Thursday, June 27, 2013

Delane, Shake Up and the Gals

I have just signed up to my third Shake Up through MotivateMe NZ; it is called the Winter Wake Up and it DEFINITELY will be. I am hoping that now that we are past the Winter Solstice (shortest day) that getting up will get a bit easier as the mornings eventually become lighter.

There are three main things that I love about Shake Up’s.

They are group exercise sessions twice a week with like-minded women of all different shapes, sizes and fitness levels. At the beginning these women were strangers and we came together with a common goal; to get fitter, stronger and ultimately healthier. They are a gorgeous supportive bunch and I love them to bits.

They take place all over NZ and weather permitting they are held outside which is great. Also, compared to most boot camps they are really, REALLY good value for money.

Delane our trainer. He is truly one of the most amazing, inspiring, selfless people I have ever met. For him, people’s health and well being comes first and foremost. He would run the Shake Up’s if he had 2 people or 200 people. Delane is warm, friendly, motivating and will push you hard without you even realise that he’s doing it. I remember he said to me “do not ever apologise for coming last, because the longer you are on the stairs the longer everyone else is and that is going to improve their fitness even more”. His success with helping people achieve their goals is indisputable.
In my mind, he is a force to be reckoned with. Delane is pretty softly spoken and that hides a massive amount of strength and enthusiasm. This is one exercise group where there is no yelling, only consistent support. His final training with the girls in autumn was taking them out to Bethells to train as it is physically hard and a very spiritual place. Oh and he also dressed up on the last day in fluorescent colours with the girls! Seriously, what a guy!

For me Delane and these women helped me get through some of the toughest months of my life when my dad was entering the final stages of terminal cancer. I got up, I trained and I focused on my physical well-being when my emotional and mental state was really fragile.

You can see more of Delane here:

So if you are looking to get back into exercise, or even add to your exercise regime then you should totally join us!! The feeling of being part of a team with an amazing trainer is fantastic. It is definitely worth it and if you book and pay by Friday 12th July you get 10% off!! Bargain! What you will get out of it is worth so much more. 

Just do it; you will not regret it!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Food in Korea Part II

Okay, I did not really think that I would need to do another post about food in Korea…boy was I wrong! After the first week of eating different styles of food i.e. Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean I realised that traditional Korean can get so much better!

In the hotel I read a booklet on an introduction to Korean food for visitors and foods were graded as Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced and Veteran. I am happy to say that I have tried something from every section! There is some information on the Official Site of Korean Tourism.

I have also really made an effort to try everything that has been offered during the meal with the exception of dishes containing red meat, lamb or pork.

On Monday we went to a small buffet style Korean restaurant which was really lovely and had rice, crumbed fish with an amazing sauce, vegetables, radish etc. You could have a second helping and I was so tempted (photo on its own).

Wednesday brought us to a lovely traditional Korean restaurant for a course (not set) menu…there was so much food!

I tried the following

  • Sesame and rice soup; which is possibly a type of sesame juk (1)
  • Warm rice noodles with mushroom; Japchae – glass noodles with sautéed vegetables (2)
  • Salad with root and orange and tomato (3)
  • Another cold dish with different noodles (4)
  • Sushi with spring onion and chilli (5)
  • Cold chicken and chili; yum! (6)
  • Water kimchi; cold
  • Mixed vegetable dishes including sesame leaves and gourd (9/10), Korean cabbage with bean sauce which tasted like Miso soup (7); Namul
  • Traditional Korean Bean Pancake; Jeon Bindaetteok/pajeon (8)
  • Aged/picked vegetables onion, pepper and Korean garlic root (Jangajji – pickled vegetables)
  • Aged Soya bean soup (11); Doenjang jjigae – Soybean paste stew. Apparently many Korean people who emigrate really miss this however do not cook it because of the smell and people potentially complaining
  • A very sweet ginger and rice drink; icy (12)

After lunch I tried two ice blocks…melon flavoured and another that was icy with sweet red bean paste in the centre (13)

On Thursday we went to a little restaurant just behind the office; actually I had seen a cute little ginger cat outside there in the morning.

We had mixed sides
Kimchi cabbage, sesame leaf, traditional Korean pancake, mushroom and the most amazing side of acorn jelly! The jelly was the best thing ever…I could not stop eating it (14)
Then the main was the most incredible, traditional Korean chicken stew with chilli, potatoes and onion…be jealous…I have the recipe to try making it in New Zealand (15)
On Thursday night we went out for a celebratory dinner and started with Italian food and NZ Wine and I took photos of the beautiful cakes that I never ended up trying (16) and then we finished up at a Japanese restaurant with Japanese beer, chicken and mussels.

My final day (Friday) saw me finally trying a dish that I had read about in my little food guide
Samgyetang which is traditional ginseng chicken soup; amazing! (18). It is believed that in summer that this meal is good at helping restore people’s energy. You can read about it here.

Again, we had an amazing selection of sides to try including chilli, garlic, fresh Kimchi Cabbage, soya bean paste (AMAZING) and aged squid (17). I tried the aged squid and it was quite chewy and not bad until the after taste…never again!

I feel quite sad about being back in New Zealand as I really miss the people and the food in Korea. Today I had Japanese and it was amazing...kind of made me feel like I was back there. So I will learn to cook Korean food and we will frequent some of the beautiful Korean restaurants here in NZ. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Food in Korea

What really astounds me is how many food places there are in Korea; it is just a mecca for every sort of food imaginable! Everywhere I turn there is food Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, American.

I have realised that I am really a bit of a chicken when it comes to trying new food especially if I am on my own. I just cannot take the chance that I will end up eating red meat or lamb. However, if I can safely eat something knowing that it is chicken, fish or vegetarian then I will give anything a try.

I promised one of the gals from Twitter a blog about food.

To be honest I have not really had that much traditional Korean food.

Monday was Japanese chicken noodle soup for lunch and the BBQ Party in the evening (which had some traditional fare)

Tuesday I got to try Bibimbap which is rice topped with vegetables, Korean chili paste and a raw egg and it’s all served in a very hot stone (?) bowl which keeps cooking your food. In the evening we went to a Burger place serving very beautiful 100% beef American Style Burgers

Wednesday saw the girls and I having Vietnamese and I ended up with Pad Thai and Kimchi (various pickled vegetables) and I left dinner until very late and ended up having fried chicken with potato chips. I also had a potato curly thing on a stick in Myeong-Dong Street; which is the same as the potato we get at the night markets in Auckland (1)

Thursday we had Italian which consisted of a Panini for me and Pasta and a grilled sandwich etc. for the others. On Thursday night I realised that I could have drinks and food on the executive floor; I have never eaten so much smoked salmon in one week

Friday we had pizza and chicken salad and I ate at the hotel as I was completely knackered!

Saturday brought with it a massive food extravaganza and it is really hard to know just where to start! Lunch was at a beautiful Italian restaurant just down the road from my hotel; I think it was Villa Ottimo. I had deep fried mozzarella ravioli in a tomato based sauce (3) and we shared a chicken salad (4). Nayoung had porcini in a cream sauce with flat pasta.

We then caught a taxi to Insa-Dong Street (more about that in another blog) and we saw these amazing things hanging from a shop (5); they are filled with fresh soft serve ice cream – a sweet treat. We then walked up to a rice cupcake shop (6) and I got to try Patbingsu (7) which is a traditional Korean shaved ice dessert. It is shaved frozen milk, sweet red beans, dried bean powder (?) and then a rice cake on top. It was amazing and something beautiful to share. When walking through Insa-Dong there are some lovely, entertaining guys who make a traditional Korean sweet (8); it is honey and nuts. It is like spun thread….best to watch the video. For dinner we had Chinese (9).

What I have realised while being here is that food is something to be shared and it is such a social thing. You share your main meals with one another and also your side dishes.

I still have a few days left here and hopefully I am brave enough to try some more traditional dishes. In my hotel I have a guide to Korean eating and there is a step-by-step guide for beginners, intermediate, advanced and veteran. The ironic thing is, is that the food that I really want to try is temple food (100% vegetarian) and that’s under advanced!

Today while walking around Myeong-Dong and the surrounding areas I saw many food stalls with all sorts of Korean delights. The one that I really did not want to try were some sort of bugs…they did not smell appealing at all!

Also, iced coffee is really popular here. I think that the Korean people prefer the Americano or Expresso with extra water so it is not too strong. The other day I paid $10NZD for a coffee; gutted!
Bring on the next food experience! 

P.S. I do make a real effort to try all the sides that come with our meals including green beans and chilli, radish, cabbage etc.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Korea…you are making it hard for me to leave you!

Day 3 in Korea sees me start the day with a 2+1 iced coffee deal (Picture 4 from the previous day). The men in the shop were so lovely and friendly that I walked out thinking “It is going to be very hard for me to leave this place and come home”.

The night before we went to an American Style burger bar serving 100% beef burgers; you can see Nayoung’s burger (1) and how amazing it looked. I had a coke, coleslaw and fries.  Honestly, her burger looked amazing! It almost made me want to eat meat!

The following morning (Wednesday) I braved the gym and I was the only woman there. I took a photo (2) after a 30 minute run/walk (more walking than running) to contribute to my beautiful Autumn Shake Up girls final day! I got the photo through this afternoon from our trainer and they looked gorgeous! I tell you that working out in 19C heat is like a sauna!! Apparently, Friday will hit 30c!! I definitely sweated a lot; I was well past glowing!

For the last two days it has been raining and it has cooled things down slightly (3). I experienced the Seoul Subway system which is incredibly confusing and I would hate to attempt it on my own. Also, if you do not like people in your personal space then it would be really horrific. I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in this city; it’s full on!
Bubble Tea ~ My first time!

Yesterday, as well as experiencing the subway we also went to have a look at a very popular local shopping district. I should remember the name, however it escapes me. It was incredible, so many shops, so many food carts…just like a MASSIVE night market there were outfits for your dog (5), we went to Olive and Young (6) a huge beauty store. Olive and Young sell these crazy plastic templates that men can place over their eyebrows to shape and groom (7) and apparently, guys do wear make up! I did take a few photos of the food carts (8) as they are so much like the food that we get at the Glenfield night markets and I loved the sign for the cat café (9).

I also tried Bubble know "feel the fear and do it anyway" - amazing! I have had Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chicken and Potato chips and a panini so far! 
Oh and for Liz I have to add that I did try the posterior clean on the toilet last night…second and ‘probably’ the final time!  Come on, tell me that you would not try it!
 Nayoungs burger
  1. Sweaty in my retro pink head band to mark the last day of the Autumn Shake Up
  2. Rain Seoul
  3. Iced coffee
  4. Outfits for dogs!
  5. Olive and Young
  6. Eyebrow shaping/grooming for men
  7. Food cart
  8. Cat café

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Waking up in Korea

Waking up in Korea is not quite like waking up in Vegas. However, it is almost a city that never sleeps.

I got through the 12 hour flight from Auckland to Seoul with no issues; 6 movies later (picture 1) and a great goodie bag (picture 2) I arrived and managed to catch the bus to the hotel. It was amazing to see the difference in skyline and landscape as we drove to our location. What really blew me away was the sheer volume of apartment blocks…really puts Auckland’s Unitary plan to shame!

When I got to the hotel I was just shattered and managed to shower, unpack my bags and fall into bed. What really made me laugh were the toilet controls (3); seriously what happens in the middle of the night if you accidentally press posterior clean instead of full flush? I will not lie; I tried them all.  Trust me, once was enough! My hotel room is fantastic with a lovely, relaxing area to sit (4) and chill out.

The first morning I woke up really early and as breakfast does not start until 7am I was able to have a walk around the local area. Unbelievably, I came across a cupcake shop (5) and all sorts of amazing restaurants, wine bars etc. I did take a photo of a shop especially for Julia as it seemed to combine her two favourite drinks; coffee and whiskey (6).

We went out for lunch on Monday and I had my lunch ordered for me and I got this beautiful, hot, spicy chicken soup with noodles. YUM! I asked if people go out for lunch or bring their own; and they said “everyone just goes out for lunch”. 

The hospitality is amazing and people are so warm and very friendly.

After a full day at work I walked back to my hotel; one of my business associates was a bit worried that I would get lost however I managed to find my way back. I had a quick shower and left in search of something to eat.

What intrigues me is the whole concept of chicken and beer; apparently it is the Korean version of fish and chips. Very popular especially on nights when there are soccer games on (like Tuesday night).

I walked by a petrol station and noticed that their pumps were in the air (7) and I wondered if they have them up there at night and then drop them during the day. Then on Tuesday I saw one during the day with the pumps in the air; so perhaps some petrol stations have them up there permanently. 

On Monday morning I discovered a gym down the road from the hotel that offered Spin Classes, Pilates and Yoga. I was really excited as I am already missing RPM and the gym so I decided to check it out on Monday night. Unfortunately, I could not do a casual membership so decided that I will have to stick to the hotel gym and using the stairs that are just up the road.

After so many choices for food I actually ended up eating in the hotel where I saw the sign that said ‘All You Can Drink BBQ Party’ (8). It was an all you can eat BBQ; which is a bit useless for me as I do not eat meat! However, they had an amazing assortment of sashimi and sushi which was great. Also can I tell you that their ICE CREAM bar was AMAZING!! I should have taken photos. Also, loved the portion controlled dessert options (9).

That pretty much sums up my night and day in Korea. I was really worried about coming to such a massive metropolitan city however as I get used to things I am really starting to enjoy myself. I cannot wait until the weekend when I can relax and have a proper look around.

  1. Inflight entertainment
  2. Goodie bag with face cream, eye gel etc.
  3. Toilet controls
  4. Living room area; beautiful
  5. Cupcake shop
  6. Cello Coffee and Whiskey
  7. Petrol up in the air
  8. Dinner on my second full day
  9. Bite sized desserts; portion control at its best