Friday, February 19, 2010

Thailand! Part one.

Hello Friends Across the Globe!

As many of you know, we've recently been in Thailand for our honeymoon and yes, yes it was amazing. We had an incredible time and liked Thailand so much that we're really like to visit again. We're toying with the idea of spending some months there when we're finally finished teaching in Korea.
But enough about that. I know you're dying to hear about our adventures so we won't keep you waiting any longer.

I'm going to explain the adventure in a few parts. First is simply a listing of the things we did. it will be slightly boring, but will help me to remember what we did when i come back to make the stories "jump from the screen." ha! Ok. let the listing begin!

Night 1: Arrival
We arrived at the airport at 11pm and found our shuttle to be transported to the "Green Queen Resort."

Day 1:
Explored resort area and then took our first taxi cab ride into the city to find our new digs in the touristy part of town, Banglamphu. Checked into the New Merry V Guesthouse (NOT the Merry V Guesthouse) and set out to explore. We found a walking tour in our travelers bible (AKA the lonely planet) and set out. Partway through we stumbled upon free bangkok bikes and we borrowed two to continue our journey at a cruising speed of 7mph. Finished up back at our hotel and went to get dinner and massage. Shannon got a foot massage and jamie a neck and shoulder.

Day 2: Monday. Bike Tour, ABC Bike Company
Up early to get to the bike company. they piled all 12 of us on bikes and we headed out through bangkok. down tiny little allies with one room apartments, green streets with overhanging balconies, quick stop in the shoe making district, through the market, down a highway, onto a boat and across to the jungle island. Hard Rock Cafe for lunch and then back.
Afterward? What else, drinks and massage.

Day 3: Tuesday
Siloam Cooking Class. Started with a trip to the market, a short lesson on spices in thai cooking and then back to the school for our 5(!) course cooking lesson. Oh man. we were stuffed.

Afterward we headed back to the hotel, took a short nap and then got taken for a ride in a tuktuk. Literally. We visited the standing buddha, the sitting buddha, a travel agency and a thai fashion store (the last two being against our wishes). Afterward it was back to our corner of bangkok for another foot massage.

Day 4: Wednesday Flight of the Gibbon
Up to meet our 6:30 am bus to be taken to the jungle for our jungle zipline adventure.
Um. awesome.
we did the full "adventure" version, so we stayed in the jungle, toured the open zoo both during the day and at night, slept in a 5 star tent (air conditioning and electricity) was given a HUGE dinner and then we to sleep

Day 5: Thursday: Flight of the Gibbon Part two
Woke up early, rode on a elephant, did a ropes adventure course (awesome) and was put on the bus back to bangkok. Arrived in bangkok, headed straight for the train station and hopped an overnight train to Trang in the south of thailand.

Day 6: Friday: Trang
Stranded with no money in trang. We had $30 and an ATM card that didn't work. Stayed at a 5 dollar hotel, ate a 5 dollar dinner, panicked, walked around and called the bank that night to settle the situation.

Day 7: Saturday: Lao Liang aka Paradise!
We took the van to the ferry to the long boat and by 2pm we were eating lunch in the paradise of lao liang. We unpacked and lounged, we ate, we swam, we drank, we relaxed.

Day 8-12: Sunday to Thursday: Lao Liang
Our days we mostly like this:
wake up at sunrise. Eat breakfast. Snorkel OR Kayak OR Rockclimb. Eat lunch. Siesta and drinks until 3. Snorkel and Swim. Eat Dinner. Chat with fellow travellers at the bar. Sleep.

Day 12: Thursday: Lao Liang to Bangkok
We took the long boat, to the ferry to the van to the overnight first class bus that took us back to bangkok.

Day 13: Friday: Bangkok
Arrived back in banglamphu by 6am. slept until 9 (because the bus, albeit first class didn't' cut it). Woke up, ate and headed over to Wat Pho temple to see the 46meter reclining Buddha. Wandered the temple, got a temple thai massage, headed back for dinner shopped a bit and then got another massage before bed.

Day 14: Departure.
6am airport shuttle. Walk through the front door of home at 9pm. le sigh.

Interesting things about Thailand:

The driving is by no means as scary as it is in Korea, HOWEVER, people drive on the left with made us chant (outloud) when crossing the street: look to the right. look to the right. look to the right. No car accidents.

As you may have guessed, there's lots of massage in thailand. our most expensive one was $15 for an hour. In our time in thailand our combined massage total was 10. Awesome. We would have gotten more but the masseuse on the island wasn't around.

Our adventures continue next time.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Hello Friends Around the Globe!

I know- it's been a long time. I know- I made a new years resolution. Would you believe me if i told you nothing has happened? Yeah. You shouldn't. So. Things that have happened include: winter camp, a trip to Busan, New Years (obviously), record snowfall, jimjabangs and and Dr. Fish. Instead of making an epic entry i'll sum up with the one that encompasses most of the aforementioned adventures.


We finally made it down to the seaside city of Busan. We both loved it. Unfortunately we did not get to meet up with some acquaintances we have there as plans changed last minute but we did end up having a lovely time.

KTX and Haotel Motel
So we set out early (kind-of) tuesday morning on the KTX highspeed train. We sped to Busan in our first class seats in three hours at a high speed of 158MPH. It was lovely. Upon arrival we wandered aimlessly looking of the LoveMotel of distinction (according to our Lonley Planet) and finally found it after seeking out the help of a Bakery store owner and buying pastries that looked deceptively like apple (redbean). Anyway, after check in and settle in, we headed out to find a JimJaBang. And find one we did!

Hurshimchang spa and beer garden
The Hurshimchang, aka "the grand spa" was a lovely way to start our evening. The spa part (gender seperated) had 16 hottubs, waterfall showers, outdoor tubs, small swimming pools, champagne (we're not certain) spas and general lovelyness. the ceilings were glass domed and there were fountains and plants and statutues everywhere. There were only two drawbacks to the spa. 1) for shannon, being on the womens side, it meant that there were many children in the small pool so i couldnt' get a "cool down" dunk. 2) it was seperated by gender so when our meet-up time came around and we both wanted to stay longer we couldn't converse and renegotiate. we both walked out saying: "could have stayed another hour!" Regardless, before our forray into waterworld, we did meet up in the common area where we sweated it out in the 88 celcius sauna. (190 for all you farenheit people) and then we visited Dr. Fish. This little gem a of treatment consists of putting your feet in tubs filled with tiny little fish that eat off the dead skin. Awesome you ask? Yes, we say. Tickle you want to know? Of course, we reply. Anyway, it was great and there's a couple of places in Seoul where we can have it done too.
After the spa we went to the
After our relaxing 4 hours at the spa we stepped outside, circled the building and stumbled upon a German Brewery! Yay! We love beer! Let me tell you why this place was great.
1) they brew their own beer (not to shabby either)
2) the waitstaff was wearing versions of Leiderhosen and German(esqe) Dresses
3) there was an expat band playing a combination of korean and american pop songs.
4) The crowd there (mostly korean) was super exciting and upbeat.
5) We love beer.

anyway, after our dinner and entertainment we headed back to our hotel for a little rest and relaxation.

Day Two Beach Walk and More Beer
The next day we woke up early (cough) to go for a hike. However, not having woken up early enough and taking time to eat our Not Quite Apple pastry we decided, instead, to take an Ocean View Walk. We checked our handy dandy tourist map and headed out to the less popular Taejongdae Beach. Successfully navigating both subway and bus we arrived to gloomy (but comfortable) weather and began our 2 mile stroll. We visited Pebble Beach and marveled at the makeshift resturant on the rocks. We perused the temple and listened to the recorded prayers. We admired the observatory and as it began to rain we decided to take the tram the rest of the way. As we tried to buy the tickets for the tram we quickly discovered that we couldn't understand the machine as it was in Korean. Trying to look as confused as possible didnt' work in soliciting any help becuase at that moment the Tram (very full) arrived and people started to get on. HOWEVER, because it was beginning to rain the line was super long and the tram was super full. We decided to continue in the rain on foot. And continue on we did. However, we no longer stopped at the sights but strolled past them pointing and waving. We ended our walk with dinner in town and upon looking through our book found yet another brewery. We timed our dinner perfectly with the passing bus and rode back downtown to our next stop- Unlimited Beer for only $12!
Dojima Brewery
Needless to say-we drank a lot (but not as much as the ladies next to us who got one of those HUGE 4 foot tall pitchers with a little spicket) and then went back to our Haotel.

Day Three Beomeosa Temple and Hea-undae Beach
Waking up earlier than the previous day we headed out for Beomeosa Temple up in the mountains (founded 678AD. We had originally planned on taking a nice long hike but Jamie had sprained his ankle the day before in the rain (BEFORE the drinking). The Temple was beautiful and it was the first place we visited in Korea where you couldn't see one apartment building. We tromped around (respectfully) for a while and then hopped back on the subway to visit the most popular beach in Busan.
Hae-undae beach
It was lovely. There were lots of college students playing team building games, there was a beautiful seaside/cliffside boardwalk and of course lots of seagulls. We climbed around on the rocks, admired the views, rested under the lovely shade trees and then slowly made our way back to the subway to catch the train back to seoul.

We made it back to the big city just in time for the last trains and got home and in bed by 12:30am.

As I mentioned before, our trip to Busan was a joy. The city has such a different feel from Seoul. Seoul has 9 subway lines, busan has 3. Seoul is highrise apartment building central, in Busan you can see the sky. Seoul makes you feel underdressed when you take the garbage out, Busan feels more slightly more normal. Not that we don't love Seoul, but it's such a Huge city and as the Second largest city in Korea I expected Busan to be more similar but the difference was a suprise and a joy. Although I shouldn't have been shocked. Seoul have 10.4 million people and Busan 3.6. quite a population difference. Regardless, we can't wait to go back.

Exciting things about Korea:

Record Snow Fall:
We got record snow fall in Seoul on January 4th. Infact, they hadn't had that much snow since 1937. We got 10 Inches. It was certainly a lot at one time but it was almost all gone within a week. Of course, as i'm trudging to work i'm thinking "wow, winter has finally come. I've got to get prepared for the next few months." Then when i arrive at school my co-teachers are saying "wow! this never happens! what a freak snow storm!" Anyway, with the snow fall not being a common occurrence, there were no snowplows and in fact the next day I saw the military with shovels clearing out fire hydrants and telephone poles. They brought in construction trucks to clear away the snow in some areas (although not near us). Anyway, like i said, in roughly a week, it was mostly gone (having melted, not having been removed).

Design Capital of the World.
As some of you may have seen, Seoul has been designated one of the top 30 places to visit in 2010. In fact, we're number 3. (and you've got a place to stay! come over). Why? You might ask. Because this lovely commercial center has been designated the Design Capital of the world. Here's the Mayor's take on the situation: "With Seoul's designation as World Design Capital 2010, the city will be able to breath creative energy into the design industry and reinvent itself into a globally recognized city of design and collaborate with other cities in the world to communicate with design. Seoul will send out the message that design is the power to change the world for the better." Anyway, there you have it. come on over.

2018 Olympics
Yep. that's right. we're planning ahead. Korea is trying to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Know who just when skiing there? Jamie. Who's gonna say be able to say (if the olypmics are here of course) that he scooped it out for the olympiads? Jamie, that's who. Anyway, because they're trying to get the olympics here they're doing tons of competitions in Korea. For those of you that love x-games there was recently an international snowboarding competition in Downtown Seoul that Jamie and I saw. It was super fun and really neat!