Tag Archives: christmas

SantaCon Seoul 2013

9 Dec

Last weekend myself and about 8 friends from Paju attended SantaCon in Seoul, which is a gathering of 100’s of people all dressed as Santa Claus, his elves and everything in between parading around Seoul’s nightlife district singing Christmas Carols and simply being merry.

I ordered 3 elf costumes off ebay and was delighted when they arrived just in time. I also got creative with some fairy lights, colored paper and a giant piece of black foam and made myself a YouTube video / photo booth which I must say I was fairly proud of!

Sadly I didnt take as many pictures as I would have liked  (cause I was having too much fun!) but here is a quick glimpse of the shenanigans had on the night.

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FREE HUGS SEOUL

5 Jan

I have now lived in a country for over 4 months and have not participated in a FREE HUGS day. This is a new record for me. What in the world is FREE HUGS I hear you non believers ask? Well you can read the full story here but let me give you a little summary.

The FREE HUGS campaign was started by Aussie native Juan Mann (a pretty fitting name, I’m sure you will agree) a few years ago. He wanted to share the love and spread happiness to strangers simply by giving out hugs to people on the street. It sounds a little strange, sure, and a lot of people say “but of COURSE hugs are free , who in their right mind would PAY for a hug” but this strange concept has made its was around the world to every city large and small and has brightened up millions of people’s lives.

The man who started it all

Spread the love

How do I know this? Well it has brightened up my day on a number of occasions and has even spurred me on to give out other things for free such as 500 hand-made cards on Valentines day. Giving out the free hugs is ten times as rewarding as actually getting one. Seeing strangers run up to you with a big grin, then embracing them in a big bear hug is something very special. It will make you smile, laugh and maybe even cry. I can remember hugging one old woman in Dublin who said she had not been hugged in years. This is a very sad thought as everyone should be hugged, in my opinion, every day.

My first free hugs experience was at a couchsurfing event in Edinburgh, Scotland. The weekend, dubbed “Edinburgh Rocks” included a world music night, bbq, scavenger hunt and game sin the park. Then on the final day I was told we were doing “Free Hugs”. I was totally new to the idea, laughed at the idea of it but was excited to see how it would pan out. To this day it is one of the best, most rewarding, most memorable few hours of my life. It helped that the 40 or so other couchsurfers were full of positive energy and love for life and that Scots loved receiving our hugs.

Free Hugs in Edinburgh

Valentines Day, Dublin Free Hugs

After such an awesome experience I organized a FREE HUGS day in Dublin, the first of many followed by “Free Hugs for Christmas”, “Free Hugs for Valentines Day” and “Free Hugs in the park”…all a great success. The next summer, while in Toronto I jumped at the chance to give out free hugs at “Pedestrian Sunday” in Kensington Market and a few weeks later found myself standing outside DEMF, Detroit Electronic Music festival giving out hugs to party goers and homeless people alike. Lastly, I had the opportunity to give out free hugs in Hyde Park in Sydney earlier this year, another awesome day out.

So now Korea, my love, its your turn. I’m interested to see people’s reactions and I really hope they wont be too stand offish as I realize hugging culture is not as big in Asia as it is in say Europe or America. So, if you fancy spreading some joy come along to FREE HUGS HONGDAE this saturday! :)

Free Hugs Toronto

Free Hugs...coming to a place near you!

Love to You, and You and YOU!

21 Dec

I just read a heartwarming blog post by fellow blogger Aaron, over at Blue Eyes in Korea, about how he asked his drama class to write Christmas cards to his Grandfather in which they talked about themselves and about what they liked about him. He writes,

I wish I could be with my grandfather when he receives all of the letters that I had my Drama Club students write to him. In the past two years he’s lost a daughter and a wife, so he’s a bit lonely right about now. Hoping these might cheer him up.

I think its true to say that Christmas really does bring out the best in all of us.

At Christmas time we all think of our loved ones, especially when far away from home. Whether we will spend it in their company or be there in spirit, they will always be in our thoughts and in our hearts. Aarons idea of sending letters to his grandfather reminded me of the beautiful letters I received upon leaving Australia in June. My dear grandfather had passed away and I had booked the next available flight home, in the hope that I would make it for his funeral.

Sadly this also meant I had to quit my job as an au-pair to 4 of the most beautiful children on earth. During our tear felt goodbyes, they each handed me a handwritten letter that I was to open on the plane as I made the epic 24 hour journey back home. As I sat in my seat, an emotional wreck having to say goodbye to an amazing family and a beautiful country and also thinking of my grief-stricken family waiting for me at home, I remembered their thoughtful letters.

“Dear Janet,

You were the best au-pair we ever had. We are so very sad that you are leaving and I will always remember you. I am very sad to hear about your grandpa dying. I think if he loved you as much as you loved us, he must have been a great man. (He most definitely was.)

(Tommy, aged 9)

Dear Janet,

Thank you for being my au-pair. You were always so kind to me and loved me so much. I am so sorry about your grandpa and wish you did not have to leave. I remember all the stories you told us about you horse called pumpkin and fun you had as a child on the farm. I love you Janet. You were the best au-pair ever.

(Daisy, aged 8 )

Janet,

You were our au-pair. You were a great au-pair. With your great big, friendly face, your orange hair and big brown eye. (Yes apparently I have only one eye!!) I am so sorry about your grandfather who died. He was a great man and he loved you. (This made me cry as she talked about him as if she knew him!)

(Lily, aged 7 and a half years old)

I think it is a great testament to my beloved grandpa that children at the other side of the world, who had never even met him, seem to love him as I did. In fact a lot of people loved my grandfather. Many of my cousins on my Mums side, nieces nephews an even my friends from primary school used to always call him Grandpa despite not been directly related. And he loved them just as he loved us.

Even after his death, my beloved Gran, still thinks so fondly of him that when somebody recently dropped off a beautiful bunch of daffodils to the house she insisted, “Oh Grandpa picked these in the garden for me. Aren’t they beautiful?!” This will be my Dads first Christmas with out Grandpa, and I know he will miss him dearly.

So I guess this posts purpose is to push you all, no matter how hard it may be, to let your loved ones know how much you love them. I want to send my love from Korea to Ireland to all my family from my parents and sister, aunts, uncles and grandparents to my cousins and close friends. If you can’t say “I love youat Christmas, when can youxxx

Diversity is the spice of life

21 Dec

Some Kimchi with your Turkey, Ajamma? Another cocktail or an Ice-cream Miss Clause? Some more fish stew with that Injera, Miss? With Christmas just around the corner, I am suddenly left reminiscing about all the other Christmas’ spent abroad in distant lands, far removed from the traditional Irish Christmas day.

This year, as many of you know, I will be spending my favourite holiday of the year in South Korea, a country that I have grown to love. Despite this fact, the sad reality is that Koreans don’t really celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense so  I will have to compromise, settling for a roast Chicken from a street vendor rather than the traditional Turkey, time spent with friends instead of family and rocking around a Karaoke room rather than the Christmas tree!

South Korean Christmas;all about the kids

Christmas entertainment in Korea, mainly aimed and Children and Lovers

All my years of travelling have taught me that just because something is different to what you have been brought up with does not make it worse. As the saying goes “Diversity os the Spice of life”. This goes for everything; from people, to countries, to food, to how people celebrate holidays around the world.

Last year I spent Christmas day on Bondi Beach. clichéd? Yes. But also an absolutely unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Tens of 1000’s of bikini clad backpackers, chilling out with newly made friends, sipping cheap wine out of a box and breaking it down at Bondi Pavillion at Sunburnt Christmas Djs, renowned worldwide. There may not be Turkey, or presents or family, but there will be wet t-shirt competitions, beautiful sunshine, beer for breakfast and friends you will have forever. Also, the sight of a sea of red and white on one of the most famous beaches on earth is truly something special.

Nice View, Christmas Day on Bondi Beach, Australia

Fun in the Sun on Bondi beach

Three years ago, I spent a summer backpacking across Ethiopia. It was not planned, (my flights were booked 3 days before leaving) but it was one of the most eye-opening experiences in my life thus far. Not many people go on holidays to Ethiopia. It’s not exactly the “in” place to spend your summer vacation. In fact, truth be told, I don’t know ANYONE else that has ever randomly decided to go backpacking through one of the poorest countries on Earth, but that’s the exact reason I wanted to go.

What I didn’t realise was that Ethiopia uses a completely different calendar to most of the western world. They still use the Julian calender, and so, are exactly 7 1/2 year behind our Gregorian calender. Confused yet? I was! So as I was trekking up through the Bale mountains in rural Southern Ethiopia, with an awful stomach ache and fever (which later turned out to be a mild case of Dengue Fever) I noticed the date on my bus ticket. 25/12/1999.

 There I was puking my guts out in some adorable little mountain hut, while two child shepherds looked on in bewilderment, as I was treated my a local medicine man who insisted I rub some sort of red flower all over my face then eat it, whilst on the inside thinking “I can’t believe this is where I am on Christmas Day.” And also feeling slightly disoriented at the fact that I had somehow travelled back in time to the Nineties!!

So my friends, family and readers, wherever you ar this Christmas, whether you are celebrating in a traditional way or not, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year. Thanks for reading! x

My Saviour, local medicine man

A beautiful child Shepherd, looking at me cautiously, Christmas day 1999

Brussel Sprouts. Yuck.

17 Dec

What is the difference between BRUSSELS SPROUTS and SNOT?

Children will eat their snot.

Janet: One point. Brussel sprouts: Nil Points.

Thank god I don’t have to eat the nasty, little green devils this year. Sorry Dad, they are ALL yours!

All things cute and Christmassy

16 Dec

Just a bit of fun for the festive season…

 On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve bloody marys
Eleven scotch and sodas
Ten pints of Guinness
Nine pints of bitter
Eight campari sodas
Seven champagne cocktails
Six double brandies
Five Babychams
Four lager tops
Three brown ales
Two gin and tonics
And some soju in a pint glass!!!

Ideas Ideas Ideas…

17 Oct
I am the Queen of dressing up. I absolutely love it. It’s in my blood. My parents, too, are awesome when it comes to ideas for fancy dress parties and my grandparents, back in the day, won numerous ‘best dressed’ prizes at themed parties.
In fact they were still making a huge effort well into their 70’s, dressing as punks with full on chains, mohawk wigs, fake lip rings and crazy leather pants. They were awesome and I am following in their footsteps, or so I like to think.

Every halloween in college I would plan my oufit out for weeks, dying or sewing fabric, practicing how I would do my hair or how I would paint my face or body. In fact I never felt it necessary to wait until halloween to dress up, I used to do it at every opportunity possible, be it a ‘worst dressed’ party ran by the DCU Style Soc, The summer ball, a drag ball, Slappers and Rappers event, Christmas party, toga party…whatever it was you would find me in some crazy outfit, often the ONLY one in fancy dress. Not that it ever bothered me.

This Halloween I am going to be in Korea and cannot seem to find any of the resources I am looking for to find the perfect outfit. The school is having a halloween party on Saturday for all the students and we must dress up. I wnat to but alas I have no idea what to wear or wear to find a costume  here in Korea. I am feeling sad. I want face paint, and masks and crazy accessories yet fear I will find nothing. If anyone has any awesome ideas please comment let me know.

For the moment here are some of my past outfits, so you can get an idea of how much I love fancy dress occasions! Enjoy!

I love clowns!

Sexy Santa's (Kelly and I)

'Pool Party' in college!! Can you believe SHE won worst dressed and not ME?!

Me as a Mermaid at the Aqua Ball

  Continue reading

A Smurf Christmas

29 Dec

Spending Christmas and New Years in a Hostel was a real first and is not for the faint of heart or weak of liver!! On Christmas Eve a lot of the long termers from the hostel (guys who had been treating it like a home for months) decided what better way to celebrate Christmas than to dress like Smurfs, which was bizarre and hilarious in equal measures!

The huge group of did a bit of a pub crawl around Kings Cross, only to to turned away again and again for ‘having too little clothes on’,  ‘being covered in paint’ or because ‘the photo on your id does not look like you (well duh I currently look like a smurf’. We ended up, of course, in O Malleys Irish Pub circa 3am singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, whilst downing cheap jugs of snakebite. Fun times.

Christmas day was crazy. I was on reception from 9am to 2pm (my first time ever working on Christmas day!), which merely involved me pumping out my fave cheesy xmas tunes throughout the hostel and giving out free candy canes. I do believe I may even have drank a beer or two..tut tut!

Later I met up with my best Canadian buddy, Sarah and the two English girls, Guss and Tilly, who I had met in Nomads Westend Backpackers. We partied the day away at ‘Sunburnt Christmas’ in the Bondi Pavillion, which included a wet t-shirt competition, awesome Dj’s and about 5,000 drunk backpackers in bikinis and santa hats. It would have been more fitting to call the event “Wet Wet Christmas” as the sun was far far away!

Sarah and I spent much of the time swimming in the warm (ahem) waters of Bondi beach, prancing around in the rain chatting to randomers and ended up, as always, back in the hostel blue room drinking into the wee hours of the morning.

A somewhat unconventional Christmas, to say the least.

 

Scary Smoking Smurfs1

Smurfs hit Kings Cross!

 

Guss, Janet, Tilly on Bondi Beach

 

Sunburnt Christmas @ Bondi

 

Sarah and Me

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