A Very Batty Birthday

July 26, 2012

Kat: Deep in the dark recesses of Gotham City… I mean Ulsan City.

Somehow I managed to turn one year older, and a lot has changed this year. We quit our jobs, we moved overseas, we’ve adventured across the arctic wastes of Romania… It’s hard to deal with so much change but it’s all for the better. It seems weird that it’s been ten years since I’ve been in high school and six since I lived in France. Some days I wonder what I’m doing with my life, but then I look back on all the amazing photographs and remember our experiences in the United States, in Europe and Asia. Boy will I have some stories to tell me grand kids. I think experience is at the heart of good writing, and I hope that by travelling I’ll emerge a strong and successful writer.

It’s easy to ignore your dreams and wishes, but this year I am really trying to pursue what I’m passionate about. That is writing and photography. I love this quote, “Do what you love in your 20s and you’ll get paid to do it in your 30s.” So I’ve got two years left before the universe should start supplying me with an income equal to my passions! I’ve done a lot of writing lately for blogs and travel articles, and I’m really needing to edit my novels and get them out the door. But it’s hard sometimes, it just seems like an upward struggle for not much return, just my satisfaction really… gotta keep going and eventually things will come through. I strongly believe that perseverance is one of the main keys to success; I think about how some of the most successful people just kept going in spite of their failures and ended up succeeding. JK Rowling is my hero, she just kept going no matter what.

Enough birthday philosophizing…

When you’re far from home birthdays mean a lot more and a lot less. It’s hard sometimes to be away from friends so you want to mentally hide your birthday so that no one remembers it to the point you even forget. But then you also need to celebrate with people, it’s a special day and there’s nothing worse than having a birthday in a foreign country by yourself. Thankfully I have some amazing friends here and abroad. My Ulsan mates met up to see The Dark Knight Rises at Lotte Cinema and have a great Italian meal at Bella di Notte. Bella di Notte is the best Italian food you can find in Ulsan, if not Korea. They use real cheese and make proper thin crust, woodfired pizzas and marinara stacked with seafood a mile high.

My friends Caroline and Carolyn even made the hike out to Ulsan from Jinju and Busan. Carolyn managed to knock down a series of domino wine bottles on the steps of the restaurant, while Chris needed to make an Indiana Jones-like run for the bottom of the stairs. Probably not the best place for empty wine bottles, but luckily no one got hurt and we had a fantastic laugh about waygooks wrecking Ulsan.

Justin: Carolyn’s bottle knocking effort was completely awesome and one of the most hilarious things I’ve experienced as a Wagook in South Korea. Normally unreservedly clunky moments are reserved for yours truly. I must say the restaurant was inviting his upon themselves by stacking so many bottles in a tight staircase.

Kat: After that we hit up The Dark Knight Rises; it was a bit of an odd movie (you can read my review here). BUT I had such a great time hanging in the front row with my expat friends that it didn’t matter how good the movie was. Carolyn and Caroline came back to our house and cooked birthday smores on the gas stove.

My incredible and sneaky best friends in Australia also skyped me for my birthday, without giving away that they’d also sent me an incredible package full of sketchbooks, letters and ninja bread cookie cutters.

The next day was the first international Jeon Ha iWorship ping-pong tournament. But I’ll let Justin tell you about that.

Justin: Four sports Korean truly adore and ping-pong is one of them, the rest being baseball, badminton and soccer.

Kat: Not to mention hiking and tae kwon do…

Justin: Koreans are sporty, outdoorsy people and natural competitors. The country and culture are fixated on competition, sometimes to its glory and sometimes to its detriment.

Kat and I organised the first major Jeon Ha International Ping Pong tournament.  Team America formed an unlikely patriotic alliance consisting of a hard-core Obama fan from Illinois and a firm republican apologist (less government the better). The contrast was all the more striking after Kat using a wide angled lens captured a memorable shot. Team America performed very well disposing of the formidable Eurovision duo of Roy and Dave,  but alas were  ultimately were defeated by Team Daniel and Dad.

I formed Team Down Under with Kat who admits tennis of all varieties isn’t exactly as easy as taking award-winning photos for her. Our first opponents were Team Lemmings, Chris and Jenni Deming a lovely couple from the states. We managed to beat them, despite Kat’s ball skills.

Next up we faced our Korean teacher and we managed to get through.

Kat: Pretty much me avoiding the ball and Justin playing doubles as a single.

Justin: The final three drew lots and the lucky ones were automatically captured to the final. Considering we organised the event, it was a surprise to many that we drew the automatic finals ticket… In the semi, Team America lost to the mighty Team Daniel.

We fought valiantly in the final, although Team Daniel and Dad couldn’t be stopped. They ended up winning the doubles and Daniel went on to beat Justin K in the singles tournament too. Kudos to you Daniel – today was your day!

This was a really fun afternoon, with special thanks to Caroline coming up from Busan for the weekend and doing a wonderful job with helping me organise teams and the play-off structure. And thanks again to the Pastor and church leadership with helping Kat and I set this up. Everyone had  really great time and we walked away from this say “let’s do this more often”. Next sporty related activity will be watching the London Olympic opening ceremony at a mate’s place next week. Aussie Aussie Aussie!


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