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White Girls Can’t Jump

22 Apr
'Spread your wings like an eagle and fly like a brick'

‘Spread your wings like an eagle and fly like a brick’

Despite a small fear of heights, I’ve always had an incline to do a bungee jump and a skydive and always just thought I would get round to doing them in Australia. But then a few months ago I thought ‘why wait until Australia?’ and went about finding where I could bungee jump in Scotland.

I came across Highland Fling (what a brilliant name for a bungee jump company!) based in Killiecrankie, just 3 miles from Pitlochry, and they boast at 132 ft, the only bridge bungee jump in Scotland. Preferring the idea of jumping over water, rather than concrete, this was the one for me.

Team Bungee

Team Bungee

Along side the jump, myself and two friends, Allana and Valerie, decided to raise some money for a local charity close to us all – Ayrshire Cancer Support. Our initial target was £500, but thanks to some very generous donations from our friends and family, we smashed that target and raised over £2,500! Wow.

So on the first Saturday in April, we went up to the bridge over the River Garry in Killiecrankie and jumped off it! Despite being nervous before hand, when I got up to the platform suspended underneath the bridge and saw all the jumpers getting harnessed in, and all the safety routines and checks carried out by the 5 guys, all my fears went away and I was ready to enjoy it. So on the final words of my guide, ‘spread your wings like an eagle and fly like a brick’, I jumped!

Blue and white army!

18 Mar

Teams: Daegu FC v Incheon United
Stadium: Daegu Stadium (Capacity: 66, 442, today’s crowd: around 5,000)
Admission: 5,000 won (about £3)

On the same day as my home team Kilmarnock FC play Celtic in the Scottish Communities League Cup final at Hampden, I went to my first Korean fitba match. I’m gutted I can’t be at Hampden today to support the boys but I know they’ll do me proud! So my first trip to watch Daegu FC was a very small consolation.

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Daegu Stadium in the sun

Today was Daegu’s 3rd match of the season against Incheon United (a city near Seoul where Korea’s main airport is situated). Daegu have got off to a decent start drawing their first game at home 1 a piece with FC Seoul. Having only formed in 2002, they can be forgiven for not having any major successes. But the fact that they play in the same colours as Kilmarnock is good enough for me!

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Daegu FC strip

To give the football fans a bit of background on the K-League – there are 16 teams that play each other twice between March and November. The top six teams at the end of the regular season have playoffs to decide the champions and the final standings for the season. As it is the only professional league in South Korea there is no official promotion or relegation system… strange huh?

Daegu FC play between two stadiums, but today they were at Daegu Stadium – an impressive stadium at that. It holds around 66,000 and is the third biggest stadium in Korea. Built in 2001, it was one of the stadiums used in the 2002 World Cup and was most recently used for the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics which were televised in the UK last August/ September.

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The mascot from the 2011 IAAF World Championships

Back to the game, having three Brazilians in the team, I expected some sexy soccer from Daegu FC, but if I’m honest the standard of football I saw today was on a par with the SPL. There’s not much more I can say about that. Nonetheless, Daegu won the game 1-0, scoring in the 35th minute. They deserved to get a goal in the first half, as they were the more dominant team and created the most chances, but in the second half I was surprised Incheon didn’t get a goal. They came out and playing a more attacking game and Daegu were forced to defend instead of creating more chances. But at the end of the day, a win’s a win, and my team won!

It was a fun, cheap day out helped by the spring sunshine. I got to watch the match in my t-shirt and sunglasses – which is how you should watch football – not hunched over trying to shelter yourself from horizontal rain and trying to avoid getting piles! My ticket cost me 5,000 (about £3) and I spent 3,000 (£2) buying some half-time scran – I have to admit though, it wasn’t a patch on a Killie pie!

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Half time scran - Kimbap

‘The way of the hand and the foot’

21 Feb

When in Korea do as the Koreans do. And by that I mean nearly everyone and their granny does Taekwondo here! So a few months ago I was invited by the then supply teacher at my school, Jay, to try out Taekwondo.

Some background on the sport:
Taekwondo (태권도) is the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means ‘to strike or break with foot’, kwon(권) means ‘to strike or break with fist’ and do (도) means ‘way’, or ‘method’, so the literal translation is ‘the way of the hand and the foot’.

These little mites have it nailed:


Jay is a black belt himself and had just started as an instructor at a nearby Taekwondo gym. He spoke to the ‘Master’ (the owner/ head taekwondo instructor at the gym) and he kindly offered myself and the other English teacher at my school, Rob, to try it out free for a month.

We thought the first night would simply be a look around the gym, but after an awkward interview with ‘the Master’, and a fitting for the white suits, we were straight into our first drill, which was met by stares and giggles and questions from the kids in the same class. Having only briefly toyed with Karate at the age of 8, it’s safe to say that martial arts doesn’t  come naturally to me. Nevertheless, the Master complemented me on my flexibility and said that I could be a black belt in 6 months! Pffffffft – I’ll crack the jokes Mr Taekwondo Master! After that, he then took, myself, Rob, Jay and his wife and another instructor all out for dinner and drinks! If only every Taekwondo class followed this pattern…

Not put off, we went along to our second class a few days later, and as fun as it was, there wasn’t so much emphasis put on skill and technique, but rather some painful stretches followed by games to entertain the kids. To be fair, it was a kids taekwondo class. The only adult classes are in the mornings, which I couldn’t make because of school. So rather than waste my money running around playing dodge ball for 100,000 won a month (around £60) I decided to jack it in and file it under ‘one for the grand kids’.

Great Scot!

17 Feb

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.
It knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle
when the sun comes up you’d better be running.” (Anon)

Gutties

In an attempt to regain some kind of fitness level whilst in Korea – I’ve signed up for the Daegu 10k in April. It just so happens my cousin is visiting from down under at the same time so, being the avid triathlon participant that she is, I signed her up too! Team name: ‘Great Scots’ (before anyone questions my cousins authenticity – she was an Ayrshire lass originally).

Note to future prospective visitors: If you come and visit me, running a 10km is not mandatory! Honest. Please come visit me!

It’s now the middle of February and the race is 7 weeks on Sunday. Thankfully, I’ve already started training, I joined the gym at the end of January and have been building up my running on the treadmill, I’ve also just started swimming again, and as soon as the weather picks up I’ll get back out onto the road and start pounding the tarmac Liz McColgan style!

I would love to run it in under an hour, but realistically I don’t think I’m going to get my PB in this race. I’m more worried about the sweeper bus catching me after 1 hour 30 minutes, or worse still being overtaken by an ajumma!

A gaggle of ajummas

Note: An ajumma is a Korean granny – they are legends in their own right.