Three Things Thursday; Aged Things

For the first Three Things of the year I’m in my own back yard, for once. So I would like to present for your delection Three Historic…

…cities worth a visit in the UK.

For the first time I’m on a visit home outside of the constricts of work holidays, being currently ‘between jobs.’ This has resulted in a pleasantly extended visit and the opportunity to make a number of day trips. We’ve even fished out the passports and braved the heavily fortified borders of Wales and Scotland for extended adventures.

No, not really. We left the passports at home and snuck over like all the other illegal migrants from England in search of a better life. More


Seoraksan – not a baaaahd day’s hike

To celebrate Seollal – the lunar new year and the start of the year of the sheep (hence the baahd title joke) – I packed up and shipped out to the port town of Sokcho on the East sea. As Seollal is one of the two big annual holidays, it was me and 22 million Koreans on the move for the three day holiday, so the going was not fast. However, Sokcho isn’t too far from Seoul, and a four hour bus ride across the country and around the entrancing Seoraksan national park later, I arrived at the express bus terminal, directly in front of my glorious, hot-pink, turret-sprouting motel.



The Rocustel Motel, despite looking like something Disney’s Snow White vomited after a night out on raspberry vodka shots, is an amazingly comfy, cheap n’ cheerful motel, with impressive Barbie-meets-Blofeld interior and underfloor heating to die for. It was the perfect place to use as a base in Sokcho: behind the express bus terminal, a ten minute walk from tourist hotspot and food heaven Abai village, two minutes walk from the beach, and over the road from the number 7 bus stop, which provides a direct service to Seoraksan National Park ticket office in one direction and ‘Rodeo Street,’ the shopping centre of Sokcho, in the other. Things couldn’t have been any easier.

Three new things…

…I visited this week in Seoul.

One of the mythical haetae

One of the mythical haetae

Thing 1 – The British Embassy. It’s always useful to know where your embassy is when you settle in to a new country. The last place I lived, it was flashily located at the top of the tallest, flashiest building of the flashiest part of the flashiest neighbourhood. Pretty flashy.

Here it is down a nondescript alleyway behind a nondescript (but highly secure-looking) gate, in a squat, nondescript building. However, it is still in the flashiest part of town, and directly next door to a palace. More

Up, up, and away

Reed boats in the Uros

Reed boats in the Uros

Cuzco is *&”£ing freezing at this time of year. Puno is !?*$ing freezinger. And the night I spent on the island of Amantaní in Lake Titicaca was possibly the ***%%$!!”ing freezingest night of my life. This has really helped to put the winter in Lima in perspective. As my colleagues shivered and snivelled this week in school, bundled up in coats and scarves, I ran gaily about in my cardigan feeling fine in the 14 – 17° weather. Although even I have to admit that however mild that sounds for the middle of winter, the humidity does make it feel colder, and the neverending cloud cover makes for a gloomy, relentless few months, as described by the Associated Press in this article on Lima’s coldest winter in 30 years. More

¡En la gloria!

August. Lima. Resfriada.

Lima in August is a relentless slew of mind-numbing, toe-numbing weatherlessness. Well wrapped-up Limeños scurry about under a sky that doesn’t even have the energy to be grey and cloudy, just a constant, sterile white. There’s a lot of snivelling. “¿Estas resfriada?” I have been asked by concerned colleagues on numerous occasions as I swab my face with another run of soggy bog roll. No, I haven’t got a cold, I’m just set to ‘constant drip’ until September.

However, today we are transported to some form of glorious alternate reality with all the benefits of the murky winter and none of the drawbacks. The streets were wet this morning. Not the usual slight damp of the sea mist, actually wet, with real water, as if it had [gasp] rained! And the sky – a clear, wonderful blue!

Arriving at school, the heavy, low-hanging fog of the last couple of weeks had lifted from the nearby mountains to reveal them in all their emerald glory. These hills – barren, brown dust from October to July – have sprung a lush carpet of greenery during the winter holiday. Lit by the sun and fog-free, I finally understand why Pachacámac is known as the last green valley in Lima.

Feathered friends

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