If you’ve read any of those lists circulating lately about the Top 10 destinations you MUST get to this year, then you’ve most certainly heard of Kotor – only you may have no real idea as to where it is, because I surely did not prior to the summer. In continuing along my Balkans Bouncing, Kotor came as one of the most beautiful and invigorating suggestions, and I’m so happy that I went.
Kotor is an exquisite and still fairly untouched-by-tourists seaside town on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro; nestled between Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina to the west and Albania to the south. Only a hop and an offered day-trip away from Dubrovnik, Kotor is virtually the opposite in terms of what you get. Where Dubrovnik is crazy expensive and crawling with tourists from all over the globe (mostly Game of Thrones fans), Kotor is still mellow and just beginning to get traction from commercial cruise liners. I’ll say it now though, it’s only a matter of time until that bay is jam-packed with Titanics. Once people hear about it the treasure chest will come flying open. So, get there now!
Initially, Kotor was ‘planned’ as a one night stay, which quickly turned into 4 nights worth. During my time there I found out I wasn’t alone in this scenario – which could be attributed to the adorably pushy front desk boy with the big brown eyes telling you to stay so you can check out an abandoned building together, or the straight up relaxation, views, and slow change of pace that are so very welcome when your back is killing from backpacks and cramped bus seats.
So, if you’re in the market for a treat to your eyes, a little burn for your thighs, and some relaxing vibes, then Kotor is just for you!
Every angle of Kotor is unbelievable, so your eyes are bound to be in constant wonder. Whether it’s from admiring the walled city from the outside, wandering amidst the old city walls, or climbing up to the top of the UNESCO protected Kotor Fortress, you will not be disappointed. I spent a lot of my time just wandering around all the little Medieval alleyways reminding myself to keep looking up.
City guard shark
I also ventured outside the old town to walk along the Adriatic and try my hardest to tackle at least one abandoned building break-in, which unfortunately to my dismay was an unsuccessful feat. There’s just something about a place left in mysterious disarray that really gets me excited, and well, in Kotor there happens to be the old Hotel Fjord. Sometime in the mid-90s the owner had money problems, forcing the prime property to never see the check-in of one single visitor. When I went to try and jump a fence, I soon noticed that there was absolutely no way in, and later found out that along with the surrounding fence, the authorities had set up cameras to prevent squatters from stealing old mattresses. Why that matters is beyond me, but I was quite displeased.
The closest I got was to the trash-laden pool at the sea’s edge, where people basked just a stone’s throw away.
Perhaps the biggest must-do in Kotor is the hike to the top of the fortress. While I am by no means an avid hiker, I do enjoy the view from the top, and the feeling of worked out thighs. Typically the hike is supposed to take a couple hours to ascend, and significantly less to get back down, however, my Kotor friend and I took a leisurely five hours to reach the view point – which was worth every single second!
Instead of entering through the designated entrance within the city walls, Michaela had been tipped off my the cute front desk boy that there’s a quicker (and free) way to start the climb from just outside the walls. So we took his tip and got on our way.
The hike up was excruciatingly hot and picturesque, causing us to stop and disrobe or pose for photos with our magnificent backdrop around nearly every turn. When we got about half way up there was an abandoned church just nestled into the mountainside. The inside was all eroded with time, with colors from old frescos faintly decorating the walls and ceiling.
It was around here that we reached a fork in the road. To the right was the entrance to the city wall path, and to the left was a suspicious sign saying cold drinks and fresh goat cheese. Initially we thought ‘nahh’ we don’t want to get killed on the side of a massive mountain, but then turned around because why not. And it was the sweetest detour we could have made!
We arrived at the home tucked high on the mountainside where a family has lived for 40 years making their own cheese, selling refreshments on the fortress path to sweltering hikers, and whose children ‘commute’ down the mountain to school everyday. We relaxed, watched the women care for their goats, ate delicious goat cheese from said goats, and enjoyed some of the most spectacular views my eyes have ever been privy to.
After almost getting stampeded by a gaggle of wild goats and a brief photoshoot, we made it inside the walls and successfully mounted the mountain. Feast your eyes on that Pterodactyl call!
When you’re done feeling the burn, it’s time to max, relax, and chillax; and there’s no better place to do just that if you’re bouncing through the Balkans. While the sea is overrun with cruisers on their daily stop-off, the shore also has this gorgeous Mediterranean vibe that just can’t be messed with. Not to mention, if you’re a beach goer used to riding and diving in waves, and dodging from impending shark attacks, you will not get that here, or really anywhere in these parts. The serene waters are perfect for playing, swimming, wading, and always people watching – which this group of 60s-ish men playing a game of dive & catch really brought home for me.
When you’ve surely worked up an appetite there is no shortage of fresh fish restaurants littering the old town. After my time in Bosnia and Serbia I seriously meated myself out, arriving in Croatia and Montenegro on a purely fish kick which did not disappoint. I treated myself to a couple fresh fish feasts at one of the oldest fish restaurants in Old Town Kotor, Scala Santa, which also happened to be just across from my amazing hostel. I left with a very happy tummy each night.
When I wasn’t busy eating or basking, I was wandering (of course). A couple times I happily stumbled on some pop up antique collections, one which was so crazy to me. This guy was selling hundreds or thousands of year old coins and weapons that his father had found in the surrounding areas. It was mind-boggling to me since I have only seen such artifacts in museums; but here I was able to hold them and really examine them with an up close eye. Definitely my kind of enjoyment!
Kotor is on all those lists for a very good reason, as it’s a little gem craving to be visited. It’s got the perfect temperament for romantic getaway or solo jaunt and anything in between.
Have you visited Kotor or anywhere else in Montenegro? What were your thoughts? Have I persuaded you to add this magical place to your travel bucket list? I hope so!
I like to refer to my last trip home as the “Baby Tour of Los Angeles” due to the fact that my trip entirely revolved around meeting new babies, peppered with the wine and sangria imbibement with friendzies along the way. Thank the heavens above for my Schaeffeur of a sister for shlepping my carless tuchous all over the greater Los Angeles area, and even deep into The OC.
Now I know you want to see these babies as much as I did, so join me if you will.
But first, let me back up to August when I was enjoying my first evening basking on my balcony in the Mexico of Bali, Kuta, where I was forced to spend 1 wretched night. Wretched until the best Facebook message ever popped up! I’m pretty psychic (sometimes), and well, when I got a random message from Kendra, the first thing I thought was “I BET SHE’S PREGNANT.” We don’t message to say hello on the reg, after all. Sure enough my psychic powers were on point, and along with a sonogram photo, her little man had a due date of February 18th, meaning I was definitely coming home for a visit come winter time. He could not have had a more perfect debut date to match up with my vacation. That, and he was born a few days before I landed, so he was ready to rock n’ roll for Auntie D’s arrival! Good going on the baby making calendar Kesslers.
At 6 days old, little Grouchy Gavin was the perfect Pororo model! And look at the size of that hand! He’s gonna be a giant just like his daddy!
From Bali to Seoul to Irvine and back to Seoul, Auntie Danielle would like to thank Social Media and technology for allowing her to virtually be there every step of the way, including live updates during the entire labor. After all that, she just can’t believe she’s holding you! It’s true love.
We even got to enjoy a Skype date this past weekend. Gavin has changed so much! He is no longer grouchy, has learned how to flash his gummy gums, has Kendra’s chin and Justin’s Japanese eyeballs. I am even more in love, and hope to be back in the States (for a quick sec) in time for his 1st birthdizzle.
Here I am oogling at the cutest baby hoodrat in all the land.
Another little munchkin on the “Baby Tour of LA” was my friends Alessandra and Steve’s little Cuban cutie. Leah was 6 weeks old and has the most pinchable cheeks, big tummy and curious eyes. Alessandra plopped her into my arms right when I walked in the door, and she was so unfussy the whole time. Definitely a sweet little love bug.
I stole this shot after our stroll around the neighborhood when she was ready to trek around town with mommy.
Next up was a revisit to the juiciest Georgia Peach in the whole entire land, none other than Shiloh Jolie-Pitt’s little baby doppelganger. Last I saw Georgia, she was 4 months old and cooing on her back while Chizzy and I played with her underneath the baby mobile. This time she was riding her Grandma’s back around the living room like she was a pony, kicking her daddy out of her seat in the living room, pointing to her belly button, and trying on Mirandawg’s highest of heels. Uh oh. Cutie trouble awaits! I just. I can’t handle it.
Like mommy like baby.
And the final little babe to get the Schaeff treatment was a very special one. Due to family politics, I thought I was never going to have the chance to meet my 2nd cousin, my cousin Jackie’s son Kian. I’d always see photos of him on Facebook and get a little sad thinking I would probably never meet him. He recently had surgery on his brain and has had to wear the most adorable race car driver helmet during the healing process. Well, seeing photos of him rockin’ this helmet made me even more sad. BUT, I am sad no more thanks to my cousin Danny! Danny (yes, sista and I have cousins with the boy versions of our own names) helped arrange everything, and sista and I popped on over to play with kutie Kian, Elmo and his elephant.
Our little race car driver is so darling, and even crawls like a little monkey, of course making me love him even more. I am one happy camper after this play date!
That about does it for the “I’m so old my friends are all having babies” portion of my life.
I will leave you with the cutest babies in the whole wide world, my little perfect puppy Presley and Cilly Cilla girl.
3am puppy modeling hour.
It would be incomplete without this creeper shot taken by my darling sista.
As you can see, this trip home was not lacking in the heart explosion department. Thank heavens for tiny creatures.
The past week has been a bit of an exciting one for me in the world of writing! Why, you ask? Well, because I’ve been featured and included on two separate guest blogs – one of a fellow blogger here in Korea, and another on that of another travel enthusiast like myself.
On Saturday, Lily over at Away with Lily posted about 15 Korean dishes that us expats have come to love, and our Korean lives would simply be incomplete without. You can read about my irrational love for Mul Naengmyeon (물냉면) right here. You’ll also notice that there are a ton of soups on that list, which is actually one of my favorite things about Korean cuisine. There is a never-ending supply of bomb soups, so you never have to go a season without.
Today, Melissa over at Liberated Traveler included me as a part of her Featured Destinations Q&A, where I had the chance to revisit one of my favorite countries that has since stolen my heart on this Asian journey of mine. I visited Cambodia nearly 2 years ago now, yet it still stands out to me as a place of sheer magnitude and beauty, and a walking history lesson all in the same experience. You can read about 10 of my “must-dos” here, and some tips to take if you ever have the chance to visit Cambodia.
So it’s been a bit of an exciting few days, and a lovely way to wrap up the year! Both ladies above have wonderful blogs, so I’m happy to have been included! Be sure to check their work out!
As many of you know, I have been super top of the pops over here in the visitor department. So popular in fact, I actually can’t even keep track of how many people have visited me over the past 26 months, but I’d ballpark it somewhere around 15 or so. October marked by faux-teen visitor, and one of my most anticipated because it has taken her forever and a freakin day to get her JAPPY ass out to see me! But let’s remember, all good things come to those who wait!
Well, it had been nearly 2 years since Cori and I painted ourselves florescent on the beach of Koh Phangnan, so we were long overdue for a reunion of loving and bitching and bickering til death do us part. She came to the land of pig, where we ate lots of chicken, for 6 days, and then we flew our JAPpy selves on over to Tokyo for some bright lights, robots, green tea Kit Kats and some Japanese culture.
Starting with the Kokoness of her journey, I took her to all the visitor must-see hot spots, and she met most of those awesome folks who are left of my friend circle in the country. That was actually maybe the weirdest thing. This was my first visitor since nearly everyone left, and part of the fun of having visitors is introducing them to your family in your home away from home. But c’est la vie and on with the show!
First things first, I’d just like to say how impeccable our timing was upon meeting at my subway station after her arrival! As I was coming up the escalator on my way home from work, Cori was walking just past the exit! It was pretty perfect. And there was embracing and extremely loud laughing, because it wouldn’t be a Diamond & Schaeff reunion without it.
Now let’s take a little jaunt through some of the highlights shall we. As it turns out, the spicy dakgalbi with an over-abundance of ramen, was her favorite meal in Korea. The chicken, vegetable and rice cake dish is also one of my fave Korean foods as well. Nom!
We tried to kick her jet lag by going to Hongdae for some makkoli and dong dong ju times with Tim. We wanted his opinion on our new hairstyles. What do you think?
Next we visited ZEN 1, a VERY old faithful staple of Hongdae times, where we met up with Jee, and I ducked down to look like a midget for this photo.
The next day was filled with the clusterfuck that is Seoul shopping. We paraded around Myeongdong, then headed over to Namdaemun where she got acquainted with the efficiency of purchasing fancy new spectacles accompanied by prescription fillage. She also ate her second hotteok of the day while enjoying the ever-so-slight constant drizzle.
Next came my super slutty moment. We hiked up Namsan Tower and locked our love down overlooking the glorious city of Seoul. Our 23 years of sisterly love is officially locked down forever. I am a slut because this was my third display of love to be locked up. But I guess as the saying goes, third time’s a charm.
We even did this cute lovers pose on a love bench.
We began our day of culture with a smidge of a bust, as I had no clue that the huge palace, Gyeongbukgong, is closed on Tuesdays. Here we are in front of the palace door, but we could really be anywhere with massive red doors since you can’t actually see the ornateness of the palace! Grrr!
We did however meet a new friend, Darshan, who was very taken by the giddyness of the elementary students who were swarming around us. It does feel good to be a celebrity, I must admit! And in Korea’s homogenous society, there’s no shortage of celebrity status.
I ended up playing tour guide to both of them for a little bit, and introduced them to King Sejong and his concoction of Hangul (the Korean alphabet). Then in Gwanghwamun Square, we got dragged in by a very persistent ajumma for a rendition of the “Conga”, and got a taste of traditional Korean dress, dance and song before heading off to a naengmyeon and bulgogi lunch in the traditional Hanok Village.
The most fantastical part of our “Day of Culture” was by far our afternoon of traditional Hanbok dress up. We went to a place on the main Insadong road that Veny actually told me about. There you have several different options ranging from getting full hair and makeup done for a professionally airbrushed photo session, to the bare minimum of just trying on the hanbok to take your own cell phone photos in their gallery.
We opted to have our hair done in full traditional Korean fashion, and then couldn’t have chosen our hanbok any more appropriately. Cori was the Queen, and I was her faithful entertainer. We took the professional photo and then tore up that gallery area. I’m surprised we weren’t asked to vacate the premises prematurely.
The next thing we did, which I have done more than a handful of times since moving here, is something I am EXTREMELY proud of Cori for trying! Before coming, I kept telling her I was going to force her to try the live octopus, which is a super Korean thing to do, and every time she squirmed with a big fat HELL NO. Well, that got flipped upside down!
My favorite person to do the Noryangjin Fish Market with is Joshy, because he will pretty much try any slithering sea squirt that lies in those tanks. So he met up with us for the venture and helped initiate Cori into the world of live octopus eating!
On her final day in Seoul, she came to school with me and got the chance to see what a Korean elementary school is like, and meet my most adorable 4th grade baby dolls. Unfortunately my 5th and 6th graders were gone for the week so she didn’t get to meet them. I thought the 6th grade girls would especially love her because they are obsessed with all things girly and fashionable. Bummer!
Most importantly, these little peaches were SO excited to meet her, and have since thrown her name into the greeting each class! “Good morning Ms. Jin and Ms. Danielle and Ms. Wanda and Ms. Candy and Ms. Cori Di-A-mond!” Pardon the awful bottom picture, but, please take note that my little peach Paul is holding Cori’s hand. Not enough hearts to go around!! ❤
And with that, two Jewish American Princesses were off to get all kinds of Jappy in the land of Japs!
To begin, I absofuckinglutely LOVED Tokyo! I already knew I loved Japan after going to Osaka and Kyoto, but Tokyo really solidified it. As the cliche goes, it’s like a breath of fresh air stepping onto Japanese soil from Korea. People dress to their own heart’s desire instead of blending in with the next, and something about Tokyo just feels HUGE. I love Seoul, but Japan just has this huge heart pumping through it. The buildings seem bigger, the lights seem brighter, and the people make a conscious effort to not shove into you like you’re some inanimate object. Aside from their facockta subway system and the radiation, Tokyo is one of my favorite cities I’ve traveled to.
We were there for 3 glorious days, and our feet shlepped us and our wallets so many places, each offering its own unique vibe, of which I’ll highlight my favorites.
1. Robots vs. Pandas vs. Dinosaurs vs. Pole Dancers in Kabukicho, Shinjuku’s Red Light District
Yes, I know what 3 letters come to mind. WTF. And that’s exactly what you should be thinking, because we were thinking it during the whole show, and I’m still thinking it now, even though my mind was utterly blown into fantastic smithereens.
After getting a few snickers from asking where Kabukicho was (this is the Red Light district), we could not find this Robot “cafe/bar” for the life of us. We actually thought it was just a cafe/bar type place where robots served you and you could come and go as you pleased. But no no. After scouring the district for quite some time, passing it unbeknownst to us several times, we decided to give up, til we met our new friend Frank, who was innocently looking for a Penguin bar while on a business trip. He remembered seeing the robots, and threw searching for said Penguin bar out the window to come find this Robot joint with us.
We found it, and it was NOT a cafe, bar, whatever you wanna call it. But rather, it was a full blown show encapsulating the above title header. And it was worth every last penny of those 5,000yen (~$50), even the horrendous bento box dinner we were served.
2. Barbie Lingerie In Harajuku
Cori’s top priority in terms of districts to see was Harajuku. These are the girls made immortal by Gwen Stefani in the early 2000s. We actually went to Harajuku a couple times over the course of our trip, but we only really saw 2 true Harajuku girls, which kind of bummed us, but mostly Cori, out. That, and we didn’t ask to get a photo of or with her because we thought for sure we’d see plenty more. Negatori Yakatori.
We may have missed out on the Harajuku girls, but we did find the Barbie lingerie store, which to me is equally, if not more, fascinating, and a bit deranged.
I also was overly and oddly excited about this Sanrio Surprises on Takeshita-dori, which smelled of gumdrops and cotton candy. I am made more aware of my Asian-ness in such moments.
There was also this creepy rabbitequin.
3. Writing A Note To Hang On the Tree Of Life At Meiji-Jinju Shrine
Cori and I took a break from Harajuku girl stalking to add a little Japanese culture to our lives. We visited Meiji-Jinju shrine, located right by Harajuku station, which is the largest Shinto shrine in Tokyo and was built to honor the soul’s of Emperor Meiji and his wife. The shrine was dedicated to them in 1920, and completed in 1926.
It’s a beautiful walk into the shrine, filled with Iris gardens and so much lush greenery.
And absolutely no shortage of decorative fermenting Sake.
Once reaching the shrine, you are face to face with what I instantly called the Tree of Life. I don’t really know if that’s what it’s called, but it seemed properly suited. Here visitors have written hopes and wishes for the future, or struggles they hope for their family or friends to overcome, and just need some sort of little mighty push.
I decided I had some things that needed some push, so now they are fully displayed for the daily world to see.
4. Taking a Magic Carpet Ride & Meeting King Triton At Tokyo Disney Sea!
For starters, I had no idea that Tokyo Disney and I have been in the same grade all along! We just so happened to be there during its 30th Anniversary party! Lucky us!
If you sense an air of irritation in the photo, it’s because we were so rudely being pushed out by what I believe to be an intrusively rude Korean couple.
We went to Tokyo Disney our first night, and actually barely rode any rides. In fact, the only ride I rode was a magic carpet in Agraba. It was a solo ride though, because Miz Diamond feared her tummy would act up. Hmph. At least I was thrilled with joy to have King Triton grant me such a warm welcome to his kingdom beneath the sea!
5. Shoving Takoyaki Balls In My Face
One thing I regretted when I went to Osaka and Kyoto was being too scared to try Takoyaki, which are these fried octopus balls that are served slathered in mayo (vomit), and crispy onions. Well, I told myself that I would definitely shove them in my face this time around.
Turns out I didn’t see them anywhere, until our last day while visiting Senso-ji shrine. Due to the scarcity of them, I’m led to believe that Takoyaki is primarily a regional food of the Osaka area. Either way, I grabbed 6 balls, NOT slathered in mayo, and ate 3 of them before contracting a stomachache.
One little side note while on the topic of food, I did eat a fair amount of sushi whilst in Tokyo, because it would be an utter shame not to. But, one thing I was very aware of was the amount of searing being done to the sushi. I’m not sure if this is normal in Japan, but I saw it done so frequently that I figured they were doing it to maybe sear out some of the radiation in the fish. Who knows, but just a thought!
On our last day we decided to actually stay in our neighborhood, Asakusa, which was a remarkable hub for all the super cultural attractions. We visited Senso-ji shrine, which is another huge Shinto shrine. Despite the rain, I really loved the walk into this shrine. It felt like real old Japan, and women in traditional kimono and parisol were not a scarce site.
The shrine was gorgeous and massive on a rainy day.
And there were tons of people dropping coins into the prayer boxes and carrying on with their prayers. One of us saved the praying for later after we chose our fortunes from these here boxes.
You are supposed to politely shake that silver box, make your wish, and then pull out a numbered stick that corresponds with one of the numbered drawers. My fortune was a “small fortune” and said I have many good things coming my way if I put in the work. Cori however, well, she got bad juju and went to smirk thru her prayers.
Then we both cleansed our mouths. Nice try holy water, but not sure this is strong enough.
7. Sensory, Porn & Anime Overload in Akihabara
This was by FAR my favorite district of Tokyo. Not because of anything I very much enjoy, but because it was SO (pardon my French) fucking bizarre! Akihabara is the electronic district, which also boasts a huge porn and anime scene.
While here we saw so many different kinds of cafes being advertised, ranging from Maid cafes, to Domestic cafes, whatever the heck THAT means. Not to mention, I have never seen so much anime since my family’s family friend’s cousin used to dress up as Sailor Moon just on a regular Saturday. It was ODD.
Maybe the funniest thing though was the 6 floor porn building prominently situated right by the subway exit. The walls were plastered in Polaroids of naked girls and naked girls having sex. Then once on the floors, there was anime sex props up the ying yang, whips, dildos, vibrators, pretty much anything imaginable. And tons of people were just perusing at their leisure.
I especially loved pausing behind some creepy old man staring rather intensely at a leather whip.
Here I am with my gazoongas and kimono ready to get educated in Japanese sex culture! My, was it a thorough education!
Kind of fun fact: This is a great district to do your duty free shopping in, as duty free shops are EVERYWHERE. I had a really early flight out the next morning and wasn’t able to buy my green tea Kit Kats at the airport, so I just did it here.
8. Romancing A Spider For An Exquisite View Of The City At Roppongi Hills
Prior to visiting Tokyo, I read that going up to Tokyo Tower for the city view was quite overrated, and that the view from the 54th floor viewing deck of the Mori Building in Roppongi Hills is far more breathtaking. Not to mention, you get to see Tokyo Tower as part of your view and seduce a giant spider before making your way to the top.
It cost us between 1,500-2,000yen ($15-20) and an ear pop in the speedy elevator to the top!
9. Failing Miserably In A Japanese Photo Booth
I think it’s just an East Asian thing, the whole photo-booth-make-your-eyes-ginormous thing, but even coming from Korea, a photo booth in Japan was high marked on the to-do list! Especially since there are some pretty stunning glamour shots in mine and Cori’s past that desperately need recreation.
We found a Cherry Cherry booth and scurried in, only the whole thing was in Japanese so we had a few minor difficulties in navigation and procurement. Once we took our photos, filled with a heaping amount of awkward face, we waited for definitely over 5 minutes at the photo retrieval machine to no photos being dispensed. We then realized that we had skipped part 2. Part 2 being doodle all over and make your eye balls HUGE, obviously the most important step! Well, the language barrier interfered again and we ran out of time sans huge eyeballs, plus lots of Cherry Cherry baby.
Maybe our “thing” is just taking awful photo booth glamour shots! That’s it, it’s settled.
10. Starf*ckers Come To This Starbucks
Located smack in the middle of Shinjuku’s busiest intersection, lies the busiest Starbucks in the world. When the lights turn red, the entire intersection opens up for pedestrians and it is a massive clusterfuck of humans, which can all be seen in perfect flourescent light stricken view from the top of said Starbucks. Stopping in the middle of the intersection, you know, to document it or something, is apparently similar to asking for a death wish.
Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to highlight a couple things we attempted, but much like the glamour shots, failed at.
1. Radiation Overload At Tsukiji Fish Market
We had read about the tuna auctions that happen every morning starting at 4am on the docks at Tsukiji Fish Market. The fishermen catch fresh (radiated) tuna straight from the water and auction them off to bidders, and then everyone somehow kills themselves with radiation for breakfast.
We weren’t 4am ambitious, but we didn’t realize that the entire fish market shut down by early afternoon. Coming from Seoul, I assumed it would be open all day, but just more insane in the wee hours. I was wrong, and after mazing through the endless back warehouses of the market, this is all we saw.
So, if you decide to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market, plan to get there EARLY. I imagine they close by 12 noon, so plan on making a Japanese breakfast out of the venture.
2. Hopping A Moat To The Imperial Palace
We didn’t really jump over or swim through any moats, but we didn’t get to tour the gardens surrounding the Imperial Palace where Japan’s Imperial family currently lives, as it was closed the day we went. We did however get this documentation of us in front of the moat in the rain. The palace is also behind us in the distance.
3. Bicycle Riding In Nakemeguro
Biking around Nakemeguro was highlighted as a must do in Tokyo, and since one of my favorite activities to do in a foreign country is whimsically bicycle around, I was all about it. Unfortunately we were totally let down when we couldn’t find where to rent the bikes! We found a bike parking lot, but our lack of Japanese speak and the worker’s lack of English provided for no such luck.
It wasn’t all a bust though, seeing as two vintage loving gals found themselves wandering down a quaint street lined with pink lanterns and littered with vintage shops GALORE. We ate our eyeballs out!
To get here, you’ve got to get to Nakemeguro Station, and after exiting, it’s going to be down the first street you can turn down on your right.
After 10 days with each other, my Diamond and I had a wonderful trip, with a smattering of bickerings here and there, but overall just lovely! Twas another adventure to add to our chronicles of taking over this fascinatingly beautiful continent!
I really need to spank myself for the tardiness of this, but there seems to be a trend when I go on a honker of a trip. There’s just so much I want to share that I let it sit and linger until I’m like “Danielle, you need to write that NOW!” And then 2 months swoop past and here I am with a draft that’s like, 2 months old and not to my liking anymore, forcing me to start all over again. So here I sit. Finally gettin to tale telling.
Bali and some of its neighboring islands, Lombok and the Gilis, was my first trip booked as a completely solo venture. It wasn’t solo in the whole sense of the word, but it was solo in that I traveled completely on my own and retired to my own boudoir nightly, and just so happened to be in some of the same places as others at the same time so we got to exploring together.
I loved this trip to death, even though there were a couple moments of sheer pissed-off-ed-ness, but mostly it was beautiful and zen, and I really got my Eat Pray Love hippie dippy on.
I know I should really probably start with the best parts of my trip, but I’m going to start with the things that urked the crapola out of me, because in retrospect they are the funniest and my favorite stories to tell when I reminiscence on my Indonesian gallivant. Win win.
1. When I Got Abandoned Somewhere Between The Gili Islands
I started the day by telling Chrissy about the movie Open Water. Dumb. If you haven’t seen it, go rent it, but not before you go on an organized ocean exploring trip.
While snorkeling somewhere between the Gili Islands, the stupid little Indonesian boy in charge of our boat forgot to do a head count of how many people he had on board his vessel. He decided to drop us off at the sea turtle point, where we got VERY excited to see some ginormous shelled creatures! Well, me, Chrissy and our new man friend that we met on board got excited and decided to swim and follow one. Only they were beating me because I was blessed with a botched snorkel that really cramped my snorkel enjoyment. I couldn’t swim for like, 2 seconds, without gulping in water through a tiny puncture. After a bit of a chase, I looked up to get a handle on where the boat was, and to my horror the boat was zipping off, and appearing to be getting further and further away!! I of course started panicking because there was a small current and I was gradually wading into the water about 10 feet to my right that was getting a pitch shade of black.
So there I hustle, huffing and puffing through my cursed snorkel, swimming to a stupid boat that keeps getting further and further away. When finally, another boat speeds past, and I throw my arms up, screaming to him to pick me up because our moronic driver left us stranded. That man refused, and yelled that our boat was coming back.
Well, after about 5 minutes our boat decided they left some people for shark bait and came back for us. How thoughtful of them!!! I hoisted myself over that ladder and onto the boat where I ripped a new one for the giggling guy driving the boat, who just stared at me laughing and asked “Are you mad to me?” What do you think BUDDY?!
I was later chatting with a plane buddy on my flight home who told me that she had read reviews about snorkel trips in the Gilis often leaving people in the water or on island hops. SO, for those looking into a venture to the Gilis, get your balls in check before you possibly get left for shark bait.
2. That Time I Fell And Sprained My Other Ankle
My right ankle had just started to finally feel normal again when I happened to find myself in the sleepy beach town of Uluwatu in the southernmost tip of Bali. You see, Uluwatu is gorgeous, but unless you are comfortable with your life in your hands whilst operating a motorbike, or are traveling with a trustworthy somebody of who you don’t mind bestowing your life, you’re kind of screwed for getting around the city that’s built along one long windy road.
I stayed at a nice little guest house called Belong Bunter, operated by a young guy named Hank and his adorable 15 year old side kick.
I will never forget Hank because he turned into a stalker. He offered to drive me around on the back of his motorbike, which was awesome because it was free. It was not awesome because I think he thought that my nice open nature meant that I wanted to be his girlfriend. I don’t know. I’m a weirdo magnet I guess. Anyways, after his sweet welcoming ways wore off, he followed me around Padang Padang beach, and hung out in front of my room when I wasn’t talking to him which proved to be a bit much when all you want is to be with yourself after a day on the back of this guy’s bike.
So the ankle sprain. We had planned to meet by his bike at 5:30pm to go catch the sunset at Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple up on the cliff overlooking the ocean. After the beach, I retired to my room, took a shower, and then took a naked nap. At around 5pm (30 minutes early, mind you), through my window I heard “Danielle! Danielle!” In my groggy haze, I thought Hank was in my room! Startled, my naked bodice lept so fast out of bed, tried to run for cover and ate it so hard on the ground, knocking over a plant in my haste, and OF COURSE, my other ankle off its rocker. Ugh.
Another ankle to bite the dust. Night was ruined, and the rest of the evening was spent dying in bed because I could barely walk, listening to the soundtrack of a whimpering Hank outside my window sending me consoling Facebook message after Facebook message.
I probably shouldn’t have let him fondle my foot, and I should probably consider drinking whole milk.
3. This Creepy Graffiti
Indonesia is a Muslim country, I knew this before going, and everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and opinions. It’s part of the beauty of traveling. However, this was a little alarming for a lover of the motherland to see while just wandering the back streets of tiny little Gili T. Especially since it was Ramadan, and the constant chanting blaring through the speakers was already urking me a bit.
Gaza will never go down. Fuck Israel.
A few days later. Me, Tu and my new friend Alex stumbled upon this 9/11 McDonald’s creepy graffiti in Ubud. In such a beautiful, peaceful, zen city, this is so out of place.
Ok, now that we got that out of the way, let me tell you some happs that definitely topped my pops list on this journey through Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan. In no particular order, but probably chronologically because that’s how it is in my notes and I like order amidst chaos.
1. Catching Up With KC In Kuta
Casey was my plane buddy on the flight over to Korea, and we both got stranded up in “North Korea” together once we got our school placements. He moved to Taiwan to continue teaching English once our 1st year contracts came to a close. It just so happened that we had a couple days overlapping on our planned vacations, so we met up in Bali’s version of Mexico, and strolled along the beautiful Legian beach catching up on life and all that jazz. Twas really nice to see him and meet his girlfriend.
I also learned that several of my male friends are all homosexuals. Oh Kuta!
2. Prince Ali, Fabulous He
I met up with Chrissy in Lombok, which is the biggest island neighboring Bali to the East. I got there a day later than anticipated because no fast boats were available the day I originally wanted to head out. We had one day on Lombok together, so we opted to trek out to Tiu Kelep waterfall which was a 2 hour drive from where we were staying in Sengiggi.
When we got to the first small waterfall, we acquired our guide, Ali, who was a tiny little Indonesian man with horrendous body odor and a smile filled with brown teeth for days. He didn’t understand a lick of English, except for how to ask for money, but held our bags under his raging smelly arm pits as we less-than-gracefully forded many a river, guided us through a bat-filled water tunnel, and took this fabulous collage of “blurrages”.
Bless Prince Ali and his fabulous shaky little hands.
3. Saltcheese Chocolatey Nomness
When I finally made it to Lombok after a less than speedy fast boat journey, Chrissy and I hit the ground running to Tiu Kelep so we’d hit it before sunset. Both of us were famished in any sense of the word that we know, so we stopped at a little store at the base before hiking in. We found these sandwich cookiecracker things, and inhaled them way too fast.
America and Korea and everywhere should own these for sale.
4. This Hammock At The Happiest Place On Earth
Happy House on Gili Trawangan is truly the place to stay, should you stumble into those parts. Do keep in mind though that you may find yourself in a bit of a pickle when trying to find the place. Our sweaty backs and bodices wandered for a good hour on this tiny island before we finally found it and were greeted by all things HAPPY, and a complimentary welcome breakfast. I was equally happy when I found this hammock hanging in front of our door. Turns out I’m a bit of a hammock hog when I’m happy.
5. Phalluses For Days
I’m clearly ready for any cock-fight you wish to have.
6. Taking a Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class In A Gazebo At Yoga Barn
Ubud’s claim to recent fame is Eat Pray Love, and is a hippie cultural paradise nestled inland from the east on Bali. I knew before going that I wanted to unwind there with my inner earthly weirdo for at least a day or two of my five. One of the big attractions of Ubud is it’s mysticism and Yogi lifestyle. I freakin love yoga, though I don’t do it as much as I tell myself to, so I made sure that I fit in a visit to the highly acclaimed Yoga Barn. I took a class taught by a man named Les, and it was seriously the most intense yoga class I’ve ever taken. I definitely earned that million bucks feeling when the class ended and he told us we all looked stoned. They offer package deals as well as classes on an individual basis, and if I remember correctly, an individual class is around $20USD.
Yoga Barn is awesome in that they offer way more services than just yoga classes. They have vegetarian buffet nights, movie screenings and a variety of holistic retreats and colonics if you are into getting your tubes irrigated. Put this place on your list while visiting Ubud if you know what’s good for your bodice and your noggin.
7. Bintangs With Brother Liangster
Brother Liang and I have only met two times in our lives. Once during a wild night out in Seoul when he had a less than 24 hour layover, and this time in Ubud, which was so random. Social Media is so amazing sometimes. I post to Facebook that I’m in Bali, Jeanette sees and says her brother is there too, I message him, and turns out we are in the same place at the same time and what do ya know, here we are throwin’ back some Bintangs and missing one Jnet Liangster.
8. Watching Real Live Monkey Sex
One of the big “to-do’s” in Ubud is the Monkey Forest. My friend Dion told me he was actually quite scared while walking through it, so I was pleased to have Tu as my companion for the day. And boy, was it a doozy of a journey to the forest! You see, the forest is completely open and the monkeys and humans coexist for the day. I’ve always thought monkeys were really cute, but I was kind of creeped out by them while here.
First we were greeted with a mama monkey and her dead baby monkey sprawled at her feet. Then we saw a monkey attack a woman and her bag of food because she didn’t listen and leave her food at the entrance. After walking a bit further we saw two monkeys brawl each other over a Coke bottle, only to lead us down a ways to the trifecta of cray cray.
I may have been stupid and tried to mock a monkey who appeared to be in a deep yoga leg lift. He tried to chase me, I flailed, all was good. Then a girl got bit on the hand, and then came this full mount upon the tree. Tu and I were a couple of highly amused peeping toms before the monkey sexers caught wind of our peeping and unleashed a herd similar to Planet of the Apes.
9. Seeing Katy Perry Perform Some Indonesian Traditional Dance
Katy Perry wasn’t really there, but for about $8USD, Tu and I spent an evening at Ubud Palace watching her doppelganger do some pretty intense eyeball and finger dancing in the most stunning and ornate costumes I’ve ever laid eyes on. Truly exquisite, and totally recommend checking out the Legong Of Mahabrata Traditional Dance Show should you find yourself out for an evening in Ubud. Tickets are available just out front of the palace and are sold all the way up until show time.
Pardon the blur, but Katy Perry is in the front, because where else would they put her?
10. Temple Hopping With Tu & His Wild Leopard Sarong
It was pretty wild.
Here I am in my peacock sarong, about to enter an extremely moist Elephant shrine on our day of temple hopping.
11. Watching The Sun Set On Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot temple overlooks the ocean, and at sunset, it provides for quite the exquisite photographic moment. With the people crossing over the rock to the temple, draped against the changing sunset, it’s really really beautiful.
We took too many silhouette photos of other humans and me looking like a teradactyl, and this one in attempts to make straight face with the temple itself.
12. Rice Terraces For Dayz
On mine and Tu’s day of leopard print sarong temple hopping, we also visited the Tegallalang Rice Terraces, which were stunning and lush. The village itself where the terraces are is quite touristy and there are lots of jacked up priced trinkets, but it was really gorgeous to see the steps of green for days! Ta da!
13. One Man’s Cheap Thrill Is Another Man’s Treasure
I wrote a previous post about my time at the Copi Luwak plantation and my time spent there with the lovely man, Oher. A man who lost his wife 2 years ago, has been raising his young daughter on his own, and teaching himself English to better himself and to show his daughter a brighter future, proved to be one of my favorite parts of this trip.
When he described his daughter, he mentioned that she happened to love Hello Kitty, prompting me to obviously show him my supremely Asian iPhone case and the plastic ring I happened to be wearing that I purchased in Koko for a measly 2,000won. I totally felt compelled in that moment to give him my ring for his daughter, to his utter shock. He was so grateful, and It just showed me how different our worlds are, yet small gestures are always the biggest to anyone.
He was so thrilled, I was so in awe after my life talk with him. Win win win!
14. Getting My Fortune Read By THE Ketut Liyer!
I’m sure many people reading this post are familiar with who Ketut Liyer is. If you have read Eat Pray Love or have seen the movie, then you will remember that he’s the fortune teller that Elizabeth Gilbert visits on her trip to Bali. I actually probably wouldn’t have thought to go had I not been wandering on my first afternoon and stopped to talk with a local who was trying to hustle me to let him take me around on his motorbike. He was the one to tell me that Ketut is actually hugely famous in the city, but many are skeptical of his authenticity. Maybe that was just his opinion, but I knew what was next on my list!
After a day of zipping around on the back of my new friend Gusti’s bike, we ended our day at Ketut Liyer’s house. However, he was ending early for the day due to a ceremony he was performing. No worries though, Gusti picked me up bright and early the next day so I could pick a number and get in line to hear tales of my future. You have to pick a number and wait your turn, that’s how famous he is!
I ended up waiting for about an hour and a half before it was my turn. While I was waiting I got to play with these adorable babes who live at Ketut’s guesthouse, which made the wait more enjoyable.
And finally my lucky number 7 was up! I was actually quite nervous because I didn’t quite know what to expect. I have always wanted to get my palm read, and even if Ketut is a quack, the novelty of having my fortune read by him made it well worth the $25USD to sit in his presence for 15 minutes.
It was incredibly difficult to understand him through his few dangling teeth and broken English in Indonesian tongue, so my ears were perked up about 50 notches. He basically told me that a lot of beautiful things will happen in my future. I will be very successful and fall into a great lump of money, be married once and it will be for keeps, and we will have 3 children. I may or may not have already met the man I will marry, but he seemed to believe I will meet him before I turn 30. Tick tick tick goes my biological clock!
As cheesy as this may sound, and no matter how quacktastic he may be, it was actually a huge deal for me. Even though I’ve always wanted to live abroad, Eat Pay Love really ignited that in me, and then the Florence & The Machine song Dog Days Are Over that played in the movie, was kind of like my anthem for wanting to head off even more. So, this meeting had many special meanings and felt like my time abroad came full circle.
If you head to the gem of Ubud, a trip to meet Ketut will definitely be a highlight.
15. The Cement Art Paved Streets Of Ubud
One thing I absolutely loved about the location of my hotel in Ubud was the street I was staying on, Jalan Kajeng. The whole street is paved for days with special sayings or messages that visitors past have left to remember their time in Ubud. I didn’t know until doing a little research on the street, but I guess you are able to purchase a cement stone and write a personalized message, and this is their novel way of repaving the particular street. I absolutely fell in love with it, and found myself stopping and reading and walking, stopping and reading and walking nearly every time I walked down the street.
I found a little bit of home.
And even found sista!
16. Stalking This Lady Having A Smoke Cliff side At Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple
Pura Luhur Uluwatu is a seaside temple that was built in the 11th century to protect Bali from evil spirits. The temple itself iwas really beautiful, though my time there was overshadowed by my irritating “friend” Hank. He followed me around everywhere with a stick to hit monkeys if they came close to me. Nice gesture, but beyond annoying when I just wanted to explore on my own.
When I finally managed to ditch him, I stumbled upon this lady sitting in the shrubs having a puff puff, and thought it was so beautiful with the sunset.
Twas a lovely way to wrap up my Balinese adventures!
I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but my luck has GREATLY increased over the past few weeks. Why? You ask? Well, because according to Korean thought, if one lands on the island of Dokdo, you are a very lucky person. And well, I am of the less than 1% of the Korean population to have stepped foot on the sacred and prized and heavily disputed over island of Dokdo in the East Sea or Sea of Japan. It’s all relative depending on your location in the east, or the map you chose to peruse, I suppose.
SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education ~ my employer) was generous enough to take 36 of the almost 700 native English teachers in Seoul, on an all-inclusive 4 day 3 night trip to Samcheok, Ulleungdo, and the mighty Dokdo. Dokdo is comprised of 2 islands that have been in heavy dispute with Japan for many years over who’s territory it actually is. So, we knew that in signing up for this trip we were in for a weekend fueled by propaganda and many a botched map to take many ganders at. And it was and we did.
I actually didn’t know much about Dokdo prior to my trip to Japan back in September, when Josh decided to jokingly shout “TAKESHIMI TAKESHIMI” everywhere we went. TakeshimA is actually the Japanese name for Dokdo, so of course this was a controversial stance for a giant white man to make whilst being employed by the Korean government! 😉 Both Joshua and I, and our friend Art, ended up being part of the lucky (highly weird) few to go on this trip, so I was very happy to be in extra FUN company on a long weekend to Takeshimi. 🙂
Our first stop on the trip was Samcheok, where we struggled to listen to the translation of the first propaganda lecture regarding “the correct understanding of Dokdo for peace in East Asia”. We ogled at some artifacts from the Joseon remains and General Isabu’s time, and took a walking tour down by the water, which was really beautiful. I felt like I wasn’t in Korea which was amazing on my peepers and lungs. Being stuck in a concrete jungle can really wear on you. We also visited a temple which is said to be the coolest (in temperature) place in Samcheok. Many people would come here to pray before traveling to Dokdo because they didn’t know if they would return to the mainland alive due to the roughness of the water. Many also used to walk through this rock in hopes of being impregnated with a son, so I took the liberty of forging my way through (without falling) said rock.
Looks like I’m having a boy guys!
When we finally checked into our pension for the night, we were shafted to the one next door to the “nice” hotel we were originally scheduled for. This place gave me and one other interesting fella bed bug bites for days! I also got cursed with a ridiculously bitchy roommate who got an overdose spoonful of the “Schaeff’s-not-listening-to-you-sideways-up turned-head-tilt”.
Bright and early the next morning, we had Korean breakfast of gamjatang, AKA pork spine soup, and kimchi. My breakfast therefore consisted of rice and the few bits of kimchi I struggled to shove into my mouth that early in the morning. With an awful taste in our mouths, we were off to the Sunflower 2, our ferry over to the beautiful island of Ulleungdo. This journey was about 3.5 hours.
My first thought after landing on Ulleungdo was that it was so strikingly lush and gorgeous. The abundance of green had me feeling like I was in Jurassic Park. We were taken on a tour of the entire island and heard many age-old myths about the different rock formations, the volcanic origin and the people who call the island their home. Currently, less than 7,500 people live on Ulleungdo, and it houses 3 (if I remember correctly) elementary schools, 1 high school and oddly enough, 3 universities. It’s special delicacies include dried squid (sold in Dokdo packaging), and a sweet pumpkin type bread and pumpkin candy similar to taffy. Brought some of that goodness back for my Principal and Vice Principal.
Here’s me, Josh and Art Turtle Rocking out. This rock is said to have many tiny formations that look like little turtles climbing all over it.
The walk up to our pension overlooking the ocean. Seriously beautiful and nothin’ but fresh air for days!
We went to this temple where we heard an old Korean myth about a young boy and girl who were left behind by their families. They never came back for them and both ended up dying here. Or so the tale goes.
And we walked along these massive cliffs overlooking the sea. Super gorge!
The next day was the BIG day! After all the praying we were told to do, we guzzled down our seasickness drugs, filled out our tickets and hopped aboard our righteous boat to the beloved Dokdo! We took one of the 45 journeys per year that the boat makes, and got inducted into the tribe of the lucky.
Here’s an aerial shot of the islands that make up Dokdo. The eastern island is where we went, and the western island is home to the two people who actually call Dokdo their home.
2.5 hours and no seasickness later, we made the arrival of a lifetime. We were ushered off the boat and told we had 30 minutes to take pictures with the Liancourt Rocks, signs and guards that protect the land. I’m not quite sure why our stay on the island is so short, but let me tell you, Josh and I with our “DOKDO IS OUR LAND” signs made fantastic use of it! If two grown adults could run around an island like kids in a candy store, that is what we looked like.
We gained some enemies along the way when Joshy “bali bali’d” an old Korean woman to hurry up and take her photo in this exact place.
We also acquired a fan club of Korean women who wanted to hop in every photo with us. Here is the sign mandating that this here is Korean territory. We saw nothing indicating it was otherwise Japan’s. Questionable I tell ya!
These are the guards who live on Dokdo. The only time they have other human interaction is when a boat reaches Dokdo. So, any of the less than 45 days a year the boat actually docks. You can also see stairs behind us which we weren’t allowed to climb up. I’m not sure what is on the other side, maybe something Japanese?
And with that we were off, but not without bidding some fond farewells.
The 3 of us were the last ones to get back on the boat, as we kept getting whistles blown on us to hurry up! Round trip, the entire journey consisted of 9 hours spent on a bus, 7 hours on a ferry and 5 hours on a boat, so we definitely make that 30 minutes count! That night we met up with our groups to think up a speech to give on our final day. Josh and I must have been sipping happy water, because when we told our group members that we had so much fun on Dokdo, they looked at us like we were crazy faces from another planet. Sour puss foreigner freaks.
Later we celebrated our new found fortune by noraebanging our hearts out. We bonded with a few others on the trip and shoved ourselves into a massive VIP room for what seemed like 3 hours. I broke a glass, there was table dancing, and no shortage of mic hogging on my part, per the usual.
The next day we were forced to eat fish and tofu soup for breakfast (awful to begin with, more awful when you’re hungover), and then were given a tour of a South Korean Coast Guard ship where we learned that they do not skimp on their entertainment, event whilst at sea protecting Korea’s oceans. This ship was fully equipped with a jjimjilbang (sauna) and a noraebang (karaoke room).
Our last stop was to a little ocean side town. We stopped to look at some more historical Isabu sites, but we opted to check out the ocean view and vibrant murals instead. I really find myself appreciating how beautiful Korea is whenever I get out of Seoul and visit places so tranquil and remote like this. I don’t know why I don’t do it more often.
The trip was really wonderful, and I’m extremely grateful that SMOE was so generous in offering such an opportunity to a group of us foreigners. I know we look at the island of Dokdo much differently and with less seriousness than Koreans do, and mostly viewed this as a chance to A) get out of teaching for 2 days, B) take a free trip out of Seoul to a couple islands that we probably would never seek out on our own, and C) a weekend filled with propaganda. However, seeing as so few Koreans actually have the chance to make this journey, I’m very grateful to say that during my time in Korea I got to check off such a huge cultural experience from my list. As far as who’s territory it actually is, I don’t know. I think there has to be something more than fishing rights and lines being drawn on a map, but I think Koreans are so passionate about it because the Japanese have been so awful to them. So, they want the right to that land. Or there’s oil. Who knows.
Here’s a video that Jon Pak, the SMOE head coordinator, made of the trip. See if you can spot me for the smattering of nanoseconds that I make an appearance.
And just for good measure so you can see how serious Koreans are about this island, and because who doesn’t love a flash mob set to the Dokdo song.
HI guys! Another week, another WTF?! Wednesday! It totally crept up on me this week because my weekend all blended together. I was chosen to go on a 4 day trip with the Seoul Office of Education to the island of Dokdo along with 35 other native English teachers, so the weekend and the week have flown! That being said, a post about Dokdo will be coming shortly because that is a very special island to the people of Korea, so you’ll want to hear a little bit about it. You’ll also want to know why I’ve since acquired a new sense of good luck now that I’ve been there.
ANYWAYS, for this week’s WTF?! Wednesday I’m presenting you with something phallic. I think it’s absolutely odd that Korea has parks and sculptures enshrined all over the country dedicated to the male member, when anything related to sex is so taboo. Many Koreans when asked don’t even know the scientific words for penis or vagina. It’s BIZARRO.
While in Samcheok this weekend, we were walking up to the top of a mountain to pray (for the millionth time) for good weather so that we’d be able to reach Dokdo’s holy soil. As we were walking, we passed this row of glorified penises. The boys I was with walked right past them at first, but I of course caught wind of them and lept at the photographic opportunity.
I know, I know. This is beyond tardy. It has taken me a year and a day to post about mine and Stephanie’s jaunt to the beautiful cities of Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang back in February, but I am finally getting around to doing it. Holy moly, I can’t believe it’s been that long. Shame on me!!!
This time, instead of doing my typical posty post about the entire vaca, what we ate, who we ate with and at what time, I’m going to chronicle my favorite moments of the trip. So buckle up peeps!
1. Our 16 Hour Train Ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
Instead of flying directly to Chiang Mai, we flew into Bangkok and opted to indulge in the journey of getting to Chiang Mai. And what reeks more of wanderlusting travel than the huff and puff of a locomotive train? We stocked up on snacks, including an accidental choosing of PICKLED mango on Miss Stephanie Anne’s part, ordered a surprisingly delicious dinner on board, got our train bunks turned down by the train maid, tucked ourselves in with a good book (50 Shades of Grey anyone?), and then buckled ourselves into bed for the night. At least I did in my coffin of a top bunk. We rolled into Chiang Mai bright and early the next morning.
2. Our guest house in Chiang Mai ~ Finlay’s Cottage.
Steph and I hadn’t booked a place for our first night in Chiang Mai, and since we were meeting Abby for a night we asked her to book us 1 night at Finlay’s Cottage, the place where she was staying. We loved this place so much that we ended up cancelling our previous reservations and it ended up being our home base for our entire stay in Chiang Mai, both before and after Laos. We loved it that much! The man and woman who run the guest house are a couple of unlikely friends, but are somehow fantastically hilarious. The woman helped us book all our day trips, got us a great tuk tuk driver, made us delicious breakfasts every morning, woke us up to make sure we ate our breakfasts every morning, cancelled our prior reservations for us and made great sarcastic conversation with us when necessary. The man is from Australia and just never returned, and the woman lived on Koh Phi Phi for 37 years as a masseuse, but when the tsunami hit she broke nearly all her bones and chose to relocate up north, and has been there ever since. They were top NOTCH!
3. Thai Cooking Class With Beery.
I love cooking but it’s something that I just don’t really have the patience or timing for. I like to think of myself as more of a “throw together whatever I have kinda chef” and it always works. I’ve always wanted to take a cooking class in Thailand since I saw MayMay took one on her trip! I figured Steph and Abby were the perfect people to do this with since they are both chef masters. We signed up for a wonderful cooking class at Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School and had a fabulously flamboyant instructor named Beery, who was just the cherry on top! It was boot camp in the most fun way possible. We started with a trip to the local market, then went to the school’s garden to smell the herbs and plants native to Thai cuisine that we’d be cooking with, and then got down to cooking! I made Pad See Ew (because it reminds me of Jessie), Kow Soi Curry and curry paste (the native curry to Chiang Mai which came recommended by MayMay), and Mango sticky rice.
4. When I Discovered That Friendship Is Hoisting Your Friend Atop An Elephant.
We went on an all-day Mahout elephant trekking course through the jungle, atop the most gorgeous and friendly and massive animal in the world. We learned key commands to “drive” them, fed them endless amounts of sugar cane and bananas, struggled to hoist ourselves atop their massive bodies, struggled yet again to steer our still hormonal lady thru a jungle trek, squealed with glee whilst sliding down her trunk, and then took the most glorious bath in the world with her even though it was filled with piles of shit, I’m sure. This is my favorite photo from the trip. I really made an ass out of myself, but at least I know who’s got me from all angles as I migrate through this world of ours.
5. Taking This Photo For National Geographic While Sitting In Tiger Pee.
We didn’t really take it for National Geographic, but we might as well have. We spent an afternoon at the Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai posing with a 3 month old tiger, a 5 month old tiger, and then this full grown tiger. We even saw this guy snap at someone. OPEN WIDE and guard your life!
6. Getting Annoyed By Chinese Tourists While Trying to Observe the Long Neck Karan Tribe.
The Long Neck Karan tribe native to Chiang Mai is a bit of a circus detour, but I really wanted to see it since this tribe is the one thing that I’ve always remembered since going to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! as a child. We went, it was awkward and fascinating, and then we got annoyed by the Chinese tourists that always come in loud like they own the place with zero respect.
7. When Steph Walked Like An Ajumma Up The Massive Stairway to Wat Doi Suthep.
The greatest Wat (temple) in Chiang Mai is Wat Doi Suthep, and it’s located at the tippy top of a massive mountain. To get there you have to take a tuk tuk, to a red jeep and then walk up the insane stairway. Here is Steph getting back to her Korean roots en route to the top.
8. Riding In The Back Of A Pick Up Truck While Crossing The Laos Border.
We decided to take the slow boat journey from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang. This consisted of a 7 hour minibus to the border, where our small group was greeted by a pick up truck, and we were instructed to hop into the bed of it and stand. Obediently we did so. FEELIN LIKE A CHOLA.
9. A Dramatic Reading Of 50 Shades of Grey In French In The Middle Of Nowhere, Laos.
We spent the night in creepy cabins in the middle of nowhere Laos as we awaited our boat ride along the Mekong the next morning. Our fellow companions were a Swiss couple and our newly made travel companion, French lassie Audrey. Their common language was French, and having never heard of the epic 50 Shades of Grey before, our new friend decided to translate the novel for his lady. It was oh so sexy.
10. The Sweetest Sendoff From Adorable Laotian Babies As We Set Off On The Mekong.
We woke up bright and early and were escorted to our private boat for our Mekong River cruise. Our escort service couldn’t have been any more adorable if it tried. Heart. Melt.
11. Our First Laotian Meal Of Various Flavors Of….Buffalo Jerky.
Steph, Audrey and I set out to try our first Laotian meal since arriving in Luang Prabang. We turned down a sleepy road in the early-to-sleep city, and perused a menu of our selected restaurant. There were so many oddly named items, so we took it upon ourselves to order the ones that stood out the most to us. I believe mine was called “Day Meat Smashed Style”. Basically, we all got variously flavored versions of buffalo jerky. Needless to say, we were not impressed and stuck to baguettes from the street food vendors for the remainder of our stay in Luang Prabang.
12. This Pleasant Lady And Her Amazing Baguettes.
This woman had such a pleasant aura about her, and call me a weirdo, but I loved watching her make her sandwiches. She was so calm, and her sandwiches were so amazing. They were massive and I scarfed them DOWN. I always got her chicken, brie, tomato, avocado, lettuce and cucumber sandwich and boy did it satisfy. I also loved that she was one of the only street food stands that had all of her food covered and away from the flies. Sanitation!!!
13. Meeting A 16 Year Old Monk Who Loves to Speak English With Foreigners.
We were making our way up to Wat Chom Si atop Pousi Hill just before sunset when we met this friendly monk, Bee. He is 16 years old and was so sweet and friendly. He told us about how he loves studying English and hopes to one day travel to America, and loves hanging out on that walk up to the top because so many foreigners come through and it gives him a chance to practice his English. It was so refreshing to meet someone as young and eager as him to learn and practice, especially after working with Korean students who a lot of the time can care less about learning English. We exchanged information and are now Facebook friends! 🙂
14. Taking This Glorious Photo Atop Pousi Hill.
Audrey was traveling by herself, and was a lovely addition to our stay in Luang Prabang. Im so glad we got this awesome photo of the three of us!
15. Going to Kuang Si Waterfall And Doing A Boob Flop Rope Jump.
We made the journey out to Kuang Si Waterfall with Audrey and 5 Germans that we met. It was a gorgeous hike in, and once there we got to swim in the springs, and if we wanted, jump from the rope hanging from the tree. I of course wanted to do it, but was deathly scared once I got up onto the tree. It was SO slippery, and I was trembling as I used the wooden stick to grab the swinging rope to clutch between my shaking hands. I was a ball of nerves! Klutzy McKlutz over here. Well, I didn’t hold high enough on the rope, and when I swung I barely swung and BOOB FLOPPED flat into the water so hard that my top came off under water. FAIL. But awesome. This is the face I made upon emerging and confirming my breasts were still in tact.
16. Observing A Man In a Diaper Walk Down The Street Carrying A Machete.
As the heading says, a man with deathly leather colored skin traipsed down the street wearing nothing but a sheet-like diaper, while carrying nothing but a machete. I felt safe.
17. Temple Hopping And Bicycle Riding.
One thing I always try to do while traveling is spend a day with a map in hand and my tuchous on a bicycle seat. It’s so whimsical and I think the best way to see a city. Luang Prabang is probably one of the best cities to do this in because it’s so small and quaint. So, we spent a day temple hopping, monk spotting and drink sipping on our bikes, and it was a beautiful, hot and sweaty day!
18. Bargaining My Face Off At The Most Colorful Night Market I’ve Ever Been To.
I LOVE night marketing while I travel, and the market in Luang Prabang exceeded my expectations. It was by far my favorite night market I’ve ever been to. The colors were so bright everywhere I turned, and the handmade items being sold were so fun and vibrant and unique. I bargained like it was my job and ended up snagging a pretty awesome travel bag for a sweet deal. I love this photo I took, and every time I look at it I just want to pop back there!
19. Meeting New Friends At The All Vegetarian Buffet At The Night Market.
While Instagramming, Steph stumbled upon a guy’s posting of this all vegetarian buffet just off of the night market. There was a massive spread of food that you put on a plate and then a guy heated it all up for you in a wok. It was for something outrageous like $5, and was so delicious! We pulled up a seat with everyone else and nommed down on our food. We met some fascinating friends from France, Argentina and Mauritius that we spent the rest of our last evening with. It’s moments like this when I realize why I love traveling.
20. Sitting In The Back Of Our Second Pick Up Truck Crossing The Thailand Border.
We did it once, and we did it twice. Southeast Asia seems to follow Mexico’s lead when it comes to border crossing, because I’ve never felt more illegal in my life. Sometimes it feels good to live life on the edge. At least we had a stamp in our passeporto.
21. Stumbling Upon This Awesome Art Shop In Chiang Mai.
On our last day in Chiang Mai, we randomly stumbled into this art studio/shop filled with a man’s artwork strewn about with every life and travel quote imaginable. We spent a wild amount of time wandering and finding the perfect purchases for ourselves and our parents. We both chose pieces for our parents with quotes about our own need to wander the world, and how no matter where we are they’re always in our hearts.
22. These Young Boys Getting Massages In Bangkok.
Because they were such babies and they looked so funny and adorable getting a group massage. I couldn’t help myself. They were 18 years old. BABIES!
23. These Gangnam Style Sandals On Khaosan Rd.
Well, because there would be no better send off back to Koko than to see Psy displayed on some footwear.
Well, there you have it. Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang in a somewhat brief pictoral nutshell. I hope you enjoyed despite my tardiness! Better late than never!!
I can’t believe I am even writing this post. It actually pisses me off that I’m making myself do this. However, I’ve come to use this blog space of mine to pay a little love to the people near and far who I want to give a big virtual hug to no matter where we both reside in the world at any present moment at any present time on any day of dire significance.
This one is dedicated to my beautiful Stephanie Anne Heyduck, who has become one of the nearest and dearest to my heart during this last year and a half in Korea. It makes me really sad that her time here has expired, but that’s what comes with the expat territory. Those who we become so close with weave in and out of our lives and that’s that. I guess it’s what we indirectly signed up for in choosing a lifestyle fueled by wanderlust; bonding together with others who also thrive on that same passion to wander and move about this glorious globe to explore and conquer.
As we’ve cuddled, danced and traveled our way through an ever-growing friendship, it’s always been apparent to me that Steph is totally one of those people who is unbelievably wise beyond her 25 years. Whether it be in matters of the heart or the world, she always manages to have the wild child in check with the mature adult who’s got their head screwed on straight. She’s also one of those people that just knows something about everything, no matter the topic. I only know a few of those kinds of people and she’s one of them. It always kind of amazes me and I’m just like WHA?! Where you come from?! She’s a special one, and I love her dearly.
Now for a little journey thru some of my fave highlights of the past year and a half frolicking thru the far East together 🙂
The first time I met Steph was when Jeanette and Carmen were visiting. It was maybe my 3rd week living in Seoul, and Jeanette and Steph realized they had practically matching tattoos. Friends.Seoulmates.WHAT.
Here’s the first time Steph, Katie, Abby and I officially became a foursome after each others hearts. We hiked to the top of Namsan Tower and then struggled to take this photo in the geographical center of Seoul! Many of my “I’m so happy I’m in Korea moments” have been spent with these ladies, and they’ll all always hold one of the most special places in my little Korean heart.
She introduced me to one of my favorite Korean foods, Shabu Shabu, in the Ying Yang pot, one freezing cold night after shopping our butts off in Myeong-dong. Nom.
We’ve had some shenanigans, and this was one random night out on the town while everyone else got down on a bus filled with soju. Hey, we all make mistakes. She dragged me, she loves me despite it 😉
We got money hungry at the Trick Eye Museum. AKA the most fun museum EVER!
Then we got ballsy and decided to eat some live octopus together for the first time. Actually not so bad and kinda fun.
Somewhere around this time we decided we’d bare it all and get naked with each other at the jjimjilbang. We did, and it was weird for like 2 minutes, and then it was awesome, and then we went again, and we became obsessed even though we didn’t do it as often as we thought we would. But still. It brought us as close as 2 naked platonic girlfriends can get. Both in and outside of our sexy jjimjilbang attire.
Her family came to visit, got us smashed to pieces during her mom’s first date with soju, and then Papa Heyduck did a sorority pose in this photo with us all.
There were a couple girls nights in. This may have been what they started out looking like.
And then the aftermath to the tune of some Disney movies and Twilight and makkoli and soju.
Then we took on a bit of traveling together. First came that unforgettable typhoon of a trip to Japan where we rode bikes around Kyoto…
Got our plans “horribly” rearranged by an unexpected typhoon…
And then relocated ourselves to the nearest karaoke room where Steph gave us this private show (before I inevitably hogged the mic). Adele or Celine perhaps? The sake won’t allow me to remember. Whatever the song, her voice sang it magically. From this moment on we became noraebang obsessed.
Shortly after, we went to go Barack the vote together. We were VERY excited to make our voices heard.
And after he won the election, the two of us rented out the VIP room at a local noraebang in Itaewon (because it was the only one available), drank ourselves silly on a Wednesday night, and sang our Disney hearts wild for 2 hours because we were so happy for our man Barry. One of my all time fave Steph & Dani moments to date. “I can show you the worldddddddd……”
Of course by far one of my favorite things everrrrr that we’ve done was going to Thailand and Laos together this past February. You don’t really know someone til you either live or travel with them, and we traveled really really well together. We had such an amazing time playing with elephants and tigers, cooking exotic cuisine, crossing the border like a coupla Mexican cholas in the back of one too many pick-up trucks, and meeting lovely French lassies and gorgeous Argentinian men along the way. (I have majorly slacked in posting about that trip, but it will be coming soon, I promise. Eeeep!)
Needless to say, friendship is nothin if you’re not there to help hoist your friend’s fat ass up on top of a hormonal elephant…
Or sit down next to each other in some tiger pee to get those one-in-a-million shots in life!
Tonight after Abby and I had to fight back premature tears while saying bye to Steph at our 2nd to last dinner together, we were talking about when we first signed up to move our lives to Korea. We had envisioned living amongst a new culture, with new foods, new experiences, new travels, a new language to make up the white noise in our background, and we knew we’d make friends abroad. But, we both made the connection that neither of us had really put much thought into the relationships we were going to build and who would soon become our family whilst carrying on our new lives. I guess you don’t really plan or think about those types of things because they’re organic and happen as they will. With the ending of year one a slew of great loves left, but Stephanie is my first great girlfriend who’s been there since the beginning, to leave Korea, and that’s a killer. Great girlfriends are not easy to find, and she is just one of those friends that I am so lucky to have snatched up.
To wrap it all up, I love you Stepaneeeeee, and I’m gonna miss you, like, times 10 million to the max. But, I know we are both wanderers and this is just a BIG “see ya later”. My time spent in Korea would never have been quite the same without you in it, and I hope this next chapter of your life is a lot less (kimchi) smelly, but just as fulfilling as the past 2 years have been. I love you to infinity and beyondddddddd.
So far 2012 was my favorite year to date, but it kind of ended with a little bit of a thud for me, so naturally the thought of fleeing the country for a couple glorious weeks was well received. And what better distraction than 2 weeks stateside with family, friendzies, puppies, beach and lots and lots of cheese. Nothing that I can think of.
Breathable air, a handsome black man displayed under the “Welcome to the United States of America” sign, and a fat screaming black woman ushering American Airlines passengers to their connections were the first three WELCOME BACK TO AMERICA’s that I got. Then came Mama Schaeff surprising me from behind at the curb, the puppy kisses from Presley, the “Why did you leave me?” ‘I’m mad at you’ stares from Cilla, and the jumping around the car hugs with sista!! Only to be followed up with the greatest welcome home surprise party ever! Not only was there Porto’s and mimosas, but there was Wawa, Brianne, Kendra, MayMay, Jeanelly, Joel, Justin and the whole fambam. Ahhhhh it felt good to be back in the greatest country in the world!!!
Seeing as this was my first time back in the states in nearly 1.5 years, I was totally eager to see what super weird Korean things I was gonna carry back with me. To my surprise, I don’t think there were too too many. My stomach definitely shrunk and I could only eat about half the portion that I could before making kimchi a daily staple in my life. Jacquie told me I talk way more with my hands, but I also talked like a freakin Italian before I left anyways, but I guess it became a little more dramatic. But I like dramatic, so hmpf! The big thing for me was the shoes in the house thing. I obviously don’t care about wearing shoes in the house while I’m home, but since living in these parts I keep an almost completely Korean household with regards to outer footwear on my precious floors. Except for when I forget something and my shoes are already on. Then I wear my shoes in the house. Screw crawling across the floor, no time for that. I’m walking. Swiffer that shit later. However, when I arrived at my surprise party, the first thing I did (after hugging everyone that was there and complimenting them all on their great boots), was say how I needed to take my boots off because it felt weird to walk inside with my shoes on. Here I am sitting with May May wearing her boots, and me wearing my jazzy socks, and my suitcase throwing up beside me.
The whole time that I was home I was constantly moving, with the exception of my first Sunday home where I slept straight through the night and day until 5:30pm. Heyo jet lag! I’ll take a quick lil wander through the highlights of my trip and all of the beautiful faces I saw and glutinous cuisine I stuffed my face with.
The first thing I did after resting my peepers from a day of travel, was head up to Santa Barbara for some Mexican food and a night out with the Fab 4 and sista! It was May’s little sister’s 21st birthday, so the alumni came back to show her how it’s done (or tried to). In the end, we realized that in our old age we just can’t hang quite like we used to.
Kamikazi shots at Sandbar. Where’s the Cassie song?
Jonesy and sista also sang their own interpretation of Rihanna’s “Diamond.” Give your ears a treat, will you?
Sista and I had a wondrous dinner at Lala’s in Weho with the two handsome brothas Dicecca, followed by Koreanizing Michael Claudio and showing them my Korean hangul (alphabet) skills. They were easily impressed with my enhanced Asian genes.
The next day (a bit delayed), came the cream of the fatass crop. I finally stepped foot into an In N Out establishment, and it was even better than it tastes in my dreams.
Moving onto other excruciatingly delicious things, let me introduce you to the latest pledge to the FRAT house, the gorgeous lil Georgia Jeanne!
And another gorgeous human modeling his new PSY socks. ❤ Chizzy!
The next day, Jessie and I helped MayMay celebrate her 29th birthday over heaping bowls of Pho Tai. All things very nom. I was so happy when the little Vietnamese workers remembered me and asked where I’ve been! They were quite shocked when I told them I lived in Korea now, but very happy when I told them I’d visited their country on my travels.
Then came Friday, MLK weekend, and the arrival of some of the best friends on the planet!!! Bret, Kayla, Jeanette and Priya all flew in from San Jose and NYC for my birthday weekend, and I must say, that was the best gift I could ever ask for! The weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a really long time. Absence definitely made the heart grow fonder, and it was so unbelievable to know that even though almost 2 years had gone by since we’d all seen each other, we just picked up right where we left off. It’s so lovely to get older and know that your friends are still so close to your heart no matter all the distance or time between.
My birthday party was on Saturday January 19th at Bodega in Santa Monica, and I could not have asked for a better turn out! People that I honestly thought were not going to show, showed up, even if only for a quick hug and a smooch on the cheek. I originally didn’t even want to come home for a visit (sorry), but everyone really made it 150% worth it, and I’m so glad I came 🙂 So, here’s a gander at some of my fave moments as I rang in the last year of my 20s.
Perhaps the favorite, most unexpected of the night was this wonderful guy. Twas so amazing to see Nicholas.
Brotha was VERY excited to see Nick, and of course talk the sports.
Siblings Schaeff and one Ho-el.
The Agoura+ shot. We finally got it good, then Brotha did that!
TAYLOR LAUTNER CAME! JK. But my favorite New Zealander and vulgar conversationalist came. I freakin love you, Alavi!
Baller & Whore, but he doesn’t call me that anymore because I am a lady. BFFFFFFFFFFFFF4lyfe ❤
The 1, the only, the FAB 4.
My beauties clappin somethin out.
YES.YES.YES. Happiness embodied.
SBeezy in the Heezy!!!
Good girl’s gotta get down wit the gangsta! Love our T$!
Bromance and a princess of mine. My favorite part of this photo is Rami wearing Bretty’s sweater. True LOVE.
The ladies of LALA who made my 20s the most unforgettable ❤
Salmon pants and a sassy Asian. Can’t ask for more!
My favorite intern ever!!!!!!!! And also just one of my favorite human beings ever.
I can always count on this pretty lady to show up to a coming or going party. God bless our crazy ex-bosses dysfunctional relationship because we had the chance to meet each other ❤
Here was a nice little cherry on top, minus the poor lighting. I love all you guys!
The next day was my actual birthday. The day began as LA as you can get. Cruising down Wilshire Blvd. in Danni’s Audi convertible, getting green smoothies, rubbing elbows with one Sofia Vergara, and then popping off to an afternoon of brunching, bouncing around a baby Georgiecakes, and planting our butts in the warm Venice beach sand. It was by far the best most beautiful birthday I have ever had. Thanks guys 🙂
Sorry Fran and Nick, we are stealing your child. Meet Mr. & Mrs. Schaeffenchiz and our baby girl Laverne.
What a beautiful lesbian family you guys make.
Awkward poses with baby props.
Ok, real mom and her real baby.
My trip revolved around lots of important people’s birthdays, and on Tuesday was Mama Schaeff’s birthday! Jacquie and I took her out for a nomtastic dinner, and this is the video I took of her enjoying her chocolate cake and strawberry a little more than anticipated!
On my last day in the land of LA, sista and I went to visit our cousin Danny and his dazzling girlfriend, Nicole, at their boutique, Clover, in Silverlake (cloversilverlake.com). It was sooo nice to see them and see what they have done to the store. If you live in the area you definitely have to go! We caught up on life, travels, work, family and also took many unflattering photos along the way. Here’s the cutest one, where we cut out Danny’s 10 chins.
When it really clicked that I was going back to Korea it was a little bittersweet. I think the two weeks was the perfect amount of time to be home, because by the end I was definitely ready to return and pop off to somewhere in the orient. My last night was a little weird, but I think that’s because it was setting in for everyone that I was leaving again for who knows how long. As I packed up my 62 lb bag, Cilla laid at the edge of the bed just staring at me, like she knew I was leaving and she was prepared to be mad at me for another year 😦 I definitely miss those babyloves maybe more than anything ❤
My flight was the next morning bright and early, and I was pissed because my mom didn’t come to the airport with me. She knows very well!!!! So this time I left back to Korea with tears AGAIN. Drastically (DRASTICALLY) less than the first time, but tears nonetheless. Jacquie was sick, so she got a get out of jail free card, so I was off to the airport with Papa and Brotha Schaeff. I of course had my standard airport anxiety, on top of a stupidly heavy load of luggage that my dad was shlepping around for me. I always get bitchy when I’m stressed, so I felt a bit bad for how I was acting right before I left. Nonetheless, here is the last known photo of father, daughter and son before I escaped to the Orient yet again.
All in all, a trip home was so necessary. I really needed to get out of Korea and see the faces of the ones I love so much at home, and get a little perspective, because some things over here hit the fan before I left. So, to everyone who made my trip home unbelievable, many many many times one million thank yous!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Last but not least, there were of course those things that popped out to me as either things I felt differently about or did differently since returning home. Perhaps the biggest that I noticed was something more than just things I say or do. Obviously most people in the world do not chose to go live in a country other than their own at their own accord, or travel the world for more than a few weeks at a time. So, already that is a huge thing that has set me apart from the people that I associate with home. While everyone at home will always be that part of me that no one else will ever be able to fully know, let me put this bluntly, I almost felt like I didn’t entirely belong anymore. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I just think that I have wanted to live abroad for SO DAMN LONG, and now that it’s finally happened and been in motion, and I’ve been surrounded by others who have picked up and moved their lives across the globe as well, this side of me that never got the chance to completely flourish has finally found its way out and found others who are passionate about the same thing in the same capacity. It was most apparent to me during times when catching up about relationships and jobs, and times when everyone would ask me where I’ve been, and where I’m going next. It’s like people were fascinated with what I’ve seen and where I’ve gone, but at the same time wondering when I’d be back in the states and what did I plan to do once this “vacation” was over. I couldn’t even put a pin on what the emotion was that I was feeling the whole time until a friend who had lived abroad some years ago, asked me how it felt to be home. I couldn’t really explain it, and then she said the words “you don’t feel like you fit in anymore, do you?” Ding ding. Life’s funny.
So yea, sorry to end on a weird note. I’m sure I will be back home by the end of the year, but only for a minute 😉 Being home felt amazing, but being abroad and traveling the world feels more amazing to me. Life is just crazy and I feel like everything is happening so fast these days. But if there’s one thing I am so freakin thankful for, it’s all of you fine folks that I will always call home 🙂