Friday, 22 July 2011

Korea and me

Sometimes I've thought about how Korea came into my life and why I feel so strongly about this spesific country. My story with Korea dates back to the beginning of the 1990s, when I was checking the pen pal ads from Finnish text TV at home.

Young people from Korea were looking for pen pals around the world to practice English through a pen pal club. I took the address and wrote a letter stating that I was interested in writing with someone. I didn't know anything about the country at that time.

And soon I got a letter from Si-Nae, my first foreign pen pal :) I guess I was around 12-13 years old at that time. We wrote letters very often and she sent me all kinds of guide books and photos about Korea and I was so fascinated. It was also interesting to know how her daily life was and how busy she was with studies... Maybe that's the reason why we stopped writing letters after 10 years of the first one.

After that I forgot about Korea and concentrated on my complicated life (like all lives are when you're a young student) :) But on one student party I met You-su, a sweet Korean girl who became my friend almost immediately. I guess we were the only ones who wanted to speak quietly when all the others, mostly Spanish exchange students were shouting their lungs out ;) It was 2003.

Once You-su invited me to her place for some Korean food (and wow, the first time was horrible as everything was so spicy!!) and there was also Hyeyeon. I talked a bit with her and we changed e-mail addresses as she was going back to Korea for half a year and planning on coming back in the autumn 2004. I didn't know that she was going to be one of my dearest friends <3

You-su left, but Hyeyeon came back with Seonggwan and Yong-uk, two extremely funny boys. In the autumn 2004 we did everything together, played card games, watched movies, got drunk on christmas, travelled to Ruka for some snowboarding. That was one of the greatest periods my life :)

The boys left, but Hyeyeon stayed for 2 ½ years. And when I'm thinking about going to Korea, travelling with her and getting to know her culture even better... I couldn't be happier.

During the years I've also got to know other Koreans and all of them have been very warm and friendly. That's why I know that I'm not going to get lost in Korea.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


Cats and dogs. I like them both. Most people are either or, but I prefer both. My grandparents used to have borzois when I was young and when I was living with my mother, we had a cat called Edith. I really loved all those animals plus horses (I used to take riding lessons) plus cows (I used to take care of cows at our cottage's neighbour) plus giant otters :)

So Kassu came into our home for one week. At first the attitude was like this.

New places are always stressful, I know. But then it started to rain and Kassu felt like home immediately.

My first Couch Surfing guest got also his share of Kassu's friendliness. I joined CS recently and almost immediately got requests for surfing and of course I said yes. I'm always free for interesting chats about all kinds of things and that's exactly what we had! The next day he continued his trip to Outokumpu and Kassu was left heart broken.

Maybe someone could explain why animals like to bother you when you're using your laptop? You're trying to check your e-mails and suddenly there is a big furry object in front of you preventing your access to the keyboard. Like this.

Or this.

But we also had relaxing co-existing time :)

In the end, when it was time to go home, Kassu was feeling VEEEERY peaceful at this place. I guess the sofa was perfect for resting his tired bones.

Luckily this was also Kassu's state after I removed a tick from his neck. I'm so proud of myself, because 1) I had never removed a tick before and 2) I was brave enough to succeed with it! Ticks are the most disgusting and annoying insects we have in Finland. I hate them.

As all good times come to an end, it was also time for Kassu to go home. Thank you Tuula for borrowing the cat! The only thing I don't miss are the morning wakings at 4am, 5am, 6am and 7am, because Kassu insisted on sleeping on my stomach. That's not how it works Kassu!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Extremely easy Korean cooking

Open the package including all the ingredients, in this case rice cakes, noodles, dried vegetables and gochujang-looking paste.

In this product seems to be two Korean dishes combined, tteokbokki (떡볶이) and jjolmyeon (쫄면).

Boil some water and add the frozen rice cakes and noodles. Then add the dried vegetables.

Then add the gochujang paste.

If you wish, it's a good idea to add something green, in this case spring onions, easily cut into pieces with scissors.

Add the greenness!

And then it's time to enjoy either with chopsticks or not :) It was as yummy as I expected, chewy rice cakes and noodles with SPICY sauce <3

This and a few other Korean products can be found from Vii Voan in Helsinki.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

This is about GMarket.

I was chosen to be one of GMarket's Top Bloggers for June for writing about the stuff I've ordered from there. As I gift I got a 50000 won (around 32 euros) certificate and here is how I spent it. Of course I'm hoping to win the competition again, so let's see if this post is interesting enough ;)

This time it took one week for my purchases to arrive. This time the parcel was on my door before 8am, luckily I was ready for it! It's possible to track your packages all the way from Korea with a tracking number :)

This time I ordered from 5 different sellers and the weight of the package was only 0,91 kg, so the postage I paid was about 12 euros.

Let my scissors do their job!!

I ordered Innisfree Green Tea Pure Cream samples for my travels as they are easy to carry with me. Innisfree is one of my favourite Korean cosmetic brands as their products are quite eco friendly :) GMarket is selling lots of samples of different kinds of cosmetic products, so it's good idea to try first before purchasing a full size bottle.

And then something utterly expensive, History of Whoo's Wild Ginseng Oil Ampoule. The price of the full sized bottle (30 ml) is 169 US dollars in Ebay (around 120 euros), but luckily I got these samples for a cheaper price, only a couple of euros from GMarket. Sometimes it's just nice to try something luxurious :)

I really like all Enkistar jeans I've ordered from GMarket so I chose one pair of hot pants from their sale collection. And as always, the size is perfect and I'm very happy with Enkistar, once again!

And then something white...

Besides these clothes and creams I ordered one pair of panties. No photos coming.

I tried the clothes on yesterday and this is how they look like.

Notice the huge veins on my hands, it surely was a hot day today before the thunder!

So, as always, GMarket didn't let me down and I'm extremely satisfied with everything, especially winning the gift certificate ;) I know that at first the GMarket home page is just a big mess and you get headache because of the blinking photos! But after the first shock it's easy to see, why GMarket is so popular in Korea and also in other Asian countries. The selection is SO HUGE!

감사합니다 G마켓! When I'm in Korea in October, I'm even going to buy ready made meals from GMarket! Only a while and a scooter boy is going to bring the warm food to me, wherever I am...

Monday, 11 July 2011

Dear Kuorinka beach

I had seen it so many times, but didn't have the courage to approach it until last Saturday with 12 friends. After biking in the excruciating heat for one hour, I could finally see it in my eyes; Kuorinka lake and beach.

And oh my was it crowded!!

We chose a place next to a tree providing some shade, then left our stuff there and decided to go to swim. Unfortunately the water was so cold I backed off immediately.

But after some time it got so hot that I HAD to refresh myself a bit :) The lake is famous for its crystal clear water, so I could see the bottom of the lake all the time.

The beach was also so shallow that it was possible just to walk couple hundred meters and enjoy the small cool waves.

After 4 hours of swimming, standing in the water, eating (Taiwanese snacks are the best!!) and talking, I headed back home with Juha and Barun. Other TRUE beach lions still wanted to stay there although the water bottles started to be empty! Luckily there was a kiosk where it was possible to buy coffee, tea, ice cream and stuff like that.

The ride back home (about 15 km) went smoothly and of course we had to take photos next to the Joensuu sign ;) After a day in Liperi, it was nice to come back to good old Joensuu!

I'm lucky because my skin tone is yellowish and I didn't burn at all (of course the sun screen helped me with that), but Juha was completely red and he said it still hurts a bit to touch those reddened zones! Poor Juha.

Lai's photos can be found from here :)

Friday, 8 July 2011

Taina on the road, part 2.

After juhannus it was time to head to Espoo because of my cousin's confirmation celebrations. The car was packed with mom, her husband, grandmother, Moona (my brother's daughter) and me. Although it was quite hot, it was nice to travel south with them. Moona was drawing lots of pictures in her note book.

She was asking all the time what she should draw and I said car, rainbow and raindrops...

...and a pirate with his ship!

Moona has also been practising writing, on the front page you could find this text:

which means "Nea is stupid sometimes, Moona is sometimes stupid" :D

Then it was party time. I didn't take any photos of my celebrating cousin Otso :D He was surrounded by people all the time, so it was kind of impossible. It was very nice to meet all my relatives, especially all four cousins! And of course the food (always the best thing in all parties!) was excellent and vegetarian choices were plenty.

Going to the church is of course the main thing in the confirmation party, but I skipped it, because being in the church is so boring. Instead I was decorating cakes with my cousins and before Vili head back to the army, we took this group photo.

Taina 30, Vili 20, Valdis 19, Emmis 16.

The next day we (me + Juha) woke up early to get to the ferry to Tallinn. It was quite difficult to wake up because we were listening to the Foo Fighters gig until 23 o'clock in my aunts flat, where you could recognise the songs even if all the doors and windows were shut :D

In Ruoholahti we met Emmis and walked to the terminal of Eckerö Line. The boat was full of people and we found places from the pub, where we could play card games and listen to karaoke..........

After 3 hours of karaoke we were exhausted, but finally in Tallinn. We visited mostly shops like Pull and Bear, Terranova and Mango, but after a while our legs were hurting so much that we decided to visit African Kitchen!

I visited this restaurant last summer for the first time and fell in love with the atmosphere, music and cheap vegetarian foods :) This time was no different, we ordered yummy juices and the foods were excellent as well. So I can recommend this place for anyone visiting Tallinn!

After 5 hours it was time to get back to the ferry (M/S Nordlandia). It was quite full already, so we found the only free places from the pub again, even closer to the karaoke stage. And this was the result.

Barely alive we landed back to Helsinki again.

Next day we went to Korea House for a lunch with my aunt. Bibimbap with lots of kimchi, seaweed and barley tea! Then some puerh tea from Stockmann and the train back home.

There are so many things you can see during a one week trip! So I wonder how much I can see when I'm heading to Korea & Japan for 3 months :)

Friday, 1 July 2011

It's July.

We have a visitor. His name is Kassu and the happy owner of him is Tuula, who's living in the building next to us. She went to help her daughter with moving, so we eagerly welcomed Kassu to stay a couple of days with us.

He's already taken over this place by sleeping in every corner of this flat! He also came to wake me up at 5am, 6am, 7am and finally at 8am I woke and gave up. He also escaped once from the balcony, but he's a shy boy and was waiting for us to carry him inside just outside the balcony ;)

I found this book called A Journey in Search of Korea's Beauty by Bae Yong Joon (2010) from (Finnish web auction site) and paid only 2,5 euros for it. I found the original price sticker (22,000 won = about 15 euros) from the back cover of the book so I saved quite a lot of money!

The travel book consists of stories, poems and beautiful photos from Korea and Japan at the same time as it provides information about Korean culture and customs. These hot days are perfect for reading this book, marvelling at the pictures while drinking some tea :)

And dreaming about kimchi like this.