Island Hopping Off Incheon

2 weeks ago marked the last long weekend I will ever rejoice in during my time in Korea. That’s if you don’t count the one during summer camp in August, but I’ll totally be checked out by then and camp will be donezo! My original plan for the long weekend was to visit Haesindang Penis Park on the east coast, close by to Samcheok, where I got a case of bed bugs when Josh and I went to Dokdo last year. Pretty soon everyone started flaking, and as much as I wanted to still go, visiting a penis park solo seems a little too perverted, even for me. Plus, who would document me atop many a phallus?

With that, I decided to head out on my own and check out a couple more islands that are just off the west coast of Incheon. I went to Muui-do during my first Chuseok in Korea and fell hardcore in love, so thought it’d be nice to add a couple more islands to that list. Ganghwa-do is about 2 hours by bus outside of Seoul, and Seokmo-do is about a 15 minute ferry ride from Ganghwa-do. Both islands are very prominent in Korean history, as they served as a fortress island during several invasions by France, Japan and America. It is also as far north as you can get, as it’s just separated from North Korea by the Han River extending out from Seoul.

When I arrived at Ganghwa-do Bus Terminal, the tourist information guy was SO helpful. I didn’t really have a plan, but knew of some sites that I wanted to see. I had also just planned to find a jjimjilbang (Korean bath house) to spend the night at. The man instead told me that Bomunsa Temple on Seokmo-do offers overnight temple stays for 10,000won. It wasn’t a traditional temple stay, but rather a mat to sleep on in a communal woman room, with meals (and snores) all included. I took his advice and headed out to catch the ferry to Seokmo-do.

The bus to get to the port took FOR-EVER. Many people take their cars over to Seokmo-do, so the traffic was horrendous. What would typically be a 35-40 minute bus ride took over an hour, at which point I hopped off and walked the rest of the way to the port. When I got to the port there were tons of little shops selling shrimp chips and special ginseng makkoli. A specialty of the island is their dried shrimp, and the seagulls that follow the boat over to Seokmo-do are very greedy when it comes to those shrimp chips!

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Here is the only photo of myself from the weekend. Not much for selfies, but seagulls aplenty!

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I finally made it to Seokmo-do, and had to figure out how to get to the temple. The guy manning the bus stop was a little flippant when faced with my foreign face even when I was speaking Korean, but I met a couple girls on the bus who spoke really good English and chatted me up. They figured out that I’d head out on the same bus as them on their way to the beach.

When I got to Bomunsa, the base of the temple was littered with old town Korea, which made me so happy. Tons of old women hunched over their little shops of bowls of nuts, and ddeok (rice cakes), and dried shrimp. Tons of dirty fingers handing me samples that I didn’t want to be rude and not try in front of them, and tons of samplings of makkoli. I found myself using far more Korean than I typically do living in Seoul, which impressed even myself that I could verbalize things I thought I only really knew how to understand.

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Getting up to Bomunsa is quite a job for the ass and calf muscles. But it’s a really beautiful walk up, and the temple itself is lovely.

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What I wanted to see most at Bomunsa were the hundreds of Buddhas! Just as you arrive to the top of the hill to your left is a procession of all these white Buddhas with different faces and expressions. I saw a bunch of people also throwing coins to the big statue in the center, so I’m thinking that’s to make a wish or pray or something.

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The rest of the temple was pretty standard when it comes to Korean temples. Very beautiful, but nothing I haven’t seen before, aside from the massive reclining gold Buddha in one of the temples.

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See that flight of stairs to the right? That leads all the way up to the top of that mountain, where there resides a Buddha carved into the side of the mountain. People who were there on a weekend temple stay were doing their daily prayers with the sea breezing behind them.

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No trip in Korea is complete without a selfie or two, give or take a nice backdrop, or not.

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I was also VERY proud of myself for not pulling a Danielle and plummeting down this flight of stairs during my descent. Pat on the back, me!

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When I successfully landed on flat ground, I checked into the temple for the night and went to eat some dinner before it closed. The dinner was my least favorite Korean food, bibimbap, but I liked knowing that since I was at a temple there was no need to worry about any weird meats finding their way into my bowl.

For my slumber, I was given a mat, blanket and a rectangular pillow that I laid out in the middle of a bunch of ajummas for the night. As the only foreigner, I was quite the attraction amongst these women. There were two sisters that I was sleeping next to, and they showered me with Korean melon, candies and ddeok for days. Through my broken Korean and their broken English, we established that one of the sisters has 2 granddaughters that are half whities and were born in America. She then proceeded to call her granddaughters to have them translate all the burning questions she had for me. She even asked if she could come to my house because “she wants to see how I live.” I had a good laugh about that one with her 7 year old granddaughter, Grace.

That night I fell asleep at like, 10pm, after a failed attempt to read my book because they kept tapping me to ask another question. So I just fell asleep instead so I didn’t have to deal. I can’t even remember the last time I went to bed that early. I also had to sleep with my headphones in because there were so many ajumma snores. It was pretty unbelievable.

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At around 5am I was jolted awake with pieces of candy being thrown at me. It was like I was a little sugar animal or something. The sisters were trying to wake me up to have breakfast with them, but I couldn’t be bothered to get up that early, let alone eat kimchi for breakfast. So I continued sleeping for most of the morning. At around 10, after 12 solid hours of slumber, I woke up to them staring at me and asking to have lunch with them, but I wanted to jet out. And jet out I did.

After a quick rinse, and by rinse I mean taking the shower nozzle and wetting my legs and arms, then slathering myself in lotion, I was off. I felt so dirty but I was not about to take a legit naked shower in the communal shower area with flies and weird smells aplenty. So I probably smelled pretty potent.

I grabbed some free fried vegetables for the road, a bottle of ginseng makkoli for later, and admired the delicious kimchi being made. Gotta get me a baby kimchi pot before I leave.

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I also found the ajumma hott spot.

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I caught the bus back to the ferry, and the ferry back to Ganghwa-do, where I popped off to go see the ancient dolmens with these fashionable travel companions.

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The dolmens are a UNESCO World Heritage site, and serve as grave markers for past rulers or high-up people. To me, they looked like a Korean version of Stonehenge on a much smaller scale. I was not impressed, so this journey took me all of like, 15 minutes to get through.

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After seeing the dolmens, I thought I’d go to the Peace Observatory to wave hello to Kim Jong-un, but I was a bit pooped and in desperate need of a bath, so decided to call my little trip over after a wander around downtown Ganghwa-do. I checked out a little flea/produce market, and saw enough garlic to keep all the demons away. It smelled so delicious.

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If you’re looking for a quick, cheap, and easy getaway out of Seoul for a couple days, this is a lovely option. To get there, grab the 3000 bus about a 5 minute walk from Sinchon exit 5 (green line). It’ll take about 1.5-2 hours to get to Ganghwa-do, and busses leave every 15 minutes. Once arriving at the terminal in Ganghwa-do, the tourist information man is extremely helpful. I believe I used busses 1 and 30 on Ganghwa-do, and there’s only 1 bus you need to use on Seokmo-do. You can also use your T-Money card for all busses, and I probably spent about 6,000won in total for all transportation on both islands. Not too shabby!

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Happy Birthday Buddha, With Love From Gyeongju!

I sit here a week after returning from a very much anticipated long weekend jet out of town with a visitor I just couldn’t wait to be in the same time zone and touchable space with for the past 5 months. A very digital age meet-and-greet story short, Jerry came back to the Koko on a very big leap of faith after we spent a Valentine’s Day in the airport, and many a month Skype cavorting. Well, Skype doesn’t always translate into shooting stars, but I think a snarky and oftentimes brutally honest friendship came from a southern boy’s internet stalking efforts.

I have been wanting to get the heck out of Seoul for a bit now, my lungs have been pretty desperate. Top of my list on the main land has been Gyeongju, which was once the capital of Korea, and is where you can learn about the Shilla Dynasty of Korean history past. It is the cultural epicenter, and where you go if you want to walk in Korean history, not to mention, breathe glorious fresh oxygen.

So, as soon as Jerry Berry arrived from Shanghai, we hitched a KTX train ride down south from Seoul Station to Gyeongju, with a quick transfer to the Mungunghwa slower train. I love train travel, and we wanted a little longer jaunt on the way down. On the return we came direct from Singyeongju station, which is slightly more out of the way from Gyeongju, but has a direct KTX line to Seoul.

I had never stayed in a love motel (which is exactly what it sounds like) since being in Korea, so I booked us a room at the swanky Sugar Motel on the sexy love motel street. Since we were planning to be total tourists on this getaway, we took the free pick up from the train station that was provided, and the lovely Miran fetched us upon our arrival. Ajumma visor modeling was provided on-the-house from the backseat.

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We were greeted with elevator Astrology. Are Aquarius and Libra compatible? I guess we were to find out.

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After settling in and finding horrendously disgusting Korean ramen slurping-esq porn on the tele (which we watched for far too long), we went out for a nice long wander around town, where we mocked the giant political poster-men, noshed on a snack (which he fucked up and needed assistance), and inhaled some dakgalbi. We also enjoyed a heaping serving of miserable couples not talking to each other all around us. Jerry was very happy to be back in Korea.

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We had one full day in Gyeongju, so the next morning we had a leisurely sleep in, and went off to rent some bikes for a couple hours. I think I always mention that biking in foreign places is one of my favorites ways to see a city, and this was no different, except that there are people EVERYWHERE in Korea, and add a holiday weekend. So, there was lots of swerving. I even saw a woman plummet straight for a curbside lunch. For once I wasn’t the one eating shit, and Asians suck at driving in all its forms.

Gyeongju is scattered with these spectacular rolling green hills which are actually tomb mounds, and they’re all over the city. They are stunning! We visited Cheonmachong, meaning Heavenly Horse tomb, which is believed to house one of the Kings of the Shilla Dynasty. This particular tomb was named for the horses that were found painted on a saddle that was found during excavations in the 1970s.

It also proved to be a spectacular setting for selfie-stalking (or as Selena Meyer would say “Ussie” stalking), which also happens to be another of my favorite pastimes in the country of narcissism.

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We stumbled upon some gangsters who were climbing a trail up to the top of one of the mounds, and just as I was about to shlep our asses up there, the ajussi police came and ran them off. So instead of rebelling, we biked some more in search of a park that we soon realized was far too far for our little bicycles. So we forded a river and followed this little lady down her alleyway. 

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I also found what resembles a massive menorah downtown. L’chaim!

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That night, after getting a tad bit lost, we got a jeongsik (정식) dinner, which is a meal comprised of a bunch of sides. It’s super delicious and usually comes with soup and tons of plates to cover your table. Our first one happened to be a baby jeongsik. I believe this one cost around 5,000won/person! Not too shabby.

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After stuffing our bellies, we oriented ourselves and walked across town to Cheomseongdae Observatory, which is claimed to be the oldest observatory in all of Asia. Glory glory Korea! I wasn’t super impressed, but I did read that this observatory is built of 361.5 stone slabs, which is equal to the number of days in the Lunar calendar. Ok, so some scientific thought went into the construction.

We took this horrendous selfie as a souvenir.

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And this one of these people with their asshole arm extender.  Then we peaced on out to Anapji Pond, which disappointingly enough, we got there too late to see in its illuminated glory. Sadface.

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Tuesday was actual Buddha’s Birthday, so we got up at the crack of the morn and hit the road to make the most of our half day before shlepping back up to the ol’ concrete jungle. Before hopping a bus, we needed to caffeinate, and he needed to continue documentation of the horizontal stripe phenomenon in Korea for the mind-blowing science project that he’s conducting.

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Stripes taken, we popped on a bus headed for Bulguksa Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is about 35-40 minutes outside of the city center. We took this ussie where Jerry continued to practice his smile.

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Bulguksa is beautiful, and there were some prayers and speeches going on while we wandered the grounds. I think all temples in Korea look the same, but they’re still quite perty to see. I especially love the lanterns they use to adorn during Buddhist holidays.

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We made some friends.

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This Jew is always trying to find beauty in a Buddhist symbol turned disgusting.

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I stalked a bit, per the usual.

IMG_3370We were going to head out to Seokguram Grotto, but alas there was no time. Seokguram was also recently declared a UNESCO site, so I’d like to see that at some point.

Our last meal in Gyeongju was another jeongsik, this time much bigger and with a lot more variety. We were actually on a sardine cramped bus headed back to the city center when we passed it, jumped off and bolted across the street. This place was really cute and traditional, and we got to sit in our own private little room on the floor instead of standing pressed up against the man’s farting ass next to us.

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I really really loved Gyeongju and am so glad I finally got to visit. It’s so quaint, and I’d say one of my favorite places I’ve visited during my time in Korea. Living in Seoul, it’s so easy to get swept up in the big city life where things can become mundane and sort of easy once you get the hang of life, even while still being in a foreign country. However, this weekend I felt like I was out of my as-of-late element for the first time in a long time, and I needed that in a bad bad way.

Have you been to Gyeongju? Any must see places or tips should I take another wander down yonder? Let me know!

 

Happy Hippie Bali

I really need to spank myself for the tardiness of this, but there seems to be a trend when I go on a honker of a trip. There’s just so much I want to share that I let it sit and linger until I’m like “Danielle, you need to write that NOW!” And then 2 months swoop past and here I am with a draft that’s like, 2 months old and not to my liking anymore, forcing me to start all over again.  So here I sit. Finally gettin to tale telling.

Bali and some of its neighboring islands, Lombok and the Gilis, was my first trip booked as a completely solo venture. It wasn’t solo in the whole sense of the word, but it was solo in that I traveled completely on my own and retired to my own boudoir nightly, and just so happened to be in some of the same places as others at the same time so we got to exploring together.

I loved this trip to death, even though there were a couple moments of sheer pissed-off-ed-ness, but mostly it was beautiful and zen, and I really got my Eat Pray Love hippie dippy on.

I know I should really probably start with the best parts of my trip, but I’m going to start with the things that urked the crapola out of me, because in retrospect they are the funniest and my favorite stories to tell when I reminiscence on my Indonesian gallivant. Win win.

1. When I Got Abandoned Somewhere Between The Gili Islands

I started the day by telling Chrissy about the movie Open Water. Dumb. If you haven’t seen it, go rent it, but not before you go on an organized ocean exploring trip.

While snorkeling somewhere between the Gili Islands, the stupid little Indonesian boy in charge of our boat forgot to do a head count of how many people he had on board his vessel. He decided to drop us off at the sea turtle point, where we got VERY excited to see some ginormous shelled creatures! Well, me, Chrissy and our new man friend that we met on board got excited and decided to swim and follow one. Only they were beating me because I was blessed with a botched snorkel that really cramped my snorkel enjoyment. I couldn’t swim for like, 2 seconds, without gulping in water through a tiny puncture. After a bit of a chase, I looked up to get a handle on where the boat was, and to my horror the boat was zipping off, and appearing to be getting further and further away!!  I of course started panicking because there was a small current and I was gradually wading into the water about 10 feet to my right that was getting a pitch shade of black.

So there I hustle, huffing and puffing through my cursed snorkel, swimming to a stupid boat that keeps getting further and further away.  When finally, another boat speeds past, and I throw my arms up, screaming to him to pick me up because our moronic driver left us stranded.  That man refused, and yelled that our boat was coming back.

Well, after about 5 minutes our boat decided they left some people for shark bait and came back for us. How thoughtful of them!!! I hoisted myself over that ladder and onto the boat where I  ripped a new one for the giggling guy driving the boat, who just stared at me laughing and asked “Are you mad to me?” What do you think BUDDY?!

I was later chatting with a plane buddy on my flight home who told me that she had read reviews about snorkel trips in the Gilis often leaving people in the water or on island hops. SO, for those looking into a venture to the Gilis, get your balls in check before you possibly get left for shark bait.

2. That Time I Fell And Sprained My Other Ankle

My right ankle had just started to finally feel normal again when I happened to find myself in the sleepy beach town of Uluwatu in the southernmost tip of Bali. You see, Uluwatu is gorgeous, but unless you are comfortable with your life in your hands whilst operating a motorbike, or are traveling with a trustworthy somebody of who you don’t mind bestowing your life, you’re kind of screwed for getting around the city that’s built along one long windy road.

I stayed at a nice little guest house called Belong Bunter, operated by a young guy named Hank and his adorable 15 year old side kick.

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I will never forget Hank because he turned into a stalker. He offered to drive me around on the back of his motorbike, which was awesome because it was free.  It was not awesome because I think he thought that my nice open nature meant that I wanted to be his girlfriend. I don’t know.  I’m a weirdo magnet I guess.  Anyways, after his sweet welcoming ways wore off, he followed me around Padang Padang beach, and hung out in front of my room when I wasn’t talking to him which proved to be a bit much when all you want is to be with yourself after a day on the back of this guy’s bike.

So the ankle sprain. We had planned to meet by his bike at 5:30pm to go catch the sunset at Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple up on the cliff overlooking the ocean. After the beach, I retired to my room, took a shower, and then took a naked nap. At around 5pm (30 minutes early, mind you), through my window I heard “Danielle! Danielle!” In my groggy haze, I thought Hank was in my room!  Startled, my naked bodice lept so fast out of bed, tried to run for cover and ate it so hard on the ground, knocking over a plant in my haste, and OF COURSE, my other ankle off its rocker. Ugh.

Another ankle to bite the dust. Night was ruined, and the rest of the evening was spent dying in bed because I could barely walk, listening to the soundtrack of a whimpering Hank outside my window sending me consoling Facebook message after Facebook message.

I probably shouldn’t have let him fondle my foot, and I should probably consider drinking whole milk.

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3. This Creepy Graffiti

Indonesia is a Muslim country, I knew this before going, and everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and opinions. It’s part of the beauty of traveling.  However, this was a little alarming for a lover of the motherland to see while just wandering the back streets of tiny little Gili T. Especially since it was Ramadan, and the constant chanting blaring through the speakers was already urking me a bit.

1151072_10102614572402777_323951986_nGaza will never go down. Fuck Israel.

A few days later. Me, Tu and my new friend Alex stumbled upon this 9/11 McDonald’s creepy graffiti in Ubud. In such a beautiful, peaceful, zen city, this is so out of place.

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Ok, now that we got that out of the way, let me tell you some happs that definitely topped my pops list on this journey through Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan. In no particular order, but probably chronologically because that’s how it is in my notes and I like order amidst chaos.

1. Catching Up With KC In Kuta

Casey was my plane buddy on the flight over to Korea, and we both got stranded up in “North Korea” together once we got our school placements. He moved to Taiwan to continue teaching English once our 1st year contracts came to a close.  It just so happened that we had a couple days overlapping on our planned vacations, so we met up in Bali’s version of Mexico, and strolled along the beautiful Legian beach catching up on life and all that jazz. Twas really nice to see him and meet his girlfriend.

I also learned that several of my male friends are all homosexuals.  Oh Kuta!

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2. Prince Ali, Fabulous He

I met up with Chrissy in Lombok, which is the biggest island neighboring Bali to the East. I got there a day later than anticipated because no fast boats were available the day I originally wanted to head out. We had one day on Lombok together, so we opted to trek out to Tiu Kelep waterfall which was a 2 hour drive from where we were staying in Sengiggi.

When we got to the first small waterfall, we acquired our guide, Ali, who was a tiny little Indonesian man with horrendous body odor and a smile filled with brown teeth for days. He didn’t understand a lick of English, except for how to ask for money, but held our bags under his raging smelly arm pits as we less-than-gracefully forded many a river, guided us through a bat-filled water tunnel, and took this fabulous collage of “blurrages”.

Bless Prince Ali and his fabulous shaky little hands.

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3. Saltcheese Chocolatey Nomness

When I finally made it to Lombok after a less than speedy fast boat journey, Chrissy and I hit the ground running to Tiu Kelep so we’d hit it before sunset. Both of us were famished in any sense of the word that we know, so we stopped at a little store at the base before hiking in. We found these sandwich cookiecracker things, and inhaled them way too fast.

America and Korea and everywhere should own these for sale.

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4. This Hammock At The Happiest Place On Earth

Happy House on Gili Trawangan is truly the place to stay, should you stumble into those parts. Do keep in mind though that you may find yourself in a bit of a pickle when trying to find the place. Our sweaty backs and bodices wandered for a good hour  on this tiny island before we finally found it and were greeted by all things HAPPY, and a complimentary welcome breakfast.  I was equally happy when I found this hammock hanging in front of our door.  Turns out I’m a bit of a hammock hog when I’m happy.

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5. Phalluses For Days

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

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6. Taking a Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class In A Gazebo At Yoga Barn

Ubud’s claim to recent fame is Eat Pray Love, and is a hippie cultural paradise nestled inland from the east on Bali. I knew before going that I wanted to unwind there with my inner earthly weirdo for at least a day or two of my five.  One of the big attractions of Ubud is it’s mysticism and Yogi lifestyle.  I freakin love yoga, though I don’t do it as much as I tell myself to, so I made sure that I fit in a visit to the highly acclaimed Yoga Barn. I took a class taught by a man named Les, and it was seriously the most intense yoga class I’ve ever taken.  I definitely earned that million bucks feeling when the class ended and he told us we all looked stoned. They offer package deals as well as classes on an individual basis, and if I remember correctly, an individual class is around $20USD.

Yoga Barn is awesome in that they offer way more services than just yoga classes.  They have vegetarian buffet nights, movie screenings and a variety of holistic retreats and colonics if you are into getting your tubes irrigated.  Put this place on your list while visiting Ubud if you know what’s good for your bodice and your noggin.

7. Bintangs With Brother Liangster

Brother Liang and I have only met two times in our lives.  Once during a wild night out in Seoul when he had a less than 24 hour layover, and this time in Ubud, which was so random. Social Media is so amazing sometimes. I post to Facebook that I’m in Bali, Jeanette sees and says her brother is there too, I message him, and turns out we are in the same place at the same time and what do ya know, here we are throwin’ back some Bintangs and missing one Jnet Liangster.

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8. Watching Real Live Monkey Sex

One of the big “to-do’s” in Ubud is the Monkey Forest. My friend Dion told me he was actually quite scared while walking through it, so I was pleased to have Tu as my companion for the day. And boy, was it a doozy of a journey to the forest! You see, the forest is completely open and the monkeys and humans coexist for the day. I’ve always thought monkeys were really cute, but I was kind of creeped out by them while here.

First we were greeted with a mama monkey and her dead baby monkey sprawled at her feet. Then we saw a monkey attack a woman and her bag of food because she didn’t listen and leave her food at the entrance. After walking a bit further we saw two monkeys brawl each other over a Coke bottle, only to lead us down a ways to the trifecta of cray cray.

I may have been stupid and tried to mock a monkey who appeared to be in a deep yoga leg lift. He tried to chase me, I flailed, all was good. Then a girl got bit on the hand, and then came this full mount upon the tree. Tu and I were a couple of highly amused peeping toms before the monkey sexers caught wind of our peeping and unleashed a herd similar to Planet of the Apes.

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9. Seeing Katy Perry Perform Some Indonesian Traditional Dance

Katy Perry wasn’t really there, but for about $8USD, Tu and I spent an evening at Ubud Palace watching her doppelganger  do some pretty intense eyeball and finger dancing in the most stunning and ornate costumes I’ve ever laid eyes on. Truly exquisite, and totally recommend checking out the Legong Of Mahabrata Traditional Dance Show should you find yourself out for an evening in Ubud. Tickets are available just out front of the palace and are sold all the way up until show time.

Pardon the blur, but Katy Perry is in the front, because where else would they put her?

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10. Temple Hopping With Tu & His Wild Leopard Sarong

It was pretty wild.

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

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11. Watching The Sun Set On Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot temple overlooks the ocean, and at sunset, it provides for quite the exquisite photographic moment. With the people crossing over the rock to the temple, draped against the changing sunset, it’s really really beautiful.

We took too many silhouette photos of other humans and me looking like a teradactyl, and this one in attempts to make straight face with the temple itself.

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12. Rice Terraces For Dayz

On mine and Tu’s day of leopard print sarong temple hopping, we also visited the Tegallalang Rice Terraces, which were stunning and lush. The village itself where the terraces are is quite touristy and there are lots of jacked up priced trinkets, but it was really gorgeous to see the steps of green for days! Ta da!

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13.  One Man’s Cheap Thrill Is Another Man’s Treasure

I wrote a previous post about my time at the Copi Luwak plantation and my time spent there with the lovely man, Oher. A man who lost his wife 2 years ago, has been raising his young daughter on his own, and teaching himself English to better himself and to show his daughter a brighter future, proved to be one of my favorite parts of this trip.

When he described his daughter, he mentioned that she happened to love Hello Kitty, prompting me to obviously show him my supremely Asian iPhone case and the plastic ring I happened to be wearing that I purchased in Koko for a measly 2,000won. I totally felt compelled in that moment to give him my ring for his daughter, to his utter shock. He was so grateful, and It just showed me how different our worlds are, yet small gestures are always the biggest to anyone.

He was so thrilled, I was so in awe after my life talk with him. Win win win!

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14. Getting My Fortune Read By THE Ketut Liyer!

I’m sure many people reading this post are familiar with who Ketut Liyer is.  If you have read Eat Pray Love or have seen the movie, then you will remember that he’s the fortune teller that Elizabeth Gilbert visits on her trip to Bali. I actually probably wouldn’t have thought to go had I not been wandering on my first afternoon and stopped to talk with a local who was trying to hustle me to let him take me around on his motorbike. He was the one to tell me that Ketut is actually hugely famous in the city, but many are skeptical of his authenticity. Maybe that was just his opinion, but I knew what was next on my list!

After a day of zipping around on the back of my new friend Gusti’s bike, we ended our day at Ketut Liyer’s house. However, he was ending early for the day due to a ceremony he was performing.  No worries though, Gusti picked me up bright and early the next day so I could pick a number and get in line to hear tales of my future. You have to pick a number and wait your turn, that’s how famous he is!

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I ended up waiting for about an hour and a half before it was my turn. While I was waiting I got to play with these adorable babes who live at Ketut’s guesthouse, which made the wait more enjoyable.

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And finally my lucky number 7 was up! I was actually quite nervous because I didn’t quite know what to expect. I have always wanted to get my palm read, and even if Ketut is a quack, the novelty of having my fortune read by him made it well worth the $25USD to sit in his presence for 15 minutes.

It was incredibly difficult to understand him through his few dangling teeth and broken English in Indonesian tongue, so my ears were perked up about 50 notches. He basically told me that a lot of beautiful things will happen in my future. I will be very successful and fall into a great lump of money, be married once and it will be for keeps, and we will have 3 children. I may or may not have already met the man I will marry, but he seemed to believe I will meet him before I turn 30. Tick tick tick goes my biological clock!

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As cheesy as this may sound, and no matter how quacktastic he may be, it was actually a huge deal for me.  Even though I’ve always wanted to live abroad, Eat Pay Love really ignited that in me, and then the Florence & The Machine song Dog Days Are Over that played in the movie, was kind of like my anthem for wanting to head off even more. So, this meeting had many special meanings and felt like my time abroad came full circle.

If you head to the gem of Ubud, a trip to meet Ketut will definitely be a highlight.

15. The Cement Art Paved Streets Of Ubud

One thing I absolutely loved about the location of my hotel in Ubud was the street I was staying on, Jalan Kajeng. The whole street is paved for days with special sayings or messages that visitors past have left to remember their time in Ubud. I didn’t know until doing a little research on the street, but I guess you are able to purchase a cement stone and write a personalized message, and this is their novel way of repaving the particular street. I absolutely fell in love with it, and found myself stopping and reading and walking, stopping and reading and walking nearly every time I walked down the street.

I found a little bit of home.

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And even found sista!

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16. Stalking This Lady Having A Smoke Cliff side At Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple

Pura Luhur Uluwatu is a seaside temple that was built in the 11th century to protect Bali from evil spirits.  The temple itself iwas really beautiful, though my time there was overshadowed by my irritating “friend” Hank. He followed me around everywhere with a stick to hit monkeys if they came close to me. Nice gesture, but beyond annoying when I just wanted to explore on my own.

When I finally managed to ditch him, I stumbled upon this lady sitting in the shrubs having a puff puff, and thought it was so beautiful with the sunset.

Twas a lovely way to wrap up my Balinese adventures!

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WaWa & SchaeffSchaeff in KoKo

I just had my 9 month Korean anniversary last Thursday, May 17th. Holy shit! In the 9 months that I could have been with child, I have had 5 visitors, 4 of which hail from the Orient.  Damn I’m popular, especially amongst the Eastern folk. The last most amazing friend in the world to trek their ass across the world for me with a bag full of cheese and other American delicacies was my lil WAWA!!! Her 10 day visit definitely warrants a posting.

I was so freakin excited to see Wawa! I haven’t seen her since I think my birthday last year (I think), but of course we have kept up to speed on all the juicy gossip that’s gone on in our lives in between.  But, I was especially excited for 10 days of good old fashion girl talk, rehashing past relationships, current whatevers, what went wrong and adding further insight to the past, that we’ve since gained in our old age. Oh, and play tour guide of this country that is now my home away from home.  I was a little nervous to play tour guide because the pressure’s on, but it was probably the closest to relaxing yet jam-packed trip possible. Twas awesome.

Wawa and about 10 pounds of candy came to school with me 2 days of the week, so she helped teach and squeeze the cheeks of my 3rd and 4th graders with me and Jin.  My classroom is also on the 6th grade floor, and since she didn’t come to class on days I taught them or 5th graders, they could only get candy if they asked Wanda a question.  Most of them asked the same shit, “What’s your name?” “How old are you?” “Where are you from?” and just dug their dirty hands into the bag of candy, but then they had to actually ask her good questions.  Especially the smart ones. I made them. Some were actually good “Who’s your favorite Hollywood star?” and of course “Do you have a boyfriend? No? Why not?” Our favorite question EVER. Both days that she was here this is what it looked like just outside my classroom.  I had to play zookeeper to a bunch of candy crack babies  a couple times. That was fun.

Wawa is also no longer “solo.” I knew she’d come to Korea and find a boyfriend ASAP. This is her and her new boyfriend Julian. They even dress like a kouple.

Our absolute most favorite day of her trip was our “Day of Culture.”  That day we went shopping in Insadong where we got down to tradition and cried of laughter as we posed in Hanbok. We went to Gyeongbokgung Palace and got a taste of celebrity when some middle schoolers asked to have their picture taken with us, saw the King Sajong statue, ate some bomb tofu and pajeon (Korean seafood “pizza”), drank tea at a lovely little tea house, and went shopping for a fish and live octopus to eat at the Noryangjin fish market. I ate live octopus for my 2nd time. Jesus.

Here’s a video of us eating that octopus.

We also had some very ladylike evenings.  We caught a jazz show at  my favorite location in Seoul, Jazz Story, in Hyehwa, and had a night of vagina at Vato’s Tacos followed by some vagina pops at a Vagina Monologues show.

We went to Gangnam and did what you do in Gangnam. Take glamour shots and hang out with very sophisticated men.

We also hiked, or rather walked 50 million flights of stairs, up to Namsan Tower to lock up our love (next to mine and sista’s) to forever overlook the smoggy sky of Seoul, and found our first epic Geocache.

All in all, it was soooo much fun having my lil Wa here! I’m so happy she came and it’s always nice to have visitors because it gives me a chance to feel like a tourist once again 🙂 Here are a couple other highlights of her trip.

Our new Vietnamese family.

Eating fried potatoes with some new male suitors.

Eating a hot dog wrapped in a pancake.

Swapping manicure secrets.

Shopping with ajummas, her new favorite breed of people.

Schaeff Schaeff loves you WaWa! Now come back soon! Mwah!