Sunday 15 May 2011

I just heard the washing machine sing it's happy little laundry song for the last time.
Maybe I'll come back someday and hear it sing again.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Korean Highlights

I'm going to be obscure while stating the facts. Just so you know.

While in Korea, I...

Dined on drug sushi and fermented rice wine and a boatload of different kinds of side dishes.

Cut my hair and joined a cult (a liberal use of the word). We all had to wear pink pajamas and sit in hot rooms on mats, then eat eggs and drink plum jam tea.

Biked through a city that reminded me of home! Mountains, how do I love thee?! Let me count the ways...

Lived with a girl at my guesthouse who has been in Korea for three months just because she likes K-pop. I thought she was talking about Kapap at first, but nope. Those are two very different things.

Hung out at the Hi Seoul Festival and watched a man ride a bicycle backwards and play the clarinet at the same time. There were also lots of artsy performances by people with knives and cabbages, people who hopped on one foot and wriggled their arms, and people wearing pink alien costumes.

Met up with an accountant from Miami (a spontaneous occurrence) and a German student from Tunisia (as planned) to see the sites.

Did Jun-sanctioned things (e.g. night-bowling, amusement-parking, prank-calling, and coffee-drinking).

Visited Chad and Hyeji at KAIST to say, "Hey, how's life? Remember Olin?"

Bought a cashew necklace.

That's the general gist. I loved Korea. It reminded me of Colorado, if Colorado had lots of rice and kimchi and a couple palaces. The people were super friendly. One woman gave me extra blood noodle sausage and liver because I was a foreigner. Thank you? The weather was cool and the rain only drizzled. I could saunter about without an umbrella and not become drenched (just very damp). This was an extra nice feature since I didn't have an umbrella. The mountains were lovely and the hills filled my heart with the sound of music. The country gets bonus points for being the home of some old friends. If I knew Korean, I think I could have lived there for awhile.

Unfortunately, with my dearth of language knowledge and plethora of future obligations, I had to bid the dear ol' land farewell this morning. Perhaps we'll meet again.

A strange thought

In a week's time, I'll be standing on New Zealand.

Monday 9 May 2011

Hangin' with the Locals

That sort of summarizes my recent, relaxed travel style. It's an excellent way to see a country because it minimizes foreign-city-stress and maximizes meaningful-human-connection. The human connection part is my favorite. Strange sites are dandy, but ten times the fun with friends. Case in point:

Jun and Hyeji were my token locals in Korea, and it was quite relaxing to have them show me around, order food in restaurants, and put me on the right trains and buses. So relaxing in fact, that I didn't pay nearly enough attention to all those tiresome details.

When I ventured forth on my own on Sunday, I immediately got lost. I found a parade instead of my guesthouse. I had to wander the streets for an hour to orient myself and manged to try all the wrong directions before heading in the right one. My lack of language knowledge kept me from finding and ordering food. I had to resort to eating whatever someone else was eating, since finger pointing proved essential for communication. The past two days have been fun, but they have definitely heightened my appreciation for local pals who are willing to serve as guides and friendly companions. I toast you with my rice tea. Kamsahamnida a bazillion!

Three More Thai Curiosities

Thai money has decoy numbers on it to keep foreigners confused - isn't that a "100" on the 20-bill? Isn't that a "900" on the 100?

keeps me up at night

Sign seen above a toilet

Sunday 8 May 2011

What would you do, if you had a Garden of Eden?

A highlight of the Phuket trip was our day trip to the Phi Phi islands. They are fantastically beautiful, complete with soft beaches, snorkeling with schools of rainbow-colored fish, and huge gnarled limestone cliffs plunging into the depths of the crystalline blue sea.
But, while I had brought my camera expecting to take pictures of these things, I found my lens often pointing at something else: tourists.

Saturday 7 May 2011

Phuket: a brief summary

1. The beach is awesome, and 
2. Relatively nice hotels are worth the higher price.

I knew these two truths before Jason and I departed for Phuket last Sunday, but they were impressively confirmed during our stay.  I’m tempted to say, “having learned from our Malaysia trip, we booked a nicer hotel to stay at,” but that would be a lie.  We booked Boomerang Village well before Spring Break, having done some internet research to confirm its excellence.  And excellent it was.

Our 'room' at Boomerang Village, which had an ocean view out of its tinted sliding-class (did I say 'class'? I meant 'glass') doors

An unreal number of orchids adorned the clean, pleasantly decorated, air-conditioned room

That ocean was not far away at all, accessible at the lovely Kata beach.  Here we enjoyed boogey boarding, general swimming, and reading, all of which were delightful.  Furthermore, we went on a day-long tour that took us to three nearby islands, two of which are among the “Phi Phi” islands.  More lovely beaches, plus snorkeling amongst many colorful fishes and pretty coral.

More on them later, I hope, but here's a taste for now:
Can you find Rose?