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
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