Archives for January 2014

Not In My Contract

 

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I know that as a teacher, I am not supposed to have favorite students, but let’s not kid ourselves. I did and his name was Tim. At the ripe age of 5 (Korean age so 4 Western age) he had the voice of a 60 year old chain smoker and the hair that reminded me of a Troll doll. Everyday when I walked into class, I was greeted with a gruff ‘Chess Teacher!’ (L’s are difficult to say in Korean, especially for kindergarten kids). He was my buddy during class and that one special student who could turn a bad day around. Until one day when he did something and I knew I just didn’t love him ‘that’ much. During class he suddenly asked if he could go to the bathroom in the sing song tone we had taught them. May I go to the bathroom? Only this time he started tugging on my hand to go with him. Umm no, you can go on your own dear. Well after five minutes of not returning I went into the hall to try and find him. From far off in the distance I could hear ‘Chess! Chessee Teacher!’ Running into the bathroom I could see him sitting patiently with his head propped up in his hands. As soon as he saw me he went into a position that can only be best described as downward dog. Looking around confused I had him stand up and pull his pants up. Apparently this is not what we wanted because he pushed my hands away and assumed the position once again. Finally, refusing to wipe the hiney of a student (I have limits), I went to my boss and told her that he kept speaking in Korean and I had ‘no idea’ what he wanted (sometimes lying is the right answer guys). Apparently wiping students behinds was something they oh so conveniently forgot to put in my job description.

Cat Cafe Seoul

I never considered myself a cat person and always swore that I would never have one. So who would have thought that not only would I own a cat, but that I would willingly (ever excitedly even) enter into a cat cafe in Seoul. While Jeremy’s family was in town, we ventured up to Seoul where people dressing up like cats advertising for cat cafe’s is a common sight to be seen. Especially in the neighborhood of Myeongdong where there are several cafes within walking distance of each other. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this phenomenon that has taken over Korea, it’s as simple as it sounds. A cafe…filled with cats.

cat cafe seoul

We picked one of the several cat cafe’s in Myeongdong which had an entrance fee of about $8 per person but included a free drink including tea, juice or an espresso drink. A small price to pay to play with a plethora of cats for as long as we wanted. We spent the next hour cuddling with these cuties and staying away from the alien looking hairless one…not all cats are created equal people. There were about 40 cats in all but you never would have guessed by how good it smelt (credit goes to the employee that sprayed the equivalent of febreeze on every fabric surface while we were there) and the fact that most of the cats were either sleeping or hiding in one of the many nooks and crannies built for them.

cat cafe myeongdong

cat cafe myeongdong

cat cafe seoul

cat cafe myeongdong

cat cafe seoul

It’s an experience that is unique to Korea and one that I never expected have. But it’s such a blast and a great opportunity for those who can’t have pets while living overseas to get in a little animal lovin’.

Bayon Temple

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Bayon Temple in Angkor Wat was the last temple that we visited during our stay. We made it there shortly after sunrise when the the air was still cool and the temple was still and quiet. It didn’t take us long to make our way through Bayon Temple as it’s one of the smaller ones in the size. But what it lacks in square footage, it makes up for in detail. Filled with over 200 face carvings of Lokesvara; who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, it is said to have a striking resemblance to the King at the time it was built. Each face is intricately carved in stone and can be found stacked and carved on every available surface. While Ta Prohm still wins for my favorite temple, this one comes in a close second due to its sheer originality among the other temples.
bayon temple, angkor wat

bayon templetemple entrance angkor wat

 

Cambodia Budget

cambodia budgetTraveling to Cambodia was on of the easies to plan and come up with a Cambodia budget for. I think part of it had to do with the fact that this was our fourth country we had visited in SE Asia. While not identical, prices are fairly similar in this area and you can use budgets from other countries to get a rough idea on how much to budget for. While in Cambodia, our main form of entertainment and activities were the temples of Angkor Wat, walking around the Old Town area at night and lounging by the pool in the heat of the day when is was simply too hot to do much else. While there is much to see an do in Cambodia, it wasn’t nearly as touristy as Thailand and therefore part of the reason why there was not much more on our bucket list than the Angkor Wat temples. Even though I have heard of amazing day trips to be taken but we simply didn’t have any full days to spare. This was great for the budget and also one of our first vacations where we spent more time relaxing and going for leisurely strolls than rushing to be able to see and do everything that we want to. Many times on vacation the main focus is not on relaxing; we can do that any Saturday at home. Instead it’s about taking advantage of every opportunity we can during our short time in a county. With that being said, this break from the norm wasn’t all that bad and we enjoyed being able to see everything we wanted to and be able to spend a lot of time relaxing.

The budget below reflects the prices for six nights and seven days for both my husband and I.
cambodia budget

48 Hours in Tokyo

With less than 48 hours in Tokyo, the largest city in the world, we were pressed for time with a foot long list of items on our bucket list. But instead of trying to rush to get everything done and checked off, we decided to take it slow and enjoy Tokyo with Jeremy’s family before they headed back to the States the next day.

While we were there we:

+Meiji Shrine. Located in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo, this was one of my favorite shrines that we saw in Japan, not to mention huge. You could seriously spend a few hours wandering around the grounds and just sit and people watch. My favorite. While we were there we were also able to see a traditional Shinto wedding which may have been the highlight of our trip for me. I love seeing weddings from different cultures and different religions. It’s really eye opening and humbling to how even though we come from different backgrounds, different cultures and different ways of living; love truly is universal.

meiji shrine, tokyosaki barrelsMeiji Shrine, Tokyo temple wedding japan+Shibuya Station. This is the busiest intersection in.the.world! We headed up to the upstairs of a nearby Starbucks to watch the commotion and even though seats were nearly impossible (guess we weren’t the only ones with that idea!) it’s quite the sight to see! You can check out of video of the chaos here
shibuya intersection Also home to the Hachi Statue. The dog that was so loyal that it walked it’s owner to this train station every morning. Until one morning the owner died of a heart attack at work and never returned. The dog returned to the same site day after day waiting for him to return until one day, the dog too died. It is now used as a tale to encourage loyalty in small children.hachi statue tokyo+ Mount Fuji/Bullet Train. On our way from Kyoto to Tokyo we decided to take the Shinkansen to save time (but definitely not money!) and along the way were lucky enough to catch a glimpse (literally, just a glimpse) of Mt. Fuji. And I just had to add a photo of one of the train station workers. Confused on what rail to take? Simply press the call button and a friendly assistant will literally pop right out of the wall to help you. Come on America, there are lessons to be learned from this! shinkansen mt. fujirailway station+Sushi Train. You just had to know that my favorite part was the food. Sure, Korea has their own version of sushi, gimbap, but it often includes ham, radish and a little bit of seafood. Not quite the same Korea, actually…not the same at all. And while sushi in Japan isn’t exactly cheap, you can still find dirt cheap options for it, and not the shady ‘half off’ end of the day special sushi rolls either. I’m talking fresh, right from the kitchen and directly to your table sushi rolls. We ate until we couldn’t fit another roll in us and we fed four people for under $20! Not too shabby.
conveyor belt sushiconveyor belt sushi IMG_2052 conveyor belt sushi conveyor belt sushi conveyor belt sushi