Captivating Kotor

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.

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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!

EYES

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.

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City guard shark

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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.

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The closest I got was to the trash-laden pool at the sea’s edge, where people basked just a stone’s throw away.

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THIGHS

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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VIBES

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.

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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.

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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!

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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! 

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The Grand Baby Tour Of Los Angeles

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Like mommy like baby.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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3am puppy modeling hour.

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It would be incomplete without this creeper shot taken by my darling sista.

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As you can see, this trip home was not lacking in the heart explosion department. Thank heavens for tiny creatures.

Some Of My Faves Got Some Guest Postings!

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!

Gettin JAPpy With The Japs

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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We even did this cute lovers pose on a love bench.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!! ❤

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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There was also this creepy rabbitequin.

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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.

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And absolutely no shortage of decorative fermenting Sake.

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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.

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I decided I had some things that needed some push, so now they are fully displayed for the daily world to see.1382924_10102721202275657_1361541361_n

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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

6. Cleansing Our Dirty Mouths & Fortune Telling At Senso-ji Shrine

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.

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The shrine was gorgeous and massive on a rainy day.

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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.

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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.

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Then we both cleansed our mouths. Nice try holy water, but not sure this is strong enough.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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It cost us between 1,500-2,000yen ($15-20) and an ear pop in the speedy elevator to the top!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

Happy Hippie Bali

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.

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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.

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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.

1151072_10102614572402777_323951986_nGaza 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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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5. Phalluses For Days

I’m clearly ready for any cock-fight you wish to have.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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10. Temple Hopping With Tu & His Wild Leopard Sarong

It was pretty wild.

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Here I am in my peacock sarong, about to enter an extremely moist Elephant shrine on our day of temple hopping.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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And even found sista!

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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!

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Dokdo & Ulleungdo: Where I Got Lucky

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!

samcheok boy rock

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.

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The walk up to our pension overlooking the ocean.  Seriously beautiful and nothin’ but fresh air for days!

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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.

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And we walked along these massive cliffs overlooking the sea. Super gorge!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

dokdo guards

And with that we were off, but not without bidding some fond farewells.

josh goodbye dokdo

ajumma phone dokdo

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.

old man and muralsstu ocean

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.

WTF?! Wednesday ~ A Row Of Phalluses

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.

IMG_8224

Korea, you cray!