Author Archives: Ashleigh Rae

DMZ/North Korea Bound

The DMZ stands for “demilitarized zone” and it separates the North from the South of Korea. I did a day-long tour there, and I was priviledged to see the Third Tunnel, Dorasan Station, the Joint Security Area, Peace Park and the Dora Observatory.

The tour was amazing, although a little scary as the tension between North and South Korea is very strong, and there are many strange rules to follow in certain parts of the tour like no pointing or staring. The two most exciting parts were the JSA and the Dora Observatory because North Korea was right smack in front of my face, and I even saw some North Koreans from a distance. At one point my friend and I were officially standing in North Korea which I thought would never happen. I also saw some of the largest North Korean cities through binoculars.

When we walked deep down into the Third Tunnel that was created by North Korea in order to invade the South, I could see where the dynamite was used all over the stone and I even touched the black paint which North Korea tried to pass by as coal dust for their alibi in explanation of the tunnel’s existence.

The South Korean soldiers at JSA were also very interesting to observe. They never moved an inch and they have to be in a martial arts stance at all times while wearing sunglasses to show as little emotion as possible. It looked like an impossible task to stand there like that so long. All-in-all, this trip was one of the most insightful cultural experiences I have ever had because I learned so much about the history between two countries that share so much yet are so distant at the same time.

In this last picture, my friend and I are officially in North Korea. I still can’t believe I get to check that country off my travel list.


My TaLK Life: 6 months and Counting

I spent the last six months collecting some of my favorite moments of the students I teach. Here is the almost final video of first through sixth grades. Although a little long, it’s a great inside look at the life of an English teacher in South Korea. (I still have to add music, so sorry if it’s a little boring during the pictures.) Enjoy!

Kitty Cafe

Maybe some of you have heard of the Hello Kitty Cafe in Seoul where you enter  a twilight zone where everything is pink and disgustingly cute Hello Kitty themed …

Well, I’m not here to talk to you about that adorable place. I’m here to talk to you about a place next door that’s even stranger. I call it the KITTY CAFE … It’s actually called Cat’s Living, but my name is better, so spread the word.

Anyways, this is basically the equivalent to cat heaven. You pay, get a coffee and play with the laziest cats known to earth. They have everything they could possibly wish for. The cats are all well-trained around humans, so you can play with them all you want, and I would actually bet they enjoy their famed life, because some of them show off a bit for the camera. It is still hard to wrap my head around the fact that there’s a coffee shop dedicated to cat lovers.


Muddy Festivities

Sorry I have been M.I.A these past couple of weeks! The summer in Korea has turned out to be even more fun-filled than the winter, so I haven’t been spending much time indoors. This country really knows how to throw a good time. The summer is chalk-full of festivals to choose from, and I finally got to spend the weekend down in Boryeong where the famous Mud Festival is held. They claim to have the best mud in the world, and they certainly have my vote since I got to play in it all weekend. It was the most amazing time!

My friends and I got off the bus, dropped our stuff of, and then used paint brushes to paint mud all over our bodies. Sounds ridiculous … and it is ridiculous, but apparently rolling around in mud makes people really happy because the vibe in that city was so energetic! I felt like such a kid. A sea of crazy foreigners like myself and some brave Koreans took over the entire beach and spent the whole day and night really muddy and really happy. I don’t know how else to put it, but that’s the best festival I’ve ever been to in my life, and I’m seriously contemplating giving it one more run before it ends. I don’t think I even had to worry about wearing a pair of shoes the whole time, and I may have looked like a wild-woman covered from head to toe in the world’s best mud, but now my skin is super smooth. Unfortunately for me, the only one really taking pictures were a bunch of staff, so somewhere floating around there’re pictures of my muddy self, but I don’t have them. I do have one of a couple other TaLK scholars we met up with, and it’s a good glimpse of what to expect at what they call the Mud Festival.