A Pupu Platter Of 2012 Whathaveyous

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!

Wow, another year has come and gone, and I must say, 2012 was my favorite year of my almost-29 years gracing this planet.  So much that I had always dreamt of in years past same to fruition this year, and I can honestly say I am in the best place I have ever been in my life.  And it feels damn good 😉

I had made the resolution in 2011 that by the end of the year I would be living a life abroad ~ check.  In 2012 I promised myself I would do absolutely as much traveling of Asia as possible.  I came to Korea to conquer this continent like a blaze of fire, and in looking back I can say I did just that.  Along with the travel resolutions, I really put my best foot forward to work on getting what I really want, and making that start from within.  I try my best to communicate what I want, but a lot of time it fails when walls get put up, or life just gets in the way.  So, I’ve really tried to be as self-aware as possible just be the best version of myself and hope that it brings with it what I truly want.  That being said, 2012 has definitely been the happiest and most honest year to date 🙂

Now I’m just gonna throw together a few highlights from each month of 2012. Badabing herrrrrr goes!

I began the year on the beach in Koh Phangan, covered in florescent body paint and drinking liquor by the buckets with one of my dearest and oldest friends on the planet ~ my fave biatch and sista from anotha mista, Miz Diamond ❤

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January marked my first birthday to be celebrated away from everyone I’ve always shared my (obviously) favorite holiday with.  I felt a little down about it, then in flew a gift from THE BEST sista ever ~ Sista Schaeff in the flesh, in Korea!

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On her last night here, she snuggled my foot to sleep.  BY CHOICE! ❤

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In February I visited two of my favorite countries so far ~ Vietnam and Cambodia. I saw some of the most beautiful snorkeling waters, caught my first fish, shot my first gun, ate a bowl of pho a day, wondered why they allow Americans in, and saw my life flash before me about 1million times while in ‘Nam.

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In Cambodia I visited the most breathtaking temples I have ever seen, spent an afternoon with beautiful children in an orphanage on the river, saw insurmountable beauties in some of the deepest poverty stricken eyes, and struggled to hold back tears while walking through a living history at the Killing Fields and S-21 genocide museum remnants from the Khmer Rouge of the 70s~80s.

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In March I visited the happiest place on earth, AKA the DMZ, for the second time.  This time we rode bikes along the most intensely guarded border in the world, all while Obama paid the peninsula a visit and peered over to the North with us.

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April means Passover, which also means the sea parts in Korea.  I made the trek down south with a homie and we met Moses, crossed the parted sea and drank makkoli while doing so, obvi.

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Later in April, my favorite story to date came to be.  A couple morons went to a Lady GaGa concert.  They got all gussied up in the hottest of pink and the tightest of attire, only to miss the whole thing whilst trying to attain the most coveted seats in the house during the “GaGa cover band”…. *face palm* At least we looked sexy.

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In May, Wawa came for a visit.  We did many things, but by far our favorite day was our “Day of Culture.”  We visited Gyeongbukgong Palace, learned about the creation of Hangul (the Korean alphabet), ate a traditional lunch, drank tea in a lovely tea house, dressed up and cracked up in Hanbok (traditional Korean dress), and wrapped up with a journey to the Noryangjin Fish Market.  Twas a wondrous day!

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Then came June, and Buddha’s birthday.  A crew of us high-tailed out of Seoul to Gangneung, a little beach town on the East Sea. There were makkoli and soju spurred chicken fights, sexy man-wrestles, toasty bonfires, crashing of high class fancy Korean booking clubs and frisbee games resulting in broken pinky toes and racial slurs. The Buddhaman had an awesome birthday!!

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Then came July and two events which could be classified as the greatest events of the century. One more than the other, but one got more hype than the other according to the Facebook.  You can use your own judgement on that one.  One required us to dress to the nines to bid adieu to all the homies we grew to call family, and also the ones we grew apart from because a lot of people that came with us were weirdos, let’s face it. The other required some prior temple-sculpting, lots and lots and lots of soju, mudmudmud and practically no clothes. Mud Fest was by far my favorite event of 2012.  Shit was CRAY TO THE MAX!

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August was the most bittersweet month of the year I’d say.  It was sweet because I took a 2.5 week summer jaunt on over to the Philippines with my lovely lass from home, Brianne.  We saw some of the most picturesque islands, snorkeled and ate our faces off, hiked miles in our little warrior Havaianas, posed with stalagtites, missed the whale sharks, got in a fist fight with a very mean typhoon, and let tempers fly with shitty budget airlines.

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August was bitter because our contracts ended and some left KoKo and I had to face the harsh reality that the world as I knew it was shattering before me.  Well, that’s an over-dramatization, but that’s how it felt at the time dammit. I also got thrown into my deathbed by some plague I contracted in the Philippines.   So, not only were my friends leaving, but I was deathly ill and partying with an IV in the hospital, unable to hand out proper goodbye hugs. NOT COOL WORLD.

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Then on rolled September.  Grabbing my bearings on who was still left in my Seoul-cial circle happened naturally.  I got back in the go-out mode (at least for the time being), and some friendships from the previous year had the chance to blossom.  Late in the month for Chuseok holiday, a group of us gals decided to pop off to Osaka and Kyoto, Japan with boy toy Joshy. We frolicked by bicycle all over Kyoto, made the most of the typhoon stricken city by stuffing our faces with enough sushi and sake to fuel an army, and tore up (literally) a karaoke room.  Best weekend ever!!!

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October was of course Halloween, and we got down with our bad selves…and Bob the Builder.

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In November I actually had a REAL Thanksgiving, none of that Pho shit (pardon me, it’s just not suitable cuisine for Thanksgiving).  Josh Rich was also in town as my 6th visitor to the Orient. A Happy Happy Turkey Day it was!

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And last but not least, I think the winner for best December event goes to my dance crew’s (WORD TO YO MAMA’S HIGH WAISTED JEANS) epic ass kicking in the 90s dance battle for the African kids. Real winners put in the effort, and effort we put in. Obviously you would know this had you been at our latke-rehearsal party, our cheese and crackers rehearsal party where Matty ripped his jeans, and our final rehearsal party that almost interfered with us attending the actual party because we were too focused on perfecting our dance.  What a BOMB DIGGITY way send out 2012!!!

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As you can see, 2012 was quite the year, and it’s been a pleasure looking back on it with you. Here’s to an even better 2013, and going home to America in 10 days!!!!!!!

PEACE & CHICKEN GREASE, HOMIEZ.

Diary from my Death Bed

Just to update all ya’ll peeps, I thought I should let you know that I am fine and out of the hospital, out of my bed and back at school.  Last week I happened to get really sick out of what seemed like nowhere and it was so miserable. I’ve never been sick like that before. I didn’t eat for a week, could barely sleep because my whole body hurt (still does a bit) and was throwing up pretty non-stop. My old co-teacher-turned-friend, Leni, was my little Korean mommy and took really good care of me though, along with Jin who was the first one to come to my rescue and take me to see a doctor finally.

Long story short, the 2nd doctor I went to told me that I would have to go to a hospital after running a blood test because he thought I may have caught Hepatitis A or some other disease from traveling in the Philippines.  So, after a violently dramatic performance of throwing up in the doctor’s office, Leni whisked me off to the big hospital where I was hooked up to an IV and got some much needed fluids back in my system.  They probably took 4 or 5 viles of blood from me so they could test for everything I requested.  One of my many bug bites had gotten infected in the Philippines, so I had them test for Dengue Fever, Malaria and anything you can catch from a stupid mean bug.

This is me partying with the typhoon and my IV. He was a great dance partner. I was an equally pleasant partner.

After I got back from the hospital, my other Korean angel mommy, Jeewon, came up to North Korea to prepare me a heaping batch of the vegetable soup I had been craving all day.  I love her.

Turns out all my tests came back negative, but my liver is all out of whack.  How that is possible, I have no idea, considering I am Grandma Schaeff and barely drink, but the doctor said it’s manageable and will go back to normal on its own.  So I go back to be checked out again on Monday, before which I starve myself all day at school so I can go get my blood drawn again. Oh well, at least I’ll find out if I’m A-OK or not 🙂

Anyways, thought you might like to know that I’m alright.  Philippines post coming soon 🙂

Drugs, Discos and Other Decadencies

Pardon my excessive delay and the length of this post. But I know for many of you this blog is the sunshine in your life, so I promise it is filled with lots of eye goodies. Do enjoy the recent happs!

I must admit the last couple weekends I’ve been pretty lame because I’ve felt like a pile of crapola. But, you will be happy to hear that I took myself to the doctor to get some drugs like a mature (pronounced like matour) a-dult.  Back at home I was pretty bad about taking care of myself, mostly because I didn’t have insurance for a while (UGH), lived crappy paycheck to crappy paycheck, and tried to refrain from the already incessant credit card usage.  Therefore,  I would just let the fake smoker’s cough grow and grow and I’d slowly die at my desk in my thick cloud of Mucinex.  Well, you will be pleased to know that I will be taking care of myself over yonder because 1. I’m terrified of getting sick here, especially when it starts to snow, and 2. it is SOO freakin cheap! This jew likey!

My co-teacher Leni took me to the “hospital” (as they call the doctor here) down the street from my work on Monday.  It’s a bit like Urgent Care back home where you can just walk in anywhere and they will see you.  All I have to do is show them my ARC (Alien card) and it covers as insurance.  So, we left work early at 4 because apparently if we got there after 4:30 we’d have to wait for 1 hour.  I walked in, they took my temperature right in the waiting room, which I thought was hilarious, then I sat down and waited 5 minutes to see the doc. I walk in, sit down and he just looks at me.  I was expecting to need translation and just use big hand gestures, but once I started speaking a little slow he was like “yes yes, elaborate” and I was so excited to see he spoke damn good English.  I told him the usual symptoms, I coughed to show him how gross it is, he squeezed my glands to prove they were swollen (which hurt) and then did a lot of talking in Korean to Leni who then relayed all the info to me. The doctor was super nice and asked me where I was from.  When I told him LA he got excited and asked “where in LA? My-uh parents lives-uh in Las-uh Virgeneees.” Well isn’t that a small world. I told him my family is from Agoura Hills and he was vaguely familiar with the suburb. That made me feel a wee bit more at home.  We then said goodbye and thanks, I paid the measly 3,000won (about $3) to see the doctor and then walked next door to get my drugs. For 7,000won (about $7ish), I got a bottle of Nasonex, and 3 days worth of a cocktail of pills (I have no clue what I’m taking). I literally lept to pay and sign and then told the pharmacists (who also spoke English!) that a bottle of that same nasal spray (or one similar) back at home cost me a whopping $150 fat ones! Screw you American medicine.  Given the cheapness factor, I’m also highly considering getting Lasik done while I’m here.  Total it’ll probs cost be a little over $1k for both eyes.  Nice-uhh.  This is how my drugs came prepared for me. Silly Asians and their silly ways.  And yes, that’s and outdated copy Elle of Justin and Mila in the background. Nom. Girl needs her eye candy.

Moving on to the things that I HAVE been doing despite my glorious sickness. A couple weekends ago was a long weekend here, I think it was for the independence or creation of Korea.  One of the two. What that meant for us teachers was long weekend!  I got Monday and Tuesday off (all my other friends only got Monday off), so it was very very nice.  This was the weekend I began feeling not too hott, so I stayed in that Friday and Saturday night like a responsible adult in hopes of getting better.  However, I did decide to go on a rigorous hike on Saturday with my lady loves.  I don’t really know what I was thinking given the fact that I’m not a big hike lover to begin with, but I never want to miss out on an exploration opportunity so I just suck it up and go because I know I’m gonna want to see that amazing view from the top.  So, I went with Katie, Abby, Steph and Liz to hike Dobongson mountain, which is actually fairly close to where I like in NorKo.  What started out as an almost vertical incline at the base (UGH) turned out to be more like rock climbing as we got deeper.  That was fun, though I’m such a freakin girl when it comes to getting my hands dirty.  I kept commenting on how every time I place my hand down I’m looking for the least dirty spot, and then I always dust my hands off immediately after hoisting myself up. I am actually really glad though that it was more rock and rope climbing because it’s way more fun, even though I’m way more scared of climbing up things than jumping off them.  Normal right? Anyways, we trekked thru but didn’t end up making it all the way to the top.  We met a sweet little Korean man who befriended us and told us we should probably consider making our way down because we still had a little ways to go and wouldn’t want to get stuck up there when it got darker.  So we made our way down the very tricky trail.  We insisted our new friend come to dinner with us, to which he found us a little bibimbap place, ordered 2 bibimbaps for the 5 of us girls and thought that would fill us up. No no little Korean man.  We are North American women who like to eat and didn’t pack lunches for our hike. He ordered us 3 more with the most shocked look on his face, and then sat and watched us eat.  He later told us he wanted a hamburger.  Go figure.  Here’s some pictorals of the beautiful hike, view of Seoul, and the gorgeous temple we saw along the way.

God I love long weekends. That Monday a bunch of us met up for a day in Olympic Park.  It was such a gorgeous day out.  Twas super chill and just nice to hang out with good peeps and drink the Makkali (sp?).  Makkali is this milky soju alcohol that is sort of fizzy and weird.  But it’s aight. My lovely recruiter Dia, who I LOVE came as well, so that fulfilled the Korean quotient.  Some friends played soccer with the cutest little Korean baby, some lounged and read like scholars, some listened to music and drank to happy times, and all gazed up at the phallic statue towards the sky. It was a lovely lovely day had by all.  Take a gander will ya.

Then Tuesday rolled around, and I had been planning to venture into Hyehwa to show myself around the artsy part of Seoul since I had the day off and I had been dying to go there.  The day turned into a full on walking tour with a British lad.  He lives 2 stops away from Hyehwa,  so we met at his exit and walked there.  There wasn’t much going on since it was during the day, but I got an idea of the area and decided I needed to come back at night.  We then walked further to Dongdaemun, which is what I would compare to the Fashion District in Downtown LA, but with a huge temple in the center.  We walked along the river (at quite the brisk pace because he walks too fast) where there was some religious group performing on the river stage (interesting), and then got caught in the huge textile building that we thought was going to be a mall.  Holy hell was it hot and clusterfuckish in there.  Moving on, we made our way back through Myeong-dong, which is hardcore for the shopper.  My feet were killing me but it was a pretty awesome day, and the company wasn’t too shabby either. Shockingly, I snoozed on the photo taking, but here’s a couple of the ones I took.

Random street in Hyehwa

Love this!

Dongdaemun Palace

I did end up going back to Hyehwa at night, which I will get to in a bit.  Before that though, I would like to say that I can check off going to a silent disco from my bucket list.  God bless you Hongdae Park and your random happenings.  This past Saturday night I was about to send myself home early after a long day of voice-overing (saving that for another post) because I was feeling like crap again.  But thank god I didn’t.  The silent disco cost 3,000won for the headphones and it was just a party in the park and freaks all over the place.  I think you can imagine what it was like, so here’s some pictorals.

Back to Hyehwa! I went back Tuesday night after my plans to go to a soccer game got changed.  I went back with that British lad  for dinner and then a jazz bar.  I must say, it has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and just never did.  This one was called Jazz Story.  It was so cool and I’m glad it was my first. Twas delightful company, the ambiance was gorgeous inside (I kept thinking their interior decorator did a bomb job lol), and the band was divine.  It was an all Korean band but they sang pretty much all English songs from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s with a few Korean jams thrown in.  I think I really got off on the right foot when the first song they sang was the theme from “Grease” (aka my favorite movie ever). They also sang some Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and some Hotel California amongst others. LOVED. IT.  This is their sign which I just love.  It’s made from car headlights!

I know this was an intensive course in the past couple weeks, sorry, but I hope you enjoyed the visuals 🙂 Today and tomorrow my 5th and 6th graders are gone at some Halloween/Talent show camp so I’ve got my days wide open which is an awesome and welcomed break.  I got to Skype with Kayla and Mama, Papa and Brotha Schaeff and show them all my classroom too.  I will leave this post with 3 different images.  One that will leave a disgusting taste in your mouth (or eyeballs), and two that will make you giggle.  Enjoy until next time. Mwah!

Just some innards of a fish being sold on the street. nbd.

Drunk, passed out Korean man occupying a few too many seats on the subway, and oblivious business man.

This is what my parents look like when they Skype with me. Love you 🙂