A Paint By Number Journey Thru Chiang Mai & Luang Prabang

I know, I know. This is beyond tardy.  It has taken me a year and a day to post about mine and Stephanie’s jaunt to the beautiful cities of Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang back in February, but I am finally getting around to doing it.  Holy moly, I can’t believe it’s been that long.  Shame on me!!!

This time, instead of doing my typical posty post about the entire vaca, what we ate, who we ate with and at what time, I’m going to chronicle my favorite moments of the trip. So buckle up peeps!

1. Our 16 Hour Train Ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

Instead of flying directly to Chiang Mai, we flew into Bangkok and opted to indulge in the journey of getting to Chiang Mai.  And what reeks more of wanderlusting travel than the huff and puff of a locomotive train? We stocked up on snacks, including  an accidental choosing of PICKLED mango on Miss Stephanie Anne’s part, ordered a surprisingly delicious dinner on board, got our train bunks turned down by the train maid, tucked ourselves in with a good book (50 Shades of Grey anyone?), and then buckled ourselves into bed for the night.  At least I did in my coffin of a top bunk. We rolled into Chiang Mai bright and early the next morning.

542573_10102322777661777_1969187136_n

  2. Our guest house in Chiang Mai ~ Finlay’s Cottage.

Steph and I hadn’t booked a place for our first night in Chiang Mai, and since we were meeting Abby for a night we asked her to book us 1 night at Finlay’s Cottage, the place where she was staying.  We loved this place so much that we ended up cancelling our previous reservations and it ended up being our home base for our entire stay in Chiang Mai, both before and after Laos. We loved it that much! The man and woman who run the guest house are a couple of unlikely friends, but are somehow fantastically hilarious. The woman helped us book all our day trips, got us a great tuk tuk driver, made us delicious breakfasts every morning, woke us up to make sure we ate our breakfasts every morning, cancelled our prior reservations for us and made great sarcastic conversation with us when necessary.  The man is from Australia and just never returned, and the woman lived on Koh Phi Phi for 37 years as a masseuse, but when the tsunami hit she broke nearly all her bones and chose to relocate up north, and has been there ever since. They were top NOTCH!

Finlay's Cottage mommy

3. Thai Cooking Class With Beery.

I love cooking but it’s something that I just don’t really have the patience or timing for.  I like to think of myself as more of a “throw together whatever I have kinda chef” and it always works.  I’ve always wanted to take a cooking class in Thailand since I saw MayMay took one on her trip! I figured Steph and Abby were the perfect people to do this with since they are both chef masters.  We signed up for a wonderful cooking class at Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School and had a fabulously flamboyant instructor named Beery, who was just the cherry on top! It was boot camp in the most fun way possible.  We started with a trip to the local market, then went to the school’s garden to smell the herbs and plants native to Thai cuisine that we’d be cooking with, and then got down to cooking!  I made Pad See Ew (because it reminds me of Jessie), Kow Soi Curry and curry paste (the native curry to Chiang Mai which came recommended by MayMay), and Mango sticky rice.

542667_10102322781464157_253815469_n

4. When I Discovered That Friendship Is Hoisting Your Friend Atop An Elephant.

We went on an all-day Mahout elephant trekking course through the jungle, atop the most gorgeous and friendly and massive animal in the world. We learned key commands to “drive” them, fed them endless amounts of sugar cane and bananas, struggled to hoist ourselves atop their massive bodies, struggled yet again to steer our still hormonal lady thru a jungle trek, squealed with glee whilst sliding down her trunk, and then took the most glorious bath in the world with her even though it was filled with piles of shit, I’m sure.  This is my favorite photo from the trip. I really made an ass out of myself, but at least I know who’s got me from all angles as I migrate through this world of ours.

Elephant ass

5. Taking This Photo For National Geographic While Sitting In Tiger Pee.

We didn’t really take it for National Geographic, but we might as well have.  We spent an afternoon at the Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai posing with a 3 month old tiger, a 5 month old tiger, and then this full grown tiger. We even saw this guy snap at someone.  OPEN WIDE and guard your life!

427256_10102300533249757_961696943_n

6. Getting Annoyed By Chinese Tourists While Trying to Observe the Long Neck Karan Tribe.

The Long Neck Karan tribe native to Chiang Mai is a bit of a circus detour, but I really wanted to see it since this tribe is the one thing that I’ve always remembered since going to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! as a child.  We went, it was awkward and fascinating, and then we got annoyed by the Chinese tourists that always come in loud like they own the place with zero respect.

435_10102322797312397_1910671547_nchinese tourists

7. When Steph Walked Like An Ajumma Up The Massive Stairway to Wat Doi Suthep.

The greatest Wat (temple) in Chiang Mai is Wat Doi Suthep, and it’s located at the tippy top of a massive mountain.  To get there you have to take a tuk tuk, to a red jeep and then walk up the insane stairway.  Here is Steph getting back to her Korean roots en route to the top.

doi suthep

8. Riding In The Back Of A Pick Up Truck While Crossing The Laos Border.

We decided to take the slow boat journey from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang.  This consisted of a 7 hour minibus to the border, where our small group was greeted by a pick up truck, and we were instructed to hop into the bed of it and stand. Obediently we did so.  FEELIN LIKE A CHOLA.

544076_10102322798450117_1765808634_n

9. A Dramatic Reading Of 50 Shades of Grey In French In The Middle Of Nowhere, Laos.

We spent the night in creepy cabins in the middle of nowhere Laos as we awaited our boat ride along the Mekong the next morning.  Our fellow companions were a Swiss couple and our newly made travel companion, French lassie Audrey. Their common language was French, and having never heard of the epic 50 Shades of Grey before, our new friend decided to translate the novel for his lady.  It was oh so sexy.

10. The Sweetest Sendoff From Adorable Laotian Babies As We Set Off On The Mekong.

We woke up bright and early and were escorted to our private boat for our Mekong River cruise.  Our escort service couldn’t have been any more adorable if it tried.  Heart. Melt.

11. Our First Laotian Meal Of Various Flavors Of….Buffalo Jerky.

Steph, Audrey and I set out to try our first Laotian meal since arriving in Luang Prabang.  We turned down a sleepy road in the early-to-sleep city, and perused a menu of our selected restaurant.  There were so many oddly named items, so we took it upon ourselves to order the ones that stood out the most to us.  I believe mine was called “Day Meat Smashed Style”. Basically, we all got variously flavored versions of buffalo jerky.  Needless to say, we were not impressed and stuck to baguettes from the street food vendors for the remainder of our stay in Luang Prabang.

306121_10102322805675637_1616735170_n 540841_10102322805391207_1276464729_n

12.  This Pleasant Lady And Her Amazing Baguettes.

This woman had such a pleasant aura about her, and call me a weirdo, but I loved watching her make her sandwiches. She was so calm, and her sandwiches were so amazing. They were massive and I scarfed them DOWN.  I always got her chicken, brie, tomato, avocado, lettuce and cucumber sandwich and boy did it satisfy.  I also loved that she was one of the only street food stands that had all of her food covered and away from the flies.  Sanitation!!!

sandwich lady

13. Meeting A 16 Year Old Monk Who Loves to Speak English With Foreigners.

We were making our way up to Wat Chom Si atop Pousi Hill just before sunset when we met this friendly monk, Bee.  He is 16 years old and was so sweet and friendly.  He told us about how he loves studying English and hopes to one day travel to America, and loves hanging out on that walk up to the top because so many foreigners come through and it gives him a chance to practice his English.  It was so refreshing to meet someone as young and eager as him to learn and practice, especially after working with Korean students who a lot of the time can care less about learning English. We exchanged information and are now Facebook friends! 🙂

bee monk lp

14. Taking This Glorious Photo Atop Pousi Hill.

Audrey was traveling by herself, and was a lovely addition to our stay in Luang Prabang.  Im so glad we got this awesome photo of the three of us!

pousihill girls

15. Going to Kuang Si Waterfall And Doing A Boob Flop Rope Jump.

We made the journey out to Kuang Si Waterfall with Audrey and 5 Germans that we met.  It was a gorgeous hike in, and once there we got to swim in the springs, and if we wanted, jump from the rope hanging from the tree.  I of course wanted to do it, but was deathly scared once I got up onto the tree.  It was SO slippery, and I was trembling as I used the wooden stick to grab the swinging rope to clutch between my shaking hands. I was a ball of nerves!  Klutzy McKlutz over here.  Well, I didn’t hold high enough on the rope, and when I swung I barely swung and BOOB FLOPPED flat into the water so hard that my top came off under water.  FAIL. But awesome.  This is the face I made upon emerging and confirming my breasts were still in tact.

boobflopface

16. Observing A Man In a Diaper Walk Down The Street Carrying A Machete.

As the heading says, a man with deathly leather colored skin traipsed down the street wearing nothing but a sheet-like diaper, while carrying nothing but a machete.  I felt safe.

macheteman lp

17. Temple Hopping And Bicycle Riding.

One thing I always try to do while traveling is spend a day with a map in hand and my tuchous on a bicycle seat.  It’s so whimsical and I think the best way to see a city.  Luang Prabang is probably one of the best cities to do this in because it’s so small and quaint.  So, we spent a day temple hopping, monk spotting and drink sipping on our bikes, and it was a beautiful, hot and sweaty day!

biking lp

18. Bargaining My Face Off At The Most Colorful Night Market I’ve Ever Been To.

I LOVE night marketing while I travel, and the market in Luang Prabang exceeded my expectations.  It was by far my favorite night market I’ve ever been to.  The colors were so bright everywhere I turned, and the handmade items being sold were so fun and vibrant and unique.  I bargained like it was my job and ended up snagging a pretty awesome travel bag for a sweet deal.  I love this photo I took, and every time I look at it I just want to pop back there!

lp night market

19. Meeting New Friends At The All Vegetarian Buffet At The Night Market.

While Instagramming, Steph stumbled upon a guy’s posting of this all vegetarian buffet just off of the night market.  There was a massive spread of food that you put on a plate and then a guy heated it all up for you in a wok.  It was for something outrageous like $5, and was so delicious! We pulled up a seat with everyone else and nommed down on our food. We met some fascinating friends from France, Argentina and Mauritius that we spent the rest of our last evening with.  It’s moments like this when I realize why I love traveling.

601442_10102322814443067_125719978_n

23378_10102322814547857_1363371675_n

20. Sitting In The Back Of Our Second Pick Up Truck Crossing The Thailand Border.

We did it once, and we did it twice.  Southeast Asia seems to follow Mexico’s lead when it comes to border crossing, because I’ve never felt more illegal in my life.  Sometimes it feels good to live life on the edge.  At least we had a stamp in our passeporto.

truck 2

21. Stumbling Upon This Awesome Art Shop In Chiang Mai.

On our last day in Chiang Mai, we randomly stumbled into this art studio/shop filled with a man’s artwork strewn about with every life and travel quote imaginable.  We spent a wild amount of time wandering and finding the perfect purchases for ourselves and our parents.  We both chose pieces for our parents with quotes about our own need to wander the world, and how no matter where we are they’re always in our hearts.

art shop cm

22.  These Young Boys Getting Massages In Bangkok.

Because they were such babies and they looked so funny and adorable getting a group massage.  I couldn’t help myself.  They were 18 years old.  BABIES!

boys in bangkok

23. These Gangnam Style Sandals On Khaosan Rd.

Well, because there would be no better send off back to Koko than to see Psy displayed on some footwear.

gangnamstyle sandals

Well, there you have it.  Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang in a somewhat brief pictoral nutshell.  I hope you enjoyed despite my tardiness! Better late than never!!

65 Is The New 31 If You’re A Baller.

Absolutely nothing about the following song reminds me of the Baller, except for one significant opening line…..”You remind me of my Gucci shoes.”

During our first year out of college, Bret and I used to talk on the phone every morning on our horrendously long traffic filled commutes to work. Along with hearing about his morning coffee consumption and other morning *movements*….I got to hear his sweet “sweet” rendition of Monica’s A Dozen Roses. Only for the longest time, I had absolutely NO idea what song he was singing because his annoying, nasally, almost Urkel-esq version was so far off from the sultry jam, that I was floored when I finally heard the actual song he was mimicking. He still doesn’t understand where my auditory disconnect went awry.

His awful singing voice aside, per his Facebook page, Bretty is turning a ripe 65 years young today, and his bone structure wouldn’t let you believe he’s a day over 31. He is the reason I love White Russians, why I’ll always find being called a whore endearing (but only by him of course), why I’ll always refer to that *classy* blue liquor that only grill-wearing ballers drink as “The Hypo”, why I’ll always remember my Women in Film class because of his incessant knee shakes, why men’s ties and the word “Façonnable” will always roll off my tongue, and why a New Years Eve will always be somewhat empty if he’s not there to grace me with his *sensational* hip-swiveling and claptastic dance moves. He’s the best roomie I’ve ever had, and the best platonic manfriend a girl could ever ask for. He’s the baller to my whore, and thank you UCSB and that lovely apartment complex on one Segovia Rd. for introducing us.

Oh, and Happy 31st Birthday old man. I hope your racquetball ankle sprain heels in a jiffy.

Now for a little time travel complete with a dance video, or two, because this post would be incomplete without.  Apologies in advance for the embarrassment.

I think this is the first photo we took as the best foursome of neighbors on the block. By this time I knew his name and wasn’t calling him “the Matthew McConaughey guy” anymore.

ad30

Winter came, Natty Lite and White Russians got us super acquainted, I called him Doug Funnie nose, and I actually remember this hug quite vividly. We totes became BFFs then and there.

c3e1-1

I turned 21. White Russian, sweaty face and awful tank top. He also cracked open his very special bottle of “Hypo” on my very special day.

abe8-1

He especially loved 2am wake-up calls from his awesome sisters and their friends down the way when he had water polo practice in 4 hours.

3fda

He loved repaying the favor by jumping on his sister while he was intoxicated and she was trying to sleep. This is actually still one of my all time fave Baller/Jones photos. High 5!

28b0

We also had Three’s Company naptime on the famous couches after a long day of watching Sex and the City or Desperate Housewives, two of Bretty’s favorite TV shows.

bretpassedout

Then the Baller and Whore 1 & 2 graduated ❤ Santa Barbara would have never ever been the same without these two.

23_515851133067_3767_n

After graduating, Bret moved back up north to Coup Town and me to LA, and I was SO sad, but it honestly never really felt like it, aside from not seeing him everyday.  Since then we’ve spent I think nearly every New Years Eve together and a couple trips either him down to LA or me up to San Francisco within the years.

Botched trips up north for Oktoberfest, only to be greeted with the alternate gay Love Fest, have never been sweeter.

354_617190962237_54_n

And mind-altering afternoons in LA laughing our asses off while watching Borat have never been funnier.

When I came home after a year and a half in Korea, the Baller (and Rami!!) came to LA for my birthday weekend, and it was the best gift ever!!

150027_10102230923657937_2143409581_n

We of course danced, and he spent a lot of time practicing his dance moves and gettin’ low…..his “specialty”.

540749_761116725834_1770078465_n

A tribute to the Baller wouldn’t be complete without documentation of some of those masterpieces he likes to whip up. Please. Indulge your eyeballs.

Here he is dancing to his own natural rhythm. His own essence. Really feelin’ that music. Pardon the side angle.

And rounding it all out with my personal fave. Everytime I watch this video I can’t not laugh. It gets me every, EVERYtime.

Love you to the moon Baller, and I hope you get over your fear of Asian cuisine and come visit me in the Orient. I’ve got a live octopus with your name on it waiting.

HAPPY 65th BIRTHDAY, DOUG FUNNIE!!!  YOU’VE NEVER LOOKED BETTER!

226965_10100222678063207_7702232_n

<3,

Your favorite Whore

My Korean Mommy Got Married <3

On Sunday I finally had the opportunity to attend my first Korean wedding! Leni, my first co-teacher and Korean mommy when I was on my death bed, got married and looked like such a princess in her humungous gown as it flowed and draped so perfectly while she posed for photos with guests.  I got there a few minutes after the rest of my co-workers, and when they came out from taking photos with her, they told me she kept asking where I was. I quickly ran over to her and almost cried. Then we threw up some peace signs 🙂

IMG_8047

As for the rest of the wedding I really didn’t know what to expect.  All I’d heard was that Korean weddings are extremely different than weddings back home.  That they’re really quick ceremonies, like 20 minutes max, some people wear jeans, and that as soon as one ends the next wedding is ushered in, and of course the buffet afterwards.

That’s pretty much how it went.  After taking pictures with Leni we went downstairs and there were so many people there.  Jin told me that this was one of the biggest weddings she had been to.  I lost my group of people for a little bit, but ended up stumbling upon Leni’s twin sister and her parents, so I introduced myself.  They instantly knew who I was and their faces lit up.  I was so excited to meet them, especially her sister, and they were so adorable and sweet like her. I also met her hubby-to-be who was so smiley and cute when he said hello to me. Good thing about being the only foreigner there is that the important people instantly knew who I was!

Then I gave my white envelope of monies to Leni’s sister, after not really being sure who to give it to.  Jin later told me that the people sitting at these tables collect the money and have you sign some book.  They’re typically relatives of the family.  But she told me that giving it to the sister was perfect.  Life of a foreigner here, always being some kind of clueless! It’s also not customary to give gifts.  Everyone gives money, and you generally give varying amounts depending on how well you know the people.

IMG_8049

A few minutes later, the workers started ushering everyone to the sides to form a walkway.  The musician started playing, they rolled out a fancy red carpet (which apparently is unusual!) and down the aisle she came with her dad. I almost started crying again.

IMG_8041

And into the really long wedding hall.  Jin really liked this one because she felt it was really simple and not gaudy with lots of candles and chandeliers like most of them. Very *her style*.

IMG_8042IMG_8044

Here’s one of their engagement photos and the announcement for their wedding just outside the chapel.  It says their names, Oh Won Taek and Kim Chan Young (Leni).

IMG_8045

The ceremony was really different.  In the states everyone pays attention to what is going on and it’s intimate no matter the size. But here as I looked around everyone was on their phone or talking to each other, and a huge group of us were just gathered at the back by the door which was open into the foyer area.  The guests for the next wedding were all out in the foyer and it was super noisy.  Obviously I can’t understand the ceremony, but it was so loud back there.

The next part I thought was really cute and funny.  I wish I got it on video.  I guess a lot of times the groom or someone sings at the end of the ceremony.  So, the groom and his friend sang and rapped a song for Leni.  It was like a noraebang on steroids and chiffon.

Before the ceremony even finished, per usual Korean standards, I was told we were going to go eat now, and off to the buffet we went! We handed our food cards to the hostess and then my stomach exploded with excitement. SO MUCH FOOD! Here’s a picture of my second plate filled with sushi and japchae.

IMG_8046

While we were eating, Leni and her husband came around dressed in hanbok to pop their heads in and say hi to their guests.  It was super informal and many of the people eating were attending different weddings.  In the dining hall there was also a huge projection screen on the wall showing the wedding that was going on.  So, essentially people can come to the wedding and just sit and eat and watch the wedding while stuffing their face.  So bizarre, but tis a huge cultural difference!

In total the whole wedding from arrival to departure was about 2 hours.  Totally different from the extravagant ceremony and reception that is typical of western culture.

I’m glad I finally got to attend a wedding in Korea, and I’m so happy it was for someone that I love so much!

ByeBye, HeyHey ~ Off You Go To “A Whole New World”

I can’t believe I am even writing this post.  It actually pisses me off that I’m making myself do this.  However, I’ve come to use this blog space of mine to pay a little love to the people near and far who I want to give a big virtual hug to no matter where we both reside in the world at any present moment at any present time on any day of dire significance.

This one is dedicated to my beautiful Stephanie Anne Heyduck, who has become one of the nearest and dearest to my heart during this last year and a half in Korea.  It makes me really sad that her time here has expired, but that’s what comes with the expat territory.  Those who we become so close with weave in and out of our lives and that’s that.  I guess it’s what we indirectly signed up for in choosing a lifestyle fueled by wanderlust; bonding together with others who also thrive on that same passion to wander and move about this glorious globe to explore and conquer.

As we’ve cuddled, danced and traveled our way through an ever-growing friendship, it’s always been apparent to me that Steph is totally one of those people who is unbelievably wise beyond her 25 years.   Whether it be in matters of the heart or the world, she always manages to have the wild child in check with the mature adult who’s got their head screwed on straight.   She’s also one of those people that just knows something about everything, no matter the topic.  I only know a few of those kinds of people and she’s one of them.  It always kind of amazes me and I’m just like WHA?!  Where you come from?!  She’s a special one, and I love her dearly.

Now for a little journey thru some of my fave highlights of the past year and a half frolicking thru the far East together 🙂

The first time I met Steph was when Jeanette and Carmen were visiting.  It was maybe my 3rd week living in Seoul, and Jeanette and Steph realized they had practically matching tattoos.  Friends.Seoulmates.WHAT.

316514_10100362731115767_672660_n

Here’s the first time Steph, Katie, Abby and I officially became a foursome after each others hearts.  We hiked to the top of Namsan Tower and then struggled to take this photo in the geographical center of Seoul! Many of my “I’m so happy I’m in Korea moments” have been spent with these ladies, and they’ll all always hold one of the most special places in my little Korean heart.

301194_10100376043577487_624608948_n

She introduced me to one of my favorite Korean foods, Shabu Shabu, in the Ying Yang pot, one freezing cold night after shopping our butts off in Myeong-dong. Nom.

314595_10100400379483137_1003761335_n

We’ve had some shenanigans, and this was one random night out on the town while everyone else got down on a bus filled with soju.  Hey, we all make mistakes. She dragged me, she loves me despite it 😉

382048_10100444994279727_1592600095_n

We got money hungry at the Trick Eye Museum. AKA the most fun museum EVER!

310903_10100457248542087_2057913123_n

Then we got ballsy and decided to eat some live octopus together for the first time.  Actually not so bad and kinda fun.

Somewhere around this time we decided we’d bare it all and get naked with each other at the jjimjilbang.  We did, and it was weird for like 2 minutes, and then it was awesome, and then we went again, and we became obsessed even though we didn’t do it as often as we thought we would.  But still.  It brought us as close as 2 naked platonic girlfriends can get.  Both in and outside of our sexy jjimjilbang attire.

Her family came to visit, got us smashed to pieces during her mom’s first date with soju, and then Papa Heyduck did a sorority pose in this photo with us all.

246572_10101653402390187_1006809465_n

There were a couple girls nights in.  This may have been what they started out looking like.

534411_10101758585322747_1950753165_n

And then the aftermath to the tune of some Disney movies and Twilight and makkoli and soju.

295150_10101758586156077_563330710_n

Then we took on a bit of traveling together.  First came that unforgettable typhoon of a trip to Japan where we rode bikes around Kyoto…

398202_10101793756878667_2127673675_n

Got our plans “horribly” rearranged by an unexpected typhoon…

246785_10101793784393527_575667527_n

And then relocated ourselves to the nearest karaoke room where Steph gave us this private show (before I inevitably hogged the mic).  Adele or Celine perhaps? The sake won’t allow me to remember.  Whatever the song, her voice sang it magically.  From this moment on we became noraebang obsessed.

420795_10101794731540437_422290533_n

Shortly after, we went to go Barack the vote together.  We were VERY excited to make our voices heard.

525975_10102071821035867_640972375_n

And after he won the election, the two of us rented out the VIP room at a local noraebang in Itaewon (because it was the only one available), drank ourselves silly on a Wednesday night, and sang our Disney hearts wild for 2 hours because we were so happy for our man Barry.  One of my all time fave Steph & Dani moments to date. “I can show you the worldddddddd……”

Of course by far one of my favorite things everrrrr that we’ve done was going to Thailand and Laos together this past February.  You don’t really know someone til you either live or travel with them, and we traveled really really well together.  We had such an amazing time playing with elephants and tigers, cooking exotic cuisine, crossing the border like a coupla Mexican cholas in the back of one too many pick-up trucks, and meeting lovely French lassies and gorgeous Argentinian men along the way. (I have majorly slacked in posting about that trip, but it will be coming soon, I promise. Eeeep!)

Needless to say, friendship is nothin if you’re not there to help hoist your friend’s fat ass up on top of a hormonal elephant…

5708_10102322785965137_1838488328_n

Or sit down next to each other in some tiger pee to get those one-in-a-million shots in life!

427256_10102300533249757_961696943_n

Tonight after Abby and I had to fight back premature tears while saying bye to Steph at our 2nd to last dinner together, we were talking about when we first signed up to move our lives to Korea.  We had envisioned living amongst a new culture, with new foods, new experiences, new travels, a new language to make up the white noise in our background, and we knew we’d make friends abroad.  But, we both made the connection that neither of us had really put much thought into the relationships we were going to build and who would soon become our family whilst carrying on our new lives.  I guess you don’t really plan or think about those types of things because they’re organic and happen as they will. With the ending of year one a slew of great loves left, but Stephanie is my first great girlfriend who’s been there since the beginning, to leave Korea, and that’s a killer. Great girlfriends are not easy to find, and she is just one of those friends that I am so lucky to have snatched up.

To wrap it all up, I love you Stepaneeeeee, and I’m gonna miss you, like, times 10 million to the max.  But, I know we are both wanderers and this is just a BIG “see ya later”.  My time spent in Korea would never have been quite the same without you in it, and I hope this next chapter of your life is a lot less (kimchi) smelly, but just as fulfilling as the past 2 years have been.  I love you to infinity and beyondddddddd.

<3,

Dani

Party In The USA!

So far 2012 was my favorite year to date, but it kind of ended with a little bit of a thud for me, so naturally the thought of fleeing the country for a couple glorious weeks was well received.  And what better distraction than 2 weeks stateside with family, friendzies, puppies, beach and lots and lots of cheese.  Nothing that I can think of.

Breathable air, a handsome black man displayed under the “Welcome to the United States of America” sign, and a fat screaming black woman ushering American Airlines passengers to their connections were the first three WELCOME BACK TO AMERICA’s that I got. Then came Mama Schaeff surprising me from behind at the curb, the puppy kisses from Presley, the “Why did you leave me?” ‘I’m mad at you’ stares from Cilla, and the jumping around the car hugs with sista!! Only to be followed up with the greatest welcome home surprise party ever!  Not only was there Porto’s and mimosas, but there was Wawa, Brianne, Kendra, MayMay, Jeanelly, Joel, Justin and the whole fambam. Ahhhhh it felt good to be back in the greatest country in the world!!!

150995_10102208832024747_1740807285_n 400069_756439354324_630420644_n 537970_756443216584_282238713_n 734799_10101487185729731_573713815_n

295414_10102230969396277_1558433466_n 558244_10102230969476117_1566181379_n

Seeing as this was my first time back in the states in nearly 1.5 years, I was totally eager to see what super weird Korean things I was gonna carry back with me. To my surprise, I don’t think there were too too many.  My stomach definitely shrunk and I could only eat about half the portion that I could before making kimchi a daily staple in my life.  Jacquie told me I talk way more with my hands, but I also talked like a freakin Italian before I left anyways, but I guess it became a little more dramatic.  But I like dramatic, so hmpf! The big thing for me was the shoes in the house thing. I obviously don’t care about wearing shoes in the house while I’m home, but since living in these parts I keep an almost completely Korean household with regards to outer footwear on my precious floors. Except for when I forget something and my shoes are already on.  Then I wear my shoes in the house. Screw crawling across the floor, no time for that. I’m walking. Swiffer that shit later. However, when I arrived at my surprise party, the first thing I did (after hugging everyone that was there and complimenting them all on their great boots), was say how I needed to take my boots off because it felt weird to walk inside with my shoes on. Here I am sitting with May May wearing her boots, and me wearing my jazzy socks, and my suitcase throwing up beside me.

540601_761109355604_2072598112_n

The whole time that I was home I was constantly moving, with the exception of my first Sunday home where I slept straight through the night and day until 5:30pm. Heyo jet lag! I’ll take a quick lil wander through the highlights of my trip and all of the beautiful faces I saw and glutinous cuisine I stuffed my face with.

The first thing I did after resting my peepers from a day of travel, was head up to Santa Barbara for some Mexican food and a night out with the Fab 4 and sista!  It was May’s little sister’s 21st birthday, so the alumni came back to show her how it’s done (or tried to). In the end, we realized that in our old age we just can’t hang quite like we used to.

Nomz.

602793_10102230969765537_942560915_n

Kamikazi shots at Sandbar. Where’s the Cassie song?

19095_10102230889765857_1909671399_n

Jonesy and sista also sang their own interpretation of Rihanna’s “Diamond.” Give your ears a treat, will you?

Sista and I had a wondrous dinner at Lala’s in Weho with the two handsome brothas Dicecca, followed by Koreanizing Michael Claudio and showing them my Korean hangul (alphabet) skills. They were easily impressed with my enhanced Asian genes.

555412_10102230891592197_1288246813_n

295389_10102230892774827_1506169795_n

The next day (a bit delayed), came the cream of the fatass crop.  I finally stepped foot into an In N Out establishment, and it was even better than it tastes in my dreams.

734897_10102230892894587_1606257211_n

Moving onto other excruciatingly delicious things, let me introduce you to the latest pledge to the FRAT house, the gorgeous lil Georgia Jeanne!

24459_10102230893348677_202143181_n

And another gorgeous human modeling his new PSY socks. ❤ Chizzy!

529057_10102230893308757_750013168_n

The next day, Jessie and I helped MayMay celebrate her 29th birthday over heaping bowls of Pho Tai. All things very nom.  I was so happy when the little Vietnamese workers remembered me and asked where I’ve been! They were quite shocked when I told them I lived in Korea now, but very happy when I told them I’d visited their country on my travels.

309833_10102230893503367_295951276_n 533577_10102230893613147_482361448_n

Then came Friday, MLK weekend, and the arrival of some of the best friends on the planet!!! Bret, Kayla, Jeanette and Priya all flew in from San Jose and NYC for my birthday weekend, and I must say, that was the best gift I could ever ask for! The weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a really long time.  Absence definitely made the heart grow fonder, and it was so unbelievable to know that even though almost 2 years had gone by since we’d all seen each other, we just picked up right where we left off. It’s so lovely to get older and know that your friends are still so close to your heart no matter all the distance or time between.

My birthday party was on Saturday January 19th at Bodega in Santa Monica, and I could not have asked for a better turn out!  People that I honestly thought were not going to show, showed up, even if only for a quick hug and a smooch on the cheek.  I originally didn’t even want to come home for a visit (sorry), but everyone really made it 150% worth it, and I’m so glad I came 🙂 So, here’s a gander at some of my fave moments as I rang in the last year of my 20s.

Perhaps the favorite, most unexpected of the night was this wonderful guy. Twas so amazing to see Nicholas.

321463_761116321644_1898553085_n

Brotha was VERY excited to see Nick, and of course talk the sports.

419590_10102230923178897_431303744_n

Siblings Schaeff and one Ho-el.

62961_10102230937395407_872664907_n

The Agoura+ shot. We finally got it good, then Brotha did that!

603037_10102230920479307_1555696312_n

TAYLOR LAUTNER CAME! JK.  But my favorite New Zealander and vulgar conversationalist came.  I freakin love you, Alavi!

552685_10102230921881497_44173171_n

Baller & Whore, but he doesn’t call me that anymore because I am a lady. BFFFFFFFFFFFFF4lyfe ❤

601149_10102230919885497_2066867959_n

The 1, the only, the FAB 4.

484840_10102230924421407_1509452716_n

My beauties clappin somethin out.

523212_10102230921113037_1666888485_n

YES.YES.YES. Happiness embodied.

529020_10102230922001257_993834591_n

SBeezy in the Heezy!!!

533605_10102230923877497_708723322_n

Good girl’s gotta get down wit the gangsta!  Love our T$!

DSC09782a

Bromance and a princess of mine.  My favorite part of this photo is Rami wearing Bretty’s sweater.  True LOVE.

556635_10102230938328537_1963371846_n

The ladies of LALA who made my 20s the most unforgettable ❤

602937_10102230922355547_2092641792_n

Salmon pants and a sassy Asian.  Can’t ask for more!

205816_10102230922754747_745797341_n

My favorite intern ever!!!!!!!! And also just one of my favorite human beings ever.

533693_10102230923488277_1956073580_n

I can always count on this pretty lady to show up to a coming or going party.  God bless our crazy ex-bosses dysfunctional relationship because we had the chance to meet each other ❤

6110_10102230938004187_1172919279_n

Here was a nice little cherry on top, minus the poor lighting. I love all you guys!

The next day was my actual birthday.  The day began as LA as you can get.  Cruising down Wilshire Blvd. in Danni’s Audi convertible, getting green smoothies, rubbing elbows with one Sofia Vergara, and then popping off to an afternoon of brunching, bouncing around a baby Georgiecakes, and planting our butts in the warm Venice beach sand. It was by far the best most beautiful birthday I have ever had.  Thanks guys 🙂

181156_10102723759575850_1927481642_n

321430_10102221672587157_917047429_n

Sorry Fran and Nick, we are stealing your child.  Meet Mr. & Mrs. Schaeffenchiz and our baby girl Laverne.

36536_10102230939286617_2046619503_n

What a beautiful lesbian family you guys make.

421744_10102230939586017_1434934784_n

Awkward poses with baby props.

317997_10102230939356477_1297857716_n

Multicultural family.309985_10102230939047097_1918870676_n

 Ok, real mom and her real baby. 309906_10102230939860467_1576824564_n

My trip revolved around lots of important people’s birthdays, and on Tuesday was Mama Schaeff’s birthday! Jacquie and I took her out for a nomtastic dinner, and this is the video I took of her enjoying her chocolate cake and strawberry a little more than anticipated!

On my last day in the land of LA, sista and I went to visit our cousin Danny and his dazzling girlfriend, Nicole, at their boutique, Clover, in Silverlake (cloversilverlake.com).  It was sooo nice to see them and see what they have done to the store.  If you live in the area you definitely have to go!  We caught up on life, travels, work, family and also took many unflattering photos along the way.  Here’s the cutest one, where we cut out Danny’s 10 chins.

251875_10102227929258737_1600701419_n

When it really clicked that I was going back to Korea it was a little bittersweet.  I think the two weeks was the perfect amount of time to be home, because by the end I was definitely ready to return and pop off to somewhere in the orient. My last night was a little weird, but I think that’s because it was setting in for everyone that I was leaving again for who knows how long.  As I packed up my 62 lb bag, Cilla laid at the edge of the bed just staring at me, like she knew I was leaving and she was prepared to be mad at me for another year 😦 I definitely miss those babyloves maybe more than anything ❤

424068_10102226757941067_83538864_n

My flight was the next morning bright and early, and I was pissed because my mom didn’t come to the airport with me.  She knows very well!!!! So this time I left back to Korea with tears AGAIN.  Drastically (DRASTICALLY) less than the first time, but tears nonetheless.  Jacquie was sick, so she got a get out of jail free card, so I was off to the airport with Papa and Brotha Schaeff.  I of course had my standard airport anxiety, on top of a stupidly heavy load of luggage that my dad was shlepping around for me.  I always get bitchy when I’m stressed, so I felt a bit bad for how I was acting right before I left.  Nonetheless, here is the last known photo of father, daughter and son before I escaped to the Orient yet again.

295462_10102228580363917_462992046_n

All in all, a trip home was so necessary.  I really needed to get out of Korea and see the faces of the ones I love so much at home, and get a little perspective, because some things over here hit the fan before I left. So, to everyone who made my trip home unbelievable, many many many times one million thank yous!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Last but not least, there were of course those things that popped out to me as either things I felt differently about or did differently since returning home. Perhaps the biggest that I noticed was something more than just things I say or do.  Obviously most people in the world do not chose to go live in a country other than their own at their own accord, or travel the world for more than a few weeks  at a time.  So, already that is a huge thing that has set me apart from the people that I associate with home. While everyone at home will always be that part of me that no one else will ever be able to fully know, let me put this bluntly, I almost felt like I didn’t entirely belong anymore. It’s not as bad as it sounds.  I just think that I have wanted to live abroad for SO DAMN LONG, and now that it’s finally happened and been in motion, and I’ve been surrounded by others who have picked up and moved their lives across the globe as well, this side of me that never got the chance to completely flourish has finally found its way out and found others who are passionate about the same thing in the same capacity.  It was most apparent to me during times when catching up about relationships and jobs, and times when everyone would ask me where I’ve been, and where I’m going next.  It’s like people were fascinated with what I’ve seen and where I’ve gone, but at the same time wondering when I’d be back in the states and what did I plan to do once this “vacation” was over.  I couldn’t even put a pin on what the emotion was that I was feeling the whole time until a friend who had lived abroad some years ago, asked me how it felt to be home.  I couldn’t really explain it, and then she said the words “you don’t feel like you fit in anymore, do you?” Ding ding. Life’s funny.

So yea, sorry to end on a weird note.  I’m sure I will be back home by the end of the year, but only for a minute 😉 Being home felt amazing, but being abroad and traveling the world feels more amazing to me. Life is just crazy and I feel like everything is happening so fast these days.  But if there’s one thing I am so freakin thankful for, it’s all of you fine folks that I will always call home 🙂

LOVE YOU ALLLLLLZ  (and come visit me) ❤

2 Morons Went To A Lady GAGA Concert

Well, this is for sure going to be the most embarrassing, moronic, completely stupid post I will ever write on this here blog.  Why? you ask.  Plain and simple, Collin and I are morons/pop concert music vets (turned amateur) and expected FAR MORE from a Lady GAGA concert. UGH. Please read on to feel good about yourself and laugh at our dismay.

To begin, I fucking L-O-V-E Lady GAGA and it has been a dream to finally check her off my list of pop divas I’ve seen in concert. Then I found out that she was kicking off her world tour in SEOUL while I’m living here, I thought HOLY SHIT, this will be AMAZEBALLZ. Collin and I scurried to buy tickets  on the crackpot Korean site a couple months ago and I have been bumping Lady GAGA even more than I do on the regz, and that’s a lot. So you can imagine how many subway rides consisted of the Lady bumpin in my ears.

Fast forward to Friday. In between classes I was watching GAGA videos, after classes I was blasting GAGA from the amazing speakers in my classroom.  Left school, headed to Holley’s to get glamorized and drunk for the festivities. I planned my whole outfit to slightly mirror the “Marry the Night” video plus hot pink lipstick. It felt like Halloween 2.0.  Collin was last minute scrambling for fishnets, liquid leggings, caution tape, mini florescent tank tops…anything that would convey GAGA~GAY and that she is the devil by Korean standards.  Here’s me doing his makeup, and then us just sexing up the camera.

This is where the haziness of this night begins. We left Holley’s around 7:45pm maybe (not sure, but I think). Collin changed into Steph’s liquid pleather leggings on the street, and we bolted for the subway.

We got to Olympic Stadium probably around 8:15pm thinking that there was going to be an opening act on the stage so it was fine that we got there a tad after the schedule 8pm show. We heard GAGA songs coming from the stadium, but we just assumed it was a track playing, because that’s what it sounded like, that’s normal for concerts back home before the act goes on, and plus there were so many people just outside the stadium! NEWSFLASH: No opening acts and everything starts promptly per the ticket here in Korea.

Well, we bolt to get inside, and Collin and I lose everyone and start scopin out how we’re gonna sneak down to the front. We find a railing lacking any form of security guard, we hoist ourselves over it and jump to the level below. I got “caught” one of the five times that we did it, mid-strattle, and all the 2 “security guards” said was “No.” and I carried on walking briskly through the lower level. Guess they’re just not used to people not following the rules here in Korea.   Please keep in mind that while this is happening GAGA is in fact on stage performing.  We were just so convinced that it was a cover band because there were zero close ups, it sounded like pure track, her hair looked like GAGA circa 4 years ago, there were 2 catwalks which were not used, most importantly, she was wearing PANTS. AND on top of that, I was expecting a complete madhouse because I’ve always heard that Asian fans are the nuttiest.  But no. they were all literally just standing there with arms crossed.  SEE?!

All signs led to GAGA cover band, because that seems normal for Korea too.  The only thing that made us question our judgement was the occasional time she spoke to the crowd, or rather, yelled FUCK to the crowd.  There were about 6 times that Collin and I stopped in our tracks, stared at each other and said “I AM SO CONFUSED RIGHT NOW. IS IT HER?!” Meanwhile, I was texting my friend Jeremy who I thought was telling me insider info, that yes, she goes on after the cover band around 11pm.  That got lost in translation because he didn’t realize he was talking to a couple of morons who THOUGHT they were watching a cover band.  He just wanted to find out when people were leaving the concert to go to dirty Hongdae. Erg.

We found a few aisles that we scoped out for “when the concert actually started” where we could post up. So, in short, the entire concert Collin and I were scoping out the perfect place for the concert that was never going to happen because it was already happening. We probably paid attention to max 3 songs. In fact, I can remember the 3 songs we paid attention to ~ Americano, Paparazzi and Just Dance.  We were so set on the fact that we were watching a cover band. During the encore, we were in the concession area taking photos and being annoyed that our phone service wasn’t working so we could tell the rest of our crew to come down and sneak up with us.

After the encore, I asked some Koreans why they were all running/leaving. They looked at me blankly and continued running. Collin and I even ran over to the area that looked like the gateway to the floor so that we could get a prime seat for THE SHOW. We were asked to leave because the “show was over.”

So, that’s the tale of how two GAGA fans were made to look a fool. At least it’s an amazing story.  I still believe that the show was extremely tailored for konservative Korea.  If you didn’t hear, all the super Christians turned to prayer to ask God to prevent the concert from happening in Seoul because Lady GAGA worships the devil and will turn people gay and will make them watch pornography.  Basically, they think she is the spawn of Satan. NEWSFLASH, but your 5th grader probably already watches porn on his Samsung smartphone.

Here is the one photo that Collin and I have of us with Lady GAGA at the concert.  And I believe we said “let’s take a photo with the GAGA cover band behind us.” UGH.

At least I didn’t pay hundos for this concert, otherwise I woulda probably gone and watched some porn, turned gay and killed myself for paying all that money to see Satan’s offspring.

 

Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend

A few days early, BUT I couldn’t contain myself…….

28 years ago a curly headed biatch named Cori Alexandra Diamond was born. 22 years ago, in Mrs. Wilkins’ 1st grade class at Willow Elementary School, I was jealous of her florescent blue roller blades with the hot pink shoe laces. This is when I knew I wanted to be friends with this bitch. And just like that, through the years we’ve bonded over strawberry jacuzzis, someone named Sahubbahubba, our own made up holiday Honkamimi, first roller coaster rides, awful dances to Jay-Z songs, “Ilan es guapisimo,” first Britney Spears and *NSYNC concerts (fully equipped with bad hair and botched Latina makeup), record-breaking all day phone calls, weekly weekend brunch and flea market outings and jaunts across South East Asia just trying not to kill each other.  It truly has been quite the exhausting 22 years, but I wouldn’t trade this friendship for 1 bagillion dollas.

SO, since I’m not there in person this year to celebrate her birth with her, I will use this blog space to make a timeline of our friendship through the years based off the photos I have access to on Facebook. There will of course be many years missing, but you can fill in the blanks with ridiculous whathaveyous.  So, here you go Diamond.  I hope you get just a teency bit embarrassed. After all, this is how I best show you my undying love and friendship.  Cue love/hate relationship now.

Circa 1990.  The year we met in Mrs. Wilkins’ 1st grade class. Cori’s in the center wearing the Willow sweatshirt, I’m in the back shielded by a hairpiece.

7th grade I think. My all-time favorite Cori photo. Take a bite outa crime. We had to go on Splash Mtn 2x because the photo didn’t take the 1st time and we needed documentation of her going on a “scary” ride.

7th grade again I think. Took a tumble at Disneyland.

Our parents’ biggest fears. US behind moving vehicles. Needless to say, we were both late-bloomers in the license- attainment department.

8th grade. Always the biggest laughers (and mouths) in the room 🙂

Uh oh. Thank god I’m 6,000 miles away from her.

Culminating 8th grade

This was the “Ilan es guapisimo” phase. Ah 9th grade Spanish and trying to be sexy with a baked potato.

Fresh out of college and ready to grab Hollywood by the balls.

God she was sexy this 26th birthday of her’s. I dubbed her “Floor Whore”…because she spent most of the night there.

27 and gorgeous dahhhling

After doing some time-steps in Supper Club

This is so US.  Bidding me farewell for awhile 😦

Crying in her car after my going away party. My biggest cry baby.

Reunited in Thailand after 4 months to ring in 2012.  A couple hours before this we wanted to kill each other. Aint no thang.

Ready to kill me…………. again?

But really, Diamond, I love you like you’re my sister. My dad always used to tell me to hold onto those close friends you knew while growing up, the ones you knew before life REALLY happened.  Well, not many people can say they did that, or have someone they even still like from their childhood.  I truly am one of the luckiest people to be able to call you my best friend in childhood and in adulthood.  We’ve weaved in and out of each others lives through the years but always managed to come back to one another.  We may bicker and say shitty things, but I can’t think of anyone (besides my own family) that I can be like that with and know that the love and friendship will always be unconditional without even thinking twice.  You are the best and I hope you have the most amazing birthday ever!  Cheers to a gagillion more years of ripping each others heads off, 6am text messages and being the loudest laughers in the room.  I LOVE YOU!