Book Review: In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

An absolute must read. An insight into life in North Korea and how people have managed to escape and adjust to new life.

'I am most grateful for two things: that I was born in North Korea, 
and that I escaped from North Korea.'

Yeonmi Park grew up thinking it was normal to see dead bodies on your walk to school; to be so hungry that you ate wild plants; and for neighbours to 'disappear' without warning. She believed the 'Dear Leader' could read her thoughts - and punish her accordingly.

Aged thirteen, when famine and her father's imprisonment made life unbearable, Yeonmi Park and he family made the dangerous decision to escape North Korea, crossing the frozen waters of the Yalu River into China only to fall straight into the hands of human traffickers.

After nearly two years at the mercy of their Chinese captors, living in a world perhaps even more brutal and dangerous than the one they'd left, Yeonmi Park and her mother risked death once more in another desperate attempt to escape. They fled across the Gobi Desert, following the stars to freedom in the freezing night.

Yeonmi Park tells her astonishing story in full for the first time with bravery and dignity, and even humour. In Order to Live is a testament to the endurance of the human spirit. and an exploration of the risks we are prepared to take in order to be free.

There isn't a single thing about this book that could've been done better. It is detailed and thorough, opens the eyes to North Korea, China, Mongolia, and South Korea, and leaves you with a wanting to learn more about this area of the world.

This book is great value for money and unlike many books nowadays, the quality of the book is definitely reflected in the price in the sense that it's worth every cent.


Donating Blood

10:02pm Night Before

I am starting to get a bit nervous about my appointment tomorrow to donate whole blood. The needle
itself is making me most nervous out of everything. I've been reading up on the donation site on whether I should bring something to do or for how long I will be there for. Supposedly the process takes 15 minutes to donate and the whole appointment is one
hour. So far all the information I can find to prepare is, stay hydrated and eat salty food beforehand. So at the moment I am focussing on drinking as much water as I can without bursting and googling different books I could buy before my appointment and brainstorming what to do during the process.

11:14am - 1 Hour After Donation

That was a lot easier than expected. As a first time donor I had an interview to go over my recent health and travels. Have my haemaglobin levels and blood pressure checked, and off into the donor room! You get hoisted into a chair and lifted quite high off the ground. I took the option of a blanket cause damn it's a cold morning (getting my blanket taken off me was by far the worst part). First we tried my right arm but missed the vein so quickly switched to the left arm. From there it was a quick swab of some yellow green liquid to sterilise, in goes the giant needle, and then chill out for 10 minutes while you donate.

Initially the needle hurt but 30 seconds later everything felt normal. We managed to get 470ml of blood and I was finished. As for right now, straight afterward, I am sitting in the free food and drink section. There's a nurse nearby making sure I'm drinking and eating. There are also signs everywhere telling me to grab some food to take home for later.

Overall. As of right now. Super easy process. Slightly scary at the start but would recommend trying it out for anyone whose considering it.

4:00pm - Few Hours After  Donation

I am quite easily very exhausted and tired. I feel good about what I did, but I overexerted myself with walking around the city and grabbing lunch, then catching public transport home. I began to feel dizzy and sick so I called and Uber and had a lovely chat with my driver. I think I estimated my strength to be a lot more than it is. I figured that I could walk around, with my heavy backpack, and everything would be the same. Turns out, losing a small amount of blood (10%) makes you a lot less able to be active than you  would originally.

For my future self when I go in to donate next - go straight home. When that exhaustion hits you, you're better off already in your pj's and watching movies.

Cate x

An Overly Difficult Day

My plan for today was simple. Do some washing, play some games, take my dog to the vet, sew my cushions. Surprisingly Mum had the day off work so instead we took advantage of her free morning and went down to get my learners permit (yes I'm almost 21 and still don't drive, I'm lazy like that).

We get down there, I'm confident and comfortable and happy to be getting this done. Sit in the waiting room for 40 minutes before we finally get called. First came the 10 minute questioning over if my birth certificate was real (my original got stolen when I was 2 and my replacement lacks watermarks but it was 1997 so, maybe times have changed?) which ended up with them deciding they didn't need it anyway because I had previously had a learners permit so it wasn't necessary (rage).

Move on to the surprise of, "You have an outstanding fine so you're ineligible to get your permit until it's paid". Queue my Mums and my stunned and angry faces. 

She explains that she can't see any details, just that we should call the 'Fines Dispute' phone, though it's always engaged, or go to the courthouse. Being a 9 minute drive away, we chose option B. 

We get down there, speak to a Justice of the Peace to have him tell us that the Fines Dispute office does not have a physical location. Greeeeat. However he can shed some light on some details. He can tell that the name was incorrectly spelt, the address is completely wrong, they gave a card number that I had never heard of, and got the fine on a train route that I don't take. Brilliant.

It was hard to be mad at the JoP as he was nice about the whole thing. Unfortunately for us we couldn't dispute it there or deal with it at all. He provided us with the same number, or take the more difficult option of going down to the transport office to dispute it. 

We ran out of time at this stage and simply went home angry and frustrated.

I get home, already feeling like things are just not working out today, maybe I accidentally broke a mirror? and the net is out. Can't even distract myself with games. Offline games also aren't working as my computer wont load programs for some unknown reason.

An hour later, with me crying inside, I rock up in the city to meet my boyfriend for lunch and head down to the transport office. Once there, the seemingly difficult day came to an end thankfully. Fine dismissed by the end of the week and I can continue on knowing I don't have to pay for a fine I never recieved. Come home, Mums temporarily destroyed the inside of the washing machine so scratch doing that, but the net is up finally and that's all I need.

So yeah, I had an eventful day. How'd yours go?


February Countdown

It's almost upon us, the wait to go back to uni is almost over! As someone who has little work hours, no training commitments to a hobby, I love the idea of going back to uni. My drive to get things done, to study and have places I need to be is definitely high at the moment.

Let's just hope that drive lasts long enough to make it to midsemester exams, and then be refreshed over the study break (Every other time I make it to this point, I just want to go back to bed for a week and try again next semester).

In the meantime however, I have been spending a lot of time reading and making a butt tonne of progress in Zelda Ocarina of Time on my 3DS.

I've also been trying to eat healthier and exercise a bit more, wake up earlier, get into some better habits. Something else I hope the drive for stays when uni comes around.

Until February 29th when things get busier, lets find something to do!


Summer Weekends

Healthy food, trail walks, photos, naps, lunch and dinner out, my Saturday and Sundays are beginning to pick up!

With the weather warming up (still not as warm as it has been, middle of December and its only 31°C) we're starting to spend less time on our computers and more time outside soaking up that ridiculously burny sun. Seriously, we spent 2 hours walking around under trees and bush and we're slightly toasted.

Today in particular we went for a veeeery long walk around the Araluen Botanical Gardens and found bobtail lizards, plenty of butterflies, frogs, parrots and the occasional kookaburra. No kangaroo's though, sadly.

The week before this we went to the beach for the first time in what feels like over a year, but really it was last Christmas, so almost a year. As you can imagine two hermits out at the beach, we were the whitest people there by a long shot (and that's including the Northern Europeans that were also there), we fried ourselves terribly.

So what've you been doing with your Summer or Winter weekends?

Cate x

My Hiatus

It's almost been 3 months! Once the semester really took off I needed to step back from everything and put all my energy into getting my assignments in on time and have some good quality to them.

Now that its holidays I have aaaaaall the time to do whatever until semester starts up again in February, or maybe March, to post and be active online.

It's good to be back!

Cate x

My Top 5 Songs This Month

I've been getting back into listening to music recently and just taking time to unplug and look up at my surroundings. That means, of course, updating my playlist to my current taste and exploring whats currently out there. Here's the top 5 songs on my playlist;

1. Girls Like Girls - Hayley Kiyoko.
One of those songs that doesn't sound like the producers are drowning out the singer with the beat. And the video is kind of a great story. It's light, easy to listen to, and the artist is geniune.

2. Love Myself - Hailee Steinfeld.
So I watched her in Pitch Perfect 2 and decided to find out more about this up and comer (also noticed she was in the Bad Blood music video). The first time I heard the song I was very "eh" about it all. The next day I kept humming it and then couldn't get it out of my head. Now it's my favourite  "uppity" song.

3. Wildest Dreams - Taylor Swift.
I'm sure everyone has heard this song by now and it's super catchy (like every Swift song). About time something other than Bad Blood took over, though I was sure it would be her best music video and song...

4. Can't Feel My Face - The Weeknd.
Not the biiiiggest fan of the video clip, but catchy as hell.

5. What Do You Mean - Justin Bieber.
Before you flame me for being a biebs fan, I can assure you, I don't have allegiances with any artists (unless it's Iggy and Nicki going head to head, Iggy always). Purely in it for the music and it's catchy, it's not overly mopey, and you can just chiiiill to it, which was kind of the theme for my playlist. Chill, but upbeat.

What songs have you guys been loving recently? Have any of mine made your lists? Let me know in the comments.

Cate-Marie xxx