Orla Hughes

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Orla Hughes



The adventure continues!! After a wonderful experience in Cadiz, Spain, I am journeying to Busan, South Korea to continue to teach English. Over the next 18 months I hope to get to know Korea well, as well as travel to Japan, Phillipines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma/Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, and Canada!! Fingers crossed!!



Asia » South Korea » Busan August 12th 2013

Things I've learned after my year in Korea that don't seem so strange anymore: - The perfect side dish to pizza is a bag of pickles. - Food allergies are non-existent. You should be able to eat anything and give the kids whatever you want. - It makes perfect business sense to open your cell phone or jewelry store right next to 20 other stores that sell the exact same thing. - Pizza and hamburgers are snacks, not meals. - You can wrap your umbrella when entering a store - this is genius! - Koreans are in a rush to go everywhere... except when they are standing on escalators, even with the subway train approaching. - It's impossible to flirt through eye contact because everyone is looking at their phones. - If foreigners can’t understand Korean, ... read more
cinema centre
Gwangan pier
Marine city

Asia » South Korea » Busan July 29th 2013

One thing I love, and will miss most, about Korea is the food! There's such diversity in what you can eat; seasonal food, special celebratory food for different important occasions, fusion food etc. Towards the end of my stay in Korea, a friend and I made Wednesdays 'Korean food night' so we could get our fill of our favourite dishes. One of the first dishes a foreigner is bound to try in Korea is bibimbap. This is a dish where rice, mixed colourful vegetables (e.g. cucumber, zucchini, mushrooms, soybean sprouts, seaweed etc), and a fried egg are mixed together in a bowl with lashings of gochujang (chilli pepper paste). They come in so many regional variations. My favourite is dolsot bibimbap where all the ingredients come in a hot stone bowl where the raw egg is ... read more
Shabu shabu
mmmn BBQ
Donkas stew

Asia » South Korea » Chungcheongnam-do » Boryeong July 21st 2013

Boryeong mudfest is an annual summer festival in Korea that traditionally celebrated the cosmetic benefits of the mud in the Boryeong area. Of course now it is a week long drinking festival with various mud related activities to enjoy! Boryeong is a 6-hour drive from Busan and we left at 6am on the Saturday morning on chartered buses to enjoy the weekend. Our bus turned into a party bus as we turned on the kareoke. We got our rooms sorted out in the town on arrival and hit the beach. We were expecting a mud beach but what the organisers do is truck mud in from nearby mud flats, and there wasn't a lot of it! It was watered down and poured into several 'fountains' for people to help themselves. They had left large paintbrushes for ... read more
bungee run
water fun
nore-bus fun

Asia » South Korea » Busan July 7th 2013

It's so easy to be active in Korea and hiking appears to be a national sport, especially the older you get. Even when doing a nighthike at 4am we saw adjummas and adjoshis walking back down our local mountain walk. As summer hit Busan I went on quite number of hikes. One such day was in Busan around Igidae towards Oryukdo (islands): a distinctive part of the coastline. It was a fierce hot day which contributed to very hazy views of Busan. The walk itself was nice, apart from a steep crumbly bit where we had to pull ourselves up by rope! The views of the coastline were magnificent and we left the city behind for the most part. Oryukdo comprises of five (or six depending on the tide) craggy hills of rock that line out ... read more
protocol
Gayasan hike
snack break

Asia » South Korea » Busan June 30th 2013

Korea is still very much a Buddhist country, for its philosophical and cultural tenants if not so much as as an active religion. Peoples daily lives are influenced by Buddhist principles as much as Confucian principles, and Buddhist temples are an important part of the Korean landscape. Templestays are popular programs, not only to experience and understand Korean Buddhist monastic life, but to get away from the hectic modern world that Korea has become. My meditative weekend started off with finally making it to a free yoga class on Gwangalli Beach! Ex-pats in Busan run many groups and organisations for health, fitness and fun; it runs the gamut from yoga, fitness, sailing, hiking to capoeira and zumba. As I've been doing pilates (in a Korean gym) since I've arrived, it wasn't too difficult to pick up ... read more
Scenic meditation
Three golden Buddhas
Downtime

Asia » South Korea » Seoul » Hongdae June 9th 2013

My third trip up to Seoul and this was the first time I would see much of it! As my school gave me an optional day off work, I headed up by myself on Friday afternoon, taking the 5-hour bus for cheapness sake. We were staying at Base Camp hostel in Hongdae, the university area, and it has a really cool set-up: basically bunk beds in enormous canvas tents, in one large room. It was already very hot outside, a good 5 degrees hotter than in Busan at least. I headed off to Namsangol to see a traditional Hanok village. This area mostly consisted of five traditional Korean houses from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), recovered from different parts of the city and relocated to the northern foot of Namsan (mountain). The interiors of each of these ... read more
Samgypsal
Rocking the park
Haewoojae - Toilet Park

Asia » South Korea » Busan May 26th 2013

After spending the last couple of weekends in cities, eating and drinking, I was desperate to escape on an activity day to the countryside. Luckily I found a facebook group for hiking and cycling in Busan, and I travelled out one Sunday morning to the peripheral city of Yangsan to meet some of the members. I was able to borrow a bike and we started off on our trip to Tongdosa (temple). We headed up north by the riverbank, which was decorated with many flowering poppies, and escaped the industrial landscape shortly afterwards. So nice to feel in the countryside again! We passed so many rice paddies with people out working their land - thoroughly peaceful and the roads were quiet too. It wasn't a demanding cycle by any means and we arrived at Tongdosa in ... read more
pagodas contain relics
rural Korea
poppy fields

Asia » South Korea » DMZ May 4th 2013

The Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea is one of the most famous and heavily fortified borders in the world, and we've been planning to visit since we arrived. One Friday evening, my friend Jackie and I got the KTX from Busan to Seoul. We stayed in the same hostel in Itaewon, Seoul's multi-cultural district, and finally managed to find a quiet bar for a few drinks. Despite out best intentions we ended up going to bed a lot later than planned, and the big excitement of the night was finding salt and vinegar crisps tucked away in a tiny shop! The next morning we were booked to do a DMZ tour with USO tours. We had to get up early to meet the group at 07:30 but got to doze a bit on ... read more
NK soldiers
Bridge of no Return
MDL sneak photo

Asia » South Korea » Busan April 21st 2013

Korea is always the country for festivals - it's hard to keep count of what goes on! The first big one this year was the Lunar New Year (Seollal) February 9th-11th. We didn't attend celebrations as most of our friends went away together and hired a pension for the weekend, but for most Koreans it's a very important holiday and one that's spent with family. Lanterns were strung up all over towns and cities and some temples put on magnificent lantern shows at night, which I heard about too late! Two weeks later, however, I made my way down to Haeundae and Gwangalli beaches in Busan to see the Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival celebrations. This is held every year on the day of the first full moon of the Lunar New Year, for people to come ... read more
Happy Holi!
battle
dragon boats in waiting

Asia » South Korea » Busan April 13th 2013

Back at the start of December; Conor, Deborah and myself took ourselves off to visit Haedong Yonggungsa - Busan's famous Temple-by-the-Sea. Most Buddhist temples in Korea are located in the mountains, so this temple is a rare sight hugging the rocky coastline north of Busan. The temple was first established during the Goreyo dynasty in 1376 and more recently re-constructed in 1970. We walked the gauntlet of street vendors hawking their wares and past tall stone statues depicting the animal signs of the zodiac. Dozens of stone lanterns led the way down 108 stairs symbolizing the 108 agonies and earthly desires of Buddhism. On our way down we spotted various statues of Buddha dedicated for everything from 'academic achievement' to 'granting a son'. Across the bridge we could see the main temple next to an enormous ... read more
Candle Offerings
street art
Nampo murals




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