anyway, as I find its origins fascinating - from the Gaelic festival of Samhain, and the idea that it's a time when the boundary between this world and the "other" world is thinnest, allowing spirits to visit us. I also love the spookiness, and all the lore and legends about witches and ghosts and demons and such, and when costumes are done well, they can be breathtaking. I like the mystical side of it more than the scary, horror stuff, and I'm less interested in what modern, commercialised Halloween has become - cheap costumes that are nothing to do with the supernatural, excessive candy consumption, and gory, horror films. So although a night out drinking in costume would've been fun, I guess it's nothing I haven't done before.

Witch Halloween Outfit | black t-shirt, skirt, ballet shoes and wide sleeved cardigan, spider web tights, and purple witch hat headband

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Busan Fireworks Festival

     I heard a lot about the Fireworks Festival in Busan during the weeks leading up to it, as its one of the largest fireworks displays in Asia. It takes place every October, and this was its 12th year. The display lasts for around an hour, with a short interval, and is accompanied by music played around the area. The Gwangan Bridge serves as the backdrop, so Gwangalli Beach is the best place to watch it from. However, if you want a good spot, you'll need to be there hours in advance, and be prepared to be crushed in amongst thousands of others. There are some alternative locations to watch from, Hwangnyeongsan Mountain being another choice, but these will be pretty busy too. The subway has additional guards along the route to Gwangan, to prevent complete chaos breaking out, and the public transport runs until later than normal, to accommodate the vast numbers of people trying to get home again.

Firework explosion at the 12th Busan Firework Festival on Gwangalli Beach

Monday, 24 October 2016

Outfit - Year Round

     First of all, given the horrible lighting in my current flat, I did some experimenting for these photos, which I took on the roof of my building. I much prefer natural light to fluorescents, though it was a bit overcast the day I took these. Anyway, on to the outfit; I love finding ways to make my clothes work in different seasons when possible. Of course, thick woolly cardigans are reserved for winter, and my light, breezy trousers and shrugs are going to be pretty useless in the colder months. However, this denim dress is definitely a versatile piece. I wore it like this back in the summer, and now I'm piling on some extra layers to continue wearing it now, with some good tights, a warm cardigan, and a black cami top underneath to disguise the cut out piece. These boots are my staple right now, while I'm waiting for some orders to arrive, and they're proving to be highly practical. Finally, I went for smaller jewellery, so as not to detract from the dress's detailing.

Year Round - outfit of denim cut out dress, with long grey cardigan, black tights and brown suede ankle boots

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Travel Inspiration - Honduras

     Many travellers shy away from the prospect of visiting Honduras, due to its unusually high murder rate, but my visit there was the furthest thing from dangerous. It was one of the destinations on my Central American trip last year, and I was travelling as part of a group tour, so the company were going to do their best to keep us safe! And with some basic traveller common sense, the likelihood of anything happening to you is no higher than most other countries. More tourists are visiting now, but it still feels like a relatively unknown location, lacking the masses of tourists you may find in other places. We made two main stops during my few days there, the town of Copan, full of tuk tuks and cobbled streets, and the island of Roatán, with its idyllic palm trees and beaches.

Cobbled streets and tuk tuks in Copan, Honduras

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Top Five Films to Make You Laugh

     Cinema, like all art forms, can be a powerful tool to explore important themes, make commentary on social issues, and delve into human emotions and psychology. Many excellent films do these things, and are normally hard-hitting dramas. But other genres can do this too; sometimes, you want a film that you can relax into and have a smile on your face throughout; a film that still has a good story or important themes, but which doesn't require excessive analysing and thinking throughout. Which is why, I've put together some of my favourite comedy films. I've tried to pick a range here, with different comedic styles, so hopefully there's something to suit different tastes. Personally, I'm not a fan of excessively crude humour, and I prefer comedy films to have a decent storyline, and a bit of heart or some smart humour in them too. So, without further ado, here we go!

Pitch Perfect movie poster

Monday, 17 October 2016

Outfit - Be Bold

     I've never thought of myself as a particularly confident person, but sometimes you just have to fake it till you make it, and I'm getting pretty good at that! A good outfit can help too, and combining red and black, with a leather jacket and heels, is a pretty surefire way of giving yourself a confidence boost! I've worn this dress before throughout summer - the cute back detailing is great for warm weather! - but I like to be able to use clothes I like in any season, so layering up with some tights and a good jacket lets me wear this into the cooler months too. I'm especially fond of this leather jacket too (fake, by the way) which I had - get this! - tailor made in Vietnam. Sounds super fancy, but they do tailoring pretty cheap there, and when I saw this pattern, I couldn't resist! I love the rocker of vibe it adds to outfits, something I definitely like to channel at times. Shoes can change the whole tone of an outfit too - Converse make this a more casual look, but heels and chunky jewellery make it perfect evening wear.

Be Bold | outfit of red patterned dress, black leather jacket, and black heeled ankle boots

Saturday, 15 October 2016

A Day in the Life: Hagwon ESL Teacher

     So I've been working in my new job in Busan for nearly two months now, which means I'm now more or less used to my daily routine, my students, what is expected of me etc. Last year, I wrote a post detailing my average day in my job as a kindergarten teacher in Hong Kong, so I thought I'd do the same again this year, which is very interesting when you compare the two. I knew this job would be fairly different to my last one, but writing it all down like this makes it even more obvious! Although I was teaching last year, my students were 2-3 year olds, so we only did spoken English. This year, I have 5-11 year olds, who actually have to complete textbooks, so I have marking and reports and tests to complete much more regularly. This is probably more similar to the majority of teaching jobs though, so it's allowing me to see whether it's something I'd want to do more of in the future (more about that in future posts!). I should also stress that I work in a hagwon, a private school in Korea, so my schedule is likely a bit different to those in the public school (EPIK) programme.

Clipart of teacher supplies, including books, stationary and an apple

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Gamcheon Cultural Village | Busan

     This past weekend I ticked off one of the top places on my list of things to see in Busan, and that was Gamcheon Cultural Village. A lot of places around here that I've seen so far have been nice, but they've mostly been beaches or shopping areas and such, that you would find in many other cities too. Gamcheon is something a little more unique to Busan, and is also just so pretty, that I was very keen to explore it. It's a region of town built into the mountainside, near the harbour (only a couple of subway stops from Nampo, where I live), which was long known as a poor, slum area of the city. Up until a few years ago that is, when it received an artsy makeover, the buildings now decked out in a rainbow of colours, and quirky murals and art installations all around, which have made it a popular tourist sight to stroll around.

Entrance to Gamcheon Village, Busan, South Korea

Monday, 10 October 2016

Outfit - New Addition

     I've noticed recently that whenever I go shopping, I have a tendency to buy dresses, skirts, cardigans and shoes mainly (jeans and shorts when I need them), but I never seem to come away with many tops. Perhaps because they're typically the plainest part of my outfits - emphasis normally goes to the skirt or cardigan/outerwear (e.g. last week's checked shirt). So when I was shopping recently in Seoul, I made a point of trying to get at least one or two new tops (as well as the other stuff!), and this was one such purchase. Stripes are a favourite pattern of mine, and I like the scooped neckline (I've never been a fan of high necklines). I paired it with a plain skirt, to balance the pattern, and this black skater is one of my favourites, and goes with so many things. Since the temperature dropped this week in Busan, I'm enjoying layering again (limited amounts of that back in Hong Kong!), with tights and a cardigan, and my newest pair of boots, which are quickly becoming my go-to pair.

New Addition | outfit of purple and white striped t-shirt, long grey cardigan, black skater skirt and brown ankle boots

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Review - Set It Off: Upside Down

     Set It Off's third studio album, Upside Down, is certainly that - upside down. It's a record with so many musical styles infused throughout out. Although the band are typically classified somewhere within the broad rock genre, I do sometimes feel like they have echoes of a 90s boyband, disguised as a rock group, and there's certainly a lot of pop on this album. But in the best possible way!

Set It Off - Upside Down album cover artwork

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Jinju Lantern Festival

     One of the great parts about living in a foreign country for an extended period of time, is that you are more likely to get to experience local events and festivals, which may not always coincide with shorter holidays to these countries. One such festival in Korea is happening now, and I managed to visit it last weekend. Just over an hour on the bus from Busan is the town of Jinju, which is currently hosting its annual Lantern Festival (Namgang Yudeung). Saturday was the opening night, when the lanterns would be illuminated for the first time, and there were fireworks and some special ceremonies to go alongside it. Having been to Mid Autumn celebrations last year in Hong Kong, which is also known as their lantern festival (though the origins and reasons behind each are entirely different), I was curious how this one would compare. Plus, the pictures I'd seen online looked very pretty!

Lanterns and boat on the water at Jinju Lantern Festival, South Korea

Monday, 3 October 2016

Outfit - Checked Out

     My old checked shirt was getting a bit worn out, and there was even a rip under one arm, so when I saw more during my little Seoul shopping trip, I thought it was time to pick up a new one. This one isn't too thick either, which is good as it's still a little humid out these days. I most commonly pair checked shirts with a black top underneath, but since this one has a different colour scheme to my last (which was green), I tried it out with this purple top, and I definitely like it! I also like pairing the shirt with ripped jeans, making for a very relaxed outfit - I can get away with wearing most things to work, but I draw the line at these jeans. The boots dress it up just a tiny bit though, with the suede effect and small heels. These are rapidly becoming my go to shoes, since they go with nearly everything and are in much better condition that most of my others - I'll definitely be buying more though, come payday!

Checked Out - casual outfit of blue and white checked shirt, purple t-shirt, ripped blue skinny jeans, and brown ankle boots

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Just Keep Going

     Life is amazing. Life can be this crazy, beautiful, exciting, wonderful adventure. There are those days when something truly remarkable happens, that makes you so overwhelmingly full of joy and wonder. There are other days that are perfectly average days, but everything goes right, and it's easy and it's happy. Life has so many things for us to do, to see, to experience. Life is diverse and unpredictable and glorious.

"Keep Going" motivational text on ocean sunset background with boat, in Halong Bay

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Suwon | Chuseok

     My last destination of my Chuseok trip (read parts 1 and 2 here!), was an hour on the subway south of Seoul, to the town of Suwon. Suwon is the largest city in Gyeonggi-do, the province surrounding Seoul, which I'd been exploring (though there's still plenty more to see!). Many of the towns in the province are part of the Seoul subway system, and have almost been absorbed into the main city, by proximity at least, but are officially still their own towns. During my research, I'd found things to do in Suwon, but some were awkward to get to (for instance, the Mr Toilet museum is popular, but difficult to reach and far out of town), and what remained in the town was perhaps not going to fill two days. So, I came across the Korean Folk Village, regularly listed as popular attraction to the south of Seoul, and it worked in well enough with my plans, that I decided I may as well do it while in the area (Everland is also nearby, but I'm thinking of doing that on a weekend by itself!).

Korean Folk Village, Yongin, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Seoul | Chuseok

     After I explored to the east of Seoul, in the Chuncheon and Gapyeong area, I returned to the city for the next two nights of my trip. There's so much to see and do in a city the size of Seoul, and I only had a day and a half, so I had planned in advance and decided to focus on just one area this time round, and tick off several of the most popular tourist sights. I had booked a hotel in the Myeong-dong area, on the north side of the river, and pretty central to everything I was going to see. On my first night there, after returning from Chuncheon, I more or less went straight to bed, since all my activities were great, but did leave me pretty tired! I was up early the next day though to start exploring the Korean capital.

Gyeongbokgung palace, Seoul, South Korea

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Chuncheon & Gapyeong | Chuseok

     So even though I've only been in Korea for a couple of weeks, I've already managed to do quite a lot of adventuring! I got lucky, because there was a public holiday last week (my vacation days suck, so I have to look forward to public holidays!) for Korean Thanksgiving, known as Chuseok. It's quite an important holiday apparently, and locals will often travel to visit their families, and we all get three whole days off. Add the weekend on to this, and I had five days to go exploring! Most other public holidays are just one day, or sometimes make a three day weekend depending on when they land, but five days is rare, so I was keen to take advantage and use the time to get out of Busan for a bit. So, on Wednesday morning, I jumped on the high-speed KTX train and zoomed up to Seoul in three hours. Seoul is also only an hour long flight from Busan, so it's possible for me to visit in in a regular weekend, so I decided to use the extra time to explore the areas around Seoul, as well as some of the city itself.

Guseong waterfall, near Cheongpyeongsa temple outside Chuncheon, South Korea
Guseong waterfall, Cheongpyeongsa temple

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Outfit - Sheer Fantasy

     I have new shoes! This is extra exciting for me, ok, because it is so difficult to get shoes my size in Asia, both Hong Kong and Korea. I've been wearing the same shoes for months, but I was in Seoul last week and the Forever 21 there stocks my size, so I've replaced my old ankle boots with this nice, new pair. Not everything was in my size, so I'll probably be ordering more online or whenever I'm back home, but these are good for now! The cardigan thing I'm wearing here was also a recent purchase, but from a couple of months ago now. I got it for taking travelling, as it's so light that it's perfect for when it's hot but you need to cover up. It was my go-to for temple visiting, when shoulders need to be covered, and I opted to wear it with this dress for work, since the dress shows my bra straps otherwise (I wouldn't care normally, but it's not ideal for work). It's still fairly warm here in Korea, but the temperature is starting to drop, so I probably won't be wearing this one for much longer. The dress has been a good standby for work for a while now, I'm just mixing things up with my accessories this time.

Sheer Fantasy | outfit of black and white striped skater dress, sheer black fabric cardigan, and brown suede heeled ankle boots

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Review - Young Guns: Echoes

     It's been less than 18 months since Young Guns's last release, 'Ones and Zeros', but they're back again already, with their fourth studio album, 'Echoes'. The band have been around the British modern rock scene for a good few years now, but their last album didn't make a huge splash. 'Echoes' just might though, as they've moved away from the pop influence and heavy synthesisers found on 'Ones and Zeros', and stepped back into more instrumental, riff-heavy, traditional rock music.

Album artwork for Young Guns fourth album, Echoes

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Exploring Nampo-Dong | Busan

     Welcome to my new neighbourhood! I hadn't really explored it yet, much beyond the walk between work and my apartment, so last weekend I decided to get out and about a bit more. Technically my address is Jungang-dong, but Nampo-dong is just the next one over, and where work is. It's in the south of Busan, next to the ocean and there's a harbour and lots of fishing boats around. It takes about 20 minutes to get to Seomyeon, the city centre, on the subway, so it's pretty well located I think. My specific street is pretty quiet, just lots of apartments and local shops (naturally I can't understand a word of anything anywhere!), and it's raised up above the lower street level on the hillside, so I can access it by steps up the hillside (I have to go up 6 flights in total to reach my floor). The streets below are a bit more interesting, with lots of cafes and restaurants mostly, but they're also lined with trees and there's statues of some sort at nearly every junction, which makes the walk to work a little more interesting. As well as the statues, there's also quite a bit of street art around, mostly tucked on random building corners and walls; it took me a few days of walking to work to notice all of it, since I was mostly focussing on not getting lost at first!

View over Jungang-dong, near Nampo-dong, Busan, South Korea

Monday, 12 September 2016

Outfit - Slouching Around

     Everyone should own a pair of trousers that are the comfiest things possible, and I believe these are now mine. I got them earlier in the summer, before going travelling, to give me another option of lightweight type trousers, for keeping cool while covering up. I find leggings to be pretty comfy anyway, but these are looser and slouchier (though it's a little hard to see in these pictures I think), so there's more room to breathe. They're also thick enough to wear as trousers, whereas I tend to wear leggings under something, since they're quite tight... Anyway, these are definitely casual wear, and also thick enough to stretch into other seasons I think. It's still warm enough for a vest top like this one though, and flip flops to keep everything very chilled and casual. Often I wouldn't even bother with jewellery on an outfit like this, but a crystal on a rope necklace seemed fitting, and I'm still enjoying wearing all my new earrings from my recent travels.

Slouching Around - casual outfit of grey pattern print top, loose black leggings trousers and turquoise flip flops

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Review - Twin Atlantic: GLA

     If Twin Atlantic's last release, 2014's 'Great Divide' was a progression into mainstream alternative rock, which earned them wider recognition and plenty of airplay time, then this, their fourth album, has taken quite the u-turn. 'GLA' is a return to scrappy, rough round the edges rock, where alternative meets punk. The pop edges on 'Great Divide' have receded, as the four piece step back towards their roots. And while I like bands to progress and develop with each new release, this apparent step back is so well done that I completely love it.

Twin Atlantic - GLA album cover artwork

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Room Tour | Korean Apartment

     Yes, the wallpaper is hideous. It's actually worse in person, because it's just a little bit sparkly. I have no idea who chose it, but it certainly wasn't me. Anyway, this is my new apartment, here in Korea, which I've been in for two weeks now. It's provided to me by the school I work for, as part of my contract, so although it isn't fantastic by a long stretch, I'm not paying for it at least! It's small, but I live alone, since it's a studio flat - it reminds me a lot of my studio back in France because of that - so there's enough space for one person. I do live on the 7th floor though (or 6th in British terms, I'm having to get used to using American English here, especially when teaching), and I have to go up 6 flights of stairs to get here, which is a bit of a pain, but at least I can tell myself I'm doing exercise! My biggest gripe at the moment (besides the wallpaper) is the window though, since there's only the one, it's very small, and I have to stand on my toes to get a glimpse out (and that's coming from someone who's 5'9"), and there's really no view to speak of, just the building across from me - it definitely makes me miss my view from my Hong Kong flat! Though to be honest, both my flats in Asia have really made me miss my Edinburgh flat - it wasn't perfect, but it was nicer than these!

Interior of studio apartment in Busan, South Korea

Monday, 5 September 2016

Outfit - All About Accessories

     First up, I'd like to say that this is my first outfit from my new flat, and the lighting situation is driving me nuts; I've got one very small window, and a very bright harsh overhead light. I was gong mad while taking these photos, so I'm apologising for the horrid lighting, and I'm going to try to find a solution. Anyway. So, anyone that's been following this blog for a while may recognise a lot of this outfit, since I posted a very similar one, way back ago here. I doubt many of you would have picked up on that though! Anyway, I'm re-using this outfit for two reasons; firstly, since moving abroad, my wardrobe has gotten a lot more limited, since I just can't have all my stuff travelling around with me, so there's plenty of clothing items back home that I now haven't worn in a year. And secondly, because it's fun to mix and match, and re-work outfits in different ways, rather than repeating the same combinations all the time. I've got a different pair of jeans this time (those acid wash ones wore out a while ago), and switched out the boots (though I do still have those) for more relaxed Converse. And I recently got a new handbag, which was long overdue! My old one was falling to pieces, but I hadn't been able to find a new one I liked enough to give it up. I'm playing around with several new pieces of jewellery too, which I picked up on my summer travels, at markets in Vietnam (the earrings) and Laos (the necklace).

All About Accessories | outfit of plain black shirt, magenta string cardigan, blue skinny jeans, Converse, and silver jewellery

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Scottish Tag

     So seeing as I'm settling into yet another brand new country, I'm naturally feeling quite homesick, especially since I haven't been home since Christmas (8 months now, the longest I've ever been away). So today I'd like to remember home a little bit, and given that I'm yet to have any interesting Korean adventures to write about, a quick tag post about Scotland will do the job for today. I got the questions from the original Scottish tag on this YouTube video, but then I added a few more of my own on the end.

Blue and green Campbell tartan background with white text reading "Scottish tag"

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