Monday, December 26, 2011


People who know anything about South Africa will know that we don't really get snow in winter. Sure, sometimes the Drakensberg will get some fluff, or the mountains near Ceres in the Cape will go a bit white, but for the most part it's not a place where you'd take up skiing. So you can only imagine the hilarity when a bunch of Saffas (and an assortment of other nationalities) attempted to stay upright on skis and snowboards in -5 degree weather.

Muju, freezing cold!
We decided on a day trip and went to Muju, about 3 hours from Daegu. It's apparently not the fanciest of resorts in Korea, but given that most of us had never touched a ski pole, it was perfectly adequate for our meagre needs. I decided to ski rather than be 'cool' and snowboard, mainly because I didn't want to risk breaking my wrist a month before going to Thailand, as a friend of ours did last year. I think I made the right decision, after watching my boarding friends' attempts to stay upright!

We left on a tour bus at 6am and arrived at Muju just before 9. It snowed along the way, which was delightful as it meant there would be real snow on the slopes and not just fake stuff. We were given our very sexy rented ski gear (mine was all blue so I looked like a Smurf) as we got off the bus, and were sent to change, get boots and skis, and meet the instructors. The package we booked (through Daegu Tour for 110k per person for everything) included a lesson for 2 hours, which was a god-send!

Snowboarders went one way and we went another. They got a pretty and relaxed girl who spoke decent English, we got a drill sergeant man who shouted at us, made us stand in two lines and did most things through the dramatic method of mime. I'm exaggerating slightly, but not by much. He was a young guy but very serious about his duties, and made us do the same things over and over again. He taught us how to fall (cross your arms, fall sideways and land on your bum) and shouted if we put our hands out. "No! Nonononono!"

Fay and Teacher discuss standing up after falling.
The most amusing part of the lesson was learning the 'frog position'. We're not quite sure if that's really what it's called, but Megan was doing some vague translating and caught the word frog, and we just added 'position' to it. So anyone who learns from this guy in future and he says 'frog position,' think of me! Anyway, this technique involves putting your skis in a V shape, with the close ends in the front. But your skis can't touch, the tips must be 10cm apart. If they're 9cm or 11cm apart, you'll get a stern "No! Nonononono! 10 centimetah!" from Teacher! So we went down a tiny hill over and over, practising the Frog Position, and anything other than "No!" was taken as a compliment. In the video you can hear him giving detailed instructions, and then saying "No!" after Tim's attempt.

Preparing to go down a little hill.
There were a couple of falls, but none from me, thank the lord. I was terrified of getting hurt, so I concentrated hard all day and stayed on my feet even when doing down the bigger, faster slope. Well, to be fair, there were 4-year-olds going down this beginner hill faster than we were, but when you're on it, it feels like lightning! It's so smooth and slippery, and my skis kept going straight/parallel so I'd go even faster. I couldn't stay in Frog Position! I just breathed as if I were going into labour and focused on not letting my skis cross, and made it down to the bottom without incident.

The only time my bum touched the snow was when I was at the top of the slope, putting my skis back on after the lift to the top. The left one wouldn't go on, so I kept sliding down the hill on the attached right ski and eventually fell on my ass. The Lovely Gen found this hilarious, and only after regaining her breath after laughing did she check if I was ok. Nice, babe! Nice! Shame, she took an almighty tumble a few minutes later though, the poor little thing. Thank god for Myprodol!

Most of us continued to play in the snow for the rest of the afternoon, while others cut their loses and went for some apres-ski coffees at the bottom of the big slopes. The snowboarders joined the skiers in the afternoon and I was very grateful I chose the skis. I don't know how much I'd enjoy not being able to move my feet independently of each other... And they spent more time on their bums than standing upright, and my back isn't in the greatest condition at the best of times. I did try the snowboard near the end of the day, mind you. I sat on it and went down the hill as though on a toboggan!

TLG and Smurf!

Rodney on his snowboard, waiting to go down the hill.
So much pretty in one picture should be illegal.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Before I begin my rant about how I punched the internet in the face, I'd like to make it clear that I'm not a Luddite by any means. I love my smart phone, I have more than one camera, my laptop and I will get married as soon as the law allows. Technology in general is my friend, and for the most part that includes the baffling, massive, incomprehensible world of the interwebs. But sometimes, it makes me want to crawl into a cave with a book after throwing my computer out the nearest window.

This is never more true than when having to make travel arrangements online. I remember, back in the day, when people used travel agents. A nice lady in an ugly blue/red/yellow blazer would sit you down, hand you some brochures and calmly help you book some flights. I miss actual plane tickets, in a plastic envelope with a luggage tag, as opposed to a printed email. I know they charge commission, but lord above, it's so much easier!

Take out most recent saga while booking flights to Thailand for our holiday in January. The Lovely Gen is much better at this than I am, because I get so annoyed that I lose all focus and go make a cup of tea instead. First, we spent hours looking for cheap flights, using every conceivable website. Skyscanner, bookingbuddy, expedia, etc. Eventually we went directly to the Thai Airways website, which was a mission and a half. I almost took up smoking.

After trying to book the same flight 65 times, TLG eventually called the sales office in Seoul, who said that the booking system was down. Awesome. So we gave them all our info (only about half of what was required on the website, mind you) and they booked the tickets directly for a small fee. I mean sure, the emails got lost for a few days and we had to call a few times to find out what was happening, but it worked out. See? An actual person helped us! Tip: If you book with another person's credit card, they have to appear with it at the airport to check you onto the flight. Avoid that.

Fine, so international flights booked. Next: domestic flights from Bangkok to Krabi and back. Again, a nightmare. Searched for hours. Flights are bizarrely expensive considering they last for an hour. We eventually found return tickets for $140 on Air Asia, which we thought was a bargain. Not! While going through the booking process, they add on all sorts of shit, from luggage fees (anything over 7kgs has to be checked in, and you have to pay per bag), seat assignment fees (if you say no, you might not sit next to your travel buddy), food costs, travel insurance, etc. You don't choose all this, they give it to you and then you have to know to uncheck it.

Eye on the prize. Eye on the prize!
So our $140 bargain flights went to a lovely $180 by the end of the day. The frustration was compounded by the complicated payment process, with passwords and verification numbers and other crap. Gah! I know, we could have used cheaper transport, but an hour-long flight vs 15 hours on trains/buses? As I'm sure you've gathered by now, I like things to be quick and convenient, especially when I only have 13 days!

Yay, flights finally booked, $800 later. Next: accommodation. Doing this online takes a lot of time. I think I spent around 10 hours just looking at places in Bangkok, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. You have to do this, because while might have great prices initially, once they add on all the other fees it's not so cheap after all. You have to do your research, and eventually we used agoda, (excellent, no random fees, but not as much to choose from) and

Also, who the hell takes the pictures at these places? They look like Annie Leibovitz popped round to shoot a few snaps when you look on the internet, but when you actually arrive at the place it's a different story. And! In the very small print at the bottom of the last page, it tells you that the bargain prices put you in rooms without hot water. Tip: read the reviews of a place on a variety of sites. Some booking sites only post the nice reviews, so a hotel with an 8/10 drops to 6/10 on a more honest URL.

Me in January
The budget is not looking good, people! We're going to lie on the beach, drink water and eat noodles for two weeks. Maybe we'll snorkel. I'll read my Kindle, while lying in a hammock. Come on, January!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This past weekend, The Lovely Gen and I joined some friends for a few frames of gay bowling. It's like regular bowling, except the ball doesn't go as straight. Ha! Sorry. We went bowling with some fellow gaymos and I had a great time! The others? Maybe not so much...

As mentioned before, I love me some bowling and will miss how cheap it is here when I go back to Cape Town. Also... I'm really competitive. Annoyingly so, I'll admit it. I go outside my body when I'm being obnoxious and tell myself to cut it out, but alas I cannot! I find going to bars without pool/darts/beer pong quite boring, and I take great pride in the fact that TLG and I are a pretty great beer pong team. Well, we were before our month-long no-drinking hiatus in November, but I'm sure our mojo will return during this month of December partying!

This competitive spirit carries over into bowling. I hate being bad at it and I get really annoyed when the ball goes into the gutter or hits less than 5 pins. I'll grab my thumb/wrist and make a face, claiming pain or that the ball 'slipped'. Well it did! Stupid lane oil! Everyone else, friends who are normal and don't treat bar sports as though they are life or death situations, smile and nod, scared to poke the bear. They're all, "Whoo hoo, I hit the pins and the ball didn't go in the gutter!" But I'm annoyed when this happens, it makes me sad. It's why I quit golf. My dad always told me, " Don't try and be Tiger Woods, just play the ball properly and stay calm." Yeah right. It didn't work when I was 10, it doesn't work now.

When I do get a strike I'm insufferable and smug. I bow, wave, high five everyone, and then shrug my shoulders as if to say, "Meh. No biggie. Happens all the time." Thank god my friends like me! Or maybe they just put up with me to spend time with TLG... So anyway, this weekend we were bowling with some new people from Busan, so I tried to behave a bit better so they wouldn't hate me and run away. It worked for a while, I was demure and humble after the first strike, but after that I was just too amazing to stay calm!

Seriously, I was on fire, it was like the pins and the ball were magnetically connected. In the final game, I got 154 points (I know that's not really a lot, but for most people I play with it is) which was a personal best and it included the elusive Turkey. A Turkey, according to, is "bowling lingo for three strikes in a row. Probably, the most famous score for amateur and professional bowlers alike." Yes indeed! I got three in a row for the first time ever, and took a photo as evidence!

The fact that the next sentence is, "This is partly due to the fact it has an unusual name, and partly because even a beginner can get one," is immaterial. Whatever. Maybe I should invest in one of those fancy gloves that make your arm look robotic... Maybe I should join a league... Maybe I should get a shirt with my name on it...