Keeping Fit In Korea

10410632_10152632361249305_1929176102883447371_n

I’ve spoken before about healthy eating in Korea and explained why I find it easier to follow a healthy diet here than at home in England. The other part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is obviously to exercise. Before coming to Korea I’d switch between using the gym and going for runs outside. Since moving, I’ve found some aspects of keeping fit easier, others more difficult.

Here are what I consider the pros and cons of exercise in Korea:

♥ Hiking

There are hiking trails everywhere. From the numerous mountains for keen hikers, to the smaller trails hidden inside cities. Whether you want want to go for an intense 3-hour long trek, or for a gentle hour-long hike, there’s an option for you.

In Wonju where I live, there are not only two mountains just outside the city, but numerous trails within the city, so there’s plenty of choice should I wish to get some exercise, without having to head to the gym or go for a run. Plus, with the beautiful scenery of the trails, it’s a much more pleasant way to get some exercise, especially for nature lovers.

♥ Fitness Equipment

581895_10151630108099305_1443705987_n

You see these blue things a lot- up hiking trails, in parks everywhere. Ok, it might not in any way rival fitness equipment that you’d find at the gym, but it is fine to use for a few stretches. I’ve used the machines a couple of times and yes, they’re usually rickety, squeaky and shaky, but I’ve also found that they’re perfectly alright if you just want to stretch/ warm up/down during a hike or a run.

♥ Walking

I find that I walk a lot more in Korea, especially if I visit Seoul for the weekend- if I can, I avoid the subway because of the crowds, and choose to walk instead. I imagine that if you live in Seoul, walking could easily be the easiest way to incorporate exercise into your daily life.

As it is, even in Wonju, I walk more simply because most things are within walking distance. And that’s one advantage of living in Korea- the vast majority of people live in cities, so you are able to walk 20-minutes or half an hour to get somewhere, rather than drive. In England, if you live in the suburbs, walking isn’t an option.

(That’s not to say a lot of people will still opt to drive for convenience, but it’s a definite positive that walking is an option. If you’re feeling saintly, you can choose to get an hour of exercise just by walking to the shops and back, instead of grabbing a taxi. It couldn’t be easier).

♥ Cycling

The pavements always have a cycle-lane, making Korea a lot more bicycle-friendly than England for sure! In the UK, you aren’t allowed to cycle on the pavement, meaning you have to go on the road with cars, and as a result a lot of novice cyclists (like me) would feel nervous cycling around a city. But you can cycle pretty much anywhere in Korea, because you can go on the pavements.

Perhaps there are cycle paths because of the driving in Korea; I doubt many cyclists would want to cycle on the roads lest for fear of being knocked off their bike by crazy drivers. Either way, I know that cycling is a lot more convenient in Korea, making it another option for easy exercise.

♥ ⊗ Gyms

I can never decide whether gyms are better or worse in Korea; they have both their good and their bad points. The good: in my experience, the gyms have good equipment, are clean, and there are usually a lot of gyms in a city, so it’s more than likely you’ll be able to find one close to your home (nothing worse than having to drive 20 minutes to a gym- it de-motivates you before you even get there).

On the other hand, there are negatives. I’ve found the average gym to cost around 50,000 won per month, or 150,000 won for 3 months. While this isn’t extortionate, it is expensive, especially in a country where a lot of other things are so cheap. Especially because in a lot of gyms, this price doesn’t include use of a sauna or swimming pool. You can easily find cheaper monthly fees in England, and there’s not a lot which I’d say is cheaper in England than in Korea.

Plus, the main downfall, in my opinion, is the fact that most gyms are closed on Sundays. It might be the ‘day of rest’, but it’s also a day off work; for me, that’s a day I want to be able to visit the gym, and it’s so annoying that the majority are closed.

⊗ Weather Extremes

Weather is the main reason why I find it hard to exercise outside for a large part of the year. Autumn and Spring are fine, in fact, they’re beautiful times to go exercise outside; the weather is perfect, not too hot or cold. But in winter or summer, the weather is far too extreme.

In summer, you break out in a sweat just by stepping outside, let alone once you’ve got your heart rate up. In winter, your hands and face are numb within minutes. Even if you can ignore that, there’s also usually ice or snow which prevents you from exercising outside, unless you want to risk slipping over and injuring yourself. I’ve tried exercising outside during these two months, and it was just horrible. As a result, there are periods of time when I can’t choose to go out for a run, which is something I am able to do back in the UK.

⊗ Exercise Classes

I know that this isn’t a negative of Korea, but it’s a negative of being an expat- not understanding or being able to follow fitness classes. It’s a shame, especially when you see good classes which you’d love to take part in. I was going to attempt yoga class once, but my Korean friend told me that without being able to understand Korean, you’d find it extremely difficult. So if you’re a fan of group exercise classes, like me, you will probably be sad to know that they aren’t really a logical choice in Korea.

1381432_10152041516949305_1928685922_n

In general, I manage to incorporate exercise pretty easily into my lifestyle, similarly to back in England. However, I know that if I didn’t have a gym nearby, I might find it more difficult to keep fit. As mentioned, exercising outside isn’t always the best option due to extreme heat/cold. And while in England I’d work-out at home if I couldn’t outside, I find this hard in Korea. Living in a flat with people below me, I’m well aware that the neighbours might get tired of hearing me thump around the flat to an exercise DVD. 

On the other hand, there is a huge positive in Korea, which is hiking. I was so happy to introduce hiking as a new way to exercise; it’s probably my favourite way to keep fit, and something I’ll definitely miss back in England. 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

10 Ways That Korea Is Winning

All countries have good and bad points, things which we can either complain about or praise. And while Korea has it’s faults, today I’m going to focus on the good things: 10 things which give Korea definite cool points.

Oreo Cereal

alibaba.com

To the misery of Oreo-lovers everywhere, this cereal has been discontinued in every country…apart from South Korea. I regularly see it featured on lists along the lines of ‘foods we miss which no longer exist’. Well, come to Korea and stock up…

 

 

 

Umbrella Plastic Protectors

aliexpress.com

Ever had the problem of your umbrella dripping everywhere while you carry it awkwardly around a shop? Not a problem in Korea- stick your umbrella into the stand, pull it out and it’s in a perfectly shaped umbrella-plastic-bag. Finally, an easy way to hold your umbrella, without leaving large puddles wherever you walk. This is an invention which England could do with copying…

 

 

 

Bubble Tea

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Sure, you can get Bubble Tea in other countries. In fact, it’s a new and ‘trendy’ thing in the UK- for an extortionate price, that is.

In Korea, there are Bubble Tea cafes around every corner (not just a restricted number of exclusive cafes like in the UK), and most importantly, they’re cheap.  Cheaper than a cup of coffee, in fact.

Ahead of the trends, lower on the prices. Go Korea.

 

Socks

images.1223.tw
images.1223.tw

Can we just talk about the variety/ cheapness of socks in Korea? I could literally buy a pair every day and not run out of designs. Plus there’s the choice: trainer socks, fluffy socks, socks with animal ears on. Socks have never been so exciting. (Ditto smartphone covers- endless designs and cheap. It’s tempting to buy a different cover for every day of the week).

 

Pizza Take-Out Tray

metro.co.uk
metro.co.uk

Papa John’s has just made pizza delivery more exciting- a three-layered pizza box, with one layer for pizza, another for sides & dip, and a final layer for a cookie pizza dessert. A 3-course meal in one takeout box = one pretty impressive invention.

And, it’s only available in Korea.

 

Subways

http2007,Wikimedia Commons
http2007,Wikimedia Commons

Clean, with working Wi-Fi, coffee and vending machines, and actual shops everywhere. In Korea, walking around subway stations is definitely more fun (and more likely to make you spend unnecessary money).

And let’s not forget the screens where you can find out information, or even better, play games and watch sports.

 

24 Hour Convenience Stores

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

The practicality of having a 24-hour store on pretty much every corner can’t be beaten. And they aren’t only good for buying emergency milk for breakfast. They have everything: food, drinks, medicines, alcohol, first-aid stuff, even emergency underwear.

On top of this, they have a hot-water stations and microwaves, so you can make hot food/drinks. Instant meals and coffee at 3 in the morning? No problem. That’s convenience on a whole new level…

 

Food Courts

WiNG, Wikimedia Commons
WiNG, Wikimedia Commons

If you get hungry when you shop, it’s no problem in Korea. You don’t have to buy an overpriced meal from a small cafe with minimal choice. No, there’s an entire food court with so many options it’s usually hard to decide what to buy.

What a way to make a trip to the supermarket more enjoyable!

 

Animal Cafes

IMG_1961

The most fun you’ll ever have in a cafe. Again, Korea is ahead of the trend with these cafes- in London, a cat cafe has recently opened and is such a phenomenon that there’s long waiting list to be able to visit. Imagine the excitement if someone opened a dog cafe…

In Korea, you simply pop to your local cafe any day of the week. Another win for Korea.

 

Free Coffee

k-ntertainments.blogspot
k-ntertainments.blogspot

It might be sweet, artificial coffee, but in my opinion, getting free coffee at the end of a meal is pretty great. Even better are the places where you can get an ice lolly at the end of your meal.

A definite way to ensure my return to a restaurant…

 

 

I think it’s fair to say that these are 10 things which Korea definitely does well. I would have mentioned 50 pence sushi, but I know I’ve raved about that before…

So, if you’re having a bad day full of negative feelings towards Korea, go out, buy yourself some nice socks and visit an animal cafe to cheer you up… That will definitely soften the blow of any negative feelings…

The Coolest Ice Creams In Korea

Koreans can be pretty creative and original when it comes to snacking, as I wrote about here. And there is no better example of their innovative ideas than looking at their amazing ice lollies: exciting flavours, imaginative designs, and a huge selection at every store. And, most importantly, they’re (on the whole) delicious.

Let’s have a look at some of the best Korean ice lollies, and exactly why they’re so great:

Frozen Milkshakes

A half-ice-cream half-milkshake, creamy, sweet and delicious. It’s way cheaper than going to your local cafe for a milkshake, and tastes just as good.

Jaws Ice Lolly

IMG_1313

Top marks for originality with this one. Not only named after ‘Jaws’ but actually made to resemble a shark’s mouth. Pretty random, but it’s fun and it tastes nice too, so you can’t go too wrong with it!

Corn Ice Cream

Another creative design with these lollies- not only corn-flavoured, but made to look like a real piece of corn on the cob and filled with cream. Why you would associate ice cream and corn is anyone’s guess, but at least it’s unique!

Watermelon Ice Lolly

IMG_1305

Another replica, this one a bit more normal than corn on the cob! It’s a cool design, and the makers have even gone so far as to recreate little watermelon pips inside the ice lolly. And it doesn’t just look good, it’s also yummy and refreshing- the whole package.

Melon Ice Lolly

I love melon, so I was so excited to see all the melon-flavoured things in Korea. And the ice lollies are as good as expected! This one has an almost creamy texture, which I found an unexpected, but pleasant surprise.

Disney’s Frozen Ice Cream

bustle.com
bustle.com

Because who doesn’t love ‘Frozen’? (Especially in Korea where the majority of children are borderline obsessed). It’s certainly a way to ensure that children beg their parents for this ice cream over the others. Who cares what’s inside, when Elsa is on the packaging?!

Chelsea FC Ice Cream

Another branded ice-cream, this one a bit more random as I’m sure there aren’t too many Chelsea FC supporters living in Korea. You can also find other teams like Manchester United and Arsenal. Maybe there’s the hope that children will enjoy the ice-cream and start supporting the football team on the wrapper…

Squeezy Ice Lollies

A lot of the ice lollies come in these plastic tubes, and you have to kind of squeeze them up. While it might not be the easiest way to eat an ice lolly, it does have the advantage that the thing doesn’t melt all over you within seconds during the hot summer months. And, it’s a better invention than cardboard tubes, which get all soggy and wet from melted ice-lolly.

Fudge Ice Lolly

If you’ve never had one of these, try one now. They are so creamy and taste exactly like liquid fudge. Definitely one of the best ice lollies I’ve ever had, and not too sinful either. These need to start being exported to England before I go home…

Choco Fudge Ice Lolly

Not quite as good as the fudge ice lolly, but good all the same. A nice chocolate exterior, with a yummy fudge filling. It has a consistency somewhere between an ice lolly and an ice cream (much like the fudge version), and it’s a good medium. Another win.

Fish-Shaped Ice Cream

IMG_1303

The fact that you have an ice cream which is made to look like a fish doesn’t surprise me any more, which might be a sign that I’ve lived in Korea quite a while. A wafer exterior, filled with ice-cream and red-bean filling, I quite like this ice cream. But that is probably because I’m a big fan of red-bean; if you’re not, then this isn’t the choice for you (and stay away from the other, many, red-bean-flavoured ice lollies too!)

Mojito Ice Lolly

This is one of my favourites. It isn’t alcoholic, unsurprisingly, but I love it (nearly) as much as I love a real mojito. Flavoured with lemon and lime, it’s so refreshing in summer. The best cocktail-replica I’ve ever tasted, for sure.

 

There are so many more ice lollies which could be added to this list: coffee-flavoured, every fruit-flavour under the sun, weird  flavours like cheese, and endless shapes, sizes and designs. I think it’s fair to say that there’s an ice cream to suit everyone, and I’m very happy to say that there are many to suit me…

Sin-Free Stewed Apples

When it’s cold in the evening, there’s nothing better than a warming dessert. Well, actually, perhaps the best thing is a guilt-free warming dessert. I’m a huge fan of apple pie, apple crumble, apple strudel, basically anything apple-flavoured. But, it wouldn’t be too healthy to eat these every night. And let’s face it- the best part of these puddings is the sweet apple filling. So I decided to recreate my favourite apple desserts, minus the unhealthy pastry part.

What was I left with? A completely innocent apple treat, which you can enjoy any night of the week. After all, according to that famous saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away…

Here is the recipe for my sin-free stewed apples. Simple, quick and delicious (I apologize for the lack of photos, I got too excited whilst cooking/ eating to remember to take any).

Ingredients (for 2 or 3 servings):

Apples- 4 large

Water- 150 ml

Cinnamon- 2 large tablespoons

Brown sugar/ Honey/ Sweetener- 2 large tablespoons.

Directions

1) Peel the apples and chop them into small chunks

2) Put them in a large pan, and sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar/ sweetener/ honey.

3) Pour on the water- it doesn’t look like a lot, but it is enough once it has started cooking. If you need, you can always add more later.

4) Turn the heat on high until the water is boiling high up the pan and covering the apples.

5) Turn down the heat slightly, but make sure the water is still bubbling enough to cook all of the apples. Cook at this temperature for about 15 minutes, or until your apples are soft.

6) Take the apples off the heat. You can serve as they are, or if you prefer a softer texture (as I do), mash with a fork or potato masher, until they are at the consistency you desire.

7) Enjoy!

If you want to make the dessert a little naughtier, add a topping like custard, ice cream, peanut butter, whatever you desire! Or, eat alone for the perfect, warming, healthy dessert. It couldn’t be easier. 

Healthy in Korea

cbs.nl
cbs.nl

Korea is known for having low obesity levels, with only an estimated 4% of people being obese, much lower than the 35% of Americans, or 25% of Brits. It’s true that the percentage of overweight Koreans is increasing, but nowhere near as drastically as other Western countries. And I don’t find the trend at all surprising; In fact, I’ve found it a lot easier to maintain a healthy-eating lifestyle since living in Korea.

While it may be true that if I lived in Seoul, I’d be a lot more tempted by unhealthy foods due to the abundance of Western cafes and restaurants, as it is where I live in Wonju, the majority of food places are Korean and therefore offer much healthier menus. Eating out at restaurants, which in England would lead to large calorie-and-fat laden meals, can be just as healthy an option as eating at home because there is always a healthy choice on the menu.

That’s not to say that the unhealthy alternatives aren’t there to choose from; you can still find fried chicken, huge fried donkas, or greasy fried rice, which obviously aren’t as good for your waistline. But, as a whole, Korean food is decidedly more guilt-free than Western food. And luckily, it also happens to be tasty and delicious!

Here are some of the reasons which it’s easier to stay safely on the healthy wagon in Korea:

Meals

644415_10200325594855428_557284242_nThe most obvious first- Korean meals. Compared to Western meals from around the world (pizza, hot dogs, burgers, fish-and-chips, pies, curries, mac-and-cheese…), Korean meals are decidedly healthy. Soups and stews filled with vegetables; low-fat noodle or rice based meals; barbecue with salad on the side instead of bread rolls, cheese, mayonnaise and ketchup. Then there’s the fact that rice is always given as the carbohydrate component to the meal, in place of mashed potatoes, roast potatoes or chips.

Again, the unhealthy alternative is there if you want to find it, but the vast majority is healthy. Plus, when you eat out, you’re not tempted to order an additional calorific starter or dessert, simply because the option is rarely available. A definite positive if you’re trying to be good whilst dining out.

Vegetables

Boribap
en.wikipedia

A lot of the meals are packed-full of vegetables, and if they aren’t you have endless side-dishes: kimchi, radish, seaweed, mushrooms, spinach, bean-sprouts, the list goes on. And they’re varied, so you often get a few different veggies as side dishes; definitely helps you getting your 5-a-day.

Alternatively, choose a main meal packed with veggies: my all-time favourite bibimbap, shabu-shabu where you get a huge plate of greens to add to your soup… There’s no excuse not to eat your veg!

Bakery Items

IMG_7295I’ve found (to my annoyance at times when I crave a naughty treat) that even sweet bakery items aren’t as calorific, greasy, or fatty as their Western alternatives. Fillings such as red-bean, sweet potato, corn, and fig take the place of things like chocolate. Result? The food is more nutritious and you don’t have to feel guilty at the thought of what you’re eating.

In England, all of the options are buttery, greasy, and you’d be pushed to find something for under about 500 kcals (I know, I’ve tried). There pretty much isn’t a healthy-option. In Korea, I wouldn’t call bakery foods ‘healthy’, but I also wouldn’t call them ‘sinful’.

(Again, there are worse options to choose from: doughnuts, cream-filled pastries, fried things, but on the whole, they are nowhere near as bad as they could be).

Rice As A Side Dish

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Ok, it would be healthier if it was brown rice, but as side-dishes go, it’s definitely better than a load of buttered bread, chips, or fried potatoes. It’s a good, fat free carbohydrate to add to your meal, and far less calorific than the alternatives.

 

Lack Of Unhealthy Additions To Food

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

There’s a definite lack of added sauces, dips, or spreads in Korea. Though you can still find them in foods, the use of things like cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, or butter is a lot less.

You don’t find sandwiches dripping with butter and mayonnaise as you would in England, cheese is usually only found in Western meals like pizzas or burgers, and gochuchang is the most common sauce to be added to food, in place of ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard.

In general, then, it’s not hard to see why the obesity levels are so much lower in Korea. Meals are more nutritious and packed with goodness, fatty-foods like butter, cheese, mayonnaise are used less, and even snacks are, by comparison to other countries, less detrimental to your diet. 

However, there are some mistakes you could make in Korea which could have a negative impact on your diet:

  • Fatty meats: Samgyeopsal is the worst offender here. Barbecue is so popular in Korea, and can be so healthy if you eat it right- what can be better than lean, grilled meat alongside some salad? But, if you choose the fatty meats, it is obviously far worse for you. And Samgyeopsal, with more fat than meat, is the worst option you could choose.
  • Fast food: A bit of a no-brainer, but true nonetheless. There is so much fast-food on offer in Korea, not only the Western burger chains and pizza places, but the Korean favourite of fried chicken. I know people who eat a lot of this, so much so that my students call chicken an ‘unhealthy’ food, because they’ve only eaten it after it’s been deep fried. Um…
  • Instant food (especially ramen): Something which all my students are guilty of, snacking on microwave burgers or instant ramen pots (and for breakfast too, which is just gross). These foods are everywhere and it couldn’t be easier to pop into CU and buy a quick-fix if you’re hungry. But really, these instant meals are unhealthy and completely lacking in nutrients. Not a good option!
  • Eating too much (especially rice): Again, fairly obvious, but it’s easy to do. Especially when rice is added as a side to the majority of main meals, even when your main meal is carbohydrate-based. I’ve eaten a ton of noodles before, only to be offered rice as well. Is there any need for the rice? No. Do you eat it anyway? Well, if it’s there… An easy way to add un-needed calories to your meal. The same can be said for asking for more and more side-dishes to go with your meal, Well, if it’s free…

So, if you choose to eat at places like Pizza School, Lotteria, and Baskin-Robbins, buy instant snacks from CU and eat extra rice with every meal, you might not realise how healthily you can eat in Korea, But, I think it’s fair to say that if you avoid the pitfalls, it’s quite easy to eat guilt-free. And if that involves being able to eat out and enjoy delicious meals, that’s definitely a good thing in my opinion.

Korean Expat Facebook Bingo!

Some of the most popular topics/questions you can generally find in Expat groups on Facebook…

Chase the Dot

I usually write about more serious things in this country, but we all need a break from taking ourselves too seriously. Writing about various things in this country involves me being in FB groups all over the country. In the last little while, I’ve definitely noticed some… themes… in all of our communication with each other. So, I thought I’d have some fun and take the piss with our expat community.

Enjoy!

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.48.05 AM

Think I missed something? Took personal offense? Write it in the comments.

-Adam

P.S. I’m no designer, so feel free to run me down for that as well 🙂

View original post

Comfort Food Around The World

Everyone loves a good comforting meal, especially at this time of year when every day it’s getting colder and darker outside; what better thing is there to do than settle down in a cosy room with some delicious comfort food. In Korea, my favourite comfort food is my beloved Dolsot Bibimbap, a steaming-hot bowl of veggies, rice, egg and spicy pepper paste, perfect for warming you up on a cold autumn night. So imagine my pride when I found Bibimbap here on a list of ‘The World’s Best Hearty Food’, proof that people outside of Korea are beginning to realise how amazing it is! 946025_10201378028685616_9070226_n

Reading the article made me think about comfort food around the world; people in different countries envisage different things when they think of comfort, from gooey pizza to succulent steak to dumpling soup. Here is my selection of the best hearty comfort food from around the globe:

Britain

Javier Leiva via Wikimedia Commons
Javier Leiva via Wikimedia Commons
avlxyz via Wikimedia Commons
avlxyz via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

There are a lot of comforting meals which I could rave about from back home, but I’ll note just a few favourites instead:

Full English Breakfast complete with sausage, bacon, beans, eggs, toast, tomatoes, hash browns… Sausage, mashed potato and gravy… Roast Dinner…Fish and Chips… Pies… Just delicious food.

America

Rick Audet via Wikimedia Commons
Rick Audet via Wikimedia Commons

Mac and Cheese looks like the most appetising food ever, and must be heaven for cheese lovers.

And of course there’s American pancakes, biscuits and gravy, southern-fried chicken… The list could go on.

 

 

Canada

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Chips, gravy and cheese? This is the best combination of foods I can imagine. I need to go to Canada now…

 

 

 

Spain

flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/
flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/

A delicious dish of rice mixed with seafood or chicken and vegetables which is seasoned, steaming and sizzling to perfection. No wonder it’s the most popular Spanish dish!

 

 

 

France

Flickr_-_cyclonebill_-_Bøf_med_pommes_frites_(1)
cyclonebill via Wikimedia Commons

Where better to go for the best steak and frites than France. And how about a side of French onion soup to go with your steak… that’s one comforting meal…

 

 

 

Greece

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

The Greeks have done well with this meal: layers of aubergine, meat, potatoes, and topped with a rich bechamel sauce. It’s kind of like a lasagne, although, dare I say it, even better.

 

 

Italy

Various via Wikimedia Commons

Is there a place in the world with better comfort food than Italy? Pizza, pasta, rich, tomatoey sauces (and let’s not forget amazing gelato for dessert). Basically anything full of carbs in Italy can probably constitute comfort food…

 

 

Germany

de.wikipedia
de.wikipedia

Tender meat coated with breadcrumbs and eggs and then fried, Schnitzel (or Schnitzel equivalents) is popular all over the world, but especially in Germany. Have this alongside some chips and you’ll have one seriously satisfying meal.

 

 

China

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Chinese Wanton (dumpling) soup is as good as soup gets. Amazingly delicious dumplings in a tasty broth, with some noodles added in for that extra yumminess… What could be better to warm you up during the cold months?

 

 

Japan

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Instant ramen? Not that great. Proper Japanese ramen? Amazing. Tender noodles in soup along with meat, veggies, or whatever else you fancy, a good bowl of ramen is  comfort in a bowl.

 

 

Phillipines

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Adobo is one of the best meat dishes I’ve tried in a long time: rich, filling and so yummy. Meat marinated in soy sauce and garlic and then served, coated in the thick, almost gravy-like sauce. Flavourful, filling, and just perfect.

 

 

Thailand

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

For many people, there is nothing more comforting than a curry, and this popular Thai curry will certainly heat you up on a chilly evening. Creamy, rich, spicy, it’s no wonder that Thailand is famous for this delightful meal.

 

 

India

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Talking of curries, we can’t forget Indian curries. Nothing beats a good curry, with some naan bread, bhajis, samosas and poppadoms. You’ll probably end up eating too much, but it’s so amazing, who cares?

 

 

Anywhere with Skiing

ja.wikipedia.org
ja.wikipedia.org

How better to warm up on a snowy mountain than by treating yourself to a fondue. Warm, melted cheese and fresh bread…A match made in heaven.

 

 

You can go around the world and find so many different hearty comfort foods. And whether it’s Korean Bibimbap, American Mac and Cheese or Indian Curry, they all have one thing in common: they make you happy. And that’s true with comfort foods the world over…

 

 

 

Spending and Saving in South Korea

One of the (many) reasons I love living in Korea is the lower cost of many things which are ridiculously overpriced in the UK. The best example is probably eating meals out; when I’m in England, going out for a meal is a treat and an expensive one at that. Meals themselves are so much more expensive, plus the drinks (water not included in England, and even worse, no free coffee at the end), and 12.5% service charge on top of that… it adds up to a costly evening out, rather than a convenient meal as it has become in Korea. 

And meals are just one thing which is cheaper in Korea. Here are some of the best deals, which we’ve taken full advantage of whilst living here…

Eating Out 

644415_10200325594855428_557284242_n

As mentioned, eating is so much cheaper. A cheap meal in England would be, at the least around £10 (18,000 won) and that’s without side dishes, starter or dessert, or service charge. If you were also paying for drinks and a starter/ dessert, you’d end up easily spending £20 (36,000 won)… and that’s at a cheap restaurant.

Comparing that to Korea: my favourite luxury buffet costs £19 (33,000 won), for all-you-can-eat sushi and seafood. £19 in a sushi restaurant in England wouldn’t get you very far at all… In other ‘expensive’ restaurants, meals can cost around £9 (16,000 won), and we feel like we’re splashing out. We’re in for a shock when we get home; I’m going to miss being able to eat out regularly without going bankrupt.

Public Transport

£11 (20,000 won) for a 3 hour journey in a luxury coach? Yes please. Getting a 1 and 1/2 hour train journey into the capital city for about £5 (8,000 won)? Amazing. That would cost you about 5 times as much if you were travelling to London, and that’s if you paid in advance and at off-peak times. Otherwise the prices are even more extortionate.

Taxis

The ease and comfort of travelling around in taxis is something that will be sorely missed. It’s actually as cheap (if not cheaper if there are a couple of you) than taking the bus. A 20-minute taxi ride in Seoul only costs about £10 (18,000 won). I dread to think how much that would cost in London.

Hairdressers

One of my favourite cheap things! I avoid having my hair cut in England because I don’t want to spend £25 (over 40,000 won) on a 10-minute trim. Then I found out that in Korea, you only have to pay £7 (12,000 won) for this treatment. They even style it for free for you. It’s no wonder why I’ve kept up-to-date with hair appointments since I’ve been here…

Bills

Extremely cheap council tax, and monthly bills which are about a tenth of the price back in England. Our electricity bill is about £10 (18,000 won) a month… the first time I saw it, I genuinely thought they’d made a mistake. It’s great not wanting to cry when you receive a bill.

Cinema

I love going to the cinema, and was so excited to see that it’s about half the price in Korea. Even at peak times, it’s only £6 (10,000 won), and that’s without the half-price vouchers you get given pretty much every time you go to the cinema. Needless to say we’ve seen about 10 times the amount of films that we normally would go to watch at the cinema.

Sushi

429676_10151642263694305_499498651_n

I know that I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s so good it deserves to be mentioned again. Being able to buy rolls of Gimbap (the equivalent of Futomaki) for less than £1 (2,000 won) is just the best thing ever. Plus, the pick-and-mix nigri which is less than 50p (600 won) a piece is probably the best thing I’ve ever seen.

Good Cosmetics

 I was a little wary of buying make-up in Korea, simply because it was so cheap I thought it must be pretty rubbish. Then I bought an eyeliner for about £4 (7,000 won) and I was an instant convert, realising that the makeup is actually pretty amazing; the eyeliner was definitely better than the £20 I used to buy in England. I’m going to have to get stuff imported when I leave…

 It’s fair to say that there is also a fair amount of expensive things in Korea, such as imported foods (cereals, sweets, certain fruits, teas), underwear (clothes are relatively cheap, but underwear is strangely pricey here), deodorants (seriously expensive), and pretty much most things Western. If you eat at a lot of Western restaurants and shop at places like H&M or Forever 21, you’ll find yourself spending a lot more money.  

But honestly, being in Korea has been pretty good for my bank account. The best part? If you do end up treating yourself and spending a lot of money on something, it’s likely to be something you enjoy, rather than on a bill/ an expensive train journey. And don’t even get me started on the fact that you don’t lose half your paycheck paying taxes, or I might cry thinking about the fact that at some point I’ll go home and have to start suffering that loss again…

Happy Pepero Day & A Look at Korea’s Special Days

IMG_7261

Happy Pepero Day from Korea! If you’re not familiar with this special day, it’s one in which people exchange Peperos (chocolate sticks) with their loved ones, kind of like Easter without the religion. According to reports, the celebration started because people believed if you partook in the Pepero celebration, you would become taller and thinner, especially if you ate your Peperos at exactly 11:11 on November 11th- 11:11, on the 11th day of the 11th month. And if you’re really superstitious, you should make sure you eat the Peperos 11 seconds after 11:11, for the ultimate thinning/ heightening effect. Eating loads of chocolate to make you taller and thinner? I like that kind of logic!

uneanneeaseoul.blogspot.kr
uneanneeaseoul.blogspot.kr

Last year, our first year here, the holidays took us by surprise in Korea: why were we given tons of Peperos on one day? Why apples another? Why is there loads of Valentine’s-looking stuff in the shops in March? Now it’s our second year, we know what to expect, and what holidays we can look forward to. Here are some of the special days celebrated in Korea (take note Westerners, we should make these catch on back home…)

White Day

A second Valentine’s Day, kind of. On Valentine’s Day, it is traditional in Korea for women to give men a gift. Then, one month later on White Day (March 14th), it is the man’s turn to give a gift. If you’re a romantic, you’d see this as a lovely way to prolong the holiday and increase celebrations. If you’re a cynic, you’d see it as even more of a commercial gimmick than Valentine’s Day already is…

Black Day 

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

A day for single people, on the 14th April, one month after Valentine’s-type celebrations have finished. Single people celebrate by eating a black-coloured meal of Jajangmyeon (noodles with black soybean sauce). A good excuse to treat yourself to a delicious meal, at any rate.

Teacher’s Day

A personal favourite, obviously! It was a nice surprise when we came in one day to have children giving us gifts and kind notes. Oh, and the song they had prepared to perform for the teachers. A well-deserved celebration of teachers, and one I think teachers all over the world should be able to enjoy!

Apple Day

207639_10151468380019305_2102018967_nA slightly random, but nonetheless enjoyable day: give an apple to people you want to apologize to. The Korea word for ‘apple’ is ‘사과’ which also means to apologize, hence giving an apple as a token.

 

Children’s Day

There’s still a Parent’s Day in Korea, the equivalent of Mother’s Day/ Father’s Day. But in Korea, there is also a day to show appreciation for your children! Children are given gifts and taken to exciting places like the zoo, or a theme park. I would have loved such a day when I was young; it would be like an extra Christmas Day- what could be better?

Korean New Year

New Year’s Day is usually a pretty rubbish day in England: Christmas is officially over, people are tired/ hungover, and worse, feel like they have to start their New Year’s Resolutions, which generally leaves everyone feeling grumpy. In Korea, it’s a pretty good time- three days of festivities in fact. The best part for children? Sebeh: when children wish older people ‘Happy New Year’ by bowing to them, and in return are given money. Imagine how much you could make if you bowed to every older person on that day… sounds like the children get a good deal, that’s for sure!

koreataste.org
koreataste.org

I think that Korea have got it right with their holidays, and England could do with a few more random gift-giving days. What brightens up your day like getting a few apples or some chocolate sticks? And nothing would improve a gloomy January 1st more than getting some money. Well, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that England catches on to these ideas soon…