Some crazy colorful photos from the Color Me Rad 5km Race that I did with some friends in Korea last Saturday. Great fun, well-organized and definitely a race to remember!
I would highly recommend signing up if this race comes to your city. :)
Last weekend, along with a group of about 10 other Irish people (including the Irish Ambassador to Korea and her family), I had the chance to represent Ireland in the audience of a Korean Quiz show. Random, I KNOW!!
The TV show was called ‘Quiz on Korea’ and involves 30 individuals from 30 different countries around the world who are all flown to Korea to participate in a week long cultural exchange which culminates in a quiz show where contestants are tested on their knowledge of all things Korean. KBS studios wanted at least 10 people from each different country to cheer on the various contestants and thus myself and 9 other Irish people were asked to come along for the filming of the show to support Irish contestant Alana O’ Brien.
I had NO idea what to expect on arrival, but my expectations were no were near what greeted me on entering the huge filming studio. There were hundreds of people sitting in rows with their fellow country men and women all waves their countries flags and all wearing their countries colors. It was pretty funny to walk into the room, all 10 of us wearing matching gree t-shirts, marching down step after step until we found the row of seats with the Irish flags.
In front of us were 2 rows of Belgian supporters brandishing red, black and yellow flags and football jerseys. In front of them were 2 rows of Egyptians and 2 rows of Cambodian supporters! The room was a rainbow of color with all the various supporters waving their flags and cheering on their home country. Behind us was a row of young Korean children who had been invited to support America, and everytime the American contestant did well they chanted “Meguk, Meguk, Meguk” whcih means America in Korean. They were truly adorable!
After about 20 minutes of waiting 3 Korean presenters and all the contestants came out on stage, which is the point when Myself and all the other Irish supporters could not withold our laughter at the absurdity, and verging on racist, outfits which the contestants had been asked to wear. It was almost cartoon like.The Rwandan was in traditional African dress, with a Rwandan Soccer jersey underneath, and was even walking with a beautiflly carved traditional walking stick, the Canadian looked like an Ice Hockey player while the Kiwi contestant was in an all blacks jersey and holding a rugby ball. How original!
The poor Irish girl was wearing something that half resembled a traditional Irish dancing dress and half resembled a female leprechaun! It was pretty hilarious to say the least. The poor American was dressed like the cowboy from the movie Toy story while the Belgian was wearing his countries colors and wearing a black beret. I wouldn’t be surprised if was also carrying a baguette!
Crazy costumes aside, the quiz was pretty straightforward, with pretty easy questions been asked on Korea to start with, getting progressively more difficult as the quiz went on. The New Zealand contestant was the overall winner, narowly beating a 15 year old bot from venuzuela who I was personally cheering on! He was only 15!!
The real highlight of the night, however, was not the quiz itself but the surprise K-Pop acts which bopped around the stage during the interval. Having never previously seen live K-POP I was both pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it and in shock at how crazy the Korean supporters would act each time a new act appeared on stage. I didn’t know it was even possible to scream that loud…I think the kids behind me singing along to Crayon Pop and the grown men going weak at the knees shouting their support for KARA and B.A.P entertained me more than the K-POP acts themselves!
It was a really great night out, and will certainly be a Saturday nigth that I won’t be fogetting for quite some time!
I was talking to some friends last night about solo travel and the enormous benefits bestowed on people who are brave or adventurous enough to set off on their travels alone. I thought I could use my blog to share some positive experiences I have encountered with total strangers but mainly I wanted to use this post to hear your stories!
Have you ever experienced the kindness of strangers while on your travels??
Be it someone who helped fix your puncture in the Australian Outback or a young kid who helped you find your hotel through the winding streets of Venice??
On my way to Australia last November I had a great experience where I befriended a stranger on the plane from Cork, who turned out to be an extremely well off but more importantly very inspirational business man who employed over 800 people in a Tech company in China. He taught me many a thing that I still keep with me today, and also treated me to a delicious meal while waiting for my nest flight. An experience that can be read about here.
Almost a year later and as my trip to South Korea began, I found another stranger putting a smile on my face. After a short flight from Cork to London Heathrow, I had another dreaded 5 hour stopover. As all the restaurants were super busy I was asked to share a table with a few other travellers. No problem. I got talking to the guy opposite me, mainly because the cocktail he was drinking looked interesting so I decided to order the same(!), and he turned out to be a very good-looking and interesting Irish guy (if you are reading this…HELLO!).
We had a great conversation about work, travel and life, as he asked me why I had decided to jet off to Korea for a year. We chatted for a while and then he bid me farewell as he had to run to catch his flight. As he stood up to leave, he informed that he had been so intrigued listening to me talk and was so sad that he had to depart that he had paid for my meal and drink as a farewell gift. I was actually speechless but secretly delighted.
I’m sure we have all been that kind stranger too, at one stage or another. One memory I have, which while not entirely a ‘kind’ gesture, is certainly something that put a smile on the face of many strangers.
Standing knee-deep in the freezing, Irish sea or laying down on the hard, cold rocky pier back to back with naked strangers, as a ship sails in from England (no doubt full of puzzled passengers!) was a morning I’m not going to forget anytime soon! I can’t begin to imagine what was going through those passengers minds as they saw a few thousand naked Irish people welcoming them into Dublin Port at 5 o’clock in the morning! “Welcome to Ireland, the friendliest nation on Earth!”
Giving out FREE HUGS to bewildered students in a trendy shopping area in Seoul, South Korea was also a great way of spreading job to strangers! That, and the day I spent dressed as a clown and face painting kids for free in Dublin, Ireland.
Please share your stories in the comments below! x
Summer in Ireland this year fell on Friday 10th August, and what a beautiful summer it was. As luck would have it, some wise soul in Cork decided to organize a Flash Mob in Grand Parade so we could ‘dance into the weekend’ in style!
Normally flash mobs gather quickly, do something wacky, then quickly disperse. This one was different…and better! It lasted nearly an hour and everyone just danced their socks off, basking in the sunshine, and moving up and down and around the street to the beat, with not a car in the world! Here are a few pics I took before joining in the fun myself!
Happy Weekend Everyone!
This is a travel article I wrote that was published in Backpacker Europe Magazine about….6 years ago!
Have you ever been ice-skating at 5am? Have you ever dunked your head into a frozen Baltic river when the temperature is -19° Celsius? Have you ever tasted the diverse and unfamiliar food that is Latvian cuisine? Well, we have!
Contrary to people’s pre-conceived ideas about Eastern Europe, it must be said that Latvia truly is a hidden treasure. When the idea of a class trip to Latvia first arose, many of my classmates had reservations and cast forth images of cold winters, soviet bunkers and poverty. However, after a little research and a lot of persuasion on my behalf, a group of 22 jetted off in anticipation of arriving in a winter wonderland.
Following the directions given to us (pre-departure) by the very hospitable Frank, we arrived safely in our hostel. We were welcomed whole-heartedly with free beers for one and all. After settling into our cosy dorms overlooking the snow-covered Deguava River, we were ready to make tracks and discover Riga. We were not disappointed.
Soon after setting off, we stumbled upon an ice rink where we only had to pay the equivalent of 50 cent for one hour’s ice skating. After an hour full of fun and frolics (in my case much of this time was spent on my backside), hunger set in. We ventured en masse through the old town, along narrow and winding streets, past beautiful buildings, before descending upon ‘Lido’ – a buffet style restaurant specialising in a Latvian fayre. Suddenly decades melted away, and the wait staff appeared, all dressed in traditional Latvian costume.
After paying the total owing per head (a grand total of less than €3 per person!), we strolled along to a Local Latvian club, where Frank’s hostel staff had pre-arranged free entry for the entire gang. With vodka and cocktails flowing like water into the early hours of the morning, it has to be said that what we remember of our first night in Riga was unforgettable!
At around 4am, one bright spark suggested that we go ice-skating by the light of the silvery moon. This newfound hobby, it appears, was to become a nightly ritual for the duration of our stay. For four nights in a row, the night was never over until we had strutted our stuff on the ice rink! Even then the Latvian nights were not complete. A lively ménage of travellers in our 24-hour hostel bar kept the place buzzing, exchanging stories and experiences until sunrise.
Our second day in the Latvian capital saw us exploring its bustling open-air market, and local landmarks. The Church tower permitted celestial views of Riga and beyond from on high. The Museum of the occupation of Latvia was an eye opener. While there some classmates experienced the once in a lifetime opportunity of shooting loaded AK47s from a real soviet bunker – something never to be forgotten!
That night our first destination of choice was The Skyline Bar on the 27th floor of Hotel Latvia. Ascending floor by floor in an elevator taken directly from Willy Wonkas’ chocolate factory, views were spectacular. Later we set off for what had been described as one of the biggest and most happening clubs in the Baltic states-Club Essential!
There were so many rooms and dance floors within this amazing labyrinth of tunes that I was lost within minutes. There was music for all tastes and space for the entire world to dance, or so it seemed. After boogying until closing time (6am), we went for a refreshing round of the ice rink.
Returning home well after 9am, we decided it was a ‘do or die situation’. We decided to salvage the day ahead. summoning up any remaining energy we set off for the mountains an hour from Riga. Sigulda was our destination of choice – renowned for its bobsleigh tracks.
The quaint town was a huge contrast to Riga. Suddenly we were in a winter wonderland and there were Christmas decorations everywhere we looked. Falling snowflakes persuaded us to purchase bum boards in a local super market and venture into a nearby forest for some fun in the snow. As it got darker, our sense of adventure heightened and we flew down hillsides like the children that we used to be!
Our trip to Latvia was unforgettable. Old Riga is a beautiful place but in order to experience the full picture, a trip to the countryside is a must. Almost a year has passed since our trip and not a day has passed without one of us reminiscing, about the true hidden treasure that is Latvia.