I must admit, when I went to the Philippines for a long weekend in Februray the last thing I thought I would end up doing was posing on one of the most beautiful beaches in te world, in front of tourists and locals, dressed in a full-on Mermaid costume!!
Rather than jet skiing, or banana boating, or opting for a romantic sunset dhow cruise, my friend Lauren and I decided this could be our one and only life opportunity to make our childhood dreams come true, and paid a visit to the local dive stor which organizes “Mermaid Lessons”.
These lessons range from ‘How to Pose like a Mermaid’, ‘How to swim with a tail’, ‘Mermaid snorkelling’ and even ‘Mermaid scuba diving’ for the super brave! We opted for the Mermaid photo shoot on the beach and were not dissapointed. Although the sesion only lasted about half an hour, it was probably the highlight of our entire trip. (That wouldn’t be too hard considering what a disaster my trip was…but I’ll save that story for another day.)
I just wrote a post on the Irish Association of Korea website about the Top 10 reasons to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Seoul. Check it out here:
Originally posted on Irish Association of Korea 한국아일랜드협회:
Did you know that the Irish Association of Korea has organized the annual St Patrick’s Day Festival in Seoul for over a decade? In fact, this year will be its 14th consecutive event. As the saying goes, “Practice makes Perfect”, and this year’s festival is sure to be bigger and better than before.
Watching the sunrise over the ancient temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia is something that sits firmly at the top of many seasoned travelers bucket lists.
I am lucky enough to be able to say that the first sunrise I saw in 2014, that big glowing ball of fire, slowly rising into the sky, was at Angkor Wat and it was one of the most incredible moments.
Sure I had to fight off a few 100 other people to get that ‘perfect picture’ and within moments of arriving at the temple grounds was pestered by coffee shop owners who go by the name of Harry Potter and Rambo(!!) to come to their cafe for breakfast “whenever Im ready” but nothing could take away the beauty and serenity of that perfect sunrise.
I will write later, in detail, about the best sights, smells and sticky situations we got ourselves into while traveling around Cambodia, but for now I leave you with these photos of a very special morning in Siem Reap.
2013 flew by so fast I have hardly had time to sit time and sum it up. We are already nearly halfway through January 2014, I have barely had a chance to breath. Where did all those hours, days and weeks go? What exactly happened and how far has 1 calendar year brought me? Or, as the truth may be, has it brought me anywhere new at all?! In this post I would like to do a quick review of “The Best of 2013″ and finish my setting out some goals for the year ahead.
“The Best of 2013 – A Review”
A fun-filled trip to Lanzarote with my buddy Ollie climbing volcanos, singing Karaoke and spying on albino crabs in an underground cave.
Graduating with a Master of Science in Humanitarian Action! (Even though a missed the ceremony, my new boss ensured I didn’t “miss the photo op!”
Competed in the Run-A-Muck Challenge with Toby and Sergei in freezing cold temperatures, over ditches and bogs, through muddy rivers and stacked hay bales!
Visiting HOPE projects in Kolkata, India and achieving one of my life goals to participate in Holi Festival of Colours with the kids from HOPE’s children’s homes.
Flying to Bali to meet up with a good friend and traveling with her the Gili Islands, by far my favourite islands in Asia so far.
Making great friends and stuffing my face with some of the most delicious food in the world while exploring Mainland Malaysia and the beautiful islands off the East coast.
Moving back to South Korea and somehow making my second year in this confusing but exciting country better than the first, making beautiful and loving friends at every corner (of every bar!).
Spending 5 days on the island of Jeju off the South Coast of Korea in September for Korean Thanksgiving. BEST. DECISION. EVER.
Booking a last minute weekend break to Japan in October and exploring the mystical city of Kyoto.
Spending the Christmas vacation with a group of close friends traveling around Cambodia, a country that now has a a firm place in my heart. (Blog posts about this eye-opening trip coming soon!)
“2014 – What Lies Ahead”
I have made made personal goals for 2014, but in order to truly keep these “resolutions”, I know I must write them down and share them with others. That way, when I start slipping up, you can all remind me to get back on track!!
1. I will run a half marathon….before the end of March.
2. If the first half marathon goes well, I must sign up to a second one.
3. I want to totally revamp this blog, but my own URL and post more regularly.
4. I will start learning and speaking French again.
5. I will to go to 5 new countries.
6. I will travel home to Ireland….without flying.
7. I will get an article published in a Korean Magazine like Groove.
8. I will get an article published in The Irish Times, ‘Generation Emigration’ blog.
9. I will start getting back in contact with my friends back home and schedule regular skype dates.
10. I will finally reach my “ideal” weight. Not by your standards, or by some stupid magazine standards and certainly not my my dear mother’s standards. MY ideal weight, ideal for ME.
Last weekend my friend Sonja and I headed to Phoenix Park and Yongpyong resort for a mini vacation. It was so good to get away for a few days and the scenery up in the mountains was spectacular.
We spent all day saturday hitting the slopes in Phoenix Park ski resort which has a great variety of slopes to suit all levels. Everything was so easily accesible even the laziest skier in the world could not complain!
You could literally ski straight down any slope and into a Dunkin Donuts, Coffee shop or Apres Ski bar. The ski rental place was less than 5 minutes walk from the chair lifts and there is even a youth hostel overlooking the slopes.
As we went as part of a WinK tour group, we got amazing discounts on both ski rental and lift passes. The full day including skis, jacket and pants and lift pass was only 50,000 won (about 30 euro) which you really can’t beat. Even though it was very busy and there were groups of school kids and students everywhere, the queues remained pretty short throughout the day which I was very impressed by.
After a long days skiing on only about 2-3 hours sleep we were absolutely shattered come 6pm. Luckily all we had to do was sit on a bus and relax as we headed to our hostel which is part of the YongPyong ski resort. Following quick showers and naps, a big group of us all headed out for a delicious pork BBQ dinner.
Another relatively late night of bowling, arcade games, socializing and making new friends meant come 8am Sunday morning nothing (not even giant chocolate muffins and hot tea) were getting me out of bed. Maybe it was a waste, maybe it could be considered laziness, but in a move to help my aching muscles and tired body recover, I opted out of skiing at YongPyong and decided the spa and waterpark was more to my liking.
Again thanks to WinK we got an amazing discount price, and only ended up paying 10,000 won to enter. What we discovered inside…and more specifically outside…meant we knew within seconds we had made the right decision!
Outside the waterpark, was an assortment of hot tubs full of various colored, scented and therapeutic water. Oh, and thanks to the fact that it’s winter, all surrounded in snow!
Sitting in rose scented jacuzzi with the sun shining brightly while taking in the breathtaking, snow covered surroundings was an incredible experience. We literally sat outside, dashing through the snow from pool to pool, for about 2 hours. In fact we were enjoying ourselves so much we failed to realise how sunburned our faces were becoming. Small price to pay for a little taste of paradise in the mountains!