Film, Travel

Cherry blossoms in South Korea!

Pretty pink petals, dark tree bark, a festival to celebrate their arrival… cherry blossoms are a big deal in Asia. Here in Korea, they symbolise purity and they are made all the more special due to their short time in full bloom, forcing humans to stop their busy lives and just appreciate nature at its finest. But they haven’t always been viewed so sweetly; they are also integral to a desperately sad part of Korean history, the Japanese occupation which spanned thirty or so years before the surrender of Japan at the end of WWII. Korea, Japan and more recently, China, all stake a claim to the origin of the cherry blossom tree however this post will not delve in to that debate. It will primarily focus on my experiences with the blossoms in Korea; something I thoroughly looked forward to and enjoyed.

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Blossoms at my girls school!

The Jinhae Gunghanje festival (진해궁한제) is an annual event held in the small district of Jinhae, located in Changwon city, at the beginning of April. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to this festival every year with the desire to view the abundant cherry blossoms, snap an Insta worthy photo and to revel in the official start of spring. This year, the festival was held from 1st April – 10th April so I headed to Jinhae to become a cherry blossom viewer on the first day of the festival. Living in Busan, Changwon lies just to the west and therefore getting to Jinhae was super easy; a 1 hour coach trip, costing only 5,100\ from Sasang station. I caught an early coach with friends on the 1st April with my camera at the ready… Our first Jinhae stop: Yeojwacheon Romance Bridge (여좌천 로망스 다리).
I’m not 100% sure which bridge is the actual Yeojwacheon Romance Bridge as there are numerous bridges in a row that cross over the Yeojwacheon stream however I am certain this place is absolutely stunning! The cherry blossom trees line either side of the stream, their branches hanging low and swaying in a gentle breeze over a shallow body of water. I walked the length of the stream before venturing down to stroll along the cobbled bank. Despite the mass of people surrounding me, I felt at peace amongst the blossoms and the water; I could have stayed there for hours just appreciating the scenery around me.

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Loveleh Yeojwacheon!

Our next stop in Jinhae was Gyeonghwa (경화역 봊쏯길); a now closed railway station labelled Cherry Blossom Road due to the abundance of trees planted there. The Korean government have left an old Korail train in situ on the tracks to make photos appear more authentic as back when the station was still in operation, carriages used to whoosh past the trees, enabling petals to fall elegantly and allowing visitors to snap beautiful photographs. The old train itself reminded me of the one used by Seok-woo, his daughter and Seong-Kyeong at the end of Train to Busan when they make one last, desperate attempt to flee an onslaught of zombies and I was tempted to pose just like our hero against the rails before he transforms in to the undead however I ditched the idea due to the crowds of people at Gyeonghwa. The queue to take a photo by the train consisted of roughly 50 people alone! People were milling here, there and everywhere over the tracks and around the food stalls that had been erected especially for the festival! Gyeonghwa was pretty but too busy for me.

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Just a handful of the people queuing to take a picture in front of the Korail carriage!

The following week at work, I showed my co-workers some of the snaps I had taken in Jinhae and the first question the majority of them asked me was: “was it very busy?”, to which I answered: “yes!” to a chorus of: “ahhh!”. One co-worker was then kind enough to suggest a more unique, less touristy cherry blossom viewing experience; a hike up Hwanglyeongsan (황령사) to witness awesome views before a descent down Busan’s very own Cherry Blossom Walkway. Ever since being in Korea, I had been keen to start exploring the numerous mountains dotted around the city so I jumped at the chance to get my first hike under my belt and made arrangements with a friend to accomplish Hwanglyeongsan the following Saturday.
The climb itself is pretty easy; the toughest part is the steep stretch on the residential streets before reaching the actual trails. All in all it took roughly two hours to reach the summit and that is including one brief toilet break and numerous extended photo op stops. The view at the top is quite simply exquisite; an expansive sight stretching from east to west, covering numerous Busan neighbourhoods, the sea in the distance, whilst also including various sky scrapers and bridges such as the Diamond Bridge/Gwangandaegyo (관간대교). My friend and I spent some time trying to decipher the different areas to no avail before just sitting and appreciating what lay before our eyes.

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The epic view from the top of Hwanglyeongsan!

To reach the Cherry Blossom Walkway, we had to descend Hwanglyeongsan in the opposite direction of our ascent; it was a 15 minute amble through some shrubbery and across some boulders with another spectacular view. The walkway itself is just an ordinary road that serves as a path for people and vehicles alike however during the first two weeks of April, much like Yeojwacheon stream, the road plays host to a bounty of cherry blossom trees lined up on either side, pink petals and almost black branches framing the concrete beautifully. Yet what made this unique compared to Yeojwacheon was the absence of other people. Sure, a few cars passed by, stopping now and then to snap a photo or two but there were no crowds, no buzz, no craziness; it was just me, my friend and Mother Nature doing her thing. We stayed on the walkway for well over an hour, venturing back and forth before finally watching the sun set through the branches whilst we made our way down the winding path.

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Sunset n blossoms!

Have you had the opportunity to view cherry blossoms in Asia? Share your experience down below in the comments! 🙂

 

 

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food, korea

My first Korean dinner experience!

A week ago I went out for dinner with around 10 other people; I was the only foreigner amongst many South Korean nationals and ordinarily I would find such a situation rather daunting however I had a blast! We headed to a restaurant called Dragon Dream for a seafood extravaganza first; unfortunately I have no idea what the best mode of public transport is to this restaurant as I was driven there in a car however I do know it is super close to the Seomyeon area and therefore you should be able to walk if you live or are staying close to either Seomyeon or Jeonpo subway stations. Anyway back to my experience… Dragon Dream is a restaurant that specialises in seafood and it is built within the walls of a cave. A literal cave. Carved within the walls of a mountain, it used to serve as a World War II Japanese bomb shelter during Japan’s colonisation of Korea. The salty scent of water hits you as soon as you walk through its doors, the place is lit up through the use of strategically placed fairy lights and take heed to mind the floor; although it has a covering, water still seeps through so do not make the same mistake I did and dump your cotton bag on the floor whilst eating to only then discover it sodden wet through!

 

The best picture of the restaurant’s cave interior I could get!

 

The servers at Dragon Dream laid out the side dishes first; I tried caviar (not bad!) and also a dried jujube (similar texture and taste to a date in my opinion) for the first time as well as digging in to the expected side dishes of pickled veggies and seaweed. The group ordered three massive plates of seafood (including fish, mussels, crab, prawns, octopus) mixed with bean sprouts, other veggies and a whole load of a typically Korean yummy and spicy red sauce. It was delicious! We washed it down with copious amounts of alcohol; soju and beer mixed together to make somaek! I actually learnt a new Korean custom (or courtesy) during this meal: as a sign of respect you should not drink before the oldest person at the table has. Unfortunately, me being me and therefore at times a raging alcoholic, I took a sip of my somaek without knowing this information! ☹ But I was assured that it was fine considering I was foreign and therefore didn’t know this unwritten rule beforehand. Needless to say, I will definitely not be making the same mistake again! Once we had devoured the majority of the food on the plates, noodles were brought out and added to the remaining sauce and veggies. It was all mixed together and we dug in once more! I also knocked back one, two or three glasses of soju which was a great accompaniment!

 

Fewd, glorious fewd!

 

After our meal at Dragon Dream, we walked out in to the mild evening air. I thought perhaps it was home time or maybe a few of us would head to a coffee shop for a drink however I was so wrong. Another Korean custom I learnt that night… it is perfectly normal to go to a different restaurant for a second round of food and alcohol! Apparently some groups even head to a third restaurant for a final round! So off we went, around the corner to a savoury pancake place. 범일빈대퍽 (roughly translated to Beomilbindaepeog) specialises in Korean pancakes; a type of food wholly different from the pancakes I am so used to tucking in to on pancake day back home. Korean pancakes are savoury; they are made using various different vegetables and a batter mainly consisting of flour and water (and maybe other ingredients dependent on which veggies you use) and you fry them until they are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Before that evening, I had tried kimchijeon (kimchi pancake) in Manchester and a few weeks earlier had eaten pajeon (spring onion pancake – food to be eaten on a rainy day!) and both were extremely tasty. But this place was next level; the pajeon came with seafood and we each had a tiny little bowl of soy sauce to dip the pancake in for added flavour. We all added a little dash of vinegar and a sprinkle of chilli powder to our soy sauce just to enhance it that little bit more.

 

Jeonnies

 

We had makgeolli with our jeons; the oldest Korean alcoholic beverage, makgeolli is a milky, creamy off-white, sparkling rice wine which when mixed with cider (or Sprite/7-Up to other Westerners) is a treat! I was pre-warned by the group that makgeolli has the potential to gift you a bad hangover in the morning but I could not get enough of the stuff! I was overjoyed every time I saw my bowl being refilled, brimming to the very top with that sweet, bubbly mixture of rice wine and cider! Another thing to mention here; the more someone fills your glass, the more they like you! Also if you ever visit Korea and dine out with Koreans, do make sure you serve their drinks for them. This is another polite courtesy and illustrates your respect for the people you are with.

 

Ma makgeolli! ❤

 

With a super full tummy and a merrier-than-normal mood, I left the pancake restaurant with the group; most people headed home by walking to the nearest subway station however myself and a few others decided to head to Starbucks for a late-night coffee before turning in. Given the time of year and the emergence of the season of spring, there has currently been a heavy emphasis on the cherry blossom theme here in South Korea, with coffee being no exception. Starbucks has an assortment of cherry blossom inspired beverages including a cherry blossom Frappuccino and a cherry blossom latte. I went for the Frap; it was pink and brown, topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of sweet, cherry flavoured candies! Super cute, super sweet and super appropriate given the time of year!

 

Cherry blossom inspired drinks at Starbucks!

 

So, there you have a break down of my very first ever true Korean dining experience… the shorter version: food, food and more food! I can’t wait to enjoy a couple more evenings out like this during my time in Busan!

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Film, Travel

Plane to Busan!

It has been a month and a day since I jumped on a plane in Manchester and moved half way across the world to Busan and what a blast I have had so far! After dreaming of living and working in South Korea for more than five years, I am SO happy to say I have not been disappointed once yet! Busan is everything I could have ever dreamt of and more; the sounds blasting around the streets, the sights of mountains in the near distance, the smells of barbecued meat and the narrow side streets that make me feel as though I have just stepped right in to the chase scenes from Na Hong-jin’s The Chaser… and that is just my local area, Seomyeon. Let’s delve in further and I will tell you all about the things I have enjoyed most thus far…

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Views for days!

THE FOOD

The love story between Emma and food is one for the ages and is perhaps greater than Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the food in Busan has only made that love blossom and has taken it to a whole new level! Here’s my fave foods so far:

• Korean Fried Chicken is hella good; so far I have had it more times than I care to admit to myself but I’m just gunna say carpe diem and go with it! It has been worth it. It is suuuuuper crispy and so so tender! You can get some in a red sauce that is called Yangnyeom; it is spicy, it is sweet, it is sticky, it is delicious! I’ve had it with friends, a beer and a side of pickled radish and we were all the happiest we have ever been. I’m pretty sure I will be besties with the workers in my local Thunder Chicken in no time and I am more than okay with that!
• Korean BBQ: I left Manchester so certain no BBQ could match that of the one and only Abbers… I hate to say it but the barbecued food I have had out here so far registers at a close second place. Korean BBQ is so different from that which I’m used to. You grill the meat yourself in the centre of your table and it comes with lettuce leaves for you to wrap the juicy meat in with a lil bit of ssamjang! My co-workers recommended a restaurant called Maschandeul to me, the Dongnae branch, telling me they serve the best samgyeopsal (pork neck BBQ) in Busan so I headed there one Friday with my sister and daaaaaamn that place is amazing! I’ll definitely become a regular there enjoying their super succulent pork BBQ. I have also tried eel BBQ which again was so tasty but a little bit freaky considering the eel was extremely fresh and therefore their tails danced around a little when you initially threw them on the grill!
• Bungeoppang, little fish shaped pastries stuffed with red bean paste! I have to admit… I was a little sceptical about these before trying. I mean they are fish shaped and they are stuffed with something I have never tried before… but during my first week at my apartment I ventured over to the Korean grocery store close to my building and there was a little stand selling bungeoppang just opposite so I decided to give them a whirl. 2 lil fishy pastries for 1,000KRW which is hella cheap and my god, they are so damn good! Crunchy pastry, smooth, sweet filling: a warming snack on a chilly evening! Sadly my bungeoppang lady has disappeared off the face of the earth; either she has closed up shop or she has moved to a new location and I am a little devastated!

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Samgyeopsal heaven!

NORAEBANG

Or just Korean karaoke rooms…

Usually back home a chilled night out means either grabbing food at a local restaurant or enjoying a few cocktails in a NQ bar but a chilled night here in Busan equates to one thing: singing your heart out to Aerosmith in a room with mates and a few glasses of somaek (a mixture of beer and soju)! I cannot speak for those who have had to suffer my seriously awful singing voice but I have certainly enjoyed the times I have spent screaming “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” in to a microphone. Also “Mmmbop”, “YMCA” and “5,6,7,8” by Steps (which by the way should totally come with a warning stating you must be able to sing extremely fast before attempting this song – I was losing my breath). Noraebang is such a laugh! It brings me right back to childhood, the days I spent in my room with a karaoke machine singing “Barbie Girl” or something equally lame. I am 100% sure it will become the thing I do when I want to do something fun but not splurge a whole load of money on a crazy night out!

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With Leenz singing a song for our Patty Jo! ❤

VR GAMES

Or virtual reality games for those not yet in touch with the modern world…

My co-workers invited me out with them one evening to just chill and spend time together away from work. We went for some food first and then headed in to the heart of Seomyeon for some fun. We started off with some shooting practice: a toy gun you aim and fire at targets to earn points, and if you reach a certain amount of points, you get to choose a little cuddly keyring. I slayed the game and bagged myself a smiley poo emoji keyring! Side note: anyone who says the smiley poo isn’t the best emoji around is either lying to themselves or has some serious issues! After the shooting practice, we headed to VR Playce: an awesome little second floor centre with different rooms where you enter your virtual reality! We got more shooting in during the first game, killing goblins before they attack a fortress with a bow and arrow. We played this for about 45 minutes, killing three quarters of the time we had paid for before deciding to switch it up and go for something different. The next game we played involved an elevator taking you up to the top of a building where a plank awaits you with a cake at the end! This game is certainly not the one for those who have a fear of heights! Luckily I’m good in that department and I managed to tip-toe my way towards the cake, picking it up in one piece, staggering back a little before plummeting to the ground below! Super crazy game but a lot of fun! We finished off our time at VR Playce with a bit of skiing: I have never taken on some slopes in real life but I was a pretty good skier in my virtual reality!

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Nice lil pic of smiley bae as unfortunately I have none of my VR experience!

So as you can tell my first 29 days in Busan have been food and fun filled! I cannot wait to spend another year or so here getting to know the ins and outs of Korean life, food, modern culture, history and everything else! I’ll keep you all posted!

Have you ever been to Busan? Is there anything you have done or tried in South Korea that you can recommend? Let me know in the comments! 😊

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The heart of Seomyeon!

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Uncategorized

Manchester: the ultimate busy bee!

Manchester: a city that stands united.

Sadly the above sentence was borne out of a tragic event; the suicide bombing that occurred ten months ago at the Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert. Manchester was thrown on to the world’s stage as a place shrouded in grief; it’s citizens were locked in a state of utter turmoil and despair following the wake of the atrocity and Mancunians (myself included) could just not understand how or why something so awful could happen to their beloved city and why so many innocent people had to lose their lives due to one person’s senseless, selfish actions.

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The abundance of flowers in St. Anne’s Square – in memory of those we lost ❤

But despite it all Manchester pulled through…

When the initial reports started filtering through the media that something had happened during the concert at the Manchester Arena, hundreds upon hundreds of people were sharing information, doing their utmost to provide help, transportation and lodgings to those who left the event disorientated. I would refresh my Facebook timeline every thirty seconds and see dozens of new posts offering a sofa for people to rest their head or listing the names of children and teenagers they were keeping safe amid the chaos. At that moment, I could not have been prouder of my birthplace, my home, my Manchester and so I decided to write this post dedicated to the best city in the world!

Things I LOVE about Manchester

  1. Number one should be kinda obvious if you read my introduction… it is the PEOPLE! The wonderfully warm and wacky people nicknamed Mancunians! They are the beating heart of the city, the essence that gives Manchester its notoriously friendly and welcoming atmosphere. I love going for walks with our Lazza and being greeted numerous times by fellow walkers; a simple ‘good morning’ is SO refreshing these days considering the majority of people live their lives behind a screen and thankfully Manchester has not kicked the ‘old age’ tradition of speaking to people face to face.
  2. The endless varieties of food on offer! Arabic, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Korean… Manchester has it all and none is in short supply! I loved my time working in Rusholme because of the available food options; I would shuffle over to Falafel for some creamy hummus and warm pitta or make my way over to the Afghan Cuisine for a steaming kobeda kebab. Akbar’s on Liverpool Street is my go-to Indian; they have the most flavoursome seafood balti and supersized naan breads that come to your table hanging further than the length of a 30cm ruler. Yard & Coop is the place to go for some fried chicken! Marinated in buttermilk, it is super juicy and tender whilst the batter is amazingly crispy. Dazzling Café is a fairly new place but it has the most awesome collection of pizzas! I tried the pesto duck pizza the week before I moved and it was so tasty. The pesto was super green meaning it was freshly made and the duck complemented it well. I also tried their honey toast for dessert: a massive mountain of sweet bread, smothered in hazelnut sauce and cream…yummy! Almost Famous has an eclectic collection of burgers and fries; some include frazzles, there is bacon rain…it is every Burger Queen’s heaven! Ultimately Manchester is the place for all the foodies out there!

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    Dazzling Cafe’s amazing duck pesto pizza!

  3. The weather! Always a bone of contention for most Mancunians but not for me. I have always preferred the colder season of winter back home; nothing better to me than being snuggled up warm at home on an early dark evening listening to the pounding rain outside. Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy the days of sun we do get during summer, feasting on my dad’s exquisitely marinated BBQ food or by strolling around one of the many parks, however winter is my buddy! So much so that the first time it chucked it down over here in Busan, I simply sat under a shelter and enjoyed the sight, smell and sound!

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    Cheeky summertime BBQ!

  4. Northern Quarter! Is there any where better for a cheeky couple of cocktails and a slut drop extravaganza than Manchester’s very own NQ?! No, there is not. Favourite place to let my hair down on Fridays and Saturdays has to be Lost in Tokyo! Decent drink prices and a blend of RnB and Pop music. Majority of the time I stumble over to Twenty Twenty Two’s once LIT kicks me out for a few tipsy rounds of ping pong! The nightlife does not end here however… there are countless bars in the NQ where you can just enjoy some drinks and a chill with mates. I’m always either in Affleck & Brown (awesome cocktails) or The Freemount (awesome live music to tap your feet to). Also the NQ has served as a filming location for Peaky Blinders and Captain America in the past!

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    Twenty Twenty Two’s! 😛

  5. Afflecks Palace! Integral part of the NQ! A fantastic, multi-storey complex where you can find one-of-a-kind clothing, buy unique barbells or hoops for your piercings, or get a new tattoo. My favourite thing about Afflecks is its inclusivity; it does not judge, it does not hate and it states this the moment you walk through the door. It’s anti-phobic stance is emblazoned across the stairs going up to the first level from the Short Street entrance. Anywhere that treats everybody as equal feels like home to me!

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    Afflecks Palace FTW

  6. Royal Exchange Theatre! I have seen countless shows at the Royal Exchange (‘Macbeth’, ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘A Streetcar named Desire’, ‘Helen of Troy’) and so far none have failed to disappoint. A personal favourite would have to be ‘Fatherland’; a brilliant performance fulfilled by 13 cast members about contemporary fatherhood and how the past has shaped it and what hopes there are for the future. Although the entire cast were phenomenal, the standout performer for me was Tachia Newell; Manchester born and bred, he was a student at Xaverian College (incidentally where I worked before moving to Busan) and he starred in ‘Waterloo Road’ for a few years. During ‘Fatherland’, my eyes were instantly drawn to him each and every time he was in the centre of the theatre. His performance was so raw, organic and he is definitely one to watch!
  7. Surrounding areas! There are so many nearby areas to venture out to if you ever want to get away from the city for a little break. Lyme Park is in Cheshire and it is such a wonder patch of land to go for a Sunday stroll. There are quite a few, cosy and dog-friendly pubs nearby as well serving delicious food! It also served as Pemberley in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; I like to picture Mr. Darcy waiting for me there! Formby beach is just over an hour away by car; we always take Lazza there as he loves the feel of the sand underneath his paws. There are also some amazing country spots where you can go for a long walk. Ladybower Reservoir near the Snake Pass is beautifully picturesque at any time of the year and Mount Shutlingsloe is lovely but make sure you wear the proper sort of walking shoes as it gets quite steep once you reach the top. I, of course, wore Nike Air Max and was slipping and sliding all over the place. There are so many other places to explore which I have on my to-visit list once I return! 
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    Lazza on Formby!

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    Ladybower reservoir!

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    On the top of Shutlingsloe

Honourable mention: iFly! Before I traded Manchester for Busan, I went to iFly near the Trafford Centre with my family to do indoor skydiving! It was such an awesome experience, a mad adrenaline rush and it has made me want to experience outdoor skydiving! It has been added to my bucket list!

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EmmaFly!

Any Mancunians who think I’ve left something vital off this list? Anyone ever visited Manchester and have a favourite place to walk/shop/eat? Let me know in the comments! 😊

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Film, Travel

Emma Jones’s Diary

I have just returned from a whirlwind trip to the capital city of my country, London! 36 hours of film location exploring, phenomenal food and a whole load of fun. I have been to London numerous times and always forget just how much I bloody love Britain’s capital city! Such a vibrant, unique, colourful city! I set off from Manchester Piccadilly with my mum on the 4th of Feb at 3:30pm; just over two hours later, we arrived at Euston train station, updated our Oyster cards and jumped on the tube to check in to the Hub by Premier Inn based near St. James Park in Westminster. Two nights at this budget hotel cost us £143 altogether; such a steal for such a central location in London town considering my previous trips have had me fork out over £150 for two nights in pub hotels in both Greenwich and Acton. The room was extremely comfortable; it had a bed, a tv, one chair and a good-sized wet room… what more do you need?! We dumped our bags and headed out for some scran. I had heard about a burger joint called Honest Burgers in Soho so we took a stroll down Horses Guard Road, crossed the Mall and headed for an epic burger dinner. While walking we passed Piccadilly Circus; an iconic location home to the big advertisement screens seen in numerous films, Bend it like Beckham and Bridget Jones’s Diary, to name a couple! The restaurant itself is pretty small, probably seats about 20-30 people at one time but if it is busy, they take your number and call you when your table is ready, instead of having you queue. Luckily for us it wasn’t all full up so we were seated immediately. My mum ordered the chicken burger, a nice healthy option in comparison to the other sandwiches on the menu. I went for the special; a beast of a burger called the Disco Bistro! A massive beef patty garnished with pink onions and a pineapple, bacon jam; the perfect tangy, sweet companion!

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The exterior of Honest Burgers – Soho!

We planned to visit the South Korean embassy (the main reason for our trip to London) to sort out my visa for my impending year-long trip to Busan so we knew we would have an early start the next morning, so after being fed and watered, we headed back to our hotel for a good nights kip. After doing what needed to be done visa-wise the next day, it was time to explore! We had a fulfilling brekkie at a lovely, little place called the English Rose cafe & tea shop located in Westminster, a short walk away from Victoria Station. The cafe had a wonderful atmosphere, quaint decor, including an artificially lit fireplace, hanging teapots on display and a cute, little dresser with the blue and white China plates I’m sure most people have encountered in either their own kitchen or the home of a friend, and the food was delicious and reasonably priced!

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The interior of the English Rose cafe & tea room!

We spent the early afternoon in Camden, first wandering through the clothes market on the high street, before heading over to Camden Lock. Now if you have ever visited Afflecks Palace in Manchester and appreciated its unique character then you will LOVE Camden Lock! This place is full of little stalls, independent traders selling one-of-a-kind pieces. I spent a long time marvelling over artwork by a guy called Jeff Michalik (www.killerbunny.co.uk); he does prints of iconic characters from various films. I ended up purchasing nine different prints for £20; I got six Disney princesses (#disneyobsessed), one of Jason Voorhees, one of the sorting hat from Harry Potter and last but not least, one of the insanely cute droid, BB8! I cannot wait to frame them all and have them on display in my Busan accommodation; they will provide awesome splashes of colour on what I imagine will be bare, white walls! We strolled through the market stalls, admiring the products on offer; jewellery, cushions, bags, scarfs and other pieces of artwork before stopping at the Camden Market Photo Booth and failing at getting some pictures. We finished off our time at Camden Lock with some dutch pancakes smothered in melted nutella and chopped strawberries with hot drinks, a chai latte for me and a hot choccy for mum – all of which came to a tenner!

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The very open minded entrance to Camden Lock!

We hopped back on the tube and headed over to the Embankment stop; it was time to walk along the River Thames and spot the locations used in Love Actually and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The first location we tracked down was the benches at Gabriel’s Wharf. This location was used in Love Actually; it played host to the scene where Daniel (Liam Neeson) sits with his stepson, Sam (Thomas Sangster) to give him some love advice in regards to his seemingly unrequited crush on Joanna. These two characters and the storyline they share have always been my favourite part of Love Actually; I love the innocence of Sam and his feelings for his classmate and Daniel comes across as the sweetest father figure! I actually sat on the exact same bench patiently awaiting the arrival of Liam in the hopes he would give me some good life advice! Needless to say, he never arrived but a girl can still dream! We walked along the south bank a little further and stumbled across the scene where Mark (Andrew Lincoln), embarrassed by the fact his love for his best mate’s wife has just been revealed in the most awkward way possible, walks whilst gliding his hand across the stone wall between walkway and water. Naturally I reenacted his exact movements to the bemusement of my mum.

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Where are you, Liam Neeson?!

Even further along the south bank is Millennium Bridge, which any half decent Potter nerd will know is the bridge the villainous, evil Death Eaters destroy whilst covered with unknowing Muggles making their way to work at the beginning of the sixth Harry Potter film! It’s unique metal and persplex design isn’t exactly hard to recognise. I took it as the perfect opportunity to whip out the sorting hat print by Jeff Michalik I had bought earlier and take a snap! The best thing about strolling around London in search of filming locations is that you can just happen across them; you do not need to part with money in order to appreciate the structures, sites and scenes you see emblazoned on the big screen. There are sooooo many other locations I would love to visit, free of charge, in London that have been used in various films. St. Lukes Mews in Notting Hill is also featured in Love Actually, Borough Market which is used in Bridget Jones’s Diary and loads others but sadly I just did not have enough time on this particular trip but I’m sure I’ll be able to tick them off next time I visit London!

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Millennium Bridge featuring Jeff Michalik’s sorting hat print!

After our filming location expedition, we headed over to Mod in Leicester Square for a bite to eat. Mod is an awesome pizza place! They have various pizzas on the menu to choose from which you can personalise or you can choose to make one from scratch. All pizzas, regardless of add-ons or how many toppings you decide to make your own, cost only £7.87! The bases are thin and crispy, proper Italian style and there are endless sauce and topping options to choose from. I went for a garlic rub base, mozzarella and asiago cheese, pepperoni and spicy sausage, black olives with both a balsamic fig glaze and a pesto drizzle! So damn tasty!! For dessert we went to Bubblewrap Waffle in China town and shared a light and soft waffle cone, drizzled with white chocolate sauce and chopped strawberries.

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My personalised pizza at Mod!

With full bellies, it was time for our evening activity, the Jack the Ripper walking tour provided by Discovery Tours & Events. We had booked our tickets for a tenner each in advance online and we had to meet our tour guide at exit 4 of Aldgate East tube station, an easy ten minute journey on the District Line from Embankment. We checked in with our tour guide, Angie, and headed out with a sizeable group of about 25 people, for our two hour long walk around Whitechapel and Spitalfields, learning about the grizzly, gruesome murders committed by the famous, unknown assailant, Jack the Ripper. I can’t speak for my mum but I found this tour immensely interesting and unforgivably creepy with Angie only adding to the eeriness by handing out various photographs of the Ripper’s victims whilst describing their grotesque murders by deepening her voice and hitting the wooden doors of buildings dotted around the neighbourhoods we were roaming. Furthermore the tour has made me want to watch the first series of Whitechapel for the millionth time; a three part series which unravels the mystery of Jack the Ripper with a copycat killer committing similar crimes in the same locations. For anyone who hasn’t seen this show, watch it! It is available on Netflix and spawned three additional series, the second of which focuses on the Kray twins.

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The location in Mitre Square where the body of the fourth Ripper victim, Catherine Eddowes, was found…

London is an epic city, it has something for everyone and I am sure as hell going to be visiting it more often when I return home after my time abroad! Is there any other filming locations you know of, that are free of charge, in the city of London? Are there any other walking tours you can recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

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Film, korea

Film of the month: The Chaser (2008)

Ahhhh January: a month of both bitterly cold weather and feelings after the joys of the festive season have come to an end. The time when everyone tries their very best to hold on to the near impossible resolutions they decided to make after swigging a glass (bottle) or two of prosecco on New Year’s Eve. It is time for me to come through on one of my resolutions: the new, monthly ‘Emma’s film of the month’ posts on ATWW8P! Considering it is the first post in this series and also considering January happens to host my birthday, I decided to go for one of my all-time favourites this month.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to The Chaser (2008)…

Na Hong-jin; I salute you.

The Chaser is a fast-paced, exhilarating, infuriating, somewhat humorous, extremely sad piece of filmmaking which will stay with you for a very long time.

Kim Yoon-seuk plays Jong-ho, a detective turned pimp, whose girls keep vanishing. Ha Jung-woo plays Young-min, the man responsible for their disappearances. The first ten minutes of the film are fairly slow, showing Jong-ho go about his day to day activities, sending his prostitutes off to clients, annoyed that two of his most expensive girls have gone missing, most likely sold off to another pimp. After ordering Mi-jin to go service a client, he notices this client is the man who requested the two missing girls. After this realisation, Jong-ho is determined to thwart the man who he believes is selling his girls, throwing a whole lot of punching and kicking action into the film. The initial chase between Jong-ho and Young-min pumped my body with so much adrenaline that I was eager to run along with them. The events leading up to this chase are equally thrilling, being so excruciating to watch yet so fantastically conveyed that I found it very difficult to turn away and deservedly grimace; a juxtaposition of Young-min carrying out his sadistic torture on Mi-jin whilst Jong-ho sits in his car a few streets away desperately dialling Mi-jin’s number to no avail. What happens then on is a multi-dimensional narrative going from a “shit thrower” hurling faeces at the mayer of Seoul, to an inefficient police force, to a quest to find Mi-jin before she is killed and to convict Young-min of twelve murders, of which he has confessed too, without providing the police with a smidgen of evidence.

 

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A screenshot of the most exhilarating chase scene!

 

Two things really struck me about The Chaser. The first was the ever prevailing battle between good and bad. The second was the symbolism of the rain.

A film would not be the same if it did not adhere to the standard protagonist versus antagonist narrative. However Na’s protagonist is not 100% good; Jong-ho is a man with flaws, so many that he turned in his police badge and became a pimp. Nevertheless in contrast Young-min is totally bad, he is the epitome of evil, illustrated through the lack of a solid motive, with only the possibility of impotency alluded to numerously but never confirmed. Sure, this can be frustrating but toss that aside and you are left with a deeply dark entity, completely unmoved by and not remorseful of the crimes he has committed. Put these two men together and Jong-ho’s wrongdoings seem minimal, forgivable and he is ultimately the good guy viewers crave as he puts everything he has into finding and saving Mi-jin.

 

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The merging of the protagonist and antagonist; a symbol of both the good and bad sides of the narrative evident in the poster!

 

The Chaser is crammed with despair and in my eyes, the rain symbolises this perfectly. It rains when Mi-jin’s seven year old daughter bawls after learning of her mother’s fate. It rains whilst Jong-ho stands in a blood stained room listening to a voicemail from Mi-jin crying and begging for release. It rains when the police find numerous bodies in Young-min’s front garden after initially dismissing the claim as false. It rains when Jong-ho walks towards the hospital seeing the mayor with a clean face questioning the lack of reporters there to inquire about his health, despite what has unfolded with the discovery of a serial killer. To me the rain is the perfect addition to an already emotional and tragic narrative; it highlights and reinforces the despair that all the characters, aside from Young-min, feel.

 

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Mi-jin awaiting her cruel fate…

 

Ultimately The Chaser is fantastic, especially considering it is Na Hong-jin’s debut. With the addition of The Yellow Sea (2010), it paves the way for a very promising future for those like myself who greatly admire this man and his masterpieces.

It is a definite must see.

Have you seen The Chaser? Or any of Na Hong-jin’s other creations? Are there any similar films you can think of that might interest me? Let me know in the comments!

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Film, Travel

Emma Gaudí Barcelona

So I turned 26 at the beginning of the year, and instead of ringing in my birthday with my close friends by partying in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, I decided to book myself a mini trip to Europe. Barcelona was numero uno on my destination list; I had never been to Spain before whilst scores of people I know have told me how fantastic Barcelona is, with tonnes of beautiful landmarks to explore and various different eateries to try. In addition I was fully aware that the city and its sites had been used as locations for a couple of films on my to-watch list; Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona and the film adaptation of Bernd Eichinger’s novel about a young man obsessed with bottling the natural scent of a woman, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. So I booked a cheap flight with RyanAir, found some lodgings in the Mediterranean Youth Hostel for 20 euro a night and set out on my adventure at 4am on the 3rd of January!

DAY ONE

My first stop was the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau; a hospital designed by the Catalan modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner with the poor in mind. The front facing façade of the administration building, the part you see when walking up Avenue de Gaudí, has two outstretched wings, symbolic of an embrace, welcoming the sick and needy to a place of care and compassion. I purchased a ticket (under 10 euro), sorted an audio guide and took a stroll through the complex, in awe of the incredibly thoughtful architecture. The pavilions behind the administration building are so cleverly designed to look like a house from the front but stretch back further than you realise to accommodate more patients. Additionally each pavilion is a modernist creation, both internally and externally splashed with colour and interesting shapes; green window frames, yellow roof tiles following the curve of a dome, with mosaic art lining the walls and ceilings.

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One of the many wards of the hospital!

That evening I decided to go to an extremely popular seafood chain of restaurants, La Paradeta. The closest one to me was about a 20 minute walk away, and owing to its internet popularity, I thought I was being clever by setting off 40 minutes before it was due to open at 8pm. I arrived and there was already a queue of about 20-30 people waiting… so much for my plan! Nonetheless this restaurant is awesome! You walk in the doors and are greeted by a variety of seafood on display, freshly caught and cleaned, for you to choose from. I chose fried calamari and grilled cuttlefish, with a massive salad on the side, small bread rolls and mayonnaise. I also ordered a big pint of beer and a bottle of water just to wash it all down. The whole meal came to under 28 euro; a steal in my opinion considering the quality and freshness of the food!

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The seafood display that greets you at La Paradeta!

After gorging on seafood, I headed over to the Gothic Quarter to a little gin haven called Rubí that I had read about online. This bar has SO many unique flavoured gins; strawberry mint, liquorice, balsamic, chocolate. I settled on the lemongrass and Jamaican pepper gin and the bartender made me a G&T and a coconut mojito which only cost me 12 euro! Ridiculously cheap price for two double strength cocktails! Both were divine; the pepper in the G&T almost overpowered the dryness of the drink and gave it a nice kick while the mojito had just the perfect amount of coconutty flavour. I loved this bar! It was in a kind of off the grid location and with only myself, the bartender and a small group on the opposite side of the room, it wasn’t too busy and had a nice, chilled vibe.

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The artisan gins at Rubí!

DAY TWO

I decided to dedicate the second day of my trip to exploring the locations used in the two films I mentioned earlier. A very helpful guy on reception at the hostel told me about Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, a small town square used in Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. This location is the place where Jean-Baptiste Grenouille commits his first murder. It comes across as creepy in the film; the scene portrays a young woman, pitting yellow plums whilst Grenouille and his sensational smelling power lurks behind her, sniffing her scent. He ends up killing her accidentally by covering her mouth to stifle her screams once she discovers him behind her. Certainly not very romantic but the square itself couldn’t be more opposite! I ventured to this quaint little site three times over the span of the day; in the afternoon it was host to the hustle and bustle of the city, various tourists and families milling about however in the evening, it was much more serene. A guy sat by the fountain strumming his guitar, singing a soft melody and couples wandered about hand in hand.

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Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

I spent the rest of the day marvelling at Antoni Gaudí’s famous works, two locations featured briefly in Vicky Cristina Barcelona; La Sagrada Família and Park Güell. Honestly the scenes where these landmarks appeared were the best moments in the film! The rest of it was rather dull and the characters were far too irritating. First I went to La Sagrada Família; a church so magnificent you have to see it to believe it. The external façades tell different stories; one shows the nativity, whilst the opposite side depicts the twelve stages of the cross, statues so intricately carved and detailed. My favourite has to be the statue of Jesus, shrouded in a cloak, with a complete look of despair and agony etched across his stone face. The interior is even more phenomenal; columns built up like trees in order to connect heaven and earth, beautiful stained glass windows, cooler tones on the east where the sun rises and warmer tones on the west where it sets and icon crests adorning four columns to represent the gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If you ever visit La Sagrada Família, I recommend purchasing the 25 euro audio tour ticket; it is interesting to walk around the basilica and learn about why Gaudí designed it the way he did. I cannot wait to return there upon its estimated completion in 2026!

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The tree-like columns inLa Sagrada Família!

After a quick, delicious bite of hummus with fried lamb, fetteh al-makdous and pitta bread in Reem Al Bawadi, an Arabic restaurant, I hopped on the bus to Park Güell. This park is lovely if you want to escape the business of the city to just enjoy a cool, quiet stroll but the main attraction is undoubtedly the monumental zone; Gaudí’s colourful mosaic balcony that provides you with a fantastic view of the two pavilions at the park’s entrance, the city of Barcelona itself and the Mediterranean sea in the distance. Such an epic experience just to sit on the smooth, tiled terrace and enjoy the scenery! Park Güell and Gaudí’s modernist architecture are a must-see if you ever go to Barcelona! I must say though that it would definitely be worth booking in advance for both La Sagrada Família and Park Güell as they both host an extraordinary number of visitors daily and you wouldn’t want to be disappointed if you don’t get the chance to see either!

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The monumental view at Park Güell!

In the evening, I wandered back over to the Gothic Quarter and visited a little tapas bar called La Alcoba Azul recommended by my cousin. This restaurant is quite small and gets extremely busy! However the staff were lovely; they gave me a complimentary tomato tuna dish served on toasted bread as an appetiser for the potato tapas and the melted cheese served with lashings of blueberry jam and bread that I ordered. I cannot say I am an expert on tapas but I will admit this restaurant’s food was to die for; the portion sizes were good, the flavours were uniquely delicious and the price of the food (about 15 euro) was extremely decent!

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Tapas at La Alcoba Azul!

DAY THREE

I spent my third full day of my trip away from the city, taking a train to Montserrat; a lovely little village with a monastery based on the side of a mountain. Sounds daunting having to travel away from the city alone but it could not be easier to get to Montserrat! I made my way from the hostel towards Plaça Espanya to catch the R5 train heading to Manresa. Make sure you look for the orange R5 sign in the square for the right entrance underground to the trains; don’t be fooled in to thinking you can take any of the stairways marked with a red M down! The return train ticket cost me roughly 20 euro and it included a return cable car trip up the mountain to the village. I jumped on the 10:36am train and about an hour later, I was in a cable car, gliding my way up to heaven on earth. Nothing compares to the experience of walking out of that little yellow cab and seeing the landscape that surrounds Montserrat in all its glory! That view cannot be beaten and the tranquillity of Montserrat as a whole only improves its quality!

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Mother Earth

I wandered around Montserrat for about four or five hours in total before heading back to the R5 train bound for Barcelona to pack and prepare myself for the journey home. That evening I decided to stay local to the hostel, walking the short distance to the Arc de Triomf, snapping a few photos and FaceTiming my mum there. I’d say the arch is a definite tourist hotspot! Crowds of people surround it so I would take extra caution when there; guard your possessions and do not let anything out of your sight at any point. I was told numerous times, by various different people, to take extra care of my bag out and about in Barcelona but I did feel particularly vulnerable at the arch. Luckily for me there was a burger joint called La Foga nearby so after admiring the arch for about half an hour or so, I went for a massive delicious burger, held together by a breadstick with loaded nachos on the side! The perfect meal to wrap up such an epic adventure!

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Burger porn at La Foga!

Have you ever been to Barcelona? Is there somewhere I didn’t visit that I should have done? Let me know in the comments!

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Film, korea

Why I LOVE the Asian film industries!

Films are brilliant; they provide each and every one of us with the chance to escape the ordinary and live vicariously through the lives of characters plastered across a giant screen. We get to enjoy numerous films daily which showcase different scenarios for us to not only observe but also imagine ourselves in. On Monday we can be a Marvel superhero saving New York City from a villainous Alien force. On Tuesday we can choose to be one half of the perfect couple; both of whom are extremely attractive, have successful careers, beautiful abodes, etcetera. On Wednesday we can be the lovable, animal sidekick of a Disney princess, setting out on an amazing adventure either on land or across the open sea. On and on our week goes until we get to the weekend and decide to watch a horror film and spend the night tossing and turning, all too afraid of being visited by a creepy, long-haired ghost girl or a demon disguised as a nun. The Western industries, primarily Hollywood, produce and develop films with extreme escapism in mind; they want people to believe in the characters they create. They want us to admire their backgrounds, their stories, their ambitions in the hope that we too will experience something similar. I grew up watching and revelling in the productions of the Western industries, unaware of the growing competition on the other side of the world.

CHINA

I first stumbled across the Chinese film industry while studying my bachelors at university; there was a transnational media module which introduced me to early 2000 wuxia dramas, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero and House of Flying Daggers. These three films, in addition to many more, are quite simply stunning. The cinematography, the costumes, the martial artistry; everything is visually beautiful. Kudos to the American studios, Sony Pictures Classics and Miramax Pictures, who distributed them for bringing such incredible cinema to Western audiences but massive congratulations to the Chinese film industry for creating something so beautiful in the first place!

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House of Flying Daggers – just look at that symmetry!

JAPAN

I could not write about the Asian film industries without mentioning the anime genre, a style the Japanese industry naturally excels in. From the world-renowned sci-fi hit Akira to the more recently released Your Name, Japanese anime films are one of a kind. The animation is next level; it is sublime. I was in awe watching Your Name, excited to see the next beautifully drawn landscape, mesmerised by the comet breaking in the sky, elegantly falling towards the doomed Itomori. Even if the story doesn’t compel you, it is impossible to deny the impressive quality of the animation that brings it to life.

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Your Name – absolutely stunning animation!

SOUTH KOREA

But now on to the reason for this post… the Korean film industry!

My cousin first told me about Oldboy back in 2012 after a brief discussion about how much we both admire the Asian films we had seen so far. He recommended Park Chan-wook’s revenge thriller to me and heralded it as ‘one of the greatest films he has ever seen’. So I decided to have a film night at uni and watched it with a few friends and it certainly did not disappoint. The story is so unique, so original and the performances of the cast complement it perfectly; you can taste Lee Woo-jin’s bittersweet desire for unyielding revenge throughout the entire 120 minute running time and can resonate with Oh Dae-su’s misery and denial in the closing few minutes, watching his face crumple as the ultimate realisation dawns. The superiority of Oldboy as a revenge thriller in comparison to other films within the same genre encouraged me to branch out and explore the Korean industry further. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance, Chaser, I Saw the Devil, Memories of Murder, The Yellow Sea and so many other magnificent Korean thrillers have been added to my watched list and none have failed me thus far.

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Park Chan-wook’s fantastic Vengeance Trilogy!

So what is it that I love so much about the Korean film industry? Remember earlier when I said the Western industries provide their audiences with extreme escapism? The Asian industries, specifically Korean films, play host to extreme realism. Sure the storylines are out there; they are incestuous, gruesome and sometimes downright crazy but they inform the viewers that everything doesn’t always work out in the protagonists favour. Korean revenge thrillers are determined to tell their viewers a fantastic story whilst maintaining a fairly realistic element. The guy doesn’t always get the girl, the bad character doesn’t always get their well-deserved comeuppance and everyone doesn’t always live happily ever after. Kim Soo-hyun, the protagonist in I Saw the Devil, particularly comes to mind here because even after completing his revenge mission against Jang Kyung-chul, the man who kidnapped and murdered his pregnant fiancé, he still does not feel complete; he walks away from his final act eventually breaking down in to a flurry of tears, the realisation that he has become a monster whilst in pursuit of another monster hitting him, as the rain pounds down around him.

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If you do not feel this man’s pain then you do not have a heart…

Other Asian industries also practice extreme realism. For example, Infernal Affairs, a film which came out of Hong Kong in 2002, tells a double-sided cat and mouse tale; a police officer, Chan Wing Yan, working undercover to infiltrate a triad whilst a second officer, Lau Kin Ming, masks his real identity as a member of the same gang. Sound familiar? Hollywood remade Infernal Affairs with Martin Scorsese at the helm; The Departed was released in 2006 with a star studded cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Vera Farmiga and Mark Whalberg amongst others. The difference between the original and the remake however perfectly illustrates the difference between extreme realism and extreme escapism. Both good cops, Chan Wing Yan and Billy Costigan, die unexpectedly during the climaxes, however Lau Kin Ming and Colin Sullivan suffer different fates. Infernal Affairs has Lau ultimately get away with all of the bad deeds he has committed whereas The Departed shows Sullivan being shot and killed by another cop, Sean Dignam; a character who does not have a counterpart in the original. Dignam was added to The Departed to give the audiences what they want, he provided the necessary resolution for the narrative by killing the bad guy.

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Infernal Affairs vs. The Departed

Don’t get me wrong… I absolutely love The Departed, it is a great film and I cheer along with others when Sullivan gets what is coming to him! But sometimes Western remakes can be a real flop; Spike Lee’s 2013 remake of Oldboy, was in my opinion, terrible. I did not connect well with the characters and I felt there was really no need to take an already messed up storyline to the next level. You’d understand what I mean if you have seen both the original and the remake – I don’t want to delve too far in to what happens due to the fear of ruining the surprise for those who haven’t yet seen either. Ultimately some remakes work, some do not; I cannot deny my mixed feelings when I read Your Name is to be remade by Paramount Pictures and J.J. Abrams. I just hope they do the story justice and can produce such epic animation like the original!

What do you think about the Asian film industries? Do you prefer Western escapism or revel in the realism of Eastern productions? Let me know your thoughts and any other films you think I may be interested in watching down in the comments!

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Travel

IndiEmma Jones and her Jordanian adventure!

In October 2017, I visited my family in Amman, Jordan and while there, we planned a road trip together. We decided to leave the capital late in the evening on a Thursday, drive down to the Dead Sea and camp for the night with an assortment of food including hotdogs and s’mores. We arrived at our destination at about 10pm; we set up our tent, lay down blankets, got a roaring fire going and spent the next few hours in perpetual awe. For anyone who isn’t aware, the Dead Sea is situated at the lowest point on planet earth, and where we camped was a ridge stretching out from the main road, which overlooked the salty sea in all its glory. Although we didn’t have a view of the sea at that current moment, we could hear the serene waves rippling beneath us. It was the perfect background music to the view we did have: a smooth, velvety, deep blue night sky laced with silver, sequin-like stars. It was the perfect picture: and just to lie there, underneath such a bed of stars was an experience in itself. Unfortunately neither my phone nor my DSLR could capture such simplistic beauty so I have no photographs to share however I cannot recommend doing this or something similar more. You will not be disappointed and the reminder of just how stunning our world is will stay with you forever.

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Our view of the Dead Sea in the morning

The next morning, we woke at about 5am; we had a long journey ahead of us, an almost four hour car journey to Petra, the Rose City. I couldn’t wait to see the famous red-stone city with my own eyes, walk the paths of historic bedouins and see the filming locations for numerous movies, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. We parked up and started our Petra journey at the ticket booth. A one-day ticket will cost you 50 Jordanian Dinars which is the equivalent to about 50 Great British Pounds; sounds steep but is well worth it! Once our tickets were checked, we were on our way, on a great stretch of sandy path where we first stumbled across the carved architecture of an ancient civilisation. We were enamoured by the detailed building face in front of us; little did we realise that the best was yet to come. We continued on the path, weaving our way through multi-coloured walls, lined with man-made water pipes and dams.

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Colours of the sandstone

Now, have you ever seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? If you have, then you will remember the part filmed in Petra perfectly; the stand-out being when Indy is riding horseback with his companions through a sandy landscape when they come across the secret temple. Furthermore have you ever watched a film, pictured visiting one of the locations used and hoping your experience will be as dramatic as it is depicted? I have and my experience of Indy’s secret temple, the heart of Petra was everything I dreamed and more. After leaving the ticket checkpoint and walking the windy path for what seemed like forever but could not have been more than twenty minutes, we finally came to the end of our walk and there it was. The intricacy, the artistry, the monumental sight of one of the seven wonders of the world; the Treasury of Petra.

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The Treasury at Petra

I cannot put in to words nor emphasise the astounding beauty of this detailed piece of architecture; again, in the same way as the Dead Sea sky, it is something you have to experience first hand to believe. Throngs of people flock to Petra each and every year and I just know the vast majority will have been as taken aback as I was once they first laid eyes upon such craftsmanship. I just stood and stared; at every pillar, at every tiny pattern, at every piece of the sand stone structure in front of me. I didn’t think I’d seen anything so mesmerising but then I hadn’t seen the rest of the city. After a short camel ride in front of the Treasury, we set off once more, following the path to the right-hand side. We came across masses of carved-out caves, which if you have seen An Idiot Abroad, you will know serve as the homes of those who still live in Petra. We ventured in to one, and the colours emblazoned across the walls are like a watercolour painting. Their smoothness, their vividness, like a stroke of a paintbrush across a sandy canvas. After exploring the caves, we decided to go to the Monastery which is up high, a trek of 900+ steps. Donkeys are not in short supply in Petra, so we hired four for 20 Jordanian Dinars and climbed up to see the structure which Bumblebee knocked through in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. My ride was a great companion, aptly named Jackass which, to those who know me well, made us quite the duo.

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One of the many donkeys of Petra

The Monastery is just as beautiful as the Treasury, delicately carved out of a stone wall and I had my own Karl Pilkington moment, sat in a cave directly opposite it, revelling in its splendour. Karl’s show may have been named An Idiot Abroad but he could not have been more correct in stating it is better to sit in the cave and look out on something so spectacular than it is to live in the luxury looking out on how the other half live. I could have stayed there forever but by this point, the time was nearly 4:30pm and we had a five hour drive back to Amman to conquer, so we headed off back in the direction we came. I napped most of the journey home, intermittently waking up to browse through the many photos I took during our adventure. I’ll leave you with this one of me with my cousins, taken on a polaroid camera in front of the Treasury of Petra.

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The four of us!

Interestingly enough, upon my return home to the UK, my friend tagged me in a Facebook post by Will Smith. A similar picture to the one of me and my cousins but it was him with his cast-mates: the live-action Aladdin due to be released some time in 2019 was being filmed near Petra so Will planned a trip there for the cast and crew!

*If you have any questions regarding Petra, how tos, etc. then please feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you!

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Uncategorized

Welcome 😄

Hey!

I’m Emma.

A self-proclaimed film nerd, food critic and avid traveller.

Welcome to my life!

This blog will detail everything and anything to do with my quest to find groundbreaking films, my mission to try and recreate delicious food from every country in the world and my travelling adventures around Mother Earth.

For now I will leave you with a collage of my life so far… I hope you enjoy!

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