2012 - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sightseeing in the Philippines: Weekend Trip to Iloilo!

10:30:00 PM
After two weeks of volunteering for the NGO Rise Above I decided to take the weekend off, and visit my GIP friend Ace who lives in the idyllic and historical island Iloilo. With a cheap flight from Cebu with Cebu Pacific Air I reached Iloilo a couple of hours later, and was met by my friend at the airport. We had already agreed that if the weather was bad we would go restaurant hopping instead of island hopping, and since it was already late Friday afternoon we decided to start with the restaurant hopping. According to Ace, people in Iloilo don't live long because all there is to do in Iloilo is eating. And not to mention that they have a lot of greasy food too! Haha..
But with a good guide you're anyway guaranteed delicious food! The chicken barbecue we had was so good^^
By the beach in Jordan, Guimaras
Visiting Jordan, Guimaras

Although the weather forecast had predicted a possible typhoon for Saturday it seemed like we had avoided it after all, and the good weather made it possible for us to go Island hopping! We left Iloilo by a small ferry heading for the neighboring island Jordan, and were picked up by a jeepney (local bus) reserved by my friend. It took us to a beach on the other side of the island where we got into a small Filipino boat. From there we visited many small islands in the area, and had the chance to swim in the crystal clear water. On one of the beaches we stopped by I got to take pictures with a sea turtle, and on another island we visited a sort of traditional Filipino house.
Me with a sea turtle

When we came back to Iloilo after our little island hopping adventure Ace drove me around in Iloilo and showed me all of his city. Iloilo is a very historical place with many old and pretty buildings dating back to the years of the Spanish colonization. Unfortunately most of these buildings have already been destroyed, and the remaining ones are not being kept very well either. I hope for the future that the government sees the value in these historical buildings and do a better job in conserving them for the future generations and possible tourists.

Inside one of the old houses..

The rest of my stay in Iloilo was spent eating delicious foods and desserts..

On Sunday morning it was time for my flight back to Cebu. I had a great weekend much thanks to my friend Ace who took so good care of me and showed me around, and not to mention his family who let me stay at their place. I hope I get the chance to visit Iloilo again some time in the future!

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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below
- Anette

Thursday, December 27, 2012

HumanHeartNature: Filipino Ecological Skincare!

12:39:00 PM
My friend Jenny recommended me a brand called Human❤Nature that specializes in ecological skin care products in the Philippines. This brand work for the development of the community at the same time as they utilize only natural and local ingredients in their products. The result: products that your skin will love!
In addition, the products are really cheap because the company reduces own profit in order to ensure that poor Filipinos also can afford their products. Not to mention that their profits help to develop local communities in the Philippines!
As a Conscious Consumer I always try to think about the choices I make when it comes to own consumption. This brand is great for me, because it allows me to consume in a way that is better both for the environment, the local people and for me!
You can learn more about Human❤Nature on their home page: http://www.humanheartnature.com/

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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below
- Anette

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012!

2:09:00 PM
Merry Christmas to all of my dear readers, friends and family^^
I've been spending a nice Christmas here in the Philippines, and now I'm prepared for a couple of days of studying before my travels in the Philippines begins. I'm planning to visit my friend Ace in Iloilo this weekend, and on Sunday my bf is coming to Cebu to enjoy one week of vacation with me here. After celebrating the new year in Mactan we are going to Oslob to swim with the whale sharks, and we are also planning to spend a couple of days in the island paradise Bohol! I'm sure we'll have a great week here.
How have your Christmas been? I hope you've had a wonderful time\(^o^)/
Lastly, here comes my favorite Christmas shot for 2012^^

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas at Ayala Shopping Center with the Rise Above Foundation

8:50:00 PM
It is only a couple of days left till Christmas, and here in the Philippines everyone is getting ready for the big celebration. In addition to our trip to the poor areas of Cebu to deliver Christmas presents from the Rise Above Foundation's sponsors I have also had the chance to come along to one of the local shopping centers where Elisabet and Flemming dressed up as mr and mrs Santa and entertained the kids with stories and christmas gifts. Here is a picture from the event, which I made by using the application Instaframe:

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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below
- Anette

Christmas in Cebu City's Slum

8:43:00 PM
Christmas is drawing near, and as a result the streets in Cebu are filled with christmas lights and christmas songs can be heard all over town. The christmas spirit is here to brighten up the days for the people of Cebu too.
But unfortunately the difference between people is very big, and a lot of the citizens here do not have the chance to enjoy a nice christmas dinner or give and receive presents because of their lack of income.
Visiting the poorer areas of Cebu
A typical home where the whole family share one room and one bed.
Entrance gate to one of the homes
The NGO that I work for here in Cebu (the Rise Above Foundation) has with the help from sponsors from all over the world gathed christmas gifts for families from the poorest areas of Cebu. I had the chance to come along on a trip around the city on Sunday to deliver christmas gifts to some of the many poor families that live here. We talked with many of the local people here, and they told us their stories. One lady was the mother of ten kids, and she told us that last year there had been a fire burning down her house. She had managed to save nine of the kids, but forgot about one of her daughters as she was trying to bring the others to safety..
One thing that seems to be the standard among the poor families we visited, is that they all have large families with many kids but with only one (or none) working parents. One of the girls we met was only nineteen, but she already had a two-year old daughter.
There are many poor children living in the slum areas of Cebu.
A girl with a Rise Above christmas hat 

Marie has just given out gifts to one of the families.
A lady with her large family getting christmas gift from Rise Above

We saw a lot of poverty during our trip around Cebu's slum areas. The families living close to the river were especially unfortunate, because everytime the river overflows the water would flood their houses.
Instagram picture showing some of the poor houses by the river

The river is filled with garbadge

A local guy walking by the dirty river

Another family who received support from us.

There are so many cute kids living in the slums of Cebu.. I believe that helping them all to a better life will be hard, and it will definately be impossile without the help of people from outside. Rise Above does a really valueable work in the community here, because they give children the chance to get an education and improve their health through the NGO's many programs in the community. The Family Care Center where I'm working as a volunteer give the children the opportunity to get out of poverty through their educational programs, at the same time as it gives their parents the chance to work. All this is possible because of all the hard-working people within the Rise Above Foundation, and because of sponsors contributing from all over the world. By supporting this organization you can be a part of empowering local women, and you can ensure that the kids in the slums of Cebu gets an education.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Volunteering in Cebu: Rise Above Family Care Center

2:54:00 PM
My two first weeks here in Cebu I am planning to spend most of my time working as a volunteer in the NGO Rise Above's family care center. The family care center is a place where sponsored children are taken care of by Rise Above workers and volunteers, where they take part in both fun and educational activities while their parents can use the opportunity to work. At the family care center the kids get to take a shower in the morning when they arrive, and put on a nice and clean uniform with the Rise Above-logo on which they use until the end on the day. In addition to the shower, they also are taught how to brush their teeth. Apparently many people here drink a lot of sweet drinks with a lot of sugar, but unfortunately they do not pay enough attention to their dental health. It is thus quite a lot of kids who already are having problems with their teeth here. After this first session the kids are divided into groups depending on their age, and they are having a couple of hours of regular classes with math, English and other subjects.

When I opened the door to the car outside the center I could already hear the voices of laughing and playing children. They all looked very happy to see us coming, and they greeted us one by one by taking our hand and lift it up to touch their forehead. We had arrived at the family care center just in time for lunch, and all the kids soon lined politely up to get their servings.
This day was quite a special day, because one of the local workers had brought a bunch of friends along who wanted to help out making some fun activities for the kids. After dinner we gathered the kids and our guest entertained them all with some funny games. The kids also contributed to the entertainment with a round of Gangnam-style, which seems to be their favorite dance.
The kids are so cute, and I'm looking forward to spending more time playing with them. I'll be back with more posts from my stay here, in the meantime, check out Raise Above's homepage at http://www.riseabove-cebu.org/

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Volunteering in the Philippines with Rise Above Cebu

12:58:00 AM
Today, after nearly 21 hours of traveling (I had to spend one night sleeping at a bench in Incheon airport) I finally arrived in Cebu, where ill be spending the next three weeks of my winter vacation.
Here my first plan is to volunteer for the NGO Raise Above for two weeks, an NGO which was founded by a Danish-Norwegian couple: Flemming and Elisabet Hansen who have been working with the local community in Cebu for thirteen years.
I received a very warm welcome by them when I arrived, and was taken back to the headquarters of the organization where I will be living for the next two weeks. I will try to be effective and write a lot about my activities here during the coming weeks! Anyway, I've added a picture from my room where you can see a Rise Above-brochure, in addition to a yellow basked made by a lady in the local community. One of the projects of Rise Above has been to teach women how to make baskets from used sacks so that they can sell them on the local market, and the basket on this photo is one of these. Rise Above also have a lot of other projects which I probably will write about during my stay here. For now, feel free to check out their website.
Rise Above Basket
Before and after: Beautiful handbags made from recycled sacks

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Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below
- Anette

Friday, December 14, 2012

Korean Jimjilbang: The Dragon Hill Spa in Yongsan (용산 찜질방)

6:32:00 AM

If you're up for some unique culture experience while in Korea, one of the things you should definitely check out is the traditional Korean bath house called Jimjilbang (찜질방). In a Jimjilbang you can find a wide variety of baths and saunas, all with different themes. You can find baths with different kinds of herbs, and the saunas can be steamy, dry etc.

Entrance to the Dragonhill Spa
There are Jimjilbang all over Korea, but I have so far only had the chance to try Dragonhill Spa at Yongsan (龍山・용산 literarily means "dragon mountain"). This spa is open 24/7, and offers own sleeping rooms where you can spend the night if you happen to loose the last bus/train home - like I did last Saturday.. 
An outside corridor leading to the entrance of the spa
Sleeping in a Jimjilbang is a good option if you want to save some money and you don't mind sleeping on a mattress on the floor (and be aware; if you arrive late in the evening there might not be any mattresses left). And then you have all the noisy ajummas (older Korean ladies almost exclusively with short, curly hair) who tend talk with each other loudly in the middle of the night or/and snore loudly.

For 12.000 won you get twelve hours of access to all the facilities inside the Jimjilbang, with the additional possibility to buy food, massages, facials etc.
We're not allowed to take pictures inside the spa area, so for more information about the Jimjilbang in Yongsan, check out their homepage below.

Basic Info
  • ・Name of Place: Dragon Hill Spa / 德龙宫龙山汗蒸幕 (용산 찜질방)
  • ・Address:40-713 Hangangno 3(sam)-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
    ・Phone: +82 2-792-0001
  • ・Opening Hours: 24/7
  • ・Official Home Page:http://www.dragonhillspa.co.kr/

Related blogposts:
Street art in 
CHerry blossom Kyung Hee
Cherry Blossom @ KyungHee University
Hiking in Seoul: Bukhansan
Hiking in Seoul: 
Mt. Bukhansan

Hotel Booking:

Book hotel in Seoul
My hotel reviews

Do you have any questions or recommended travel destinations in South Korea? Please feel free to leave me a comment in the comment section below!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Interview with the Norwegian Newspaper DN

11:36:00 PM
Last week I was contacted by the Association for Norwegian Students Abroad (ANSA) regarding the news that the government has agreed to increase the support to Norwegian students who take their undergraduate degrees abroad in non-Western countries. Previously these students had to finance the first year abroad themselves, but with the approval of the proposal made by ANSA it means that students now are fully covered also during the first year.
Unfortunately for me I won't have the chance to benefit from this, as I'm on the last year of my master degree(s) already. However, ANSA wanted some representative students who could talk about the experience of studying abroad, so at least I got the chance to talk about my stay in Korea and Japan to the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). Here is the result:

As you can see, this is only the top of the article. You can find the rest of it here, but unfortunately it is only available in Norwegian. Google translate? ^^

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Winter Wonderland: First Snow in Korea

5:35:00 PM
The last couple of days it has been snowing a lot here in Korea! Here are some of my photos taken earlier today at the GIP campus and the Bongseonsa temple outside our campus:

Walking in a Winter Wonderland.. ^^

Nice with an umbrella in the snow
From outside Bongseonsa temple
Ballet in the snow! (?)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Two Year Past: To Tokyo with Love

6:01:00 PM
This weekend I went for a short trip to Tokyo again to celebrate the two years that have passed since me and my boyfriend started dating. Last time we met was in the beginning of October, so you can bet I was happy to see him again.
We spent a nice and quiet weekend with window-shopping, nice dinners at some of the restaurants in the area of Yuma's apartment, and we also went to watch the new James Bond movie Skyfall.
I can't believe how fast the time has passed by since we started dating, and how many great memories we share. Our backpacking trip in February-March was an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience (although we fot a little bit too much action the last week xP). Next time we meet will be in Cebu in the Philippines the end of this December! I'll be going to Cebu to work as a volunteer for two weeks, and then he'll join me in Cebu once his holiday starts.

Now it is under two weeks left of this semester, and I'm looking forward to getting away from the chilly Korean winter. But first, exams..

Monday, November 26, 2012

Muju Taekwondowon Promotion Tour!

6:49:00 PM
In July 2013 the new Taekwondo head quarters is going to open in Muju, and in order to promote this project the TPF (Taekwondo Promotion Foundation) have been arranging trips for foreign students in Korea to come and see the building site.
I was one of the lucky foreigners who got the chance to participate in a two-day trip, which in addition to Muju also took us to the city of Jeonju. Two of my friends, Tanya and Maya, also had the chance to join the trip, and on Sunday we all met up in Seoul. TPF had arranged two busses for the trip, with a total of about 40 foreign students joining in.
This is how the Taekwondowon is going to look like when it is finished.
After an couple of hours in the bus we arrived in Muju, where we got a guided tour of the Taekwondowon area. The architect had made a design that focused on harmony with the surrounding nature, and at the same time the placment of the buildings are meant to symbolize the different stages in the Taekwondo graduation process: The first area you come to when you arrive stands for the white belt, then comes the area symbolizing the yellow belt, and it continues like this to an observatory on the top of the mountain symbolizing the black belt. The different areas also have different purposes, as they focus on spirit, mind and body. The area has buildings for training, games and exhibition, but also a center for research on Taekwondo and buildings for accommodation. Here are some pictures from the construction site:
At the beginning of the trip we got some information about the project

In front of the main Taekwondo building
The bridge symbolizing the black belt stage
However, as the construction is to be finished next year there is still a lot of construction left to be done. I think it will would have been more interesting to see the construction at a later state, but then again I suppose it is a good reason to come back later to see how the project ends up. 
Still a lot of construction to get done
In addition to seeing the construction site of the Taekwondowon, we also visited a place called Bandiland (bandi, 반디, means firefly in Korean) where you can mainly see a large collection of butterflies from all over the world. In addition to the butterflies, they also have other insects and some fossils, and in addition to this there is also a cinema where they show a 3D video which I'm sure must be popular among the kids. After a guided tour of the center we were escorted to our hotel, where we were assigned rooms for the night, and spent the evening partying with the other participants.
Posing by a Bandiland statue

Some of the poor butterflies..

Group picture taken in Bandiland
Our second day started with a luxurious buffet at a nearby ski resort called Tirol. Here we could choose from a wide range of food, including exotic fruit (fruit is relatively expensive in Korea so I really appreciated this^^), and both Western and Korean food. The hotel itself was in really pretty European style, and there is a ski track right behind the hotel too. As you can see from the group picture below, the view from the resort is also quite nice.

Muju has some great facilities for skiing
After breakfast we continued our trip to Jeonju, where we visited the traditional Korean village (which I actually visited just a month ago:p). We got a guided trip of the village, and after a lunch which included Jeonju's famous bibimbap it was time for one of the main evens of the trip: a visit to a Taekwondo training center to learn more about Taekwondo.
Ready to practice some taekwondo
When we arrived at the Taekwondo center we all got distributed a set of the traditional taekwondo wear called Dobok (도복 / 道服), and in the taekwondo center we got to see a taekwondo-show prepared exclusively for us. I have added a video from the show here:

From the Taekwondo-show
After the show we got the chance to practice some taekwondo too, with the taekwondo-blackbelts teaching us some of the moves. To be honest we already had learned the moves from the taekwondo-class at school, but it was cool to get the chance to break some bricks.. Haha.. Representatives from the media was also present, so it'll be cool to see their video when it is published in January! ^^

After a great weekend it was time to go back to school in the GIP, and with only a couple of weeks left of the semester it means that I should also get back to my studies now. Ciao!

About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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