South Korean ferry sinks, many students still missing

In case you haven’t been following international news, a very heartbreaking event took place yesterday morning. A ferry travelling from Incheon to Jeju Island listed and capsized into the ocean, leaving around 300 people, mostly high school students missing.

The sad and tragic news hit home for me because I’m a high school teacher and can’t even imagine how I would feel if something happened to my students. I’ve only been at my new school for two months but already have a good relationship with my boys. It is horrid to think that so many students are missing for more than 24 hours already. The way the evacuation process (or lack there of) was executed just rattles me. The worst fact about this whole incident being that the captain was one of the first people to be rescued.

Anyway I don’t want to talk about the facts, you can find them easily on any news channel. What I wanted to say is that I am thinking, praying and hoping that all those students can survive this tragic event and be saved. I hope that this event can become positive, and that the South Korean rescue unit can act quickly to rescue people.

One of my own students cousin is one of the missing victims. Seeing him break down in tears today in my office absolutely broke me, and for his sake and the sake of all the worried parents lets all pray for South Korea. Sending love and strength to all affected by this tragedy. Let’s hope all these young students are shortly reunited with their family and friends.

#prayforsouthkorea

Homemade hummus

DSC_0024 DSC_0025 DSC_0026 DSC_0028Hummus is much easier to make than one thinks, makes a lot more than you can buy for the same price (in Korea anyway) and surprisingly freezes really well (tried and tested). You can whip up a batch of hummus in less than ten minutes, and you can change the flavor of it to suit your mood and needs. My favorite hummus recipe to date has been hummus infused with roasted red peppers.

I have used a few different recipe’s but the best recipe was found over at a fat girls food guide. I have never bought tahini but you can find it on iherb, along with chickpeas if you can’t locate these two items easily in your neighborhood. If you are a first time user with iherb you can get a discount by ordering with this code: MHD992.

You can make tahini, and its relatively easy to do… I just can’t take the smell.

Once your hummus is made, it tastes delicious when paired with crackers, pitas or tortilla chips (tortilla wraps that have been baked in the oven until brown with some olive oil and salt,).

Hummus:

  • A can of chickpeas
  • 1/4 tahini (optional, i actually prefer it without)
  • 1/4 fresh lemon juice (or bottle if you are like me and can’t easily find lemons)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (i prefer 1)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • water from the chickpeas in the tin

Step 1: strain the chickpeas from the water, but keep it aside for later

Step 2: Mix the tahini and lemon juice.

Step 3: Add some of the chickpeas, garlic, olive and spices. Blend well

Step 4: Add the rest of the chickpeas or until you have a good consistency (I find I don’t use an entire can). You can add extra olive oil or some of the water to make it a nice, smooth consistency.

Step 5: Blend until smooth. Check that the flavor is to your taste or add more pepper/salt/ lemon juice. Also at this point you can add extras here (* see end). Remove from hand blender and place into serving dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve.

(*) extras= you can roast bell peppers in the oven until cooked and almost black, blend with some olive oil until a paste and then add into your hummus at the very end. You can also add rosemary, olives or pesto. You can be as creative as you wish.

 

 

 

5 reasons to visit Malaysia

I spent seventeen days in Malaysia during my winter vacation and had a great time. The country is awesome, with its mixture of hustle and bustle cities and neighboring slow islands,  Malaysia has something to offer to everyone. Shopping, eating, hiking, city sight seeing, island hopping,  scuba diving and jungle trekking are just a few of the things that you can keep yourself busy with during your vacation.

For anyone that is thinking of visiting Malaysia, I’ve summed up my top five reasons to go here.

DSC_0346

1. THE FOOD

Food is not the only reason that should motivate you to want to travel to Malaysia, but for me it was a big highlight of my trip. Korean food is so boring and all the same in comparison with Malaysian food. Malaysian food in influenced  by various cultures from around the world, which results in food rich in flavor. Every kind of fruit under the sun is also imaginable and easily obtainable, on just about every street corner. The prices of the food and fruit is also ridiculously cheap, allowing you to eat (feast) like a king without breaking your bank account.

My favorite meals included clay pot chicken rice, butter chicken with naan bread, garlic naan bread and a roti filled with soft, succulent lamb. I honestly ate the lamb roti for three days in a row. It was so delicious and reminded me so much of home.

Malaysia also has a really famous and popular drink they they try to serve you with any meal and at every restaurant: lime tea. It is much more delicious than it sounds and probably loaded with calories because its super sweet…but for 2.50 MYR who can say no!

Malaysians also really enjoy eating their meals off banana leaves, and use their hands instead of utensils. As a tourist you will always be given a fork, but when in Malaysia…do as the locals. Try and eat the meal with your fingers. It’s super tricky and messy.

 

DSC_0471
Lamb roti and dipping sauces

lamb rote DSC_0469 DSC_0697

2. THE COUNTRY IS CHEAP

Who doesn’t love a cheap vacation destination. Not only is the food cheap, but so is the shopping, sight seeing, transportation and local flights around the country. You can enjoy Malaysia on a budget or a splurge vacation. There are super cheap backpacking hostels nestled in between the expensive hotels, and streets lined with local food stalls and classy restaurants. Malaysia offers something for everyone no matter the budget you have.

3. GOOD TRANSPORTATION

An important part of travelling for me is the transportation infrastructure. Coming from a country (South Africa) where public transport is not very convenient makes me appreciate countries that have good public transportation.

Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur offers free shuttle buses between famous landmarks within the main golden triangle, a great sky train system, good and clean metro trains, high speed trains from the airport to the city center as well as cheap and reliable long distance buses.

Even when I left Kuala Lumpur to explore the smaller and quieter areas outside of the main city hub I never found myself to have a problem with transportation. I rented a car and scooter for a few days just for ease of travel and convenience, but it is possible to get by without. However if you do opt to rent a vehicle of some sort, scooters go for around 40 MYR per day, and cars start at 100 MYR per day.

DSC_0704
My transport on Langkawi island

4. AMAZING SHOPPING

I would like to say I don’t enjoy shopping but that would be a blatant lie. I indulde slighty more on vacation, especially when when I leave Korea because the Korean sizes and style just doesn’t fit me all that well.

Kuala Lumpur specifically has fabulous shopping for any and all shoppers. Within one district you can find your side walk stalls selling cheap, knock off backs (China Town is the best place to start), and as you continue along you will find cheap malls and pricey malls carrying high end fashion brands.

I enjoyed the cheap malls because the clothing is super cheap, and sell everything from cheap accessories to ball gowns. The fancier malls however do not have much of a variety for the budget shopper.

China Town knockoffs
China Town knockoffs

 

High end shopping malls
High end shopping malls

5. THE FRIENDLY PEOPLE

Malaysia seriously have some of the friendliest people I have encountered in a very long time. Language barriers pose no problem to Malaysians, and shop assistants, waiters or locals will be more than happily chat to you in English. Before coming to Malaysia I was concerned that language might be a problem, but almost everyone speaks English as a second language.

The country itself is a hotpot of different cultures, with a large Malaysian, Indian and Chinese culture mixing together to create a wonderful and culturally colorful country to visit. As a result of the different cultures, your time in Malaysia will allow you to be exposed to a range of different traditions that these cultures bring to the country.

DSC_0440 DSC_1062

 

I’m going to the Philippines and China!

I get myself so excited around this time in the year when I finally have my school’s timetable for the whole year and am able to plan out my vacation timetable.

I have found myself to have somewhat magic fingers when it comes to booking flights to overseas locations, and have always been able to pay a significantly lower amount than my friends who book tickets to the same location.

I have snapped up tickets to the Philippines and Shanghai for a mere 600 USD. Two different vacations (so not stop overs or multii city flights) for a super awesome deal. 

Two search engines which I have always used and found to give me great results are skyscanner and kayak. If you trying to book flights, check out these search engines first!

Happy vacation planning!

 

Image
credit: lonely planet
Image
credit: theegotripper.com

 

Yummy and moist banana bread

DSC_0926 DSC_0929 DSC_0928 DSC_0921 DSC_0920

I have been addicted to making banana bread for the past two months; simply as a way to recycle my brown bananas. Back in South Africa I was very fond of baking banana bread, so decided to make an old favorite on this side of the world too. The first two or three attempts at making bread was challenging because I had to find the correct length of time to make my bread cooked through and not dry at the same time. The small toaster oven that I own did a surprisingly good job and every bread that I continue to make outdoes its predecessor.

Banana bread is actually really cheap to make in Korea because you can buy a large bunch of bananas for around 4000W, and sometimes even cheaper if they are already towards the brown side. Soft, browned bananas are thee best for banana bread because it makes the bread moist!

I struggled initially to find baking soda at my local Top Mart, but I found it once my Korean coworker told me what the Hangul was. I also picked up a super cheap baking tin from Daiso for 2000W. As long as you grease it well the bread won’t stick. To add variety to your breads you can also throw in a handful of chocolate chips (Hershey’s brand are the best) or some chopped up nuts.

This recipe is awesome because you can also mix it by hand using a wooden spoon and don’t actually need to buy expensive equipment.

You need:

  •  3 over ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup softened butter (I buy the Emart brand for baking/cooking)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (or 3/4 if you are adding chocolate chips)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 1/2 cup of flour (I use the green Baksul one with the cookies on the front)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • optional: nuts or chocolate chips

Method:

Mix together your butter and mashed bananas. Add in your egg, sugar and vanilla.  Next mix in the baking soda and salt. Lastly add in the flour (I usually sift in the flour). If you want, you can add nuts / chocolate at the end.

Pour this mixture into a buttered loaf tin. I bake it on 160*c for 30-40 minutes, checking it towards the end to see that its cooking and not burning.

If you insert a stick into the bread and it comes out clean it’s ready.

Allow the bread to cool in the tin on a rack before removing it.

Spring time in Gyeongju!

I was fortunate enough to have the day off yesterday, as it was my school’s birthday. It was great to be able to have a four day teaching day week. I jumped at the opportunity of a free day to dust off my camera (it feels like ages since I last used it) and give Bomun Lake (in Gyeongju) a visit. The cherry blossoms are only in full bloom for a two week period, so if you want to enjoy their beauty you have to hurry and make your way to an area that is full of these beautiful trees.

I find the cherry blossoms so beautiful because they remind me of cotton candy balls. The other flowers that are blooming in Gyeongju are also so pretty.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Koreans love noraebang! (노래방)

I refused to spend the gloomy Saturday evening watching reruns of the same three English movies that CGV often plays (English / Korean movie channel), so my boy and I decided to head to a Korean bbq restaurant and then noraebang for a fun filled evening.

I am not much of a singer, apart from the odd shower induced solo breakdown or the random song I’ll yell out to while getting dressed for school. So for the most part you won’t often find me enjoying my time in noraebangs on a weekend. However with the sun hiding away and the rain out in full force I decided to do something different for a change.

We headed a block down from my house which is super conveniently located and sang our hearts out for an hour and forty minutes. In true Korean style we were gifted an extra forty minutes of singing time free of charge!  For 20 000W you can get an hour plus some to sing for scream for pure joy to rid yourself of boredom! What more can someone ask for :) You can choose from an impressive selection of new and old English songs, as well as an extensive list of Korean songs. I personally enjoyed singing UptownGgirl and Summer Nights!

DSC_0960 DSC_0967 DSC_0968

South African's experience of teaching and travelling

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,679 other followers

%d bloggers like this: