South Korea leads the world in themed cafes (cat cafes, board game cafes, design a doll cafes etc...) . I don't understand why this hasn't caught on in the West to the same extent. Probably because South Korea actually has a dating culture where people go out and spend time getting to know one another, in contrast to New Zealand at least, where for most, it involves lubricating your esophagus in half a pint of 42 Below, in a bar where your feet stick to the floor, before you can talk to someone (if, by that point, you can remember who it was you wanted to talk to in the first place and if in fact you can hear each other over the Britney-Pitbull remix).
Anyway, if you find yourself in Seoul, I have a themed cafe recommendation for those who like a little weird with their side of Hot Chocolate.
Princess Diary Cafe
Location: Take Exit 3 from Ewha's Women's University Subway Stop (Line 2/Green line), walk until you spot Starbucks, turn right and look up!
Weddings are a huge thing in Korea. The culture really expects you to get married. In New Zealand, a lot of my friends are married by my age (29) but a lot also aren't, and our society doesn't judge you for it. It's not "mandatory" and we are very open to different ways people want to live their lives, there is no "one way".
Not to say that Korea is intolerant, but that the norm is to get married between 28-35. It is highly unusual not to get married and the pressure to get married is keenly felt by those approaching and within that age bracket. There are a number of reasons for this but that is another blog post entirely.
With an incredibly high percentage of marriages happening here, you can imagine the Wedding business is booming. Hair, make-up, dresses, event halls, cars, caterers, photographers, flowers etc...
But for those that aren't quite ready to walk down the isle, why not visit the Princess Diary Cafe? Here you can try on a Wedding Dress (or a Hanbok - traditional Korean dress), choose short or long, strap-less or high-necked. Prices generally range from about 10,000 (low end) - 40,000 (high end) Korean won (about $9.50-$37.60US/$11.50-$45NZ)
It is mandatory to buy a drink but that is a fairly cheap affair (5,000-7,000won).
There are various props you can pose around with until your heart's content (including cowboy hats, a rocking horse, a piano, tiger ears, tiaras etc...).
It's a great girly day out. But you will also see Korean guys there from time to time with their girlfriends.
One hundred day anniversaries are really popular in South Korea and sometimes boyfriend and girlfriend will dress up in Wedding attire and get a photo to celebrate reaching 100 days in their relationship, 200 days, 300 days etc...
Here are some of my photos of me being my own bride, or as I said at the time "I married myself because I'm so awesome...".
Keep in mind I did purposefully choose the poofiest dress I could find for comedy's sake and this is not what I would choose to wear if I did end up getting married at some point.
Will I get married? The future is wide open. I'm open to it happening, I'm open to it not happening. If it's right, it's right, if it's not, it's not. I'm ok with whatever journey I take. I have a good life.
And let's be honest I have some quirks that make it a pretty hard task to achieve...
1. I have a resting bitch face.
2. I'm not the most social person so guys don't really get much of a chance to meet me, or me to meet them. (ie. I avoid clubs, pubs and most parties like the plague and yes, this resulted in me being unofficially labeled the "weird girl" through high-school and college - thanks...).
3. I'm quite a difficult person to get to know past any superficial level.
4. I'm shy.
5. I'm travelling.
Put those all together and you get: HELLO SOLO! : |
So at least I got to wear the poofy dress once, thanks South Korea. x
P.S. special thanks to my friend Kirsty who was my long suffering photographer on the day!
A lot can happen in 24 hours.
Last weekend I took part in a playwriting competition. The rules were:
> You have 24 hours
> Write a one act play: 5 - 30 minutes
> Include all of the four random criteria you are given.
> The 4 scripts with the highest scores as determined by a panel of judges will be performed in March.
My criteria were:
Location: A hoarder's home.
Character: The Bordin Twins
Line: Where can I get one of those?
The first thing I did was NOT write because I wanted to see what would happen if I let the ideas float for a while. Then it was all systems go.
We were also told to take photos from the front line as we worked on our scripts, so I set the timer on my camera, unfortunately most were blurry but here are a couple:
Finally I came up with an idea about two cleaners who have the task of dealing with a deceased hoarder's apartment in which everything they find appears in two's apart from one object, a mirror.
During their cleaning they discover why it's the only object without a pair.
But that's all I'll say in terms of plot because I don't want to spoil it for anyone that comes to the show in March.
Yes, that's right - my play got chosen! I'm really stoked about this. I wasn't expecting to get any writing up on stage in Korea and never this quickly. I love how organic and immediate the process has been. So refreshing.
So in a month 'Eye Level' (title of my script) will be performed at Changwon's Nobi Theatre. We can choose if we'd like to be involved so I put myself forward as a potential script prompt or actress.
Although I told them to go easy on me because I'm not an actor. Though I have been a tree once.
Yes. I have been a tree. The situation people often joke about, but it actually happened to me.
And there goes my last shred of dignity this week.
I was once a tree. I wish I looked half as cool as this guy in the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but the trees were not where they put the resources for costumes.
As the story begins, I think I was about seven or eight and our class was putting together something for the end of year concert. Everyone had a role.
What I really wanted to be was one of the birds. They had the beautiful colourful costumes with individual paper feathers and they got to dance.
I was not chosen to be a bird.
The girls that got chosen to be birds had studied ballet or gymnastics and were pretty.
I had studied Grade Three Musical Theory and read 72 books during the school holidays, but that doesn't qualify you for being one of the birds.
Also, by this time my blonde hair had been subject to the Spanish blood somewhere distant on my Welsh Grandfather's side that meant gradually from about four onwards it started to naturally get darker. So I had long, straggly brunette hair which would have been fine, but paired with how pale my skin was, always made me look ill.
I remember people asking me: 'Are you ok?' 'Are you feeling ok?'
It was at this age too that I had a really terrible bout of whooping cough and lost so much weight that I looked like I'd escaped from a Stalinist camp. So when I was told I was to be part of the scenery - a tree, it was kind of like - 'quick, put the sick looking kid in the back'.
This is one of a number events I somehow internalised because I went through many years under the impression that I was just hideously ugly, to the point that in highschool I would often take the longer route home if it meant less people would see me. Even if it was one of those days I had to carry my guitar amp and Fender Strat, as well as my backpack full of books.
Ah, childhood memories, they are hard to shake. And it surprises me how often I still feel like that kid. I've come this far and am rock solid in who I am, my personality and moral code but for some reason, from time to time I still feel like that ugly kid whilst everyone else gets to be birds.
When I was little, birthdays used to be a thing.
SNAPSHOT EIGHT YEARS OLD:
- Dunedin, New Zealand.
- Invitations and RSVPs
- Pretty dress, patent shoes
- Hair tied back with a ribbon
- Infamous birthday cake (one year I had a swimming pool, the next a horse's head)
- Orange wedge jelly boats and fairy bread
- 10 other little girls running up and the down the hallway screeching and popping balloons.
- Pass-the-Parcel and Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey
SNAPSHOT FOURTEEN YEARS OLD:
- Dunedin, New Zealand.
- I'm too cool for birthdays and have decided it's something other people celebrate but not me.
- My friends throw me a surprise sleepover birthday party anyway.
SNAPSHOT 29 YEARS OLD:
- Gwangju, South Korea.
- I slipped over in my apartment and have bruises all down my left arm.
- Almost forgot my birthday.
- I buy a candle from Paris Baguette.
- A slice of cake from Starbucks.
- Light the candle, eat the cake, by myself, in my apartment.
- I watch five episodes of The Office (US) on my laptop (which sounds like a lawnmover because the fans are broken).
- Then write my favourite Great Gatsby quotes over all my dinner ware.
At some point during my life I lost the point of celebrating my birthday. My question became: Yes, it's my birthday - but why are we celebrating it? All I've done is complete another revolution around the sun, a feat which I'm definitely not alone in.
I am also extremely uncomfortable with days which have social expectation and celebration attached to them or me as the focus. Think Birthdays, Christmas, Graduations, Weddings, Valentines etc... there is an expectation they are supposed to be happy-happy-dance-around-the-maypole type gigs. I spend the entire day holding my breath waiting for the one thing to go wrong and break the illusion, because in my experience 99% of the time it always happens. In many ways it's easier to not participate in the illusion at all than have it fail and disappoint.
Back to birthdays: So I decided to downplay my birthday as much as possible and my rule became I'll only REALLY celebrate when something cool happens. 'Cool' usually meant I won a writing award or something like that. But when that happened I didn't celebrate properly then either because I thought, I'll celebrate next time - when I climb another rung up the ladder.
And now? I haven't written anything of note in a while. So if that was my rule for celebrating then my life has become one unbroken nothingness devoid of celebration.
Maybe I need my birthday celebrations back again just to break up the nothingness.
These days when my birthday rolls around I make a goal - something concrete I can achieve which doesn't rely on anyone else (otherwise the goal is potentially impossible).
In 2012 my goal was to be in a different country by the time I turned 29. GOAL: ACHIEVED. I am in South Korea and although from time to time it can be isolating and has the expected frustrations of living in a non-English speaking country, I genuinely like my life here.
But 2014... I think my goal might simply be to celebrate my birthday again. Properly. As much as that idea makes me feel uncomfortable, it's probably time to bite the bullet and get over myself.