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Old Dogs, New Trips: The Korean Canine Exodus

It’s been a while.

As five-or-six years in Korea comes to a close, I figure it’s about time I become A Real Adult and do things that don’t wholly depend on escapism, ie. hiding in another country while people give me money to be awkward and English for half a decade. Of course, the best way to kick-start said anti-escapism is to already start planning the next adventure away from adulthood and go travelling.

I will get round to Life eventually. Really, I will.

I type this on the second floor of a Megabus in Leeds City Bus Station, awaiting the five-hour journey back home to the West Country. I leave here in Leeds one of my dogs (the other yet to be reclaimed from Korea after a particularly timely paperwork cockup), the perpetually ancient Hali (so named after 할머니; ‘halmeoni’, or ‘grandma’ in Korean; Meg wished to name her Nipples after her prominent teats but I refuse to name a dog anything I’m unwilling to shout across a park) who, after years of eating rubbish and being a decrepit nuisance in the Hwasun countryside is now greedily feasting off the dinner table and doing a remarkable impression of a happily moulting carpet.

The process of getting a dog from Korea is as follows: first, be a bonkers dog-person who’s willing to invest money, months and meticulous bureaucracy into your pup’s future wellbeing. Now that’s established, make sure to start the process at least four months in advance of travelling, more if (as in Hali’s case) your beloved beast is riddled with every bug and worm known to canine.

You will need:

* A rabies blood titre test: this is the most time-consuming part of the process as it requires blood to be drawn by a vet, sent off to a lab and tested.

* A microchip number for your dog – in Hali’s case she somehow shed her first chip after a week so make sure it’s still in there whenever you go to the vet.

* A pet passport with a clean bill of health covering rabies, parvovirus and heart worm. You’ll probably want this anyway so your best friend doesn’t spontaneously expire at an inopportune moment. You can get a passport from pretty much any vet – it’s just a booklet with spaces for the vaccination stickers and dates of inoculation. Especially for Rabies, make sure to keep up the annual vaccinations – even a day missed will invalidate the titre test and will start the whole process again.

PetMate animal crates – capable of withstanding damage and owners’ bottoms.

Now onto the actual flights. Unless you’ve got cash to throw around, flying directly into the UK is likely your worst option as our strict quarantine laws will add an extra few hundred pounds on top of your expenses. Flying via Paris or Amsterdam is the most advisable route, followed by either getting the ferry or, ideally, driving via rental car/loving family members on the Eurotunnel le Shuttle. Our journey last week took us from Seoul – Charles de Gaulle – (overnight stay at the shuttle Ibis hotel) – direct train to Calais Fréthun whereupon we were picked up by long-suffering family and driven back to the UK.

Rocking that ‘toxic Seoul air’ chic.

I can’t possibly recommend enough Perth Animal Hospital (https://www.facebook.com/perthamc/) in Haebongchon, Seoul. There’s a bunch of support groups on Facebook (check out Flying Pets Korea and Airborne Animals UK) that offer advice on the process and trustworthy vets, but if you’re in Seoul then Perth is your go-to.

I will also forewarn that this was the process pre-Brexit, when/if ever that actually happens. Predictably, nobody has any idea if or how it may affect animal imports to Korea via Paris/Amsterdam, so hopefully this article won’t be rendered totally invalid in a month’s time.

The journey is about to begin. Hali is vaguely aware that this isn’t where we usually go walkies.

Lufthansa’s VIP treatment trolley; only the best for mein Hund.

I knew I’d regret this photo if her old heart gave out…

We still have a living chien in Paris!

A little worse for wear and very moody but alive!

For a far more comprehensive and informed guide on what needs to be done, I’ve attached below a PDF written by one of the pros on the Facebook groups which outlines exactly what needs to be done. It’s a lifesaver and will be your bible throughout the process: taking-a-pet-from-korea-to-the-uk-finished.pdf

The writer shows a very uninterested Korean dog the French countryside.

“오마, 나 배고파” “Hali, we’re in England now.” “I am hungry, mother.”

A huge number of thanks to Lufthansa for looking after our puppy, Perth Animal Clinic for being so on-the-ball with Hali’s paperwork and to Leo Mendoza and all the animal nerds of Facebook for all their advice.

The perfect start to the last chapter in an old Korean dog’s story.
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Married in Odin’s Eye

IMG_1183While we’re preparing for another trip across the planet, I’m going through the multiple-tens-of-gigabytes taken at a friend’s wedding in Sweden a little while back. This being a blog dedicated to photography and travel in all its indulgent forms, I can’t help but feel such an adventure is worth a mention.

I’ve been snapping away at people, performers, gigs and groups for a while now, and I’ve been edging myself slowly towards the glamour of actual professional photography as much as I can. One of the main hurdles most professional photographers overcome (or, in many cases, remain atop throughout their careers) is the dramatic field of Wedding Photography.

imageI love ‘people’ photography – I’m fascinated by different personas and quirks and madnesses which come naturally to ‘normal’ people. No one wedding is the same as no two people are, and my short experience with weddings so far lend to that belief.

imageOn August 9th, my close friends Dan and Emy – the groom coming from Stoke, near Manchester and the bride being Swedish herself – finally became Mr. and Mrs. after a ten-year engagement. Not to do anything in half measures, they decided to have the ceremony in the Scania region of Southern Sweden, staying in a huge traditional house next to Söderåsen National Park. Rather than having a church-based ceremony, Dan and Emy chose to exchange vows in the national park itself, on wooden pier floating atop Odensjön (Odin’s Lake : fabled to be the eye of the eponymous Norse god).image

imageimageNow, I bloody love travel – and I bloody love taking photos. Events like this make me feel seriously lucky with my lot, and I have every intention of having more experiences such as this. It’s an exponential curve; the more weddings I cover, the more people I meet, the more engaged couples I might have the opportunity to work with. While teaching in Korea, we’ll see if there are any opportunities to be had…image

I know ‘dream jobs’ can occasionally suffer the prefix ‘pipe-‘, but this is a job I’m going to sink my teeth, claws and tripod into. If I have to start forcing marital bliss on strangers, then so be it.

Your writer and his long-suffering girlfriend, destroying any ounce of ceremony.

Your writer and his long-suffering girlfriend, destroying any ounce of ceremony.