Monday, September 30, 2013


I went to Shanna's after church and she made me healthy pancakes. It was really, really nice to sit in her kitchen on her laptop and talk while she cooked. It felt so homey and familiar.

We watched a great (as in terrible) movie and I practically skipped home, I was just so content.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Today was one of my favourite days so far in Korea. It had little to do with actually being in this country, and a lot to do with what I did back home.

We had a church leaders retreat. We jumped in vans and went to a hotel for a couple of seminars which should have been followed with lunch then a paintball game but we ran out of time.

I was not complaining though!

The seminars were great. I can tell Pastor Leon loves Hybels and Northpoint, and a few times I was tearing up just because I love leadership stuff so much. Nothing makes me as passionate as church leadership and today was a good, but scary reminder.

He made us close our eyes as he read a list of things we could be passionate about, and we had to think about what really made us pumped. Travelling made me a little excited, but nothing made my heart beat and emotions soar like his description of church.

I'm just not ready to throw myself back in there yet. 

It is so nice to have a pastor who is into this sort of thing. It really makes life at church easier. He was going over a whole lot of things that reminded me of Northcross and why I was so frustrated. But God brought me here, yay!

We had shabu shabu for lunch and then found a park. While the rest played ultimate frisbee, Hannah, Ashley, and myself went on an adventure through the woods up a little path. It was so peaceful. It really felt cut off from the world in a way which I haven't felt since the beauty of NZ beaches and bush. I want to go back there with a guitar sometime.

It was an amazing day with some awesome people. Now I know them better and I'm so excited to be known by them too.

Friday, September 27, 2013


I taught a group of boys how to play Monopoly Deal today and once I left them to it I could hear them whooping and yelling from across the classroom. I kept thinking I was hearing swearing so my ears perked up.

Yes indeed.

It started with, "I'M F#@*!NG RICH!!!!!!!"

And escalated to, "I'M F#@*!NG YOU!!!!!!" as he jumped up with excitement, pointing at his friend.

I didn't correct his use of the English language.


Showers are incubators for healing.

It's like they facilitate thinking things through. You can feel anything to begin with, but then the hot water rinses off all the negativity as your brain lets you rationalize.

I love them for this very reason. They bring clarity and rest, and the clean feeling is more than just surface deep.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I've been rewarding classes with a games day when they get a certain amount of points, and it is the best thing ever. I get to play and we have bonding time.

Today I disappointed a group of girls by losing three rounds of Jenga, one of them very early on. I also think I was cheating but they were too kind to tell me.

Anyway, it was a laugh but I'm pretty sure I heard sighs of relief when I told them I had to go.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Fionaaaaaaa came over tonight and we had dinner and watched a movie. My favourite pastime!

She brought me gifts because she knows the way to my heart. I felt very special indeed.

Once again, it was an absolute delight! I love how it just feels like old friends with her. Just comfortable. I didn't even realise this was only the second time we'd hung out. Craaaaaaazy.

Anyway, she will definitely be invited back. Top notch company, and she complimented the food so much I believed her!

Monday, September 23, 2013


School was a rude awakening. But I did a lesson on stereotypes and these kids really impressed me. They all heartily agreed that every Korean hates Japan, but they wrote some awesome messages to the world about who they are.

A team of people from Stanford and Harvard visited in the middle of this class. They couldn't have had worse timing. My lesson was prepped so that if they came at the start they'd be blown away by my presentation and our intellectual game. In fact, my principal proudly lead them in just before a video describing students frustrations with stereotypes, school, and Korean culture.

Not exactly the shining veneer he would have liked to portray to important visitors!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Following the nocturnal adventures of the previous night, we needed coffee like crazy but nothing was open until ten am. TEN AM! What kind of airport is this!?

We made it back to glorious Incheon, said goodbye in Seoul station, and then I was home.
Train friend (best sneaky shot yet)
I was haunted the whole day knowing it was Dan's baptism and I wasn't going to be there to share how proud I am. He said beautiful words at mine and I wanted to return the favour.Von sent me video clips and it was about 20% like being present, but not close enough. I guess I just have to get used to missing this sort of thing from now on.

I probably should have gone to bed early but all of the magic of Tokyo was too busy swirling through my brain along with pangs of missing out on my little bros baptism.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


This morning we bid farewell to Nicole, who had booked a sensible flight back to Korea.

Lucy and I spent most of the day trying to find a way to the airport in the middle of the night. The two options (what!?) we're fully booked so we decided to get a train tonight and stay at the airport. Poor Kim had to traipse all over the city with us.

At least we had the afternoon to explore and buy all our organic and whole foods before getting to the airport.

The new iPhones are amaaaaaazing!

If there's one bad habit I've picked up on this trip it's eating so much dried fruit. It's just so delicious! I had some more when we got to the airport to stock up for the night.

The place was a ghost town. It was like the zombie apocolypse had happened and we were the survivors. The security guards were herding us into one area and all the lights were off. If we'd had the energy for antics it would've been really fun.

Instead we found a couple of seats which turned into a couple of benches when some guys vacated theirs. We got a few hours sleep and were the first to check in for our flight home.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Day 2 started a lot later because we were holding out for a bear pond coffee. All the places worth visiting (coffee and vintage) open between 10:30 and 12. Bearpond was the best coffee in the land and right around the corner from where we stayed! It was pretty good. A bit weak for me, but that's probably because I had a latte. It made me want to start drinking espresso like a real coffee drinker.

We made our way, coffees in hand, to Roppongi. On the subway we had to put all of our energy into not spilling it. The carriage was packed so if someone swayed, we all went with them. It was quite a skill not to scald ourselves or any of our new bump'n'grind friends.

We found our way with minimal confusion (hooray!) to the Skytree where we had a 360 view of Tokyo on the deck. It really was surreal. It looked like a toy city that faded into the smog in the distance. Impressive indeed.

We decided to walk down to the restaurant that had inspired Quentin Tarantino to create the epic scene in Kill Bill. It was awesome to see and it felt like we were in the film. The service was shocking though.
John Key was on the celeb wall. Biggest joke all day.

We found a great little coffee place with a barista who's face still makes my heart flutter at a mere thought. Move over Ben Gusto! I even asked him an unnecessary question about smoothies before I ordered. I thought about getting a photo but it would have been very obvious.

On the way back to our apartment we stopped in a cool bookstore and I got distracted by all sorts of awesome books. I will buy this one when I have a coffee table for it to go on.

We glammed ourselves up for dinner and a cocktail at The Hyatt. It was so very expensive but so very worth it. There was a live band and a breathtaking night view. It felt great to be a bit classy too.

Then we went back to the little bar under the station and made friends with the bar tender. He was great. Fun was had by all.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


In true tourist fashion we woke up early and set out for an adventure. We got to the subway when everyone was on their way to work so it was jam packed. This one guy wanted to get on but the doors kept closing on him because he couldn't fit so five of the station workers ran to him and started shoving him in. It was bizarre.

We went to a shrine in Harajuku which was cool. It felt so good to be in nature again. Everything smelt clean and tree-like. I had forgotten how much I missed breathing that bush air.

I decided we take a shortcut on the way back from the shrine because "surely the park is just through there". OOPS.

We walked in circles for over an hour until we finally found the entrance. Once we were riding our tandem bicycles though, it was all ok.
After lunch in a really cute little place with vegan options(!!!), we looked around a bit at all the stores. There were some streets filled with vintage, and then one main street lined with tacky little stores filled with bright clothing, bags, hats, and accessories. It's a really cool area.

We went back to the same place as last night and tried the coffee. It did not disappoint! The waiter who helped us was so cute too. I asked a question and he ran around for a few minutes trying to find out how to say it in English. We saw him zip past a few times before he came back with a disappointed expression, saying it was strong but he didn't know how to explain.

In Korea he would have just shook his head, crossed his arms and said no. Japan is winning on most accounts so far.

More vintage shopping in our area was followed by hometime to get ready for dinner. We ate sushi again at a very cute little restaurant owned by a couple who treated us so well. After some miscommunication, we found out we couldn't choose what we'd get. He made each piece for us with so much care that it was impossible not to enjoy.

Afterwards we found ourselves a gorgeous little bar and I had a cider. The first sip brought memories flooding into my brain of gigs, people, conversations, Summer nights, and good music. I believe cider has magical properties.

Then we went into an even tinier bar under the subway station and an older Japanese man with impeccable English and good manners bought us all a drink. There were only 6 stools in the place and we almost filled them all. It was so cosy.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


We flew over patchwork fields and velvet hills as we came in to land in Tokyo. Japan was incredible from the moment I set eyes on it, miles in the air above.

Our flight was full of foreign teachers going to Japan for Chuseok. I sat next to a lovely couple and we talked the whole way. They're my first plane friends ever. How fun!
Nicole was reunited with her sister, Kim when we landed and it was so cute to see them together. They share some mannerisms and words which made it fun to observe for a while.
We successfully navigated the subway but got lost on our way to find the apartment. It was such a cute area though so we didn't mind. It was a web of little streets with cute little two storey apartment buildings lining it. So different from Korea! These were more modern, each unique, and there were so many trees! I fell in love with Shimo-Kitazawa instantly.

Our apartment did not disappoint. Small as it was, it was cute and just what we needed.

We all showered and got ready to tackle the Shibuya crossing and some dinner.

Both things were great. Dinner was an awesome sushi restaurant with computers at each seat for you to order with. The plates zoomed out of the kitchen along these tracks and when you take your plate off you zoom them right back. Such fun!

After dinner we got lost trying to find a bar in one of the guide books. It turns out my map reading skills were completely off once, but with the help of some very friendly, English savvy locals we got back on track only to find that the bar had moved. So rude!

We found another one which was probably ten times better. Great wine, atmosphere, and the promise of amazing coffee!

We went to bed very pleased with our adventures and super impressed with Tokyo so far.