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6 months in...July update

SOUTH KOREA | Saturday, 22 July 2006 | Views [609]

Hi all,

Just a little update from a wet and miserable Korea (the rainy season is now apparently nearly over, albeit with typhoon season just around the corner!), to what I see is a sweltering UK, hope you're all cooling off with plenty of ice cream and cold beer.

Firstly, apologies for my slackness in replying and generally keeping in touch! Things here are pretty good. The summer intensive sessions have just started at school so I actually have a full working day for the first time in 6 months which is a bit of a shock. So for the next 6/7 weeks, the kids – who should be out playing, enjoying themselves doing kid-like things – are being sent to even more private schools, for even longer everyday – is it not enough that they spend term-time in about 12 hours of school a day?!

It was a shame that Korea didn’t progress any further than the group rounds in the World Cup, they went absolutely mental for it out here, putting our own supporters and sense of national pride to shame. I went to Sajik Stadium for the deciding match against Switzerland. This stadium can hold about 80,000 people, and was opened to the public for free to watch the game on big screens at either end of the pitch – think Parker’s Piece on a much larger scale and with everyone wearing red, the majority in red-devil horns as well, banging drums and chanting Dae Han Min Guk - and without the bottle throwing too. Even though the game didn’t start till 4am, everyone was up singing and chanting all night leading up to it, and was still in good spirits even at the end. The pictures on my website don’t do the atmosphere justice at all!

I spent last weekend in Kyoto with some friends, and am heading to Jeju Island at the end of the month - it’s Korea's Hawaii apparently, I’ll let you know the reality of that statement in a few weeks! Kyoto was a lot of fun, Japan is far cleaner and neater than Korea, and seems to have a bit more character to it which was nice to see – was very weird to be actually in Japan, we were far more excited to be there than in Korea! Rather than seeing groups of nondescript apartment blocks clumped together, we saw actual little houses with driveways and gardens and everything, a nice refreshing change from concrete. We spent the weekend dodging the rain in various temples and shrines, watching parades as it was the biggest festival of the year, as well as the obligatory geisha spotting in the Gion district (haven’t seen Memoirs of a Geisha yet myself), and drinking warm sake. I’ll also be off up to Seoul again next month as my brother’s coming out to visit so plenty to keep myself busy with over the coming weeks. 

I'm still only a white belt in Hapkido but should be progressing to yellow in the next month or so. I promise that my camera will accompany me one day to capture the comical moments of kicking, punching, throwing each other around, diving and jumping, and fighting with sticks (broom handles) and wooden swords! I may not know many useful self-defence techniques, but I do know how to attack you with a broom handle (should there be one handy!). We had a Hapkido school outing a few weeks ago to a little chalet type place in a valley next to a river – thankfully not a training weekend, but more a bbq/beer/cards time which was good and relaxing for a couple of days.

Anyways, I’m sure you’re in need of a cold drink and/or some air-con by now so that’s enough from me for now – I’m still recovering from a 7.30am finish last night J  Hope everyone's well.

 Anniex

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