My Top 5 Uniquely Asian Activities

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of my Top 5 posts and as I sit here in a wintery Colorado, my mind is currently being transported back to wonderful Asia.

As you know, It is impossible to choose just five but here it goes, in no particular order, These are my top five uniquely Asian experiences.

Doing a temple stayIMG_9198

This was such an amazing experience that I will treasure for a long time to come. Asia is the best place to find a temple stay that will teach you about Buddhism and meditation. It’s a great way to strip away any stress that you may have and also learn a bit about the country that you are in.

Hiking in the Himalayasimg_4378

They are an amazing mountain range with the highest peaks in the world. There is nothing more magical than knowing that you are standing on the roof of the world and seeing beauty around every corner.

Seeing the Taj MahalIMG_5171

Few famous buildings live up to their hype but the Taj Mahal definitely isn’t one of them. I remember just being in complete awe when first setting eyes on it. It is amazingly beautiful and will leave you breathless.

tip: Go first thing in the morning to beat the crowds.

Seeing Orangutans in Borneocb61f-malaysia058

Okay, Asia has some wonderful wildlife and you can just as easily replace the word orangutans with turtles, whale sharks, tigers or rhinos. But for me, when I got to see orangutans up close and personal without barriers at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, it was astounding. It was something that I had dreamed about for years and when it finally happened I was left in awestruck.

Karaoke38255_1428887613677_7902928_n

Yes, I know that karaoke exists everywhere in the world, but to enjoy a karaoke session somewhere in Asia, it’s a completely different experience. Most singing rooms are small and fit a private group of people. While in the room, you snack on food, drink alcohol and sing songs while playing the tambourine. Also, most of these places are open 24 hours so you can enjoy it after a night of partying. I have had way too much fun in singing rooms over the years, especially the ones that have costumes!

 

Okay, so that’s my list…how about you? is there anything that you’d add, or remove from this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

My First Trip To The Mountains

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We finally made it up to the mountains!

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the mountains weren’t a huge part of why we decided to move to Denver. Thoughts of snowshoeing during the winter and backpacking and camping during the summer get me all kinds of excited. (I must add that I’ve never even tried snowshoeing before, but I know that I’m going to love it)

A few days ago myself and Jason were looking for jobs and getting stressed about life. The weather was absolutely amazing out, so I decided to drop everything and get Jason to go on a little day trip with me.

We decided to go to Georgetown as it’s not very far away from Denver but it’s still far enough to be in the mountains.
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The drive was a nice 40 minutes with not a lot of traffic (the joys of being jobless and going on a random Tuesday). It was right off of the highway but felt like it could have been a million miles away. The historic part of town had the most beautiful victorian style houses and gorgeous Western style shop fronts.
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All of the stores seemed to be locally owned and sold local products (which is awesome). We stopped to get some delicious ice-cream that was made in the town next to Georgetown.
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After walking around for a while, we decided to drive up a pass next to the town. It was a beautiful drive and it brought us up high enough to where there was some snow on the ground…it got me pretty excited about wintertime.
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We were driving for about 30 minutes when we looked at our GPS and realized that there was still a long way to go so we decided to turn back.
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Once back in Georgetown we drove to the train station. The train in Georgetown is very famous and the ride is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately it was closed when we went there, but it’ll give us a reason to go back in the summer.
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Overall, I loved this little town and it has made me so excited and eager to visit many other small mountain towns in Colorado!

HELLO DENVER!!

wpid-wp-1446431575834.jpgI can’t believe that after all of the dreaming, planning and worrying we are finally here!

HELLO DENVER!wpid-wp-1446431589609.jpg

We have been here for a couple of weeks now and so far so good. We love our apartment and the area seems pretty safe. We are only a 20 minute walk from the beautiful Sloan’s Lake which is amazing!wpid-wp-1446431625882.jpg

The city itself is only a 15 minute drive away and the mountains are to the west of us and not too far away either. We have been busy trying to meet new people and get ourselves established in this city.

It’s so much harder moving to a western city than it was moving to Korea. You are so obviously different in Korea that it’s easy to meet other foreigners and people are willing to go out of their way to make you feel more comfortable in their country. Here, we are just like everyone else.

It also seems like people don’t really say hi to each other here in our apartment complex, I guess it’s big city syndrome but myself and Jason are both making sure to say hi to everyone (although we have gotten a few surprised glances).

We are still job hunting. I’m quickly realizing that when it comes to job hunting, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and unfortunately we don’t know anyone here.

We’ve joined a website called meetup.com that has been a bit of a life-saver for us. It allows you to join different types of meet up groups (there’s a group for everything!). We’ve been to a couple of them, one was a dog walk in a city park and the second was at a dog friendly brewery in the city. It was definitely nice to meet some new people and make some contacts as well as seeing new places in the city. We have a few more coming up this week.wpid-wp-1446431550835.jpg

We also joined a website for expats and went to a meet up with them. It was so much fun and we met a girl that had also taught in Korea and a guy that had taught in Japan so we immediately hit it off with them.wpid-wp-1446431561246.jpg

I’m excited for what these next few months will bring (I’m really hoping, they’ll bring us both jobs!!).wpid-wp-1446431543233.jpg

But I’ll keep you updated.

 

 

A WWOOFing Experience!

wpid-fotor_144570817906154.jpgMyself and Jason spent a week WWOOFing in Washington state recently. I guess before I go any further, I should explain what exactly WWOOF is. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. You can work on an organic farm and learn all about farming in exchange for a place to stay and all of your meals.wpid-img_20150929_111024.jpg

It’s a great concept that allows people to work on farms all over the world. It is very popular in Australia and New Zealand but you can find it everywhere!

Myself and Jason had been wanting to do something like this for some time. We both really want to learn more about growing our own fruit and vegetables and hope to become more self sufficient over time.wpid-img_20151003_084246.jpg

So how does it work?

Well every country has their own country specific website. For the WWOOF USA website, you must pay a year subscription of $40. This allows you to see all of the farms that are looking for WWOOFers throughout America, gives a description of them all and allows you to contact them.

While searching for farms, it was exciting to see all of the opportunities that were available to us, goat farms, fruit and vegetable farms, animal farms, ranches and wineries.

We ended up choosing to WWOOF at a winery. Why? well they actually called themselves a farmery as they had animals, vegetables and grapevines on their farm so we figured that it would be a great learning opportunity.

After making contact and introducing ourselves, we agreed on a date that we would work for them. We would work a 20 day work week (about 4 hours a day) but if we wanted to work any hours over that then we would be paid a bottle of wine an hour…it sounded great to us! Also, they love dogs and Willy was more than welcome to join us.

So the winery that we worked for was called Paradisos Del Sol and it was located in Zillah in Washington State. It was owned by a great couple, Paul and Barbara. Paul taught us so much about the winemaking process, including how to properly taste wine.

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When our workdays were over we spent our days tasting wine at the other nearby wineries (there were about 15 on their road alone!).wpid-fotor_14457084315716.jpg

wpid-fotor_144570813949491.jpgWhat did our days look like?

Every morning and evening we “punched down” the red grapes that were busy fermenting.

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wpid-fotor_144570797468982.jpgOn our first day we did the final harvest of grapes, so it involved a long day of picking grapes, but it was fun to see the different types of grapes that make different types of wines and to taste them all.wpid-fotor_14457082214857.jpg

Day two, we took the grapes that we had picked and brought them to a bigger winery to use a machine that detaches the grapes from the stems and gets the juice out of them.wpid-fotor_144570826420837.jpg

Day three, we spent the day picking hops. Jason makes beer so it was fun for him to see some fresh hops, Paul even gave us a box full of them to bring home with us!wpid-img_20150930_092656.jpg

wpid-fotor_144570837645052.jpgDay four and five were spent taking bird netting off of the vines. Because they are organic, they can’t use any pesticides or chemicals on their grapes so the netting helps to keep animals out.wpid-img_20151003_183347.jpg

Before we knew it, it was time to leave. We loved our time on the farm, it taught me that I actually quite enjoy repetitive tasks. Willy loved being a farm dog for the week and we loved the tranquility of the area…will we WWOOF again??wpid-fotor_144570805648812.jpg

ABSOLUTELY!

A Baseball Game With a Difference

wpid-fotor_144399349067166.jpgWay back in March I was struggling trying to come up with an amazing 30th birthday gift for Jason…I got to celebrate mine in style in Bali so how could I ever come close to that?!wpid-img_20150224_073315.jpg

After lots of searching I decided to get him some baseball tickets to go see the Seattle Mariners in Safeco Field. While I was looking at all of the tickets and the different prices, I stumbled across the Diamond Club. Once I read about it, I knew that that was the perfect gift for him!wpid-fotor_144399368072864.jpg

So, what is The Diamond Club? Well, it’s much more than just a baseball ticket, it’s an experience! The Diamond Club is the first 20 seats right around the diamond. They are the best seats in the house…but when you buy these tickets you get a whole lot more included in the price.

So here’s a breakdown of what you get:

  • Free parking at the stadium.
  • A free gourmet all you can eat buffet before the game starts.
  • Free alcohol and soft drinks throughout the game.
  • When the game starts you get waiter service to get you free game food and snacks so that you don’t have to miss a thing.
  • A whole wall of sweets and candies to choose from as well as ice-cream and popcorn.

wpid-fotor_144399378022277.jpgSo, a few weeks ago we finally got to use the tickets and let me say, even though the Mariners lost, Jason had an amazing time! We were four rows away from all of the action and he even got a wave from a few of his favorite players.wpid-fotor_144399387035355.jpg

The food…in one word, WOW.wpid-fotor_144399354029099.jpg

The buffet had an impressive salad bar, with so many amazing options. They had ribs, pork, beef, chicken and fish and then so many incredible cakes and pies as well as a chocolate fountain with strawberries for dipping. (I’m sorry, the photos that I took were shockingly bad, so you’ll just have to use your imagination)

We were so stuffed before the game even began, but we did manage to use the waiter service during the game to order some garlic fries.wpid-fotor_144399383389727.jpg

The drinks were also impressive, I had a mojito with my food and then drank alcoholic cider throughout the game. Jason drank the different craft beers that were on offer.wpid-fotor_144399358935628.jpg

We had such a fun day and it was so cool to be right up the front and to be so close to all of the action!wpid-fotor_144399373485880.jpg

They are expensive tickets but well worth it for a special occasion!

Where to buy the tickets:

I got my tickets on http://www.stubhub.com. They were electronically delivered and seemed cheaper than any other places.

A Quick Update


Hi everyone!

I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted, we’ve been crazy busy with our international move, but I wanted to give you a quick update as to what is going on in our lives right now. So, we have been in America for the last two weeks, in that time we have bought a car, spent a weekend in Seattle, where we went to a Mariners game (baseball) and did a food tour. We also had a great party last Saturday with all of Jason’s family to celebrate our homecoming. We ate so much food and had TWO beautiful cakes! It was the first time that all of them were together in about five years, the sun shone and everyone had a great time.

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Our car!

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Jason’s family…I feel very lucky to call all of them my family now.

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Our flight from Korea went pretty smooth, Willy was a champ and when we went to collect him from the baggage area, his tail was wagging like crazy. We are now staying with Jason’s sister, Amber, in her beautiful home here in Spokane WA. She has a huge forest as her back garden so Willy is loving the freedom (although he doesn’t understand that he can go out by himself)wpid-img_20150910_103617.jpg wpid-img_20150912_113352.jpg

We aren’t too sure how long we’ll be staying here in Spokane. We are both busy looking for jobs in Denver and are ready to move there as soon as possible.

We’ve been back and forth on moving to Denver, it’s been our dream for the longest time but then we got a bit worried because the rent is so expensive there right now. We were considering Seattle too and the weather was so great when we visited, but overall I don’t think that either of us could handle the cloudy rainy weather.

So we are back on to our initial plan to take the risk and move to Denver…it’s going to be an exciting few months!

I’ll write about our trip to Seattle in a separate post because it was so good!

My Top 10 Things To Do In Korea

Well, after five years in this beautiful country, I officially only have one week left.

During those five years, I have seen and done some incredible things.

Below is my list of the ten things that anyone visiting Korea should do!

1. Go hiking

1413785588887Korea is about 70% mountains, so no matter where you are, you are guaranteed to have a mountain close by! It’s a great way to see the sheer scale of Korean cities from up above or to just get away from it all and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Hiking is insanely popular among older Koreans, they usually hike in groups and bring lots of beer and soju for when they make it to the top. But, you can always find quieter mountains and trails.

 

2. Get out of SeoulIMG_9098

There is so much more to Korea than Seoul! I have always said the same thing about Ireland, so many people only visit the capital city and it’s such a shame because that is only the very tip of the iceberg. Korea has amazing historical towns like Gyeongju, beautiful beaches down south and on the East coast, skiing up north and lots of beautiful national parks. If you do get to Korea, make sure to get out of Seoul and see the real Korea!

3. Go to a festival

IMG_9039In the Spring and Autumn, Korea has hundreds of festivals. Some of my favorites are, the lantern festival in Jinju, The Green Tea Festival in Hadong, The Cherry Blossom Festival in Jinhae, The Fireworks Festival in Gwangali and one that I’ve never been to but would love to go to is the Andong Mask Festival.

4. EAT!

20150111_192253Okay, this is pretty obvious. In recent years, Korean food has become insanely popular abroad. It is so delicious and a Korean meal is much more than just the food, it is an experience in itself. I love cooking my own food at the table while snacking on side dishes and drinking and having fun with friends.

5. Take a stroll down Insadong

162988_1610106264030_1768509_nI love this street! I don’t know why, because at the end of the day it’s a tourist trap, but I love it. Here is where you’ll find all of your souvenirs and Korean artwork. It is also home to some beautiful tea houses.

6. Go to the DMZ

68479_10152278723065062_1420238085_nThis was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had. The DMZ is the most heavily guarded border in the world, it is a border of two countries who are technically still at war. We booked through the USO and had to sign disclaimers saying that if we were killed it wasn’t their fault. There were so many rules to adhere to and it was all so intense and serious but it definitely gave me a better understanding of the war between North and South Korea.

You can read more about our experience here.

7. Do a Temple StayIMG_9198

This was such an amazing experience for me and definitely one of the most unique things that I’ve done while here in Korea. It’s a great way to find some peace, learn more about Korea, it’s culture and Buddhism. It’s 100% a must do experience while in Korea.

You can read about our temple stay here.

8. Go to a noraebang

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A noraebang is a singing room and best visited when you are drunk! These places stay open nearly all night long so you can go in, they will bring you to a room, you order some food and drink and then sing to your hearts content. My favorite noraebangs actually score your singing out of 100 which allows for a bit of competition. The photo above was taken at our favorite noraebang in Jangyu, they provide costumes and it’s so much fun!

9. Go to Gyeongju38830_1445311944275_4583817_n

Gyeongju is the historic capital of Korea. It is just full of temples, burial sites, historical buildings and amazing food. I have been here twice and absolutely loved it both times. There is so much to see and do while there that you’ll never get bored!

10. Go to a dog/cat cafe

You can’t beat having a little playmate while sipping on your coffee. We used to have a cat cafe in our city and I loved going there. It was a dream world for cats as it had lots of hidden nooks and they could climb all the way up to the ceiling. Unfortunately, it has since closed down but we do have two dog cafes (that I know of). Which keep us busy and allow Willy to socialize with other dogs.wpid-1422148833566.jpeg

You can read more about dog cafes here.

 

 

So, there you have it, this small country has some spectacular scenery, culture and food…makes sure you get to experience it all if you ever come here!

How about you? Is there anything that you would add or take away from this list?

 

Just Over a Week Left

I can’t believe that we have less than 2 weeks left in Korea.

I haven’t been posting much recently as I’ve been extremely busy with everything. I’ve been cleaning and clearing out the apartment, getting Willy and myself ready for moving to America as well as teaching.

We have talked long and hard about the future recently. I guess now that the time has finally come, we are starting to freak out about our job prospects. We have decided to apply for jobs that we would like in many different states and let that process decide where we’ll live. At the end of the day, there are amazing things about many different states and cities in America so it’s quite exciting to have no idea where we’ll end up. I have also started the process of job hunting. It’s a tough process and I’m sure that me still being in Korea doesn’t help things much but I’m hoping that I’ll be successful with the job hunt soon! Jason is being so supportive through it all and is willing to live anywhere if it means me getting a job that I want. He has been looking in to going back to school next year so we are both busy researching!

This weekend, we have our friends wedding reception in Busan which should be fun, we’ll also be busy moving furniture out of our apartment and start packing our suitcases! I’m also hoping to get one final hike in Gimhae in before we leave.

We’ll then have our last week of school before saying goodbye to the place where we met and got engaged. Gimhae has been the only home that we have ever known as a couple, but we are looking forward to the next stage of our life together.

It’s all so exciting!

We have some very exciting things planned in our first few weeks in Washington too, I have bought Jason some VIP tickets to a Mariners baseball game (for his 30th birthday), our friend, Ian, bought us some tickets for a really cool food tour of Seattle, we’ll be catching up with all of Jasons family and we have also organized to go to work on an organic winery with a farm attached to it for a couple of weeks (Willy gets to come too!).

paradisosdelsol.com
paradisosdelsol.com

I can’t wait to write all about it, but for now, I have to get back to packing 🙂

 

Happy Anniversary To Us!

Our wedding :)Last week, myself and Jason celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I can’t believe that we have been married for a year! It has been an amazing year with some difficulties thrown in, but our relationship has definitely become stronger than ever! I feel so lucky waking up next to him every day.wpid-fotor_143951658952742.jpg

Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t great as we were so busy with packing up to leave, selling our stuff, saving money for our future and taking care of a friends dog! So we decided not to do anything too over the top or crazy. We have a weekend in Seattle planned in a few weeks (I can’t believe that we’ll be in America in a few weeks!!) so we have decided that that will be a mini anniversary celebration.

Regardless of all of this, we decided to go for a nice lunch in Busan. There is an area of Busan (Marine city) that we don’t frequent very often and the few times that I’ve been there I’ve seen a lamb restaurant that I really wanted to try so we decided that our anniversary would be the perfect time to go.wpid-fotor_143951648150318.jpg

Marine city is an interesting area, everything is brand spanking new there and it is also where the rich in Busan live. You constantly see expensive cars driving around and the streets are spotless!

The restaurant, Agnello, is right by the water and even though there is a road and a small wall blocking the water from you,there is still an amazing sense of calm and relaxation there.wpid-fotor_143951655217289.jpg

We got to Agnello to find that there was a nice breeze coming from the sea allowing us to sit outside (a rare treat, in a very hot and humid Korean summer)wpid-fotor_143951683704529.jpg

We ordered a rack of lamb and a pizza between us. Jason ordered a craft beer that was on tap and I ordered a cocktail.wpid-fotor_143951664126899.jpg

The food was absolutely amazing! The lamb was so succulent and came with some lovely side salads that complimented it really well! One salad was a salmon salad and the other was a delicious summer salad of tomatoes and cucumber in a light yoghurt dressing.wpid-fotor_143951668044782.jpg

wpid-fotor_143951679251150.jpgThe pizza was also delicious, definitely worth the money!wpid-fotor_143951675465247.jpg

I’d definitely recommend stopping by here if you are looking for a bit of the home in Busan or just want to treat yourself.wpid-fotor_143951671647338.jpg

How to get here:

It is only about 500m from Haeundae beach and it’s a pleasant walk from there.

By subway: take the green line to Dongbaek station and take exit 3. It is about a 10 minute walk from there. The restaurant is located on the waterfront.

 

Visiting a Tea Shop in Seoul

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If you only go to Seoul once then this has to be on your list of things to do!

This is one of my favorite things to do when I visit.

Insadong is a very famous street in Seoul, it is very touristy and has souvenir shops and art galleries everywhere! But it also has many tea shops hidden up stairs or down alleyways. Last weekend, myself and Jason had to go to Seoul for my American visa interview. We both knew that it would be our last time in Seoul so we decided to revisit Insadong while there. I have always loved this area, the buzz of the streets and the diversity of the people that shop there.wpid-fotor_143926508161320.jpg

Luckily, the hotel that we were staying in was right next to Insadong which was perfect for us. After wandering the streets for a while we decided it was time for tea.

When choosing between places to have tea in Insadong, I always try to choose an older tea shop rather than the newer ones that have been popping up recently. We chose one up a stairs.wpid-fotor_143921165510145.jpg

Once we got to the top of the stairs I knew that we had chosen well. The doors leading to the shop were absolutely beautiful.wpid-fotor_143921072246881.jpg

Once we were inside, it was like an oasis of calm. You could tell that it was a very old shop. It had lots of different areas allowing us to relax in a small corner by ourselves.wpid-fotor_143921090721268.jpg

wpid-fotor_143921152604128.jpgWe were brought a menu with so many different tea options! Seriously, they had so many types! Myself and Jason both decided to stick with green tea (of which they had plenty of different options)wpid-fotor_143921080285311.jpg

Jason chose a fermented tea (which we had tasted and loved during our temple stay) and I chose a regular green tea.

When the tea came out, it came out with a traditional tea set each. The lady set it down and walked away. We had both watched tea being made using these tea sets before but there was an extra bowl this time around which confused us. I ended up having to google it and found out that the extra bowl was a waste bowl (you pour hot water in to the pot and other bowls first to warm them up and then pour that water in to the big bowl.wpid-fotor_143921110328219.jpg

Both of our teas were delicious! I think we must have sat there for about an hour just chatting and watching the world go by.wpid-fotor_143921116141839.jpg

It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Seoul.

 

wpid-fotor_143921126531684.jpgWhere we went: We chose Jidaebang tea house which is on the main Insadong road. You can find the trip advisor reviews here.