May 28, 2008

33 days to go...

33 days to go on our contracts here, so we're on the home stretch. The exchange rate for Korean won has grown steadily worse and food prices have gone up, so each month we're saving less and it's definitely time to go. We've booked a flight to Hanoi in Vietnam for a few days, and then on to Ulaanbaatar for the epic trans-Mongolian train journey. We get to Moscow on July 21st, then head to Ljubljana, Slovenia where I'll spend four weeks studying for a CELTA (English-teaching certificate).

After that, possibilities are endless. We've thought about southern Spain or Portugal as a base for the next year, but it really depends where work is available.

Our pics from Korea are online at www.fiffdimension.co.nz/slideshow.htm along with videos.

My job for this week is to write up the magazine article for NZ Forest & Bird magazine about migratory birds (eg bar-tailed godwits and great knots) which travel between NZ, Korea and Alaska. I do volunteer work on Fridays for the conservation group Birds Korea. I just got back from visiting Saemangeum, formerly the region's largest tidal flat and shorebird bird habitat, and now the world's single largest land reclamation project. It's now a 40100 hectare grey wasteland of algae and dead shellfish... hard to know what to feel seeing it. That along with air pollution, two major oil spills on the west coast last year, piles of rubbish in the streets, a ridiculous government plan to bulldoze a 'grand canal' the length of the country, and the #1 tourist beach giving me a persistent ear infection make Korea an environmental disaster area.

Saving graces are the Korean food (at least some of it), beautiful mountains (when they're not obscured by smog), Buddhist architecture, and fascinating traditional music (though the pop music sucks).

Anyway I'm excited to see Europe for the first time, and more than a little nervous...

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