September – China Stop 1

china, Travel, trip

 

It feels like a long time but it has only been a month! On sept 4th I left Korea and started my trip. So far it has been pretty fun if not most importantly relaxing. It did feel a bit weird to leave Korea and no matter how much I knew it was coming leaving still felt a bit sudden. Especially when I landed in the airport in Beijing. Which I wasn’t totally prepared for. So it did take a while for me to get into everything again and not being a grouch that I left. Did find the groove eventually. I am going by myself on all of this so it has been a bit different than pretty much all my other trips where I have been with someone.

I started off my trip going to Beijing and have ended up now in Kho Phi Phi in Thailand. In between I haven’t done a whole bunch though. So far I have stayed in China and Thailand only. I’ve been in Thailand for almost the whole month doing what I assume is the usual circuit for people who come over here.

I can say Thailand for me has been a lot more fun than China was. I stayed four days in Beijing and then three in Shanghai. Beijing I wasn’t the biggest fan of for a few reasons. Some might just have been my attitude at the time but I found I just wasn’t enjoying myself as much as I would have liked. If i were to find excuses it would be the hostel that I stayed at was pretty abysmal. It was dirty, unfriendly, didn’t really offer anything and worse case didn’t have a chance to meet anyone there. The location was ok I guess, it was central so I was right next to Tienanmen square and the forbidden city. I  was able to see them everyday. However nothing I saw in the city really seemed that cool except for the summer palace. That place was pretty sweet and would recommend it. The square and forbidden city were pretty boring, the history sure is there but to look around it’s all kind of lame.

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The city was dirty and I developed a terrible cough that unsurprisngly went away after I left the city. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the aesthetic there either.  However it was interesting how hard they tried to reconstruct the traditional feeling of the buildings and keep it in line. For the capital city of one of the wealthiest countries on Earth I was expecting a lot more modernity and just better infrastructure. Instead it felt like I was in a bigger Vietnam all over again.

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Jesus Christ

One of the strangest things I experienced was just the checkpoints in the subway. While I guess it makes things safer and it never really took extra time just the thought of it felt way too imposing. It felt like I was in a really dangerous area and was super uncertain how safe the place actually was. Going through the metal detectors and having to put your bags through screening just to use the subway seems a bit much. Instead of feeling safe it made it seem a lot more dangerous.

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However the food was pretty good and the people were all fairly nice. I don’t think my few days in Beijing were totally representative of the city though. I didn’t push myself to do to much and I’m sure that maybe I missed the good areas or fun things. So I’m willing to accept it if someone want’s to change my mind. That being said I found the sites that I saw to be pretty boring and wouldn’t go out of my way to ever see again.

A huge fan of those dumprings, and finally got have duck which I’ve wanted for years after seeing it in London. So it’s been a long wait.

I spent the first day going to the summer palace which was really cool. The palace parts are as same and undistinguished as any other palace or temple you can see so that wasn’t that great. Also a lot of these places have giant walls which make the place seem very grand in scale, but rather boring to look at since it’s just a giant blank red wall. SO pretty bland. The whole compound of the summer palace though is what made it cool. There is a giant lake that it surrounds and the scale of everything is really impressive. It is also very relaxing and nice place to just sit down. That is until some parent lets there kid take a piss in the middle of the walkway. Still there was a lot to see and just enjoy for the most part. The only upsetting part was realizing I had to go back to the center of town again.

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Which reminds me, the subway stations never seem to be in the right place ever. Always a block away from where they need to be.

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On a good note I did do a tour and did a hike of the Great wall. That was worth it and was actually really cool. We walked for a few hours along the un-restored portion of the wall. It was really great to see and there were views everywhere so it was a good time. The guide was a pretty entertaining guy too. He was very adamant the he buy us Snickers for some reason. He also was very distraught when we didn’t really want to eat the 7/11 sausages that had been cooking in our bags for like 4 hours. The wall is unsurprisingly massive like you can see in pictures, but it was a bit more epic seeing it in person and actually grasping the scale of it all. Unlike everything I had seen in China so far it was large and impressive. Don’t know if I would go back to see it, but if your in the area it’s a must. 20170907_103315.jpg

Plus i got take love shots with the tour guide with what was probably just gasoline. Whats not to love!

With my time in Beijing up I ended up going to Shanghai for the weekend which was a sweet change and really made China great again.

SHANGHAI

After being delayed for half a year in Beijing airport I flew into Shanghai. Finally the trip was taking off! I met up with Anna in the airport aftet that the number one priority at the time was to take a shower and finally get clean again. It was a smashing success and my hair had never felt better, thanks to some Korean shampoo goodness.

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The next day we went to an old town which was really cool. Finally had all the food I wanted and gorged myself on lamb and everything else on a stick. Tried some stinky tofu and might have had too much than what I could have handled. I got pretty stuffed after everything. Except for maybe one thing I don’t think I had something that was just tasted bad in China and it stayed strong here too. The whole area was really nice and had a good atmosphere. It rained a tiny bit but never really got annoying.

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We then went to another area which I have no idea where or what it is called so I know it’s a great help. Either way it got even cooler there. There were really Chinese looking buildings and narrow walkways going through them. There were tons of touristy shops there which wasn’t too crazy but the way the buildings just loomed over the alleys was awesome it made everything feel so cozy and like the last place the atmosphere was just there.  For whatever reason it reminded me a lot of Spirited Away. In what turned out to be a trend in the Shanghai adventure we got a picture together from someone who seemed to not notice any of the cool things around us and tried to make the picture as tilted as possible.

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I mean it’s not terrible but there was so much on either side of us that was ignored!

 

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Shanghai was definitely more active than any of my time in Beijing. After this we just walked around to the river and saw the well known skyline. I’m not the biggest fan of the giant round 80’s looking space ship but I think I can live with it. I really enjoyed the mixed in European architecture and feel of the whole area too. We walked around a bit trying to find a place to eat. I’m pretty happy where we ended up too.

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So the place we ended up was like nothing like the commercial, but I still felt like it had a similar vibe. Everything that I saw in the streets and in the restaurant was exactly what I thought china would be like.

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Things in the restaurant were bustling and what I thought was cool was everything was it’s own stall/booth. Ambiance through the roof! We ordered quite a lot and none of it was bad. Although the best thing I had my entire time in China was from here and it was only beans we ordered as an afterthought. Like seriously they were great beans I still miss them.

Just look at that goodness

After that we just went out to meet some people, and then Shanghai was pretty much done! Actually before leaving I finally got to ride a proper fast train.I wanted to ride a bullet train in Japan but I missed my chance. So when we took the Maglev train to the airport I was more than happy.  I was happy with all of Shanghai actually.

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After Shanghai the next stop was off to Bangkok and Thailand!

I’m still in Thailand now and will do another write up for it probably in a couple of parts.

Also feel free to comment if you have any ideas for what you want me to do next. ^^

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Vacation times and the end of times

Hong Kong, Japan, korea, Travel, weekends

20170819_151659As of writing this I have only have a few days left. I’m in the final stretch! It’s pretty weird really. I will probably do a big run down of my time here but that time isn’t now. That being said I definitely have some very mixed feelings about leaving. It’s been a ton of fun and quite a time that’s for sure. I didn’t expect any of this before I came. So it’s a bit upsetting all in all, but all good things must come to end right?

That out of the way lets talk about the past few trips I have been on. There have been a few of them too! After taking almost  0 vacations all year I loaded them all up near the end. So I went on three all within a couple weeks of each other. I have been pretty occupied because of that! I’m going to write about them in reverse order for no particular reason. First up is Tokyo!

TOKYO:

Tokyo was a city that was everything and at the same time nothing that I thought it would be it was weird. I think the biggest misconception I had going in was going to be the size and cramped space of the buildings. Sure the first picture won’t refute my claims but i’m serious. I expected towering apartments and jammed up cramped spaces. Actually pretty similar to what Hong Kong was. I was expecting something kind of like below. Not exactly that but I was imagining there to be a alot of vertical space to be taken up. Seeing how big it is I think I was looking for something like a hive.Image result for smoggy anime city

Maybe it was just the area that I visited but I didn’t get that vibe at all. Sure things were a bit small and there was definitely some packed aspects to it. There were also your fair share of sky scrapers. What I didn’t see however was the mega apartments that take up the skyline in both Seoul and Hong Kong. Instead there were a lot of 5-6 floor buildings crammed together. Even down some pretty narrow alleys. Though everything seemed to breath better and there felt like more room then there really was just because the scale of all the buildings was quite small.  Nothing ever got oppressive “city” it all seemed kind of spread out.

I’m not the biggest fan of anime and I’m not sure if i’m doing a disservice to Tokyo by saying it but I definitely got some anime vibes. Not sure what it was, but from the art, the buildings, streets, and just pretty much everything it just seemed like there was something I could relate to after watching something. It just felt right I didn’t even watch a single thing there or have I watched an anime in years but after coming back I’ve had a strong hankering to watch something.

Tokyo was awesome, it was definitely one of the best trips I have been on and it blows the last time I was in Japan out of the water. I’m glad I went back and gave it another shot. Something I won’t forget for at least 6 more months.

Lets talk about the trip for a bit though!

I had a flight at around 7AM. So I slept in the very comfortable chairs in one of the many lobbies. When I woke up I shaved away half of my hip from grinding it into those wooden chairs all night.

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I stayed in Shibuya which is on the west coast of the city. It also has a lot to do there. After having a bit of an incident on the train I finally found my way there and exited the station. I had a ton of time to kill before I could even check in. So I got to the station and all I could really do was walk around. I wasn’t looking for it but right there was the scramble. The scramble is the big famous cross walk in Tokyo. When ever you see pictures or a time lapse of people crossing a big busy street that is probably the place. It’s famous for possibly being the busiest cross walk in the world. It is also just kind of cool to begin with. I did a ton of walking and after 3 hours meandered my way to the hostel where I dropped off my bag.

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Dog

I walked along this river waiting for my friend to land in the airport. I ended up taking it way to far and not really knowing where I was. Out of all the possible pictures of the canal this is the one I took. Way to go me. There were way cooler areas trust me. It’s a one way road and most of the way up and around were windy roads with small restaurants, stores and cafes. I’d give it a 9/10 in atmosphere. Then out of all that this is what I take. With none of that in sight! 20170818_15102620170818_154154

Unlike Seoul they kind of added side walks in the back roads like this. Sure it’s still walking on the street but if you look to the left the railing sets a definite walking area. I wouldn’t say this is better or worse than the freedom system here in Seoul but it was nice to see since I haven’t before. However what really made this trip was Saturday and hanging out with friends all day and eating some amazing food. After waking up at a fashionable 11 we got underway and met a friend at the station where we went further in the city to get something to eat.

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We went to a sushi place that was just awesome. I have never heard of a bonito fish before and I never realized it was my favorite thing ever. If your wondering it’s the most normal looking meet on the plate above. What I wasn’t really expecting was how much was going to come.  My previous sushi experiences have all just been a plate or two all which was pretty good but never really anything to write about. This time though there was an entire thing. The plates kept coming and I was surprised every time. I didn’t take pictures of all of them but I think total there were 5 or 6?  All of it great.

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It also was probably one of the most expensive dining experiences that I have been apart of. I give it an easy 12/11 mainly because my zero key is broken.  I would do it again in a heart beat. It was really close to the Imperial palace so we decided to walk on over and take a look. It was as cool as you could get without actually going in the place. Apparently it’s only open like twice a year.  The only thing that really came of it was just highlighting the more European influence. 20170819_15160520170819_153240

Went to Asakusa where it rained a lot. There was a temple or something that I looked at from a far. There were also a bunch of shops. It would have been nicer if I had an umbrella and was trying to dodge the rain the whole time.

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Better yet though we played this drum arcade game that I just love. First played in Taipei and I play it every time I can. 20170819_17491620170819_181733.jpg

Walked around in the rain some more, saw the SkyTree and got something else to eat. The cool thing about the Sky Tree was how the top of it was in the clouds. The two things that I ate to this day had to be the best thing I have had in a while. 20170819_184738

There were 2-3 more plates after this guy. All were great.

Last day we went to a ramen place that was just cool. It was the normal Japanese setup with the U shaped counter and the staff in the middle.

This time though there were private stall the whole way around. So you really didn’t have to see anyone ever. In fact you didn’t have to talk to anyone. You order at a machine then give your slip to whoever is on the side. Hopefully the pictures above give you an idea. Then after you order they put down a flap down over your one “window” so you are even more secluded. The picture below shows it with the flap down. I was pretty excited over having water on tap though.

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The ramen as expected was great. I swear it wasn’t as gelatinous as looks in the picture. You could choose how much of whatever you wanted in it, and how soft or hard you wanted the nooders too. After this we quickly made our way to the Tokyo Dome because we had a date with a baseball game.  20170820_154820

The Tokyo dome is huge. It’s the first time I have been to a closed stadium too. The actual game itself was at a higher caliber than whats on display in Korea. Just the players were better. The Giants which was the home team quickly got out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and sat on it for pretty much the whole game. The atmosphere there was comparable to Korean games but I want to say it was even more rowdy than here.  The chants were non stop and the crowd was just living it up. There were trumpets there were flags there were crazy people. Asia knows how to watch baseball. Well atleast Korea and Japan do.

A few things stuck out to me in the game. One was concessions inside the stadium. This is the norm at home, but it isn’t at all in Seoul. It definitely ads to the atmosphere if nothing else. I didn’t do a whole bunch of snooping but it didn’t seem like anything crazy was really being sold there. Another thing I wish I took a picture of was the beer girls, and how many there were. They were everywhere at every second. Looking down in the lower bowls they looked like bees buzzing around or ants warming around a colony. There were so many of them and they were so busy. That would be a tough job for sure.

Lastly how busy the area around the arena was a bit surprising. Not because it was pack and going crazy but really the lack of anything going on. Arriving at Jamsil stadium you are smacked in the face that a game is happening. There are people and cars everywhere its very obvious and speaking of atmosphere pretty cool. While in Tokyo there was no body around. I easily could have been in the area and have zero idea that something was going down inside.

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Yay baseball!

With the game done we hustled our way to the airport where nothing eventful happened. Besides that we flew!

HONG KONG

Hong Kong in general was what the doctor ordered. It was just a great time and well timed too. Well for the most part. I wen there on a Sunday but everyone I went was going with was already there. So I had to meet them later. My only problem with HK was where we stayed and the lack of signs for the place. I spent a good 40 minutes or even more trying to find it. The only reason I found it was because I followed another white person.

To get it out of the way the weather here was terrible. It didn’t rain but it was humid like no other. Within minutes of being outside my shirt was drenched I can’t explain how sweaty and gross everything I owned got within a few minutes. You could tie your shoes outside and immediately have to go back in for a shower.

I got in pretty late on Sunday so nothing much happened then. The next day we went to the beach which was permanently overcast but nothing happened. Which was really surprising. Either way the beach was great and the water was just as great. We also went Kayaking for a bit too.

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At this point I’m actually a little fuzzy on the order of events so I’ll just talk about things as I see them.

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I had maybe only one bad thing to eat in Hong Kong. It wasn’t even terrible though. Everything else was just awesome. The service tended to be hilarious and the food added even more to the experience. There was nothing lacking in this department. The picture is at a dimsum place we went to on the last day.

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We went to the place of 10,000 Buddhas. We just walked up and up a path with a ton of gold painted statues like in the picture above. There were some pretty weird ones. Also there were a few missing so it wasn’t exactly 10k Buddhas, but we can let it slide. 20170801_13122920170801_131148

This is what to see at the top of the thing.

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Definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip was the all you can eat sashimi place we went too.

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Jesus

 

Hong Kong reminded a lot of home in some ways. It had a classic city feel to it. Also what it is worth noting is how varied the people were. Everyone looked different, there were people from other countries everywhere.  The city was also very crowded the building and apartment situation I thought was the most interesting.

There were so many different kinds of apartments. In Korea there are swaths of identical apartment complexes everywhere. Here there were many apartments but not a single one was the same and it didn’t seem to matter where you were. There were dozens of ramshackle sardine can apartments. Then right next to it would be a super modern 1000 story building. This was happening everywhere. Someone I was with said it the best, the situation was ruthless. It was apartment chaos. Also the AC dripped all over the side walk which I was not a fan of.

 

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With the trip being done, I have some serious reservations about HK express.

JEJU

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My sister came to visit for a few weeks so we went down to Jeju. Compared to the rest of the trips this was surprisingly the most difficult one. We stayed in the middle of nowhere in the south western part of the island which did us no favors. The one upside was that it was right next to Sanbangsan. So we could walk there in around 10 minutes. 20170725_10460020170725_122618.jpg

We spent the majority of the time at Jungmun resort which was not a day wasted. We saw waterfalls, banana milk cafe, and at the time I finally got to go to the beach.20170725_130752

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You have to be careful

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Hi Caroline!

The highlight was probably seeing my friend which was kind of a blast from the past. He was probably one of the first people I have ever met in Korea. I met him when I went to the Fire Festival in the first few weeks I was here. The last time we saw each other was last year when he was in Seoul and we went to a baseball game.

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I look creepy

 

 

He doesn’t even live close but he and his his parents came down and picked my sister and I up and took us to eat around a much cooler area whose name I can’t remember. They then took us to the guest houses they have been working on. My mind filled with regret realizing that we should have stayed here. To be fair I did ask if we could before we even came to Jeju. They eventually drove us back, but it was an awesome time and I’m really grateful for them going out of their way.

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Much nicer

Here are some pictures of what Caroline and I did while she was here!

The last one is worth talking about because, who really wants cheese with mango ice. I mean what? Either way I hope she had a fun time when she was here.


Well that has basically been the last month in a nutshell. It has been a very exciting and fascinating last month or two. Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Jeju were all great. Though if I had to rank the trips Tokyo was my #1. I can’t say enough how much it restored in my faith in Japan being a fun place.

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The sun is setting on my time in Seoul

When all is said in done it is Friday here and I have only one work week left here. I’ll be doing my last runs of places and saying my goodbyes for the week to come. So my time is winding down. I’m sad it’s all ending but really it’s a good thing I even had the opportunity in the first. place. Why stop here though? Lets keep this train running!

 

3

korea, Travel, weekends

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Not to alarm anyone but I have three months left. The pressure is on!

What have I been up to you may wonder. The answer is not much. In the time I have posted I actually have done a few things mostly just exploration, nothing huge. Either way here it is.

I’ll start with Hockey. It’s finally over! Which is a shame because it’s really fun and it also gave me something to do on Sundays.

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Not to discount the season though we did end up getting second place overall. Which is pretty good. We played a tight final but eventually we just couldn’t break through. Which was upsetting but hey I’m totally fine now and hold no grudges at all.

Our team was really good, and I actually got better because of it. Am I good? Probably no, but I found my legs again. I ended up with a total of 9 points with an amazing 4 goals. For comparison I had 0 last year. So a step up I say! Either way the CBHK is a ton of fun, and I’m so glad I found it. I won’t be able to play again because the season doesn’t start till I leave. However It will probably be one of the things I miss the most about Korea.

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There also happened to be an EXO concert going on next door one game.

I also went to Namiseom Island (남이섬 종합휴양지)

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Namiseom is an island shaped like a dumpling shaped island. It has a mildly interesting history but the most fun bit is the “country” status.

Naminara Republic
Nami Island declared its cultural independence on 01 March 2006 and re-named itself the Naminara Republic (Namisun).
The Naminara Republic is an imaginary country, but it has invented its own passport, currency, stamp and telephone card, and has promoted the establishment of Naminara in other countries. A “passport” issued from Naminara is required to enter the Namisum. Korea4expats

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for example

Being an island with no bridges you can’t get there by foot and have to wait for a ferry to take you across the river. It’s very quick and not at all hard to figure out how to do. You can also zip line across to the island if that’s your kind of tea. Once there you can take a few paths to walk around the island. It’s actually quite big and took a bit longer to get around than I thought it would.

If you’re that kind of person you can rent all kinds of things to get around the island. From bikes, to pedal cars, golf carts, and even off brand segways. There are plenty of options to chose from.

It’s all pretty quaint. There are a lot of tree lined paths that can be pretty scenic at times. There are lots of groomed fields and it really just has a very relaxed atmosphere. It’s basically a giant park. It is definitely a couple and or family spot as there are lots of both running around. There are the few sculptures and a decent amount to see. However there isn’t a lot to actually do. At least how I did it, it was way more of a leisurely stroll through the island just looking at things than actually interacting with anything. There are also some animals littered around the park like peacocks, rabbits, and apparently an ostrich but I didn’t see it.

I probably wouldn’t go back there, but I’m glad I went at least once. It was relaxing and for sure a good way to spend the afternoon.

As a quick note, the area around the island is known for chicken I guess so there are tons of chicken places to eat. Choose wisely!

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leaving to the island

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Beyond that I had a cute afternoon exploring some roof tops in HBC. We went to 100 Food Truck which was a bit disappointing. Sure the view is cool but you can get it pretty much anywhere else in the area. I’m embarrassed to say how long I waited to get up there. Just to have a pretty good hamburger that totally fell apart in seconds. Eventually I was just eating a guacamole salad. My issue was mainly with the wait. To be fair we waited for the shade and as far as I know if I went for the un shaded part the wait would have been much quicker.

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view from the top

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I had the green one

Almost forgot to mention I went to Seoullo 7017.

 

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It was an overpass created back in the 70’s. It has since been renovated into a walkway with a bunch of trees and random other points of interest. Here is a link about it if you’re interested.

Moving on from Food Truck we went to a Thai themed rooftop. It was way better. Not only was there no one up there but it was just very chill. Also carried about 90% less pretentiousness the last place did. To make matters better it was on top of a bbq place, what a location! I will go back here again for sure.

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Random picture time!

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So that has been the past three weekends pretty much. The last one was pretty hectic, well with not a bunch of sleep that’s for sure.

I ended up going on a trip this past Sunday to some places i’m not really sure of between Chungju and Danyang.KakaoTalk_20170616_112313101.jpg

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It was definitely a good way to spend the Sunday.

As far as school goes a new term has rolled around a few weeks ago, and it is a nice change of pace from last term for sure.

That is pretty much it. Now a new weekend is a day away so lets see what happens!

Let’s not forget though.

THE PENS WON THE STANLEY CUP!

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Hey I got some of it right…..

Vietnam time

Travel

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I went to Vietnam this  past weekend and it was a lot of fun! I flew into Hai Phong on Thursday night after work. I was definitely pretty tired. I got in around 10 on Friday. Before I came I was really worried that I’d have a tough time figuring out how to get from point A to B. Turns out it was really simple and I was basically guided and probably ripped off from as soon as I touched down. I’m not complaining though everything was super cheap. At least I think it was.

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beep beep

I was going to Cat Ba island which like the name sounds is an island. So I had to take a boat to get there. The boat was basically a barge, it was pretty darn slow, and the seats were literally falling apart. Either way there were quite a few other tourists there mostly French which was a theme for the whole trip.  Al together the ride took somewhere between 2 or 2/30 hours to get where I was going. So it was a bit long but that’s ok. I was able to go outside and see everything. I also met a Korean on the boat and we ended up hanging out all weekend. Also thankfully the weather was really nice.

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1st look of Cat Ba from the dock

Once I got in I found the Hostel where I was staying. It was ok. The guy who checked me in sounded peeved that anyone was talking to him. He was also really strange. It wasn’t bad though not like I was spending any time there anyways. After throwing my stuff down I went and looked for something to eat. Wasn’t that hard to find something. Got some Pho Bo that was just awesome, and it was like $2. I went back there again. I spent most of the time just walking around and being asked by everyone if I wanted to rent a motor bike or mota bye.

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Didn’t do much day one. Just walked up to cannon fort for a little bit.  Cannon fort was made by the Japanese and then used by the French and Vietnamese. It gave a pretty good view of the island. 20170414_164601.jpg

See cannons. I have mixed opinions on the green army guys.

Second day I went on a boat tour. Continuing the trend of the trip it was packed with Europeans who were on week or month long trips through the country. The sky was pretty overcast which I am kind of happy about. It was still warm out and the water wasn’t cold either so it worked out and I wasn’t baking all day. 20170415_16250520170415_162703

A community of around 1,600 people live on Hạ Long Bay in four fishing villages: Cửa Vạn, Ba Hang, Cống Tàu and Vông Viêng in Hùng Thắng commune, Hạ Long city. They live on floating houses. wiki

We went through a fishing village on the way and back from wherever we went. My question is how did people end up living there in the first place? Did they just wake up one day with their houses floating in the water after being carried off by a flood? Then they just decided why not stay? Also went Kayaking. Which was probably the best thing on the trip. 20170415_09421220170415_093204

After scooting around for awhile on the boat we went swimming/snorkeling. Got to jump off the boat too. It had more of an impact than I was expecting.  The whole area was pretty cool. I found that I was taking the same picture over and over. Almost all of them looked the same. That being said it was just really nice looking so I couldn’t help it! IMG_8114

All of the rocks were thinner on the bottom from the water and there were also lots of little caves and things pretty cool stuff.

The bay consists of a dense cluster of some 1,600 limestone monolithic islands each topped with thick jungle vegetation, rising spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Wiki

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Also went to a place called monkey island. Presumably because there are monkeys.  I’ve seen tours being sold to go there. I would never recommend getting a tour there. Especially not for ₩150,000. The whole thing is a 10-12 minute walk up some really pointy rocks then you go down trying not to die so you can watch monkeys steal things off German teenagers. boat20170414_182851

By far one of the coolest things I did or ever have done is rent a motor bike and ride around. It was way easier than I thought it would be and there was pretty much no traffic to speak off, there were also no driving rules it looked like. It was just really awesome.

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The first place that we stopped at was the cave hospital that the Vietnamese used during the war.

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There were two entrances and this was the exit but it looked like this on the other side too. My first reaction was wondering if this really was it. Kind of lame, it’s a cave and a room yay. Turns out it’s a lot bigger than one room and is pretty huge. Really surprising. Kind of gave me an appreciation for what people are talking about when they mention the Viet Cong having tunnels all around. These things could be really substantial bases. 20170416_104022.jpg

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The thing was still a giant rectangle though built underneath a giant cave. So the second floor to it was just walking around on the roof of the concrete box with the natural cave wall above.

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The coolest thing about the whole ride though was the drive. Going up and down the hills and through the valleys was really cool. It was kind of like the day before but on land and a lot more majestic. Going through the hills though was pretty freaky though. Sure it looked really cool but there were lots of zigs and zags and I was having trouble going around all of them. So I went about 2mph and drifted down while my friend raced around the turns.

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Top of the national park

I also went to the national park. It was a lot longer of a hike and a lot harder of one too. I was dying out there! KakaoTalk_20170419_103735410.jpg

My favorite part though was getting to the other side of the island.

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We came down from the hills on the far side of the picture and it was sweet. Looking out before making my way down I could see the inlet and the road winding and flowing next to the water. It felt like I was in Monte Carlo or some James Bond movie, racing next to the water. However the road was quite bad so I went pretty slow, it was still cool either way.

Pretty much the same thing

After this we bustled back to the rental because we had to catch the last boat out. The boat out was a speed boat and only took 45 minutes to get back. Being back in Hai Phong we still had about 6 hours till the plane left at 11. 20170416_172717

Didn’t really do much. Got a cab to Big C which is like a Vietnamese Walmart. They had Lotteria too! Lots of chicken. So we just messed around there then walked to a street and got something to eat. When all was said and done we had like 3 hours so we just went to the airport. Pro tip: give them your ARC (residency card) with your passport. Thankfully we were ahead of schedule and we landed in Incheon at 5 instead of 6 on Monday morning.

A few things I found interesting was the obsession with the USD and how important it was. Also how many Europeans were around I was expecting a lot more people from English speaking countries. Then the fishing boats and everywhere else were decked out in Vietnam flags.

Overall the trip was really awesome and I’m glad I went. Like I said in the beginning I was pretty nervous about everything, but I really had no trouble with a thing. It all worked out in the end.

Don’t forget the Pens just beat the Blue Jackets and won the series! Rooting for Nashville too.

Busan Weeeeeekend!

festival, korea, Travel

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I went to Busan this past weekend. It was tons of fun. Probably one of the top things I have done here.

What else has happened in the meantime? Not much else. I’ve played in one hockey game and missed another this past weekend. From what I heard we tied and won so 1-0-1. I’ll take it. This team is good and I think we can make a good run.

In other news the weather has been warming up. So going outside has been an option pretty much everyday. It’s nice to stretch the legs again.  The kids at school are getting sick again though because of this now I’m getting sick. The amount of times I have been coughed on is insane. Any time I walk near a kid who is sick there is an 80% chance they are going to try their hardest to make me ill and cough all over me.

While I remember it, I guess the biggest news country wise is that the president has gotten impeached. People were pretty happy. Celebrations etc.. and it was on a Friday! What timing… Obviously not everyone is happy about it though. However, now she is in (more)legal trouble because she no longer holds her title. She is going to be investigated. I have no idea where everything will go, but there is a vote for a new person in May.

Back to Busan though. For those who don’t know where it is it’s on the south east side of the country along the coast. It’s also the second biggest city outside of Seoul. I even edited a map for you.

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So that’s where it is. Now for some history. Busan was one of two cities not captured by North Korea in the first few months of the Korean war. It was the last stand of UN forces who were pushed all the way back. Fortunately after some tense fighting and the Incheon landing the UN won out and the North Korean army was pushed back, and Korea was saved. However because of this, there were quite a bit of refugees that fled down south to Busan. Which leads us too Gamcheon culture Village!

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This place

During the war the number of houses on this hill went from 20 to 800.

stairsGamcheon has long been home to the city’s poorest residents. In the 1940s, only 20 or so houses dotted the hillside, but that number swelled dramatically at the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. War refugees fled their homes for the relative safety of Busan, the only area of the peninsula that remained free from fighting. Within a year, Busan’s population grew from 880,000 to 1.4 million people, and a half million homeless refugees needed a place to live and fast. Approximately 4,000 people moved from the crowded port areas surrounding the Jagalchi Fish Market to nearby Gamcheon, erecting some 800 makeshift homes using scrap iron, wood and rocks.” From here

So the history behind the place is also pretty interesting. The link above explains it better than I can. I went on this trip with my friend Bailey. The culture village wasn’t bad but it wasn’t exactly mind blowing either. It’s a stroll through a few streets either trying to sell coffee or random souvenirs. Pretty much similar to any “artsy” area in Korea. Which means cool, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get there. Unless I really wanted a coffee in a colorful building. The history behind it is probably the coolest thing.

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In reverse order we also went to Jagalchi fish market. Which as the name suggests is a fish market. What I didn’t realize was I went to the same area years ago but had no idea.

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Old people selling things

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Old people sitting on things

There were plenty of curious things being sold here. Including a drink made from turtle shell, there were also live ells with peeled skin squirming around. I’m sure there are even more strange things going on, but these are the ones that I knew about. Unless you really wanted a smelly fish to carry around with you it’s all about the atmosphere here which is pretty cool.

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young AND old people blocking everyone

The thing that stuck out to me the most was one the age of everyone. Everyone working there looked about 90 and how colorful everything was. There were umbrellas covering the little alley between the stalls with lots of yellows and reds. Then just like Korean hikers, the adjumas were decked out in colorful aprons, jackets etc..

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I wonder what business is like. That one lady is pretty sleepy

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These guys were trying to escape.

We also went to the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사). Which I went to last time I was here and by all means is kind of lame. Sure it’s in a cool spot by the ocean but not much is going on.

The big take away from this place was I got a picture with my animal the monkey, and saw two gold pigs. Riveting stuff.

That was all on Saturday. I went out and met some people and hung out on the beach for a bit. On Sunday was the reason why I was here. There is an Indian event called Holi Hai .

“Holi Hai is a Hindu spring festival celebrated in India and Nepal, also known as the “festival of colours” or the “festival of love”.[7][1][8] The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships.[9][10] It is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest.[9][10] It lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Vikram Samvat Hindu Calendar [11] month of Phalgun, which falls somewhere between the end of February and the middle of March in the Gregorian calendar. The first evening is known as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi and the following day as Holi, Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi,[12] or Phagwah.[13]Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia.[9] In recent years the festival has spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love, frolic, and colours.” Source

At around 11 ish we went to Haeundae beach which is a pretty popular spot in Busan. I want to say the most popular but I’m not %100. I went with a tour group called WinK. They weren’t bad, and I might even use them again if I get the chance. They gave everyone a thing of powder and  shirt. Thankfully the weather was great.

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Bailey

Look how clean she is. 20170319_12000420170319_120037

As 3 stated to roll around it was finally time to go. I briefly washed paint off my face then sat down on the beach with Bailey waiting till it was time to go to KTX and catch the train. I could still taste paint in my mouth almost the whole day. Like I said at the start though this was an awesome time and one of top thing I’ve done recently for sure. So if you get a chance to check it out, go!

I’ve also finished up some tickets I was working on last week. allfour

There is a post about them below.

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The Motel I stayed in had gaming computers which I think is definitely worth noting.

2-2

design, korea, Travel
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I wan’t it to be summer…

Yay! It’s Monday again! What a wonderful time.

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Lets talk about how much of a miracle it is  that tlhese things are growing.

Since last post a ton of my friends and co-workers that I have met in Korea have left. That all happened last week. It’s strange and kind of lame. The next six months are going to be a lot more of a different  experience than my last 9, and probably more like my first 3. Things are just different I don’t have 0 friends but the core group that was here is gone. Which is upsetting but hey, things change.

So I’ll have to go on the march and go friend finding again. Good things that come from this is, I’ll probably be spending less money and also will have more free time not spent sleeping on the weekends. Meeting new people is always good and I still have plenty of time to find a lot of new experiences! It’s really all about how I handle the setback moving forward!

Either way the past 9 months have been an amazing experience and it’s all because of them! We had done a lot together but at least Lindsey is still here I guess.

Beyond that hockey and the cbhk has finally started back up again! I got drafted pretty low but that wasn’t unexpected. I’m really not that good. We play 2 games back to back against the same team (double header?) every Sunday. The first series of the season we lost both. They were rough games personally because I was gassed. Our team really isn’t that bad and we got to OT both times. We just couldn’t keep it out of the net at the end. I did terrible and my legs locked up within minutes of playing. I was dying!

Then we played 2 more games yesterday and it went much better. We won both! I even got an assist and maybe 2 shots on goal. Which is %100 above my average. Everything went way better. I didn’t run out of steam both games and the 2nd line man handled the other teams 2nd line. We got maybe one goal but we had plenty of chances and we kept the ball in the zone our whole shift. Hopefully there is more of that too come next week! I also took a nasty shot to the back of my knee. Hopefully there is less of that next week!

Because it hurts to stand…

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I also got to watch Logan in/near Lotte World Tower. Lotte World Tower is kind of a monolithic eye sore but it was cool to see it nonetheless. LWT as I’m going to call it now is the 5th largest building in the world! Great job Korea! I’m sure people like it here, but I haven’t met many over the age of 12 who are glad it exists. People died what! However, you can see this thing from a long way away. Getting out of Nowon you can see it hovering in the distance pretty much anywhere you go. I glimpsed it before but this was the first time I really got to see it and take it all in.

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Pororo is a sell out.

Everything is huge and it has a way cooler setup than the 101 tower in Taipei. The movie theater also has like three levels too it. Which honestly was a bit inconvenient considering I was on floor 3. Logan or 로건 was ok. I know some people liked it and I know I kind of did but I was looking for a bit more cool stuff. I also had no idea what happened before this.

I also ate a non Mcdonalds hamburger for the first time in months. There was no Ketchup in that bottle. ㅠㅠ Also watched the Woodley vs Thompson fight.

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colored balls woo!

Travel idea #1

If you come to Korea what is something I recommend doing/going?

If your here during warmish weather I say check out Bukhansan national park. It is a really cool place and there is quite a bit to walk around. I have only been to a small section of it and I enjoyed it. I only stayed around the base of the thing and had a pretty decent time. There are far more enticing places in the park to go and a lot more to explore!

Bukhansan means “mountains north of the Han River.”

The park contains forested areas, temples and granite peaks. The three main peaks are Baekundae, 836.5 m (2,744 ft), Insubong, 810.5 m (2,659 ft) and Mangnyeongdae, 799.5 m (2,623 ft). Due to its popularity with hikers and Seoul residents, some trails are closed on a rotation basis to protect the local environment.

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You can go on easy hikes/strolls to some that are a bit harder. There are entrances to the park all around. It is open all year round too.

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A popular way to get there is:

getting off at Gupabal Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 1.
Take Bus 704 bound for Bukhansanseong Fortress (북한산성).
Get off at the Bukhansan Mountain entrance bus stop.

These directions are from here.

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Around the base of Bukhansan

If you have somewhere you want to see or any recommendations let me know!

I also made this for my sister:business-card-mockups3

I went to Japan!

Travel

Lets get this out of the way. It was ok.

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It was actually pretty fun though. We ended up going to Kyoto first. The strangest thing I think I saw there was people waiting for crossing signals at roads that had 0 cars. Kyoto was pretty cool. Although I no idea what to expect. It was pretty laid back all things considered pretty quite and not many large buildings. The highlights were Fushimi Inari-taisha and the lady we met there. On our way a crazy Japanese lady yelled at us to follow her. We ended up getting a hilarious bullet speed tour through the area and lower half of the hill/mountain. She lived there apparently. Then we went drinking later that day and had an interesting time with the Japanese girls there. I embarrassed my self with the ball and cup game ㅠㅠㅠ

Osaka was the best part. I knew it was going to be a good time when we got off the train and the first thing we saw was a Poke center. We ended up just walking around in Dotonbori and the surrounding ares for pretty much the entire time. There was a lot to do there. We tried a lot of food. The best was probably this monster scallop the size of my fist. I also got to see a jazz performance on the street which was pretty cool.

Overall it was a fun trip. I still kind of like Korea better. Although I know about 0 things on Japan and anyone Japanese so I can’t judge to much. I can see how people can get attached to the place. It doesn’t seem like the place is my style. So I urge everyone to visit here first! That being said I do want to check out Tokyo. 20160730_13074620160730_132158_HDR20160730_16020220160730_192415

Great vacation. Hopefully going to China next month ^^