A Pupu Platter Of 2012 Whathaveyous

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PEACE & CHICKEN GREASE, HOMIEZ.

Konichiwa Bitchez ^^

Chuseok a year ago marked my very first “I’m so happy I’m in Korea moment.”  My newly found group of friends and I took our haven’t-been-paid-yet-broke-asses to Muuido island off the coast of Incheon, and it was magnificent.  I couldn’t help but think back to that long weekend a year ago as I was taking off from Seoul headed to Osaka, Japan.  A year ago I had found a group of 3 girls who at the time were my best friends in Korea.  2 of them have come and gone from our lil circle, and one fine lassie was added to the mix for good.  A lot can happen in a year, and it has definitely been the best year of my life so far.

And the number one reason why this year has been the tops, is because as of Chuseok 2012, I have traveled to 6 countries in Asia.  Since we are now making monies, a group of us decided to peace out of Korea for the long weekend and cross the sea on over to Japan! We ended up snagging expensive-for-flights-to Japan, but reasonably-priced-for-the-holiday flights to Osaka.  Steph went a couple days before, then me, Katie and Josh(ephine) joined, with Jeewon a day behind us.  It was an awesome girls trip plus Joshy boy.  He really practiced patience, and learned a lot about Adele and the cleanliness habits of girls during the long weekend.  Props to you sir.

The three of us arrived in Osaka around 5pm, then had to navigate through the horribly organized train system that makes up Japan.  We are definitely spoiled with the brilliant and user-friendly subway on this peninsula, lemme tell ya! Luckily Josh met a girl on the plane who, along with giving him useful phrases to add to his list, also helped us figure out how to get to our hostel. Bless our giant Joshephine! My first thoughts upon arrival in Japan were that it is so clean and everyone on the street has their own STYLE.  It was so refreshing to see, because while Korea is stylish, it’s also super buttoned up and repressed for individuality.  I was also amazed by the amount of people reading BOOKS and not on their smart phones.  This was like a cool drink of refreshing water!

So we made it to our hostel in the funky Americamura district, got some nomtastic bubble tea (boba) and a dinner of the most delicious beef I have ever had the pleasure of sinking my teeth into.  It must have been because we were eating amidst an angel.

Here is what our hostel looked like.  It was as if we went to sleep away camp for the weekend! Or a frat house, however you want to spin it. Minus the uncleanliness.

And this is our bathroom.  I envisioned 6’4″ Josh like Buddy the Elf trying to cleanse himself in that teeny little space.

The next morning we woke up bright and early and were off to Kyoto, which was about 30 minutes by train.  We dropped our bags off at the guest house and were off to bike around the city for the day.  Kyoto felt like such a quaint little city, not like we were in a big city at all.

Our first stop was at the Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji.  It was this massive golden palace with no windows set beside a beautiful lake.  Once we got in it was like we stepped into a Sailor Moon field trip.

We were also greeted by this very polite Japanese man and his spread legs.

Joshy and Steph were also celebrity status when they got  interviewed by a slew of giddy Japanese school girls.

After looking at the temple, we tried a bunch of delicious flavors of mochi (Japanese rice cakes) and the most AMAZING wasabi peanuts.  I almost died and went to wasabi heaven.  Here is Katie trying to figure out which nuts to buy.

Next we biked to the Imperial Palace, but since we could only go inside with an appointment, we biked around the perimeter and scoped out the lush flora.

After the Imperial Palace we needed to orient ourselves, so Katie and I took the liberty of hopping into the map to grab our bearings.

Then we were off to bike along the river.  This area was just beside the Gion district of Osaka, which is also known as the Geisha district.  While biking along the river I felt like I had been plopped down in Europe somewhere.  It completely did not feel like Asia to me.  There were street musicians and dancers and painters and everyday people just sitting on the side of the river reading books and drawing and talking.  It was gorgeous and it was one of the things that made me fall in love with Japan, especially Kyoto.

After riding along the river we parked our bikes and went to see what Gion was about.  It was a small area with a lot of hustle bustle, but still very quaint and historical feeling.

We crossed the road with a couple of geishas.

Saw some more geishas.

Saw the Gion Red Temple gate.

And gawked at the amazingness of Japanese snacks.  And this is only the deli-ish section.  Korea please take note.

We had then planned to bike further south to another shrine that we all wanted to see, but unfortunately it was starting to rain and getting late and we had to return our bikes.  So, we headed out for a much earned and DELICIOUS conveyor belt sushi dinner that our homie Moe from the guest house suggested. It was bomb….except for the accidental sampling of raw horse.  SICK.

The next day, thankfully not sick from the horse,  Steph and I planned to splurge on a day trip to Hiroshima to see Miyajima Island and the Atomic bomb museum, however a typhoon decided to hit Japan and we opted to save our $300 and stay in the typhooning Kyoto for the day.  We didn’t realize how bad the weather was til we were on the outskirts of Kyoto at a Bamboo forest, which would have been gorgeous had it not been for the awful weather.  Here are my homies trying to figure out what direction the bathroom is in.

So we called that quits fast and got the train back to Kyoto where we traded in our umbrellas for full body ponchos, and decided to spend the afternoon eating Japanese nomz inside.

Yakisoba noodles with seafood!

Okonomiyaki pancake, which I swear tasted like the holidays to me.  Almost like a gingerbread cookie oddly enough.  It was okkk

After stuffing our faces, we tried to figure out a plan for the evening.  Moe helped us decide on going to a Kabuki/Geisha/tea ceremony show in Gion, which we were really excited about….that is until we got there and saw THIS SIGN.  If you can’t read it, it says that the theater is closed due to the typhoon.  Angry birds we were.

OH WELL, guess we’ll go get shitfaced on sake and sushi and hit up a karaoke room instead. Cue sloppiest, most fantastical night ever. God bless the little Japanese fellas who had to clean up after our disaster.

This is what 30 bottles of sake….

 

and Celine Dion looks like, if you were curious.

It was an awesome last night with all of us together, and the next morning we checked out and popped back on up to Osaka for a day of exploring, and saying bye to Steph.

Our first matter of business was to rest after our wild night, and then hit up Osaka Castle, which played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century.

Once inside we read about all the different wars and heirs that occupied the castle…..and most importantly, we got to play geisha for 15 minutes.

We were getting hungry (and one boy quite cranky) and decided to head to Namba and the River walk.  We got the most tasty ramen at a little hole in the wall place on Dotonbori street, which is the most famous street in all of Osaka.

I regret to say I didn’t eat any Takoyaki (octopus balls), but here is what they look like and how they’re made.  Next time I go back to Japan I promise myself I’ll try, because apparently they’re bombtastic.

After stuffing our faces, we did what any normal person in Japan does.  We went to an arcade and Katie and Jeewon broke it down on the DDR with a silly looking, hardcore DDR Japanese boy.  Here’s a video to show you just how asian they are.

We ended our last night in Osaka by trying to ride an extremely ginormous ferris wheel on the river, but failed miserably when we got there too late.  Instead we decided to sit, talk, eat the massive amounts of mochi and snacks and green tea kit kats (and a 1/5 of booze for Josh) on the side of the river before catching the last train back to our hotel.

Overall, Japan was awesome!!!! I am so in love with it and glad I got to experience it with the lovely bunch of friendsies that I did.  The people there are so polite and exude attitude and style and individuality, which I love, especially after coming from Korea.  Obviously Korea will always hold a special place in my heart, it was just that they’re such different cultures, and I wasn’t really expecting that.

Until we meet again, sayonara Japan!!!

 

The Philippines: An Ode To My Havaianas

To wrap up my twelfth month of living abroad, I decided that instead of going home with my additional 2 weeks vacation, I would go and travel to another exotic land for a couple weeks.  I decided I wanted to go to the Philippines after hearing rave reviews from some friends who went in the winter.  For starters,  I was trying to think who from home would drop life in a snap and meet me in the Orient.  Other than my sister, that person would be Brianne, and life she did drop for a couple of beach basking weeks in the biggest archipelago in the world!  It didn’t even take any coaxing.  The mere question was asked and the dates were secured off from work within a week.  BOOM!  One thing that I am extremely grateful for is having friends who are so eager to travel and come meet me all over the world.  It definitely helps to ease a little bit of the homesickness that could easily have crept in far earlier.

Going to the Philippines was actually both mine and Brianne’s first trip where the primary activity that we’d be doing would be relaxing, so to begin, we were both in unfamiliar territory.  What? Vacation? RELAX?! NO! Oh, but YES! However, our vacation did not start out relaxing.  Not in the least bit.  We had to work up to that one.

Lack of relaxation began all the way in LA, starting with Brianne’s trip.  Her flight was delayed I think 18 hours, then it was rerouted, and even had an emergency landing in Hawaii, just because the other delays weren’t enough. My trip also started with a bit of high strung action as I bolted through Incheon airport like I had a Buzz Lightyear jet pack on my back because the security did not understand “GATE CLOSED” while I was still standing in the security line. Zest Air apparently had some technical difficulties at their check in counter.   Despite the momentary airport nerves, I made it to Manila on time, unlike Brianne. I had half a day before her new scheduled arrival, so I treated myself to a 2 hour massage and some dinner amidst what we would later find out to be the Red Light District of Makati in Manila. I knew it felt sketchball city when all those creepy eyes were following me. The next morning I had a brief panic attack because Brianne still hadn’t arrived and it was already 8:30am.  Thank GOD for my sister  who called the airline to get an update on Brianne’s flight for me.  This was when I learned about all the rerouting and whatnot.  Of course I was expecting only the worse.  Around noon, I decided to go get a coffee while I waited for her arrival, when cue yellow cabby coming up the street with a very exhausted looking Brianne in the backseat, and me bolting after the cab as if my life depended on it.  She was trying so hard to tune me out (because she thought I was a mother begging for money) that she didn’t even realize it was me til I was pounding on the window.  I retrieved her (and her Peruvian money) safe and sound and we rejoiced in each others arms! Let our vacation begin!!!!

We started our first official vacation day together off with a bang.  After Brianne did a quick freshening up, we hitched a cab to Intramuros, which from my research is really all there is to see in Manila that’s of any historical note.  Intramuros means “The Walled City,” and it’s the original portion of the city that is still standing after the Spanish colonization and destruction.  We were given a less than romantic tour through the walled city via horse and carriage in the rain by our tour guide, Nestor, and his horse with the ever-growing poop bag.

Manila Metropolitan Cathedral, as seen from our horse and carriage.

We befriended some girls in leopard pants who just wanted to sing Justin Bieber and “Call Me Maybe.”

We also got a little frisky with the Filipino presidents.

We got some awkwardly angled photos taken by Nestor in St. Agustin’s Cathedral.  Fun fact, the ceiling is painted, not carved.

We made a lovely little friend, Jonathan, at the Casa de Manila. He was precious and we were practicing our Korean with each other.

We went to Baluarte de San Diego, which was where the Spaniards kept their prisoners.  When the water would rise they would be tortured and drowned.

After our tour of Intramuros, Nestor decided to give us even more of a tour.  He took us through China Town, which continued the shitholeness of Manila. The streets were unlike streets I have ever seen.  Gah!

He even took us almost all the way back to our nook in the Red Light District, until his wheel broke. He hustled us far too much for our day’s journey, and why I didn’t pitch a fit, I don’t know.  But Nestor got away with murder that day. Oh well, twas a grand day nonetheless and I’m sure him and his mistresses ate well for a week!  Adios Manila!!

Next we were off to Donsol, which proved to be a bit of a bust, but still beautiful! First, we flew into the further of the two airports and had to take a 3 hour van (with many Disney stuffed animals) to Donsol that cost an arm and a leg.  Second, I should have trusted my gut on this one, but of course I didn’t. We went to Donsol because the region is famous for Whale Sharks!  My homie 4names told me that you can go there and snorkel with them and I instantly wanted to jump on that opportunity.  However, I knew it was the off season and that they’d migrate, but I didn’t realize that they completely stopped taking boats out to find them, which they do.  Boo.  For future travelers to Donsol, the best time to go is in the winter months!

Unfortunately, this is the closest I got to a gloriously large Whale Shark (they’re the largest fish in the world, are vegetarians, and known as gentle giants….so they’re not Great Whites mom!) I WILL be back to do this eventually!!

So, instead of swimming with whale sharks, we drank red wine on our patio, got a buzz, went on the river to watch fireflies mate, and then retired to our boudoir to read our books side by side.  Totally the same, right?

The next day we were off to the spectacular city of Naga (where the airport from hell was).  The owner of our hotel in Donsol, May, was the sweetest woman ever.  She reminded me of Chaz Bono in appearance, but what an angel she was.  We were her only patrons, so she took it upon herself to accompany us to Naga and make sure we got a place to stay while we were there.  She hopped in a tricycle with us when the van broke down upon entering Naga, and was just the kindest.  I’m a strong believer in people living up to their names (I love Mays, and Joshes can suck it).  So, we finally found a place that was quite luxurious, a wee bit out of our budget, and had “beds” which as far as we are concerned, were only box springs.

The next day is the worst day in the history of our Filipino adventure.  We were supposed to have a full 4 days in beautiful Boracay, but instead we were stranded in the Naga airport for 8 hours while Manila flooded and every Air Phil Express plane had to be rerouted, while every Cebu Air plane took off according to plan.  Long story short, we finally got out of the foodless airport and into Manila late that night, and I had to pitch a fit for them to actually put us up in a hotel in Manila that was infested with hookers and pee.  We got on the first flight out the next morning, after I reached my limit and pitched another fit when our flight was delayed ever-so-slightly….. again.

OH!  HELLO LOVER!! Never have crystal clear aquamarine waters looked more beautiful than after spending 8 hours in the worst airport ever, and another unwanted evening in the slums of Manila.  We finally arrived in Boracay!!! We checked into our hotel, none other than La Isla Bonita, grabbed some breakfast and a cocktail (but not after I had a cranky “bacon” moment), snagged some new sunnies, sucked back a coconut and HIT. THE. BEACH. and got very very burnt.

The rest of our stay in Boracay consisted of snorkeling, meeting other awesome teachers from Korea that I can’t wait to see again, beach basking, drinking and shopping.  All that’s really necessary is a pictoral journey of our stay in paradise.

I enjoyed my favorite tropical snack.

While Brianne felt otherwise.

We snorkeled amidst the glorious waters…

With Panama Ji-ho and all of his closest life-jacket clad Korean chingus. Fun (or not so fun) fact, Asians suffer the most drownings in the Philippines because many can’t swim.

We went to Crystal Cove Island, where we saw stalagmites/tites, and climbed on rocks while pretending to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid.

We got back to our dancer/cheerleader roots and put on quite the performance with a rope.

Played with electric blue sea life.

I also got this heinous photo of me with the living water balloon, Flounder, the puffer fish!  He was slimey and gross and gave me the heeby jeebies!

We also went out and met some hip peeps, and some tools who ended up being kind of fun as well.  Can you spot the toolbox keeper?

Boracay was everything I had hoped it would be!  Alas, we were off to the final island of our hopping, and boy was it our fave! Last but not least was Palawan, home of El Nido, the cutest, most quaint and lovely little place.

Palawan is the biggest island on the west side of the Philippines.  For the first time on our trip, our flights were all on time and we landed in Puerto Princesa as planned, found the De Loro hotel with the sweetest staff ever, and got to booking our excursions.  Right when we arrived we signed up to go to the Underground River tour the following day, which is one of the 7 Wonders of Nature, and boy was it! Immediately after getting our permits for the river, we were off on a 4 hour tour of Puerto Princesa.

We caught a quick Filipino mass at St. Agustines Cathedral.

Despite my frustrations, I learned how to weave a rug, or place mat, or towel….or something, out of dyed grass. He was not a very good teacher.

Gazed at Honda Bay in the distance, and also creeped on cute kids and a horsey.

Then I turned into a beautiful butterfly at a butterfly garden.  It was random.

The next day we were off to the Underground River in Sabang bright and early!  We had an 8:30am appointment, and Sabang was about 1.5 hours away by van. We got on one of the earliest tour groups because they regulate the amount of people who are able to enter the cave each day due to excavations and research that are being held there.  They allow 800 people to view it each day, so lucky us!

The boat ride was about 45 mins – 1 hour, and was really cool, but a bit long.  Brianne and I were exhausted and regret to say that we took mini snoozes here and there.  The cave is filled with bats, so they are all over the ceiling!!  Our guide kept telling us that when we look up to not say “WOW” or else we’d get bat shit in our mouths.  MMMMM! It was interesting, despite our snoozes, because the different stalagtite and stalagmite formations looked like different things, so the guide kept pointing out “this is the cathedral and The Last Supper” and “here we have broccoli in the garden” and “oh, and there’s a penis!” It was magnificent!

It was kinda hard to get good pictures in the cave, but these are pretty decent considering the lack of lighting combined with my shitty camera.

After floating thru a natural wonder, we were off to scour and repel rocks and zip line….all while in our slippery havaianas! We had no idea we were about to be rock climbing, or we would have packed the appropriate footwear.  Oh well, hakuna matata!!

The journey wouldn’t have been a journey had we not been hammin it up for the camera along the way, now would it?

Oh! Welcome to our rock home!

Say a prayer….or hug a rock. I LOVE THIS ROCK SO MUCH!

Just hanging out with some lopsided stalagtites.

If it looks as if I’m barefoot, it’s because I might as well have been.  Havaianas are not proper rock climbing attire.

I’m coming outttttt, I want the world to knowwww, gotta let it showww. That’s what comes to mind.

Finally at the top, ready to go down in our sexiest garb.

Stole these from the computer screen because I’m Jewish.  Flyin highhh

SO MUCH FUN!!!

The final destination of our stay on Palawan was the little nook of El Nido, mine and Brianne’s favorite place on our whole trip.  El Nido is so special because it’s still not a hot tourist spot, so you have to take a 6 hour van ride up from Puerto Princesa just to get there, and then once you’re there, there aren’t ATMs anywhere, so you gotta come stacked with the cash monies. It’s this quaint little backpackers haven interspersed with locals and everyday Filipino life everywhere.  The people were so kind and helpful, and then on top of it, the village is surrounded by island after island for miles and miles.  It is STUNNING and unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life. You look out into the ocean and it’s like you’re in this cove encircled by mountainous islands on every side of you.

We took a private van overnight up from Puerto Princesa, which is actually really unlikely because they pack these vans to the brim.  We just happened to be the only ones who booked to leave at that time so they were gonna try and cancel on us, but of course we pitched a fit, and got our van for a little extra money, but we were fine with that as long as we didn’t miss another day of our trip because of travel delays. So, we left at 6pm, and it took us more like 8 hours to get to El Nido because our driver kept stopping to fist bump his friends, pee, and sleep on the side of the road.  It was sketch, but we made it there in one piece.  We actually crashed at some random hostel called Full House because we got in around 2am with no accommodations and our driver happened to know the owner.  It sufficed, but we didn’t see Uncle Jesse 😦

The next morning we woke up to this majestic view, then hitched a tricycle into town to grab our bearings.

We stayed at a nice little place called the Garnet Hotel.  It stood out to me initially because it was bright orange.  Then it also had an adorable staff, so it was perfect. It’s on the main road of El Nido, and the little guy working there helped us set up our snorkel tour for the next day, and got us a personal driver to take us to Las Cabanas beach, which is situated just outside of El Nido, and then 2 guys to motorcycle us around up to Long Beach and a glorious waterfall.

The only downside to our time in El Nido was that it was really overcast, but it was a small price to pay.  It was breathtaking no matter what.  Here we are gallavanting and enjoying Las Cabanas beach and all the islands!

All that lush flora on our walk to the beach!

How cliche of us….it says Dani & Bree in a heart.

Our next day was spent island hopping.  It was a ridiculously rough day, and the boat ride out to the islands was SO choppy that we were soaked by the time we got to the first lagoon! But, this was some of the most magnificent snorkeling I have ever done.  I wish I had pictures to document it, but they will just live in my memory.  In one dive spot I felt like I was in a starfish graveyard that was scattered with roses everywhere.  There were fish that looked like they jumped right out of the 80s in their flourescent scales, and I even felt like I was swimming amidst Ariel and King Triton’s palace beneath the sea. The snorkeling was so unbelievable that we found ourselves snorkeling way far out away from the boat, until our nerves got us and we’d swim back just a lil bit closer.  We swam into a secret lagoon where we could barely see in front of us, and also happened to be where part of the Bourne Legacy was filmed.  I swear I also saw numerous jellyfish swim past me.  Later we came to find out that the Box Jellyfish, which is apparently the most deadly thing on the planet and can kill 100 people with one sting…..resides in the waters we were swimming in.  Comforting!!

Above Ariel’s Kingdom, where Bourne Legacy was filmed.

A bomb ass lunch was served on one of the islands, with a side of our new friend Cucoy’s underpants.  That man would touch anything and everything under the sea.

The next day was our favorite day of the trip by far!  We had two young guys, Wang Wang and Neil, and their motorcycles at our service.  We were driven way out of El Nido up to Long Beach.  We drove through remote little villages and got to see how the other half lives, let the wind catch our hair, walked as close as I ever have to cows, had a monkey man fetch us coconuts up a tree, and then hiked (in havaianas…again) to a gorgeously refreshing waterfall.  I can now check riding on the back of a motorcycle off my bucket list 🙂

We had some fans as we passed through…

And only drove on the safest of terrain.

Met some ballers as we drove through their hood.

Next came the hike to that delightful waterfall.  We got stuck in the mud along the way, forded many a river and scoured many a rock.  And we might as well have been barefoot whilst doing so.

Here is Brianne pretending to like my coconut.

What woman doesn’t want an au natural brassiere straight from the earth?

MADE IT without any falls along the way.  That’s saying a lot for me.

Rewarding ourselves with a dip.

One of my absolutely favorite things about El Nido was that everyday we saw the same people.  Whether it was other foreigners, or the local children playing hopscotch in the street.  I had one of my favorite nights at a local restaurant called Squidoos, where we met a young couple who’d been traveling for the past couple months on a tight tight budget, a young British Indian couple who had just come from visiting a cousin teaching in Korea, and the most fantastic little French family who reinstilled my faith in the French people.  We had a couple of those amazing nights just filled with great conversation and travel stories.  Loved loved loved!

A trip is never a trip without the addition of cute Asian babies.  So, here I am playing a most adorable and rigorous game of High 5 with the cutest little babes on the planet!!  They were so cute they took my attention away from my most delicious nutella crepe!

After 3 wonderful days in El Nido, we bid adieu and were off on yet another 6 hour van ride back to Puerto Princesa where we spent our final night.  My friend Mandy and her boyfriend Luke were actually having their first night on our last night, so we all met up and went to dinner at a burger place called Skybox.  It was really nice to get to say bye to Mandy in person since she obviously left Korea while I was gone.

As you can see, it was an amazing trip and I’m so glad that Brianne and I had the opportunity to meet up on this side of the globe and see each other while I celebrated 1 year of life abroad.  We were wonderful travel buddies, and until our next worldly journey….Daniel & Brian will always have ze Peens…and our little warrior Havaianas ❤

 

 

 

 

Back When I Was In Nam & Cambodia…

I knew before heading out to Vietnam and Cambodia that this was going to be a very different trip than Thailand was.  Thailand was all lighthearted and bomb diggity, but this trip was on a whole new level of amazingness, and was extremely educational. I’m the first one to say how unknowledgeable I am about most things concerning Asian history, so I was super excited for this trip.  This trip had a major focus on life and death and everything in between, of course being in 2 3rd world countries and all. In addition, 2 of my best Asian princesses are part Vietnamese and Cambodian and I’ve heard stories here and there about the history or things that have happened to their parents/families, so I was really eager to experience their history first hand.

This was also overshadowed by some events that struck me from home.  My first day in Phu Quoc I found out that the mom of one of my great friends from high school passed away after a very long battle with cancer.  I really really loved her so much, and began thinking about the last time I saw her, and I think it was at a funeral for our friend’s younger brother who was killed in Afghanistan about 1.5 years ago.  Before and after moving to Korea, she would Facebook message me just to say hi and give me recommendations when packing for the long haul.  Sweet sweet lady that Iris Grant. Then, on my final night in Phnom Penh (which was already an emotionally draining city), I found out on Facebook that my ex-boyfriend, first love, whatever, welcomed his first baby boy.  Crazy how life comes full circle like that.

ANYWAYS, moving on to the trip….

Katie and I flew out to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) on February 15th, had a 3 hour layover in the Shanghai airport (AKA the worst airport in the world), then landed in HCMC at the crack of dawn on the 16th. After feeling creeped out in the alley outside the hostel Abby found for us all, we rang the bell and were welcomed in.  The next morning we all packed up and headed out to the airport for our little jaunt to Phu Quoc, which is a small island off of Southern Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand on your map. Well, for some this little getaway turned into a big hiccup.  Our dear friend Matteu Pierre lost his passport somewhere in Saigon, therefore Katie stayed behind with him to sort it all out.  While they freaked out, Abby and I flew off to what we would come to deem the Kingdom of Lesbia, with the boys, Mark, Gavin, Kenny and Scotty.

Phu Quoc is gorgeous and for the most part pretty remote and no one really speaks English.  Basically it’s a lot of pointing to the item on the menu for what you want, big hand motions, and walking the person over to what you are trying to show them so they understand. But I can handle that for a couple days. Our first day there I got my first bowl of pho in Nam which SUCKED, and was cooked in a makeshift kitchen on the sand. It later started to pour rain, and after watching the “restauranteurs” poke holes in their thatched roof to prevent the water weight from collapsing their establishment, we made a mad dash and began dancing in the rain and singing Italian love songs.  This is how we looked afterwards.

The next day Abby and I made a failed attempt at killing ourselves, meaning we lived, by trying to ride one of these:

After Abby had an anxiety attack, we traded these bad boys in for whimsical bicycles and frolicked around. Thank god we traded them in because that night while returning from the Duong Dong night market, it started raining and I don’t think I could hold onto my life on a motorbike, on a black as F road in the outbacks of Nam at night. You’re welcome life, and mom.

Our nights on Phu Quoc consisted of the boys coming to our resort to steal our aircon and drink their $1.50 bottle of Vietnamese Rum in our room while Abby and I laid in our beds in our PJs and Mark straightened his hair to look like an Eastern European grease ball.  I’ll refrain from posting the video I took to maintain our friendship.

On my last day on the island, Abby and I booked a snorkeling/fishing half day trip which turned out to be absolutely amazing!! During the drive down to the South we stopped at a Pearl farm which was aight, but we got to see how pearls are farmed. We also got a chance to really see how the Vietnamese live.  It’s really intense to see the shacks these people call home, and makes you appreciate everything that we are blessed with by just living in a 1st world country like American or Korea.

Onto the snorkelfishing!  Turns out I’m a pretty good deep sea fisherwoman, and after being coached by one of the Lesbias on board I caught 3 fish!  Here’s lucky numero uno! I think I named him Harold.

After fishing we were served a very delicious meal on board.  It consisted of some type of Vietnamese/Thai fusion noodle, sauteed Morning Glory (long and green stuff that was bomb), some egg frittata type thing, white rice, potato and carrot soup, fried fish (later we were told it wasn’t the fish we caught), and a special surprise of sea urchin if we wanted to try, which I did.  When in Rome! It actually turned out to be not so bad.  They prepared it with onion and peanuts and soy sauce so I thought it was pretty tasty and kinda had a peanut buttery texture. That was an extra 20,000 dong more (~$1).  Then we finally got to snorkel!  And let me tell you, this was the most gorgeous snorkeling I have ever done, and I’ve snorkeled in a lot of beautiful places! We made 3 different stops and saw some of the most gorgeous corral and fish ever!  One of the lesbias said she thought she saw something that looked like a Barricuda and kept telling herself to keep swimming lol. Abby has also never swam in the ocean like that before, due to her inability to tread water, so she was having a gay ‘ol time wandering off out in the open water in her florescent life jacket.

The next day I left Phu Quoc behind and flew back to Ho Chi Minh for a few days. Phu Quoc was beautiful and all, but I was so happy to be in a CITY with hustle bustle and historical sights to see. One thing is for sure, the hustle bustle is alive and kickin in HCMC.  One finds that out instantly when crossing the street and seeing your whole life flash before you. The trick is to just walk slowly and the motorbikes with families of 5 on them will just go around you.  I ended up enjoying this game of “trying not to get killed.”

On my first day there I met up with Katie, Matt and Kenny, who also ended up leaving the island early.  Matt was still getting all his passport ish sorted, so he was a bit stressed but trying to have a good time.  Katie and I ended up leaving the boys to go check out the War Remnants Museum, which was essentially a “We Hate America” museum. I don’t know why they allow us in the country after going there. Granted I’m not very knowledgeable on the Vietnam War, but from what I saw there we did some pretty nasty shit that is still affecting their people today physically and mentally.  We drowned those horrid images in some shopping at Ben Thanh Market, the best coffee in the world and a bowl of delicious pho at the place there Clinton ate when he journeyed there. All better.

Abby arrived the next day and the 3 of us went to the Reunification Palace which was pretty boring actually. I almost stepped on a massive carpet which was poorly labeled.  That was pretty much the only highlight. That night we met up with the boys to try and find a place where we could drink snake blood.  This is apparently called a snake ceremony and is done all over Vietnam, but you wouldn’t think that given the looks of disgust we got whenever we asked a Vietnamese person.  We found a place that did it, but it ended up being extremely expensive and none of us were down to pay $60 for taking the life out of a snake. I’ll just have to do it another time.  Instead of a dinner of snake we got some Pho Hung which was bomb diggity and a nice trade off.

Our final day in Ho Chi Minh was my favorite I reckon. We got up early to go to the Cu Chi Tunnels, which were used by the Cu Chi Vietcong people during the war. The Cu Chi people live in the South, obviously, but fought for the Northern Vietcong. Shady Sheisters. So we took a tour about 2 hours outside of Ho Chi Minh, where we had the cutest tour guide named Slim Jim.  Why you ask?  Because he “eats like a bird, smokes like a chimney and drinks like a fish.”  Once at the Cu Chi tunnels we got to see real life boobie traps, secret holes for hiding, crawl through the actual tunnels and shoot a gun!  The 3 of us bought a round of 10 bullets and got our hardcore on with an AK47.

My first time shooting a gun!

They had to widen these tunnels to accommodate the fat westerners.  The Cu Chi people crawled through these, where as I walked through hunched over with my butt slightly hitting the sides.

All in all, I enjoyed Nam, especially the pho and weasel poop coffee. Thank god I brought some coffee back with me because I ain’t getting THAT in koko. Next time I need to go visit the North, because I hear that’s where it’s at. Now onto Cambodia, which I absolutely fell.in.love.with.

The only things I didn’t like about Cambodia were my polka dotted legs from mosquito bites and the 13 hour bus ride that it took us to get there. This is how I looked on the bus ride because I couldn’t handle the heat, so the only thing to do was sleep, and bob. Compliments to Katie for this gem.

I LOVED Cambodia, but at the same time I just felt so awful seeing their quality of life, but I guess that is all they know so it’s just life for them. The people here were so warm and eager to help and talk to you and point you in the direction of what you should do next. Not to mention, the Cambodian people are freakin gorgeous. I think every man working at our hotel was attractive. Our first city was Siem Reap and we were staying at the same hotel as the boys this time. We got in pretty late after that bus ride from hell, so the 3 of us lassies indulged in some pool time, some vino and our first ever Cambodian dishes.  Twas a lovely way to unwind and prep ourselves for Templing out the following day.

We were picked up by our sweet tuk tuk driver, Sovann (pronounced Sowan) at 9am the next morning and he had a list of temples on the agenda, all of which MayMay recommended to me 🙂 First we went to Angkor Wat, which is one of the Wonders of the World, and yes it is quite a wonder! It’s massive and beautiful and seemed never-ending in size. Inside there are several levels and smaller temples.  We weren’t allowed up to the 3rd level though because we were too scantily clad.  Good thing because we didn’t feel like waiting in the massive line anyways.

Outside before we entered

Next we went to Ta Prohm, or the Jungle temple.  This temple was magnificent!! It had trees with the most insane roots growing out and over and on the sides of the structures. Some of the buildings had scafolding to preserve them from being crushed by the tree.  Talk about a freakin miracle!

I think this tree looks like a dancing woman wearing bell bottoms 🙂

Next on the temple tour was Bayon Temple, or what I called the Faces temple. I love drawing faces and eyeballs, so you know I loved this one.  There were literally faces everywhere!

Ajummas do Cambodia (old Korean women)

And the last of the day was a hike to the top of a temple/mountain to see the sunset.  We actually thought we were going to see Angkor Wat at Sunset, but I think there was a bit of a mixup in communication.  Nonetheless, it was really pretty from the top of the mountain, and tonssss of people were there.  Including Juan (h-Juan as we like to pronounce it), the nice handsome man from Jersey we met in Blue Pumpkin outside of Angkor Wat.  He gave me his bottle of deet to rid myself of the polka dotted leg syndrome and that towel shielding my sunburn from the sun.

That night we were so exhausted and completely templed out. Abby and I got massages at the hotel and then we just kinda vegged out for the night while the boys were out gettin’ all buck and ya know.

The next day we thought we were going to a floating market, but it turned out to be a floating village on the Tonle Sap River. We got our own boat and driver and were taken to a crocodile farm that was random, but cool to see, and a tiny little shopping area with nothing much aside from Pringles (our staple), coffee and some trinkets. After buying another can of Pringles we hopped back in the boat and were taken to another floating store.  This was when it was dropped on us that we were going to an orphanage and we should buy something to give to the kids. Holy Jesus. This is what they meant by tourist trap. BUT, we ended up all chipping in $10 each and bought the kids a box of 25 packets of ramen and some notebooks for school. We were then taken to the orphanage where we got to meet the adorable freakin kids. Dear god Cambodian kids are ADORABLE. We gave our gifts to the teacher since we didn’t buy enough to hand out to every student, and then we just sat down and played with them.

One little girl named Jae came right up to me and sat down next to me.  I swear she was a mini Wawa.  She was so sweet and just kept wanting me to hug her and give her high fives. Before long kids were swarming around the 3 of us, and it was just one of those feel good 10-15 minutes of your life. I think it was a little difficult for Katie since she’s adopted, but it was cool to get to do that with her 🙂 Kids are just so damn cute anywhere you go.  I swear I wanted to steal at least 5 babies a day, AT LEAST. When we left the orphanage Jae just stood in front of me and put her arms up for me to pick her up.  Such a sweet heart. Now I know why Angelina keeps freakin adopting these kids.

Mini Wawa!

That night we actually went out in Siem Reap which was so much fun!  I had tried to meet up with my friend Matt’s friend who lives there (sorry Matt, I know you’re reading 😉 but due to my shitty wifi we missed each other.  Oh well!

The next morning we were off, yet again on another bus ride.  This time to Phnom Penh, and it was only 6 hours. ONLY. At least the bus was better this time, but I swear it stopped every 15 minutes to let some Cambodian family off at their house or to wash their babies poopy pants in the river.  GET ME THERE ALREADY!

Well, we got there. And as I had anticipated, I dropped my shit and RAN to find me a tuk tuk to get me to the Killing Fields. I only had less than a day in the Capital city of Phnom Penh and I wanted to make sure I saw the Killing Fields and S-21 (the Genocide Museum). Both closed at 5pm so I hit the ground running.

I went to the Killing Fields by myself that day, and this began the most emotionally exhausting day ever. I was getting annoyed with some people who kept saying “oh it’s just a field I don’t need to see it.”  But really, it is a big deal.  If you don’t want to see it because it’s morbid that’s understandable, but to say because it’s just a field is f’ing ignorant. I think I really liked Cambodia because you’re literally living in the people’s history, given that this genocide by the Khmer Rouge happened in the late 70s, so anyone around 30 years old or older either was alive for it or has a parent or relative or friend who was. So when people were saying oh it’s just a field, I kept thinking how if someone had said that about the Holocaust “oh it’s just a camp” I’d be infuriated, because it’s not “just a camp,” those were people’s lives. Sorry, rant.

Anyways, I got there and got my headset and was on my way.  Right when you get in you see a giant building that is 17 stories high. In it are skulls, bones and clothes of people who were killed there. It’s their way of paying tribute to those who were lost.

As you walk along the audio tells you where different buildings stood and have anecdotal stories to go along with some of them. I won’t get into detail because it really was so sad, but as you’re walking past the mass graves and killing trees, there are remnants of clothes and bones that have washed up with rain that are just laying right at your feet.  It was so eerie but also fascinating at the same time to be just walking in history. It was really something to think that this happened a little over 30 years ago right there.

Next I hopped back in my tuk tuk and was taken to S-21 where I met Katie and Abby. S-21 was originally a high school and a middle school and was later turned into a torture facility by the Khmer Rouge.  This was ever creepier than the Killing Fields.  You can walk right up to the metal beds that victims were strapped to and see blood stains that were barely washed away.  You could walk into the brick cells and the wooden cells if you wanted to.  I was too creeped out, so I just poked my head in one of the brick ones.  The wooden ones I literally snapped a photo and ran. All throughout the museum they have photos of the victims.  Ranging from infants to elderly people.  There were a couple of photos that made me cry and it was just awful, but I’m glad I went to see it.

Pardon the sad note.

The rest of my last day was spent being girly. We got a delicious dinner, some massages and then just wandered and shopped for a bit.

On my flights home I was with Scotty, and after being in the Kuala Lumpur airport for 3.5 hours, us and another EPIKer Thyla, still managed to almost miss our flight, or rather almost accidentally boarded a plane to Perth, Australia….oops.

Vietnam and Cambodia were definitely 2 countries I didn’t even think about going to before I came to Korea, let alone 3 of the first I’d travel to!  It was such an educational trip and I loved it so much!! Sorry to end it on such a downer note, but I mean, I knew that was gonna be a bulk of what we saw.

So, to liven your spirits, enjoy the fruits of my creeper labors.

Hello britneyspears.org!

And finally…say CHEESE!

Diamond & Schaeff Took Thailand…& Almost Beheaded Each Other <3

I have been wanting to write this post for like, the past week, and finally decided to not be lazy about it and document mine and Cori’s rendezvous in the gorgeous country of Thailand. This was kind of a monumental trip for me, as it was my first time venturing out of my new home in South Korea.  I was on the phone with my sister before leaving and I kept saying how anxious and nervous I was to leave, and kept thinking I was forgetting something.  She was like “it’s so funny how now you’re nervous to leave Korea.” I guess home is where my ish is, right?  And yes, I quadruple checked that I had my passport and flight documents and allergy medicine and every last summer clothing item I brought with me to Korea before I scampered off to the bus stop in the frigid cold snowy air to head to ze airport.  BRING ON THE STICKY HEAT….but not before I nearly froze to death after waiting for nearly an hour outside the bus stop for the comfy bus to shlep me to Incheon Airport.  NOW bring on the sticky heat!

I landed in Bangkok at around 1:30am on Friday morning, and after about 2.5 hours of waiting to get through immigration, I headed to the taxi line to get my tired ass taken to D&D Inn on the dirty Khao San Rd. My first thoughts after exiting the airport were “holy shit it’s hot here, this coat needs to be out of my arms and boots ripped off” and “WTF, why is the cabby putting my suitcase in his seat? OHHH…they drive on the opposite side of the car. Well then.” About 30 minutes later the cabby dropped me off at the entrance to Khao San Rd, which is the main crazy animal party street in Bangkok. He motioned that my hotel was down the street and that he wasn’t allowed to drive me all the way in.  I soon found out why. Drunkards everywhere, carts of street food, fresh fruit and fried insects littered the shithole of a street. I just remember walking and laughing to myself and reminiscing on my first thoughts of Bourbon St. in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. HOLY SHIT SHOW. Same thing, minus the beads and the boobs from the balconies above.

I finally checked in at D&D, and was initially planning to meet a friend from high school out somewhere if we could get in touch, since he was leaving early in the morning but planned on being out.  That didn’t happen. I checked in, showered and passed out to the sweet sound of party animals outside.

I got in a day before Cori so I spent all of Friday just wandering up and down Khao San Rd. checking out the endless amounts of flourescent tank tops and booze and jewelry  and street food.  I ended up going to the spa in my hotel and got a 1.5 hour foot and thai massage by the tiniest little asian woman I have ever seen. I swear she was barely up to my boobs. It was on top of my hotel and under this temple like structure but it was all open air, so it was really cool. I still think it was the best massage I got the whole trip. This cost me all of like, $6. After breaking the bank and feeling like I could fall over from relaxation, I decided to wander and get my first pad thai of the day. NOM. Throughout the day I had 2 pad thais, a coconut, a nutella crepe, a thai coffee, mango, pineapple, got hustled for a custom-tailored coat, and ate who knows what else. That night I stopped to get another hour long foot massage and watched some all-too-young Thai girls dance with a ladyboy in the middle of the street.

Saturday morning I wandered some more, checked out and then went to wait for Cori at Buddy Lodge, where we stayed. God bless wireless, because I waited forEVZ for her ass. Maybe like 2 hours. I had to pee so bad but I didn’t wanna get up in case I missed her and she thought she was at the wrong place. I finally decided to go to the McDonald’s right in front of our hotel to get fries to tide me over while I waited for her ass.  And literally as I’m ordering I turn my head and see this confused blonde trapsing up the stairs in a daze. I threw my money at the chick and ran to throw my arms around her! I was so excited to see my TRUE sista from another mista! We checked in, went to our room, gave each other our “gifts” and then sauntered out to see what the hell Bangkok is all about.  BUT, not before taking a Merry Christmas photo with the wondrous staff of Buddy Lodge (minus the bitch on the right….worst.attitude.of.life).  Look out for us on their wall if you’re ever there. 2 Jews and a buncha Thai Santas.

The rest of Saturday we wandered, ate, and took a tuk tuk around Bangkok.  For 20 baht (about 60 cents) we got a 3 hour or so tour of Bangkok.  Our precious driver, who was probably not a day over 18 took us to I think 3 temples, all of which I forget the names of. But, at the 2nd one we went to, there was the sweetest Thai man sitting in the temple.  He directed u where to sit and then talked to us for a bit about Buddha and Buddhism, asked us where we’re from and told us all the places that we must see while in Bangkok.  He was super sweet and then took a few photos for us.  He clearly has done this before 🙂 We ended up getting stuck in a bunch of traffic that day, after spending far too much time getting hustled (and a bit buzzed) at a couple tailor shops (they have a deal with the tuk tuk drivers, something about bringing tourists to them in exchange for gas money).  So we headed back to Khao San Rd. for a disgusting fish foot eating pedicure, hour foot massage and hour head, shoulder and neck massage. Day complete.

Sunday was Christmas and we jam packed our day! Luckily there was a travel agent next to our hotel so we booked an awesome day tour of about 4 temples including Wat Pho and Wat Anan, which was my personal fave, and the HUGE reclining Buddha.  We had a wonderful tour guide that we later found out was named Max.  At first I thought he looked like Ceelo in his crazy wackadoodle yellow sunglasses and curly moppy hair. He ended up being so funny. He was our personal photographer and chauffer and told us lots of info about where we were and the important ideas of Buddhism.  He also told us that the most important things in a Thai man’s life are money (lots of it) and women (lots of them).

Wat Pho posing with Buddhas.

Gorgeous & humungous Reclining Buddha

Wat Anan.  My personal fave! The climb to the top was practically vertical!

Earlier on Sunday I met a precious British lad named Dion who was also staying at our hotel.  He was traveling by himself and having debit card/front receptionist troubles/being lonely on Christmas sadness so I invited him along with us on our journey about 1.5 hours outside of Bangkok to the Amphawa Floating Market that night. Max’s brother, who we only know by the name Kung Fu Panda, accompanied us (why, we don’t know) to the floating market and waited for us to shop around and such. The floating market was pretty cool! They have them at sunrise and in the evening, so we went to one in the evening.  Basically, people cook and barter from their boats on the river.  So you can essentially walk along the river shopping, eating and watching these old Thai people cook for people who are eating boatside.  At the floating market I had THE best ice cream I have ever had in my life, saw some of the prettiest sushi, went on a boat ride for about an hour, hugged an elephant named Nampen, and Cori almost walked out of a folk museum with the first gas can in Thailand for her mom.  She had a transportation strategy and everything.  Then we discovered it was a Folk Museum and not a shop.  Oops! It was pretty awesome, except for the 4 hours worth of traffic we hit on the return home, forcing us to miss our ladyboy show 😦 Cori, jetlagged and frustrated by the traffic, hit the hay early that night so Dion and I headed out to carry on the massage-a-day challenge and have a couple of beverages. Twas a divine time with my new friend!

We like to believe he stole this boat and took us (and himself) for a joy ride.

People cooking & eating ‘long the river.

That would have been a big oops!

Monday we explored China Town and bought some pretty friendship rings and jade Buddhas and elephants before catching our flight to Phuket. We did absolutely nothing in Phuket aside from sleep in our dump of a guesthouse.  Who knew something with the name D’s Cornerhouse could be so sad.

Bright and early Tuesday we caught the ferry over to Koh Phi Phi, which I would go so far as to say was my favorite place on the trip, and the place we stayed at the shortest 😦 The ferry ride over played a random Beyonce concert on board, but as we neared the shore we saw some of the most breathtakingly blue water and lush cliffs I’ve ever seen. It was truly gorgeous!  We were escorted to our bungalow at the Twin Palms, right on the beach.  After getting checking in by the ladyboy receptionist, “her” sister helped us book our tour for the day to Maya Bay and Monkey Beach. Maya Bay was where The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed, and let me tell you, I tried to find him to no avail 😦 I did pretend I was walking in his footsteps though.  Duh! We took a wooden boat out to Maya Bay, and along the way we went to Monkey Beach, which as you would assume, has monkeys just running around on it. They were so cute! And so wild! I don’t know what I did but one of them jumped at me and grabbed my leg, and then a few others jumped after, but I ran away so fast.  They did this to a couple other people too who freaked their shit, one girl even started crying.  We then headed out to Maya Bay which is where we snorkled, but didn’t really see anything cool which sucked.  I think it was because it was a bit overcast. Despite that though, it was so beautiful. While there we talked to a few other girls who were actually also on vacation from teaching in Korea.  They all lived in Daegu and came over at the same time I did. We all pretended to search for Leo together.

I’m saying “what’s up lil monkeyman?”

Ta da!

Wednesday morning we were up at the crack to hike up to the “PeePee Viewpoint” as they so cleverly call it.  We did not anticipate such a hike so early in the morning, but it just kept going and we were shvitzing like a coupla Jew ladies. The morning started off a bit snappy (naturally), but as soon as we got to the top we were fine.  It was overcast still but really beautiful.  We got to climb on rocks to find the perfect photo opp spot.  We also met a little Indian (I think) guy up there and a very rude girl and her weird friends.

Thank god our day started out so glorious, because it quickly went to shit after we spent the entire day in the phuking Phuket airport.  Long story short, we originally wanted to get on an earlier flight instead of waiting til 4:30 to fly to Bangkok en route to Samui, but we were told we couldn’t. When we checked in after a few beverages, we found out our flights were delayed (buzz kill), Asia Air put us on another flight so we’d make our connections, that flight got delayed, and then we were put back on Asia Air. Between landing in BKK and making my connection, I had all of 15 minutes to check in, yell at the bitch at Bangkok Airways for taking her sweet time, haul ass through security and run through the biggest f’ing airport to catch the tram to take me to the plane.  I have never felt more winded and out of shape in my life than I did while running through that airport. I’m surprised I didn’t fall on my face with the speed I was running at and lugging my oversized carry on.  Oops.  If we hadn’t made our flights to Samui all flights were booked through the 2nd, so we would have been royally screwed.  PINK POWER WORKED IN THE END!

Thursday morning we woke up in Koh Samui refreshed from our clusterfuck of a Wednesday and ventured out from our cute little hotel, Rattana Guest House on Chaweng Beach.  We booked an all day Safari tour for Friday, so we took all of Thursday to just wander, get massages and do some shopping.  We found a cute little cafe that we brunched at every morning after that we were there.

Friday was AWESOME!!!  We were picked up in an open jeep with a group of 9 people. From there we were taken off-roading all over the island! We first went to the PC named Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks (the most phallic natural structures ever!) Taking pictures with these was better than the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Your baby penis is so handsome.

Other highlights of this Safari tour were holding a monkey and unbeknownst to me having him almost bite my head off, going to this wild animal park where we saw an elephant show, which was kind of sad watching them dance and throw hoola hoops to Mama Mia songs, got to RIDE an elephant and sit on its head!  This was so cool! I was soo impressed by the guys ability to just sit on the elephants head, with his feet on its ears and not fall. The second I got on the head and he moved I thought I was gonna plummet down. At this same park we also got to get up close and personal with TIGERS and a LEOPARD!!! They were out in the open, but on these platforms that they were chained too.  It was sad, but so cool at the same time.  I got to feed a 4 month old tiger milk while he sprawled across my body and I hugged him and held his bottle for him.  Talk about death in the face! I was so shocked at how soft his paw pads were.  OMG I wanted to take him home he was so cute! There was also a huge 1 year old tiger that I got to get right up in his face.  It was nuts!  The leopard was on edge the whole time and wouldn’t stop pacing back and forth.  Freaky!!!  The tour concluded with dinner on the tippy top of the mountain we were on and then going to see the Big Buddha which was, well, BIG.  That night we went OUT, and finally hit up a ladyboy show with CJ.  We sucked back our sugary Mai Tais as we watched some he/shes pretend to be Beyonce, Christina and Cher. EPIC ladyboy success!

Uh oh.

OMG!

Big Buddha meet Big Booty

Those are dudes.

Our last half day on Samui consisted of some more shopping, some more bickering and some more massaging before we caught a speed boat over to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon/New Years Eve Party.  We met CJ on the island and got down to bucket buying and body painting STAT. I think the painting alone would make me come back!  The rest of the evening was one giant clusterfuck of people on the beach.  It was crazy madness but so much fun! I had planned to try and meet up with Dion who had rerouted his trip down to the islands instead of Chiang Mai, but there was absolutely no luck finding him.  You honestly couldn’t move on that beach there were that many people and buckets flying everywhere. I ended up staying til around 2am when I had to hightail out of there and catch the boat back to Samui to take the longest most amazing shower of my life and then peace out to the airport for my 6am flight to Bangkok. I have never been so tired in my life!!! My flight back to Seoul from Bangkok was at 10:30am and I had a random stop over in Hong Kong for 30 minutes which I had no idea about.  So weird!

Happy New Year!!!

All in all the trip was so great and it was soooo good to see my Diamond, even though we wanted to kill each other every 2 minutes.  What are sisters for right? Now I’m just back in Seoul and in my 2nd of 3 weeks of winter camp, and then I’m popping off to Vietnam and Cambodia mid February which I am SOOOO excited about!  Talk about conquering Asia like a biatch!

Sorry it was a novel, but that was to be expected from a 10 day whirlwind of a trip!  감사합니다 for reading and hope you are just an eency bit jealous.

PS. Here’s a tip for future Thailand travelers.  Pack near nothing because you won’t wear any of the shit you bring.  Cori and I both severely overpacked and ended up only really wearing stuff we bought there.  Everything is DIRT cheap and there are clothes galore! Not to mention, I found bras that fit me!!!!!!!! HAIL THAILAND!

LOVE!!