Winter Vacation Is Almost Over (Or Where Did The Month of January Go?)

The more informed among you may have guessed that the winter vacation here in Korea is almost over. Next Monday, children and teachers will (begrudgingly) go back for the two week “final semester/graduation/movie time” (depending on where you work). As Marta and I could not get vacation dates off at the same time for January, for us it marks almost two weeks until we go on holiday to Vietnam and Cambodia. And we are getting excited about it. We have (finally) begun planning what we are going to do – food, clothes (tailoring, specifically) and general sight seeing. It will be fantastic!

Back home, I am aware that winter vacation has been over for almost a month. But in Korea, this is the longer of the two breaks students get. It lasts from the end of December until (basically) March. Students are not in their next school grade until March and tend to have as much enthusiasm as a sarcastically clapping Joker.

My kids, for the next few weeks.

What else have I been up to, you ask? Well, I celebrated my birthday with good friends. Karen and I continued the trend of getting socks for one and other. I found her a very ugly pair that I think are a fish or something. I also went bowling last week and I was awful at it. It was, perhaps, only the tenth time I have ever been though. So I guess I still got time to improve. I have been playing some video games. My friend Stephen and I have been on H151. It is pretty good, though limited in what you can do because it is so in early alpha. Apart from this, I find that January has slipped away into the arms of the past and the future is speeding at me like a train.

Until next time, friends!

Ricky

Nobody Said It Was Easy (Or The Hard Part About A Life On The Road)

Today is my sister’s 21st Birthday. It is the day that, officially, she stops being a girl and is a young woman on the brink of graduating University and going out into the world to make it a better place. But it is also a day that has got me thinking. Thinking about life and travelling. And, despite what many think, travelling isn’t always easy. It can be bloody hard, dear reader. For, life at home does not simply cease to go on with your removal. No. It continues on much as before. And a hard part of a life on the road is missing out on the events back home. This year alone, I will be missing yet more of my cousins birthdays (they are all young – two of them have never met me before and one of them doesn’t know who I am); I have missed my grandfather’s 80th birthday; my sister turning 21; and two family weddings. Next year, I miss my father turning 50. The year after that, my mother turning 50. And missing these events gets harder and harder every time.

I feel this aspect of travelling is less talked about. After all, who wants to hear about someone moping in self-pity, when they can hear about the time you rode elephants in Thailand or tried some amazing food in Vietnam. But, dear readers, this is a reality of life on the road. It can get away from you, and before you know it, you’ve missed out on large chunks of life from back home. Tolkien once wrote that “It’s a dangerous business…going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” I feel very much like I have been swept up in the raging river of travel. After leaving Korea, I am planning to head to Australia or New Zealand. But the flip-side of this rather beautiful coin hides a less attractive face. I haven’t been home in a year and a half. I have no plans to go back home in the next year and a half. I haven’t seen my parents since the day I left. Nor my sister. My extended family, I haven’t seen in even longer than that. They are constantly changing, their lives evolving and I feel less and less a part of that each day. On top of this, friends move in and out of your life with a rapid fluidity. This February, I am losing one of my best friends here in Korea, and several other close friends are also leaving. You start to be less of a person in the lives of others and more…a part of a story that they will one day tell. Yes, you might be an interesting part. But you are a story, none the less. To my young cousins, I am nothing but a story. A man in a myth. They’ve no memories of me. No face to put to the name. If anything, I am just a guy who appears on the computer every now and then.

Yes, dear readers, life on the road is glorious and wonderful. I see things and do things many people only dream of. I live a life blessed with interesting tales, opportunities and adventures. But to go on one adventure, you must give up others. And every now and then you realise – it is a high price to pay.

Ricky

Failing At My New Years Resolutions (Or How I Am Going To Come Up With Some Better Ones)

Well, three weeks into January and I am already failing rather spectacularly with the resolutions I set myself a few weeks back. I have (as the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed) not been posting five times a week on this blog. I have not been out using my camera. In fact, all I have really been doing is festering in a stinking bog of self-pity and boredom. That is slowly changing, though. I might go out tomorrow morning with my camera to get some new pictures for the blog and my photography page. On top of this my New Years Resolution v2.0 (Part 1) is going to be to write on the blog three times a week. I think going from nothing to five was me being optimistic at best, and slightly insane at worse. Three times seems manageable and it will give me time to go on adventures to entertain you all with.

Second, I have been working more on my art work. Even though I don’t think it is great (yet), it is coming along in leaps and bounds. Below are the latest images I have drawn. They are all in ink and then digitally painted using Photoshop.

Frog Seal, OrcaOctopusNot the greatest works of art you will ever see, but something I am proud of,

As I mentioned above I am going to go and take more pictures and go on more adventures this year. I am not sure I will be in Korea for much more than the next twelve months (less if they cut my job), and I really want to go out and see the country in a way I haven’t been able to before. I came here with wanderlust and adventure in my heart and have done nothing to fulfill those ambitions. Perhaps it is why I have been soaking in self pity for the past month or so.

Finally, I am going to write more poetry. My great-grandfather was a published poet and an accomplished traveler. I hope to, one day, be like him and have my own book of poetry published. But I won’t get there by not writing things. So I aim to produce at least a poem a week. Hopefully, I will write more than this though.

I want you guys (whoever is reading this) to make sure I stay on track with these tasks. Harass me. Make sure I do it. Because I let myself off far too easily.

I shall write again soon, dear readers!

Ricky

New Banner (Or How I Spent My Afternoon On Photoshop)

Today was the final day of my camp. My students loved the Harry Potter theme (and loved the prize of candy for the winning house even more). It also marks the end of my conversation camp with my co-teachers. I am actually going to miss this quite a lot, even if conversation does normally leave me feeling drained. It was nice to get to know them better (especially after a year and a half) and I feel that we are much closer than when we begun the camp last week.

Now I will spend my weekend relaxing, and playing with Photoshop. Talking of Photoshop, this afternoon I designed a new banner for my site. I tried to theme it around travel and ended up on the idea of stamps. Using Photoshop, along with some tutorials I found online I was able to create the banner you now see above this. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments!

Sorry for a short post but I am tired. I shall write again soon, so fear not!

Ricky

Happy Birthday To Me (Or Turning 24 In Korea)

A strange thing happened to me when I moved to Korea. I lost my entire early 20’s. How, you ask? Well, dear reader, I shall tell you!

Age in Korea is worked out a little differently to in the West. You are already 1 when you are born, so everyone here is “one year older” than in the West. So, when I moved here I was already 23, turning 24. Today, in Korean age, I turn 25 and officially hit my mid-20s. Back in the West, I am almost there anyway as I turn 24.

So, what am I expecting for my birthday? I got some nice clothing from my family and my girlfriend. And some money, most of which will be spent on new clothing for my wardrobe (which is in need of an update).

I have camp later but am also off out for an amazing meal with some of my closest friends and Marta, of course. I can’t wait. You should always spend your birthday with those you love, and in the obvious absence of family, friends are the next and most amazing of choices.

I have also been thinking more about the future and where it might take me. The front runner at the moment is New Zealand. If I have any readers from there, and you want to offer me some advice on what I can do or where is a great place to live, let me know. Christchurch or Wellington are topping the list at the moment.

That is all I have to say for now. I shall post again soon.

Ricky

First Official Post Of The New Year (Or How I Am Finally Doing Something Useful)

So, once again I must begin by apologising for not posting regularly to this blog. If you have seen any of my previous posts, you will know the past week or so has been a pretty turbulent time in my life. To sum it up, I got food poisoning and then one of my best friends was in a bus accident. This means I have spent much of my spare time in the last week visiting her and making sure she is OK. Luckily, she is now doing much better and this means I have some spare time to post.

But, I hear you ask with anticipation, what else have you been doing? Well, I started my winter camp last week. This year I themed it around Harry Potter. I am not sure how into it my students are (they seem to switch between utter disinterest to intense rivalry and excitement) but I am loving it. So far, we have done Transfiguration, Defence Against The Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures and History of Magic. Origami was one of my most popular activities and on Monday, my boys are going to finish making unicorns. I also do a teacher’s camp, in which we read articles from Breaking News ESL and discuss the issues involved. We have covered everything from economics to religion so far and my co-teachers seem to really enjoy it.

I have also returned to my first true love – the Mod movement. I assume most people don’t know what this is but basically it was a youth subculture in the 1960s in Britain. I first got into it when I was 16 years old but have spent the last year or so drifting backwards and forwards from it. I am not sure what it was – nostalgia, a feeling of belonging or just the fact that Mod is one of the best things to ever happen to the world but currently I am absolutely fascinated by it again. It is nice to feel passionate about an interest. I feel my life has lacked this recently.

Anyway, that is it from me this time. For further reading on Mods, check out Wikipedia or Modculture.co.uk. Both of these should satisfy any curiosity you have.

I will write again soon.

Ricky