May's been an action-packed month and I feel like the old Liz is making a comeback!
For a start I'm getting back into yoga, which I feel a lot better for. My foreigner friend stopped teaching her classes so I hadn't done it for a while, but somebody told me about this yogi here who is an absolute legend! He's this tiny, little, old Korean man with a long, wispy black beard who can do the craziest things with his body. For example, putting his palms flat on the ground, with his hands facing towards him, bending his elbows and lifting up his whole body. Mental.
I'm without doubt the worst in the class - ie. the only one who can't get their legs behind their head - and he seems to find me quite amusing, trying to push me into all these bizarre positions before giving up and laughing at me. He clicks his fingers at me too, saying "Lis-uh" when I do things wrong. And in my first class he actually strapped my legs into a shoulder stand during relaxation and I just stayed there thinking he'd let me out until I eventually turned around to find everyone else had left! Anyway, I'm determined to get better and I think he's the man to help me.
I've discovered I've got a nasty allergy to mosquito bites! They go huge, swollen, red and extremely itchy and stay for ages - I've still got a bruise-like mark on my arm from one I got about a month ago :( My elbow actually swelled up one day too, which was really odd. So anyway, I've taken to drowning myself in insect repellent every night. I'm currently between stints of running around my room trying to squash one of the little bastards!
I'm absolutely loving having a scooter! It's only 50cc so goes about 50km/hr but it's wicked being able to get about and so much fun. The drivers here don't mess around and you've got to just go for it because if you hesitate you're screwed. I'm being careful though, and yes, wearing a helmet!
So, I'm quite proud of myself after hiking to the top of Mouth Halla, the dormant volcano here, last weekend! It was 18km in total. It's the same one I did in the snow a few months ago but this time round the weather was perfect, we took an easier route up, the last 2km weren't closed because of the snow (so I actually got to the very top this time) and I was a lot better prepared for the challenge, both mentally and physically!
Me in the cold wind by the volcanic crater
I went with Amanda, her Korean friend and our Korean co-worker, Pam. Poor Pam said she felt like crying and we had to take it pretty slow - it took us 9 1/2 hours - but it was nice to take it easy and enjoy the views and it felt brilliant to get to the top and see the crater.
I found it incredible how many people were climbing it - with all the Koreans of course decked out in the proper hiking gear - and that the age range literally ran from eight to 80. And everyone's so lovely and friendly, saying hello and shouting out messages of encouragement.
poor kid! He was exhausted and not even at the top at this point
incredible old lady - hiking halla with a stick and a plastic carrier bag
Our legs were shaking like mad on the way down, which was pretty funny, and my calves were not happy for a couple of days afterwards!
I've been taking loads of photos with my friend Serenity. Mine aren't anywhere near as good as hers but I really enjoy it and she's teaching me! I actually have my camera off 'auto' some of the time now!
We went to a temple on Buddha's birthday, which is a national holiday here, and it was absolutely beautiful with all the coloured lanterns.
The lanterns had written prayers attached to them and candles lit inside. I asked if I could do one and got led by the wrist to write a prayer but nobody could speak English and all I could really write in Korean was my name, so I wrote it - 'lis-uh' - then realised I was supposed to be paying for it but had no cash. Anyway, I suppose they felt sorry for the clueless foreigner, so I got dragged back to the lantern and pushed into a bowing prayer and had my 'lis-uh' prayer attached to it!
We went back in the evening to see them lit up and it was so gorgeous and peaceful. And the monks invited us to sit with them and eat fruit, which was an awesome experience.
And here are a few pics I took the other night in Jaewan, an area near my flat.
Well, this has turned in to the longest blog in history. Sorry about that!
Write soon! xo
Phrase of the day: shee lay hamnida - excuse me