Archives for October 2013

Flashback to Korea 1984

Today we’re going to go on a little flashback to Korea 1984. Have you ever been back to the same place and marveled at how much it has changed? Remember which stores used to be where, or head to a certain shop only to realize that it had been replaced. I can’t imagine doing that in Korea because even in the short three years we have lived in our town, we have seen so much change and turnover. The country as a whole which was in near ruins just 50 years ago after the war, has grown, advanced and improved exponentially in such a short amount of time. The island that we live on was actually used as a POW camp during the war. Meaning that afterwards they pretty much had to start from scratch. But even in the 80’s, cars were not a common addition to the average family and there was only one paved road in the town. Crazy huh? Below are some photos taken by a friend of ours who came to our town to work in 1984.
Korean Farmer in 1984Okpo South Korea 1984Some things never change though, and that’s in the best way possible. Women like the ones in the photo below can still be seen on the side of streets selling fresh produce from their gardens.
Farmers Market, Okpo 1984Okpo, South Korea 1984
Okpo South KoreaOne of the main streets in Okpo
These are two photos taken just a few months ago. It’s amazing how the town we live in has boomed and grown rapidly in the last 30 years!
Modern Day South Korea
Okpo South Korea 2013

Japan Budget

Another trip, another budget…my favorite. And surprisingly, that last sentence doesn’t have a hint of sarcasm in it. This time I will be going trough our Japan budget. Unfortunately, with Japan we about had a heart attack when we went over the final numbers. This isn’t because it’s astronomically expensive there, it just feels that way compared to what we spent for longer stays in SE Asia. I would say that Japan is by far the most expensive country we have visited and the most difficult to budget for. But don’t let that stop you from going! It is one of our favorite countries to visit for both it’s beauty and rich history.
This budget is for 4 days and 4 nights, 3 cities and reflects the cost of both my husband and myself.
Japan Budget
Tips to keep it cheap in Japan
Take the slower train or even over night bus.
There are several different options in Japan for traveling such a planes, trains (fast and slow speed) and buses. Slower trains and buses will take much longer but if scheduled at night it will be essentially where you stay that night and save you in the cost of a hotel room.
Find alternative meal options.
Eating at shopping centers, grocery stores and train stations are a great way to find food for cheap. Trust me when I say that you can get great food in these places for a fraction of the cost. We did this on our first trip to Japan and were able to save money so we could eat somewhere nicer later on. Also, this time we tried a sushi train restaurant and were shocked at how cheap it was! We fed four people for just $17 and we were all stuffed at the end. Other places to try are street vendors and small restaurants on the street which offer a wide selection such as ramen, dumplings Japanese curry and udon noodles. Japanese food can be expensive but there are definitely ways to still enjoy it on a budget.
Take advantage of the free attractions.
Sure, everything else is more expensive in Japan but its the least amount of money we’ve spent on entertainment since majority of historical sites such as shrines and tempes are either free or just a few dollars to get in.

Be flexible with travel times.

Just like anywhere else you can save a lot of money depending on the time of year that you go and your flight options. Multi city airlines tickets and during peak season are going to be the most expensive and unfortunately what we did this time around. Just going a few days earlier or later, or choosing to arrive and depart from the same city, tickets were half the price.


A 3 Year Anniversary

three year anniversary photo shoot
Through trial and tribulation
Countless fights and just as many make up kisses
Airports, passport stamps and city maps
Through change of jobs, locations and surroundings
So many things have changed from year to year
But I’m thankful your love has remained a constant
And that the vows we said on our wedding day still ring true:

‘I promise to be your partner in adventure’
three year anniversary photo shoot
anniversary photo shoot
anniversary pictures

Hiking at Wolchulsan National Park

Wolchulsan National ParkFour day weekends are something that in the states we would just stay at home and relax but in Korea, we take every opportunity to head out of town. This past holiday we headed just three hours west to Wolchulsan National Park near the west coast of Korea. By far the smallest national park in the country, the jutting mountain and promise of incomparable views got us in the car Thursday afternoon.
wolchulsan national park, koreahiking path at wolchulsan national park, korea

Wolchul Mountain itself actually reminded me a lot of Seoraksan (another must see in Korea) that we visited last year. We set off early in the morning on Friday with intentions of just seeing the bridge that connected two peaks, over a 120m (390 ft) drop, and then turning back. We were surprised when just 45 minutes later, we saw the orange of the bridge from around the corner.

bridge at wolchulsan national park, koreabridge at wolchulsan national park, koreabridge at wolchulsan national park, korea

Since it was a surprisingly short amount of time, we decided to press on and do the entire route which took a total and five and a half hours and included a 809m (2,654 ft) high peak.

peak at wolchulsan national park, korea
wolchulsan national park, korea

With it’s beautiful views, challenging (for me at least!) course and stunning views, Wolchulsan National Park has come one of my favorites.

A Cambodian Cooking Class Plus Recipes

I’m going to take a break from the temples (even though I have plenty more pictures to come) and head in the food direction. We were able to take a Cambodian cooking class and learn some really easy Cambodian recipes! Food is one of my favorite parts about visiting a country and Cambodia was no different. Right next to our hotel was a quaint little restaurant in which we first fell in love with the Cambodian curry dish of a mok. So when we found out that they offered cooking classes, we jumped at the chance. When we showed up we were pleasantly surprised to see that we were the only students in the class. Perfect.

Cambodian cooking class, siem reap, cambodia

Our teacher started out with a tour of the nearby market, pointing out necessary ingredients, how to pick ripe fruits and veggies (something I tend to struggle with) and pointing out the local vegetation. Below are two different Cambodian recipes: spring rolls and a delicious chicken a mok.cambodian market Plus we got to wear awesome chef’s hats, always a bonus to get blackmail pictures of Jeremy.try a cooking class in cambodia!

A lot of times I have difficulty following complex recipes online when I can’t actually see someone else do it first. I’m always worried that mine doesn’t look right! Our teacher taught us how to make everything from scratch but while we were still in town, we went by the market and grabbed a few packets of the a mok spices that are already blended. It makes it really easy when you’re in a hurry or you can’t find all of the spices that you need!
easy simple recipe for cambodian a mok
easy simple recipe for cambodian a mok
Khmer A Mok (serves 4)
What you need:
+ 1 teaspoon turmeric
+ 4 cloves garlic minced
+ 1 tablespoon ginger minced
+ 1 tablespoon lemongrass minced (about one stem)
+ 1/2 onion
+ 1 cup water
+ 2 chicken breasts
+ spinach
+ two cups coconut cream
+ 1 teaspoon salt
+ 1 tablespoon sugar
+ two eggs
+ 2 tablespoons fish sauce
+ peanut (added on top)
What you do:
Chop turmeric, garlic, ginger, lemon grass and mash in blender or food processor. Alternatively, you can use a mortar
In a pan, heat first half of coconut milk, mix in the paste and chopped onion
+ Lower the heat, add the chicken
+ After a few minutes, add water, stir 1 minute
+ Then add spinach along with the other half of coconut milk, salt and sugar. Continue to cook gently for about 10 minutes until thickened
+ Crack two eggs on top and fry
+ Final touches: add fish sauce and peanuts on top.
Serve with rice

great easy recipe for spring rolls

Spring Rolls (serves 4)


What you need:
+ Rice paper
+ 1 chopped garlic clove
+ 2 tablespoons water
+ handful of bean sprouts
+ 1 carrot sliced
+ 1 cucumber cut into long thin strips
+ Handful of basil leaves
+ Chopped lettuce

+ 1 tablespoon fish sauce
+ 1 teaspoon brown sugar
+ 2 garlic cloves crushed
+ 1 teaspoon chili paste

What you do:
+ Dip each rice paper in the water just enough to get it wet, set aside on plate
+ Add veggies, start to roll halfway, tuck in the sides and tightly wrap it the rest of the way
+ Rub a small amount of oil on the outside of the spring roll
great easy recipe for spring rolls