Goodbye Korea

As most of you know, we recently left Korea, and we are in the middle of traveling through Asia and Europe on our way back home.

After we taught our last class at our private school in Geoje, South Korea, we headed up to Seoul to spend the weekend with some of our friends.Big Trip 223There are many things we will miss about living in Korea, but most of all, we will miss all of the amazing people we got to know. Seoul, South Korea Seoul, South KoreaSeoul, South KoreaSeoul, South KoreaWe walked through the area where the President of Korea resides, and little did I know–I wasn’t supposed to take pictures. After snapping this shot, the guard on the top of this building loudly blew his whistle at me. Opps… Seoul, South KoreaThis was a designated photo area where we get our picture taken in front of the “Blue House,” bascially Korea’s “White House.”Seoul, South Korea Seoul, South Korea Seoul, South Korea Seoul, South Korea Seoul, South KoreaThe next day, we had breakfast and said our goodbyes. Seoul, South KoreaWith everything packed into two carry-on backpacks, weighing only 8kg. each (yes, we are proud of our light packing skills), and two personal items, we headed off to the airport to catch our flight to Beijing!Seoul, South KoreaStay tuned to hear about our time in China, as well as our epic story of how we got lost on the Great Wall!Beijing China

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Snowboarding in Muju

wpid-Muju-5.JPG Over Lunar New Year, we decided to head to Muju with some friends to hit the slopes. Our expectations were very low, but we were pleasantly surprised. wpid-Muju-2.JPG The snow was manmade, but plentiful. And although the weather was a bit misty, it was great to be on a mountain strapped into a snowboard again. wpid-Muju-3.JPG wpid-Muju-4.JPG wpid-Muju-7.JPG wpid-Muju.JPG wpid-Muju.JPG Jacob had his first experience snowboarding. wpid-Japan-22.JPGwpid-Muju-7.JPG wpid-Muju-3.JPG wpid-Muju-4.JPG As the day progressed, and as we made our way higher up the mountain, it kept getting foggier. wpid-Muju-5.JPG wpid-Muju-6.JPG  It got to the point where it’d throw your vision off… as we would board down the mountain, it looked like there was a wall of snow in front of you, only to find out it was a wall of fog. wpid-Muju-11.JPG wpid-Muju-8.JPG   The night session opened up around 6:30pm. It was fun sliding around after dark. wpid-Muju-12.JPG wpid-Muju-9.JPG wpid-Muju-13.JPG Jacob eventually switched to skies, and they treated him quite a bit better. wpid-Japan-27.JPGOverall it was a great trip, and we are really glad we experienced the slopes in Korea!wpid-Muju-2.JPG

A Tribute to Jacob

Last month, Jared’s little brother Jacob came to stay with us. It was great to see a familiar face from back home. During his month-and-a-half stay in Asia, we did and saw quite a few things…

Kyoto, Japan

We met Jacob in Kyoto at our hostel. Soon after arriving, we went to grab a bite to eat.IMG_3306 wpid-Japan-2.JPGwpid-Japan-11.JPG We enjoyed touring around the ancient and historical city of Kyoto. Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Japan Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Japan    Dexter in Japan Japan Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Japan Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Japan Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Japan Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Japan Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Japan wpid-Japan.JPGKyoto, Fushimi Inari Shrine, JapanTemple in KyotoGion District in Kyoto, Japan Gion District in Kyoto, Japan

Japan, Tokyo

After Kyoto, we headed to Tokyo for a few days. The sushi was amazing!wpid-Japan-72.JPGwpid-Japan-69.JPGJacob, what are you doing in the picture?wpid-Japan.JPGwpid-Japan-4.JPG Dried squid anyone?wpid-Japan-39.JPGwpid-Japan-3.JPG

Jeju, South Korea

Right after Japan, we decided to go on a last minute trip to Jeju, a volcanic island south of mainland Korea. A Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava Caves A Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava Caves A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island We had fun hiking up and “skiing” down Korea’s tallest mountain–Mt. Halla.wpid-Jeju-55.JPG A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island wpid-Japan-2.JPGA Weekend on Jeju Islandwpid-Japan-3.JPG wpid-Japan-6.JPG wpid-Japan.JPGWe introduced Jacob to jjimjilbangs… Public Korean bath houses. A Weekend on Jeju Island He also got to experience Col-Pop… which is fried chicken popcorn on top, and Coca-Cola in the bottom half of a paper cup. A Weekend on Jeju IslandJared and Jacob also indulged themselves in a Jeju traditional dish… horse meat. Eating Horse Meat in Jeju Eating Horse Meat in Jeju

Geoje, South Korea

Geoje is an island south of Busan. It’s our home. While Jacob was staying with us, he spent his time in exploring the island and volunteering at our school.wpid-Japan-11.JPG wpid-Japan-12.JPG wpid-Japan-13.JPG wpid-Japan-14.JPG

 

Busan, South Korea

Jacob took a solo trip up to Busan… He went to the Gamcheon Culture Village, and the Jagalchi Fish Market.Things to do in Busan

Tongyeong, South Korea

We took a short trip to our neighboring city on mainland Korea. Tongyeong is famous for the battle between Korea and Japan. Admiral Yi Sun-sin conquered the Japanese army. The turtle ships he used are a symbol of Tongyeong and this great victory. wpid-Japan-8.JPG  wpid-Japan-10.JPG wpid-Japan-9.JPG

Seoul, South Korea

During Jacob’s stay with us, we took a trip up to Seoul, Korea’s capital city. Our first stop was Korea’s largest meat market. wpid-Japan-15.JPGLargest Meat Market in SeoulJacob got to test his ice skating skills out in an outdoor skating park at Seoul Square. wpid-Japan-16.JPGAfter ice skating, we went to Dr. Fish to have the dead skin on our feet nibbled off by fish!Dr. Fish Cafe in Seoul I guess Jacob had pretty tasty feet… the fish seemed to congregate around him. Dr. Fish Cafe in Seoul We went to the top of Seoul Tower to catch a better view of the city.Seoul Towerwpid-Japan-17.JPG wpid-Japan-18.JPG Seoul Towerwpid-Japan-19.JPG wpid-Japan-20.JPGWe went to a poop-themed cafe and enjoyed sipping on coffee from a toilet!Ddong (Poop) Cafe in Insadong, Seoulwpid-Japan-21.JPG  Jacob was especially interested in a handmade tie and bow tie shop we visited at the Bukchon Culture Village.Handmade Tie Shop in Seoul

Muju, South Korea

Jacob had his first experience at a ski resort. He tried snowboarding at first…wpid-Japan-22.JPG wpid-Japan-23.JPG wpid-Japan-24.JPG wpid-Japan-26.JPG wpid-Japan-25.JPG He eventually ended up skiing and doing quite well.wpid-Japan-27.JPGAfter Muju, we came back to our island and enjoyed inventing games to play at the park.wpid-Japan-28.JPG

Cebu, Philippines

Jacob took a vacation from his vacation in Korea. Jacob's Philippines Map While in the Philippines, he enjoyed relaxing on the beaches and swimming with whale sharks. Lucky.whaleshark1 whaleshark2

We had a great time touring Japan and Korea with Jacob, and we were sad to see him go. Overall, I’d say he accomplished a lot while he was here. Jacob's TripThanks for lugging our luggage back home Jacob; it was great having you stay with us!

A Winter Weekend in Jeju

Japan Korea MapRight after we got back from our trip to Japan (Wednesday), we decided Thursday evening to take a short trip to Jeju, also known as Korea’s Hawaii. We left for the airport the next day at 4:00 a.m. How great is it that we were able to up and go on such a fun adventure?! Jeju is an oval-shaped, volcanic island south of Korea. The island is fairly small, only measuring 73km (45 miles) across and 31km (19 miles) wide. When we first arrived in Jeju, we were greeted by the sight of palm trees. While the weather was definitely warmer than mainland Korea, it was still a bit chilly.A Weekend on Jeju Island We started our Jeju adventure by exploring some of the volcanic lava caves on the island. The caves were formed by lava flowing through and melting away the rock. It was really cool to see the flow lines on the sides of the caves, and the frozen melted rock formations.A Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava CavesA Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava Caves A Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava CavesLarge cracks could be seen on the rock walls of the cave. A Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava Caves A Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava Caves A Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava Caves A Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava CavesA Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava CavesA Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava CavesA Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava CavesA Weekend on Jeju Island, Volcanic Lava CavesOur next stop was Seongsan Ilchulbong, on the East coast of Jeju. Seongsan Ilchulbong (a UNESCO World Heritage site) is a crown-shaped formation that was created by volcanic eruptions. Seongsan IlchulbongThe picture above is an ariel view of the volcanic formation during the summer. Since we were traveling to Jeju in the dead of winter, it wasn’t nearly as colorful.

Before making the short hike to see this natural wonder, we stopped for some traditional Jeju noodles and noodle soup. We’ve fallen in love with Korean food, and this stop did not let us down!A Weekend on Jeju Island A Weekend on Jeju IslandAfter our bellies were filled, we headed out to hike Ilchulbong.A Weekend on Jeju IslandThe view as we were hiking up was pretty amazing!A Weekend on Jeju IslandA Weekend on Jeju Island  wpid-Jeju-9.JPG A Weekend on Jeju IslandJeju    A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island A Weekend on Jeju IslandHorses are quite famous in Jeju… both for riding, and eating.A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island   A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island A Winter Weekend on Jeju IslandA Winter Weekend on Jeju Island A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island   In the distance, we could see Udo Island, which means cow island. The island is supposed to resemble a cow lying down.A Winter Weekend on Jeju IslandWe made our way to Seogwipo, the town located at the southern part of the island. We decided to stop and see Jeongbang Falls. However, due to it being winter, the water flow was minimal. A Winter Weekend on Jeju IslandA Winter Weekend on Jeju Island  After the waterfall, we headed out to find a jjimjilbang to stay in for the night. We ended up staying at Water World, a jjimjilbang located directly underneath the Jeju World Cup Stadium. A Weekend on Jeju IslandCards are always a great form of entertainment!A Weekend on Jeju IslandAs we were leaving Water World the next day, we passed by the actual entrance, which is way easier to spot than the entrance we found the night before. A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island  The Daepo Jusangjeolli cliffs were next on our list. These cliffs were formed by lava eruptions. The hexagonal pillars are quite a site to see.A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island  A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island    A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island   Jeju A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island  As we were leaving the lava cliffs, we stopped for a photo shoot with Jeju’s mascots, carved lava figures.Jeju We also walked by the African Art Museum. wpid-Jeju-51.JPG  As we made our way up to the north part of the island, we changed our plans and decided to hike up Mt. Halla that day! Mt. Halla is Korea’s tallest mountain at 6,398 feet.A Weekend on Jeju IslandWe were unexpectedly greeted by snow, and lots of it!A Weekend on Jeju IslandThe hike up was absolutely beautiful!A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island A Weekend on Jeju IslandA Weekend on Jeju IslandA Winter Weekend on Jeju Island  We really enjoyed being in the snow. It was the first time we had been surrounded by snow since moving to Korea. The view at the top was even better.A Weekend on Jeju Island A Winter Weekend on Jeju IslandA Weekend on Jeju IslandA Winter Weekend on Jeju Island A Winter Weekend on Jeju Island   We loved hiking with our Oboz! They did a great job in the snow… which is nice since we will be using these to trek to the Everest Base Camp while we are in Nepal. wpid-Jeju-63.JPG

wpid-Jeju-64.JPGWe spent the next day at the northern side of the island. On our way to see the Dragon Head Rock, we walked through a park that had a gorgeous walkway along a river. A Weekend on Jeju Island A Weekend on Jeju Island A Weekend on Jeju Island A Weekend on Jeju IslandJeju  Look at that blue water! Our next stop was Dragon Head Rock.wpid-Jeju-70.JPG   wpid-Jeju-74.JPGwpid-Jeju-73.JPG  wpid-Jeju-76.JPGwpid-Jeju-77.JPGSo the last experience we had on Jeju was definitely a memorable one, but also one that I did not take part in. Jared and Jacob really wanted to try one of Jeju’s speciality meals… horse meat. Yep, and according to them, it tasted like delicious beef. Eating Horse Meat in Jeju Eating Horse Meat in Jeju Eating Horse Meat in Jeju Eating Horse Meat in Jeju Eating Horse Meat in JejuEating Horse Meat in Jeju  Eating Horse Meat in Jeju I was still hungry, so we stopped for some Col-Pop. Col-Pop is especially popular among the kids in Korea. Fried popcorn chicken sits in a dish on the top half of the cup, while Coca-Cola sits in the bottom half of the cup.A Weekend on Jeju Island A Weekend on Jeju Island  Jeju was a wonderful place for us to spend the last few days of our winter vacation. If you get the chance to go, we’d definitely recommend going, especially during the spring or summer. wpid-Jeju-68.JPG

A Weekend in Seoul

A few weekends ago, we took Jacob to see Seoul, and it ended up being one of my favorite trips to Korea’s capital city. We fell more in love with this city, and we are going to miss it when we leave.

We went to a couple of places that were new to us, and one of them was Majang Meat Market; Korea’s largest meat market.Majang Meat Market in Seoul, Korea's Largest Meat Market The market seemed endless… Majang Meat Market in Seoul, Korea's Largest Meat Market Majang Meat Market in Seoul, Korea's Largest Meat Market

Meat Market Animal HeadsSeoul Meat MarketOh, yes! Pig feet are a popular dish in Korea. And surprisingly they are quite tasty. Majang Meat Market in Seoul, Korea's Largest Meat Market Majang Meat Market in Seoul, Korea's Largest Meat Market  After the meat market, we headed to Seoul square to go ice skating with our friends at the outdoor rink. Seoul Square Outdoore Ice Skating Rink   It was a lot of fun, but there was about a quarter of an inch of water on the surface of the ice. We were very careful not to fall down. Seoul Square Outdoore Ice Skating RinkAfter ice skating, we headed to Myeongdong to go to the Dr. Fish cafe for a foot cleaning/massage given by little fish. Myeongdong Seoul   A Dr. Fish cafe is a place where you can drink coffee, and then head upstairs to have your feet nibbled on by fish! Dr Fish Cafe Seoulwpid-Seoul-11.JPGCoffee Fish Cafewpid-Seoul-11.JPG  It felt really weird. The best way to describe it is little electrical bites at different places all over your feet. Dr. Fish Cafe in SeoulDr. Fish Cafe in Seoul Dr. Fish Cafe in SeoulAfter the fish experience, we ate some delicious Mexican food and headed to bed at a Jjimjilbang called Spa Itaewon Land. This Jjimjilbang is unique in the fact that you can rent private rooms.

The next day we headed to Seoul Tower for a view of the city.Seoul Tower We took the cable car up to the base of the tower…Seoul Tower  Seoul TowerAfter we got to the base of the tower, we found you can pay extra to go all the way to the top. When all was said and done, I’m glad we went to the top. The view was definitely worth it.Seoul Tower The top of the tower was circular with windows on all sides giving you a 360 degree view.Seoul Towerwpid-Seoul-20.JPG Many of the windows had signs indicating the distance and direction of major cities around the world. Seoul Tower    We will be traveling to Hong Kong in 3 weeks!Seoul Tower   I guess sending a love letter from the top of the tower is pretty popular. Love Letters Seoul Tower Lunar New Year wishes were written out and attached to displays.Seoul Tower Love Notes There was a great gift shop at the base of the tower. Seoul Tower Love locks were a big deal as well too.Love Locks Seoul    Love Locks at Seoul Tower After Seoul tower, we headed to Insadong, the traditional shopping area in Seoul. On our way, we stopped by some underground art stores and made a few purchases. wpid-Seoul-31.JPG The traditional paintings we purchases were painted on hanji, traditional Korean paper. We try to collect artwork from each country that we visit, and we are very happy with these finds. Our favorite is the one in the middle.Korean Traditional PaintingsWe made it to Insadong, and little did we know, there were a few delightful surprises waiting down the road for us.Insadong, Seoul First off, we found an antique shop located down a little side street. wpid-Seoul-35.JPG    It was a really neat shop.wpid-Seoul-34.JPG wpid-Seoul-33.JPG  Jared and Jacob were really excited to find several traditional Korean long tobacco pipes. The shop owner told us that the pipes were about one hundred years old. wpid-Seoul-25.JPG   These were perfect souvenirs.Korean Long Tabacco Pipes We also noticed antique books being sold. Old Korean Books  I love Insadong. It’s very artistic, and I could spend all day browsing the artshops.Insadong, Seoul Insadong, SeoulArtwork in Seoul InsadongInsadong, Seoul Insadong, Seoul  There is a ddong (poop) cafe located on the top level of the spiral shopping mall in Insadong. It is a poop themed coffee shop. Ddong (Poop) Cafe in Insadong, SeoulDdong (Poop) Cafe in Seoul Ddong (Poop) Cafe in Insadong, Seoul    Have you ever drank your coffee from a toilet? Ddong (Poop) Cafe in Insadong, Seoul  After Insadong, we headed out to explore the neighboring area. We stumbled upon Bukchon Hanok Village, a traditional village full of ancient settings and art.wpid-Seoul-29.JPG wpid-Seoul-49.JPGwpid-Seoul-48.JPGwpid-Seoul-30.JPG wpid-Seoul-47.JPGwpid-Seoul-50.JPG wpid-Seoul-53.JPG   It was absolutely amazing to just wonder around the streets. It felt as if we had stepped back in time. Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoulwpid-Seoul-55.JPG    I loved all of the art stores. I really wish I had time to stop by and make a bracelet at this little store!wpid-Seoul-54.JPG  What a great last trip to Seoul, right? It’s still hard to believe that our time in Korea is wrapping up so quickly! We have 2.5 weeks before we head out on our big adventure. Stay tuned as I catch up on some last minute blogging before we leave. You still haven’t seen our pictures from Jeju, or Muju! Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul

Reflections and Future Plans

Well, it’s hard to believe, but we’ve been in Korea for over a year! Time flies… It doesn’t seem possible that a year has gone by, and we will be packing our bags and leaving Korea in just four weeks.

We both agree that the past year has been one of the best years of our lives. We’ve met and made so many great friends, we traveled and experienced so many new places, and we’ve been able to spend so much time together. Words cannot describe how blessed we feel.

I’ll go through the highlights of the past year, and at the end of this post, I’ll brief you on our plans for the next few months.

JanuaryKorean FoodWe arrived in Korea on January 17, 2013. Our wonderful boss Julie and our school owner took us out for Korean food on the night we arrived. At the time, we weren’t so crazy about the food, but over the past year, we’ve really grown to love the food here. Our favorite dishes include kimchi jjigae (kimchi soup), galbitang (beef rib soup), Korean bbq (all you can eat meat buffets), udon (noodle soup), and kimchijeon (Korean kimchi pancakes).

FebruaryGeoje FebruaryMost of February was spent with good friends. We enjoyed hiking, and exploring our island.DMZ KoreaI also went and toured the DMZ… It was the first time I felt the depth of the war between North and South Korea.

March20130316-005548We started teaching full-time in March, and we really fell in love with our kids. Teaching these guys has been one of the most fulfilling jobs we’ve ever had.830265_582890561639_232728841_oWe spent our weekends in March hanging out with friends and getting to know Korea and our island better.

AprilMountain biking in South KoreaApril was a big mile marker for us. It marked the month we bought our mountain bikes–which was by far the best investment we made in Korea. From then on out, we were avid mountain bikers on the weekends.Jjimjilbang Geoje Sea SpaIt was also in April that I had my first Jjimjilbang experience. Little did I know that I’d be hooked on theses bath spas in the future!

MaySeoraksan National Park, Korea In May, we went to what is known as the most beautiful place in Korea, Seoraksan National Park. This trip really lit a fire in us to see as much of Korea as we could during our year stay. We made our Korean bucket list, and started planning weekend trips to check off items on our list.Geoje Island ExploringWe also spent time enjoying the spring weather and exploring our island on our motorcycle.

JuneBoseong Green Tea FieldsOur trip to the Beosong green tea fields of Korea was a fantastic trip. It also started our addiction to green tea!Mountain Biking in KoreaWe also had a great time (throughout the whole summer) mountain biking with our friends!

July4th of July in Korea July was a spectacular month for us. We celebrated the 4th of July with fireworks and friends!Things to do in Seoul We also toured Seoul for the first time. We went to the King’s Palace, and sipped on coffee at a dog cafe! At the time, we didn’t realize that we would end up falling in love with Korea’s capital city.Things to do in BusanWe celebrated our two year anniversary by taking a weekend trip to Busan. My favorite part was the artistic Gamcheon Culture Village, while Jared loved walking through the Jagalchi Fish Market.

AugustBorneo Trip MapBorneo TripWe went to Borneo Malaysia in August. The highlights of Borneo were seeing all of the wild monkeys!

SeptemberHerb HillzIn September, we had a blast zip lining at Herb Hillz in Daegu.Seoraksan Trip 2We spent our Chuseok break in Seoraksan. We loved it so much the first time, we were anxious to go back and explore more of that beautiful national park! After Seoraksan, we headed to Seoul to check out a craft market, the Trick Eye Museum, and go to the World’s largest church on Sunday.

OctoberIsland CampingWe went island hoping in October and had a great time enjoying the fall weather while camping on Yeonhwa Island.Hair CutI also got my hair cut.Bike RidingAnd we worked on our mountain biking tricks… well, I tried to work on my tricks.Halloween in Korea at ECCWe had a great time celebrating Halloween with our kiddos at school!

NovemberBest of FriendsHendrik and Dorette left for South Africa in November… It’s been lonely the past few months with out them here. Craft Market Seoul A highlight (for me) in the month of November was selling some of my bracelets at the Hongdae Craft Market in Seoul!

DecemberFriends Geoje Korea  We spent December spending time with good friends, and enjoying the crisp winter air every chance we could!Christmas Cards in KoreaI had a blast having friends over to make DIY Christmas Cards!Christmas Fun in KoreaChristmas was filled with ginger bread houses, Santa outfits, gifts, and parties at work! JapanAfter Christmas, we headed to Japan where Jared’s little brother Jacob met up with us. We went to Kyoto, and then spent a few days in Tokyo!Japan Korea Map

JanuaryJejuAfter we got back from Japan, we decided to take a last minute trip down to Jeju, “Korea’s Hawaii.” We had fun exploring the lava caves, and climbing Mt. Halla, Korea’s tallest mountain.Seoul Trip FunAt the end of January, we took a memorable trip up to Seoul with Jacob. We went to a Dr. Fish Cafe; a place where fish nibble at your feet after you’ve enjoyed a cup of coffee. We also walked around the traditional streets in Seoul, soaking up culture and history.

FebrauryMuju SnowboardingWe went Snowboarding in Muju for Lunar New Year at the end of January, and then we spent the first of February enjoying our island with friends.Korea MapLooking back over the last year in Korea, we feel so blessed to have seen and done everything we packed into 2013…and we are so excited to see what else 2014 has in store for us!

March-July Our Trip MapWell, above is what we have planned from March to July. As of now, our travel plans include China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, India, Dubai, Qatar, Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Italy, France, and England. A lot of our stops will only be for a few days, but we are excited about seeing and experiencing new parts of the world!

What are we looking forward to the most? We have the opportunity to volunteer at Bykota House in Cambodia for a month. Mark and Rhonda Benz founded the Bykota House in 2004, and we are so excited God has lead us to further His kingdom in Cambodia in this small way. Please visit www.bykotahouse.org to find out more about the wonderful things God is doing in Cambodia, and how you can help!

August: Job search! Let me know if you hear of any jobs in the Health field. I’ve got my Master’s degree in Health Promotion and Wellness Management, and I’ll be on the hunt for a job in my field when I get back home!

Flat Matt’s Travels in Asia

Jared and I were honored to host Flat Matt for a few weeks. My second cousin Matt is doing the Flat Stanley project at his school, and he asked if we would host his Flat Matt. We took him everywhere with us for the last few weeks… During his time with us, Flat Matt toured the island of Geoje in South Korea, as well as touring Kyoto and Tokyo in Japan!

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Jared and I live on an island in Southern South Korea. The name of the island is Geoje. It’s about 870 square miles. One of our favorite things to do on the island is hiking. Koreans love to hike, and there are numerous trails on every mountain.

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Most trails have an outdoor workout facility where hikers can take a break and use the equipment for stretching, strength training, or hula hooping!

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Flat Matt was plum exhausted after his first hike!

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Jared and I are English teachers. We teach children aged 3 to 12. We introduced Flat Matt to our students, and they loved learning about how he traveled all the way from the U.S.A. to visit them!

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Flat Matt made many new friends that he already misses!

The Adventures of Flat Matt

wpid-Flat-Matt-5.JPG The Adventures of Flat Matt

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Flat Matt helped us teach some classes. All the interacting with children made him very tired.

The Adventures of Flat Matt

We invited our co-teachers over for a craft night to make Christmas cards. Flat Matt loved eating the cookies. He even helped me make a few cards!

The Adventures of Flat Matt  The Adventures of Flat Matt The Adventures of Flat Matt

We took Flat Matt to the beach to see the ocean! It was a beautiful day.

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Flat Matt’s favorite thing to do was to collect sea shells.

The Adventures of Flat Matt

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Geoje Island was a P.O.W. camp back in the Korean war. There are still ruins on the island from before the war. Flat Matt enjoyed exploring the ruins and taking in the view from the top of the mountain.

The Adventures of Flat Matt The Adventures of Flat Matt  The Adventures of Flat Matt

From the top of the mountain, he could see our apartment building–way way down below.

The Adventures of Flat Matt The Adventures of Flat Matt

After Christmas, Flat Matt traveled with us to Japan!

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Our first stop in Japan was Kyoto. We went to the Fushimi Inari Shrines. In Japan, Inari is known as the god of rice, and the mountain on which the famous orange shrines line the slope is also named Inari. Traditionally, Inari is  known to bring prosperity to businesses, so each shrine is donated by a Japanese business.

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Flat Matt also went to see the Kiyomizu Temple. The temple is named after a nearby waterfall. Kiyomizu means clear water. The temple was first built in 798, but it has been rebuilt various times due to fire destruction and damage. The the latest reconstruction was done 1633, and the entire things was built without using a single nail.

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Flat Matt thought the accommodations in Japan were strange. He was not used to sleeping on mats on hard floors.

The Adventures of Flat Matt wpid-Japan-30.JPG

Flat Matt also went to Gion, the Geisha district in Kyoto. Traditionally, Geisha are Japanese female entertainers who specialize in art, music, and various traditional games. Nowadays, it is very rare to see a real Geisha, however, there are many tourists dressed up as Geishas who love to roam the historic district.

He was disappointed he didn’t get to see a real Geisha.

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Flat Matt thought the restaurants in Japan were strange too. He wasn’t used to sitting on the floor while he ate. Japanese people usually sit on the floor at a low table to eat their meals.

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Flat Matt thought the food was very interesting. He had many different types of soups and he also tried sushi! These pieces of sushi have fish eggs on top!

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After Kyoto, Flat Matt traveled to Japan’s capital city Tokyo. There are 13.23 million people who live in Tokyo, which makes it the largest city in the world!

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While we were in Tokyo, we stayed at a capsule hotel. Flat Matt thought the capsules were quite strange. He was happy to find that they had a TV in them, but unfortunately, all of the channels were in Japanese, so he didn’t understand much of what he watched.

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While in Tokyo, Flatt Matt went to the Shibuya Crossing. This crossing is known as the world’s largest street crossing. When the walk light turns green, the entire street is flooded with people.

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Flatt Matt enjoyed being in such a big city. He thought all of the lights and big building were pretty neat. Flat Matt really liked the Akihabara Electric Town. Akihabara is a huge shopping district for video games, computer stuff, and Japanese anime.

The Adventures of Flat Matt

Flat Matt had a great time in Asia. When all was said and done, he was ready to go home. Asia was beautiful, unique, and cultural, but noting beats being in one’s home country.

Thanks for coming to visit Flat Matt, we miss you already!

Christmas in Korea

I know this is a long post, but we wanted to share our Christmas in Korea with you all! So hang in there, and remember that even though we’ve had a great Christmas abroad, nothing beats being with family! If you have the opportunity to spend the holidays with your family, treasure it and have a great time!

Our great friend Dorette from dots.i.am.PHOTOGRAPHY took some pictures of us, and got a few done just in time to share with everyone for Christmas.

The English Travelers The English Travelers The English Travelers

To make sure this Christmas was off to a good start, I accidently butchered Jared’s haircut; he’s now sporting the buzz look.

Jared's Haircut

We kicked off the Christmas season making Gingerbread Houses with our kiddos at school!

Ginger Bread Houses in Korea

We did several crafts with our kiddos to keep them in the Christmas spirit since Christmas in Korea is not as big of a deal as Christmas in western countries.

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

About a week before Christmas, we had our coteachers over for a Christmas Card Craft night! We had a blast, and enjoyed being creative while listening to Christmas music.

Christmas in Korea

It was so much fun to see the creativity in each card.

Christmas in Korea

Christmas in Korea

After Jared cooked us an amazing late night breakfast, he even joined the fun and made a Charlie Brown Christmas card! What an amazing husband I have!

Christmas in Korea

Christmas in Korea

Since I had a lot of left over Christmas paper, I decided to bring it to school, and all the kids had a great time making cards for their parents and friends!

Christmas in Korea at ECC

The weekend before Christmas, our friend Sarah Weaver (check out her awesome blog) came down from Daegu to visit and tour the island. It was such a nice weekend, we spent a lot of time soaking up the sunshine.

Christmas in Korea with Friends

Christmas in Korea with Friends

Christmas in Korea with Friends

We celebrated Christmas at our school (ECC) on Monday. All dressed up as Mr. and Mrs. Santa, we had fun taking pictures with the kiddos, and giving them a western taste of Christmas tradition.

Christmas in Korea at ECC

All the kiddos got their picture taken with the Santas.

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

And then I managed to squeeze in a few pictures with the kids while they were waiting to get their presents from Santa.

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

All the kids lined up to get their gift from Santa….

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

And then they headed back to their classrooms to open their presents! The classrooms were filled with joy, laughter, and excitement.

Christmas in Korea at ECC

At first, this little guy was very disappointed at the small size of his package (he has the smallest one), but after he opened it and found collecting cards just like the ones his older brother collected, he was the happiest boy there. He ran from student to student showing off his gift!

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

The next day, we sported our elf-ear Santa hats for our office Christmas party.

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

We had a great Secret Santa party at the office!

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

 

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

One of the best parts about making jewelry, it giving it as gifts!

Christmas in Korea at ECC

Christmas in Korea at ECC

We spent Christmas day eating a delicious brunch with friends, and then playing cards at home. Christmas evening we enjoyed some great Italian with friends. It was a great day, and we feel so blessed to have such great friends to spend the holidays with, but that goes to say that nothing beats time spent with family. It was amazing how little it actually felt like Christmas…

Christmas in Korea

Christmas in Korea

Until I received a call at 5am from my brother! Although we could nearly keep our eyes open, it was so much fun to be a part of Christmas back home, both with my family, and with Jared’s. We feel truly blessed that we live in a day in which video chat is readily available!

Christmas with family

We will spend the next few days planning for our trip to Japan this weekend! Stay tuned for pictures of that trip in the weeks to come! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Englishes in Korea!

Japan, Kyoto

Gingerbread Houses in Korea

I’m so thankful that we’ve been able to do things that make us feel at home… like making a gingerbread house. And, I’m very grateful that we have wonderful friends who join in!

Not really knowing what we were getting ourselves into, we headed to Home Plus (Korea’s Walmart) in search of gingerbread house supplies. Since we couldn’t find molasses to make gingerbread, we opted for some flat rectangle cookies, pepero, licorice (from the States), imitation M&Ms, gummy stars, and homemade Royal Icing (recipe).

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Making Gingerbread Houses in Korea

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Our house ended up looking like a gingerbread church 🙂

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We took the gingerbread houses to school the next day, and the kids absolutely loved them! Most of them had never heard of a gingerbread house, let alone seen one. You should have seen their eager anticipation when we told them you can eat the whole thing!

Ginger Bread Houses in Korea

Ginger Bread Houses in Korea

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We passed the remains of the houses from classroom to classroom….

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Until nothing was left!

Ginger Bread House Making in Korea

Thank you for donating your gingerbread house to our kids Jeremy and Chelsea Diamond!!!

Hongdae Craft Market in Seoul

Most of you probably know that I recently started Amber’s Craft Nook, a website where I share all of my handmade crafts and jewelry. Well, last weekend I took a trip with a few friends to sell some of that jewelry at a market in Seoul. The Hongdae Market is a place where aspiring artists can sell their work. Each Saturday, from 1pm to 6pm, artists bring either tables or mats and set up a mini shop for the afternoon.

Hongae Free Craft Market Seoul Directions

My friend Sandra heard that if you register at least a week in advance, you can reserve a spot to participate. Since we are foreigners, it was a bit tricky, but basically all you need to do is e-mail artfreemarket@hanmail.net and let them know what date you want to participate. They should e-mail you back (they replied to us in Korean), and they will tell you that registration is from noon to 1pm at the Hongdae Playground (10,000 won fee). Also, you’ll be expected to bring your own table or mat. Just to make sure nothing goes wrong. I also recommend that you reply with a confirmation e-mail restating the date you want to participate.

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We arrived in Seoul a little after noon, got registered, and set up our table. I sold handmade wire rings for a dollar, thin bracelets for 3 bucks, and then I priced each of my other bracelets depending on the materials and time it took me to make them.

Hongae Craft Market Seoul

Sandra sold handmade sea-glass necklaces and earrings with sea-glass that she had collected in Korea!

Hongae Craft Market Seoul

Chelsea sold hand-knitted ear warmers and cultural photos taken by her husband. If you like some of those prints, check them out here!

Hongae Craft Market Seoul Hongae Craft Market Seoul

Hongae Craft Market Seoul

Hongae Craft Market Seoul

There were many artists who showed up to sell their work, each specializing in their own personal field of artwork.

Hongae Craft Market Seoul   Hongae Craft Market Seoul Hongae Craft Market Seoul Hongae Craft Market Seoul Hongae Craft Market Seoul Hongae Craft Market Seoul Hongae Craft Market Seoul Hongae Craft Market Seoul Hongae Craft Market Seoul Hongae Craft Market Seoul

I made a few purchases from local artists myself. There was a lady there selling owl artwork. She had handmade leather purses and wallets, and a few drawings. This one in particular stuck out to me as an owl portrait of me and my husband, so of course, I couldn’t pass that up!

Hongae Craft Market Seoul

I also like to collect ornaments for our Christmas tree from each country I visit. A young man made these hand-painted little robots and Santas out of old keyboard buttons. It’s actually hanging on my Christmas tree right now!

Hongae Craft Market Seoul

After the craft market was over, we headed out to explore Seoul, and have a great girls weekend!

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Hotels can be a bit pricy in Seoul, so thankfully Sandra found us a Jjimjilbang named SPA Itaewon Land. This Jjimjilbang is unique because you can actually rent private rooms (at most jjimjilbangs, you sleep in segregated community sleeping rooms). Even though the rooms were small, we were just thankful to have a quiet, inexpensive place to stay. It ended up only being $15 per person for a 3-bed room.

SPA Itaewon Land Seoul Affordable Lodging Insadong Seoul

We spent most of the next day exploring Insadong, a traditional shopping street in Seoul.

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We wondered down a side street, and found this cute little traditional tea house.

Insadong Teahouse Seoul

Traditional Insadong Teahouse Seoul

The tea was absolutely delicious! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end such a fun weekend in Seoul with great friends!

Insadong Teahouse

Yeonhwa Island Camping

A few weeks ago, we took a camping trip with our friends Jeremy and Chelsea. The idea was to find an island, take a ferry there, and camp for the night. We headed to the ferry terminal in Tongyeong, a neighboring town. Having never done this before, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. The boys went in to buy tickets. We’ve heard there are over a hundred islands you can go to, but only a few that you can take a vehicle to. Tickets to the bigger island, Yokjido, were sold out until the next day. The boys asked what was available, and the suggested Yeonhwa. Ten minutes later, we were driving the car (bikes and all) onto the ferry.

Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong Bikes on Car Ferry Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong Car Ferry

Once on the ferry, we wondered up to the top deck and enjoyed the scenic 1 hour ride to our island.

Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong

Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong

When we arrived, we were greeted by the site of a very small fishing village. The island itself was only a couple of kilometers long, and within 15 minutes we had driven the length of the two roads on the island. Although it was nice to have the car to pack all of our belonging in, we decided that next time we would leave it behind since we could hike across the island without much difficulty.

Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong

There were plenty of hiking trails on the island, as well as a bridge, temple, and a few other sites to see. We really enjoyed the beauty of the island, and the fact that we were away from mainland Korea.

Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong

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Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong

That evening, we found a good camping place away from one of the trails, and threw up our hammocks. Chelsea and I knitted as the boys rounded up some firewood and played with bugs.

Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong

Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong

Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong

The next day, we headed out to explore the rest of the island. We went to the temple, and saw several more gorgeous views!

Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong Yeonhwa Island Camping Tongyeong

Overall, we had a great time, and we definitely wished we had discovered island hopping in Tongyeong earlier. If you are looking for recreational activities to do in Korea, we highly recommend that you pack up your backpacking gear, head to Tongyeong, buy a random ticket, and have your own island camping adventure!

Herb Hillz in Daegu

We took a trip up to Daegu with our friends Hendrik and Dorette a while back and went to Herb Hillz. Herb Hillz is a small, yet unique Eco Theme Park.

Herb Hillz Daegu

Herb Hillz Daegu

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Our favorite part of the park was the Eco Adventure area. We bought a course and spent the next 2.5 hours swinging through the trees. It was so much fun to be above ground and adventuring from tree to tree. We had the whole course to ourself, and after a quick safety course, we were completely on our own. Yep, without a guide or any sort of staff personnel. It was fun and a bit of an adrenaline rush as we were unclipping and reclining between platforms 30+ feet above the ground.

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Herb Hillz Daegu

Herb Hillz Daegu Eco Adventure

There were several long zip lines in the course and we throughly enjoyed them.

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After the adventure course, we spent some time walking around the park. I really enjoyed walking through the herb gardens.

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The park was beautiful and peaceful.

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Throughout the park, there were lots of little statues, figurines, and photo booths.

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Herb Hillz Daegu

We had a great time at Herb Hillz, and if you are ever in Daegu, we recommend that you check it out!

Seoraksan National Park Round 2

Over Chuseok (Korea’s version of Thanksgiving), we took a trip up north to Seoraksan National Park. This was actually our second time to Seoraksan. It’s an absolutely beautiful park, and we are so happy that we made a second trip up. (Click to read about our first trip.)

We left after work on Tuesday evening, and met our friends Ethan and Sandra at a campsite they had picked out. Over the next three days, we hiked and hiked. We did several different routes, saw beautiful scenery, and had a great time enjoying God’s beautiful nature.

A large buddha statue greets you near the entrance of the park.

Seoraksan Seoraksan

We opted out on the cable car option, and decided to do all of the hiking with our own feet.

Seoraksan Seoraksan

Our first hike lead us up to a cave in the middle of this huge rock face.

Seoraksan Cave

Little did we know that there was a mini-temple inside of the cave. Judging by the mat and cooler inside the opening of the cave, we assume that the monk lives up there for a few days at a time.

Seoraksan Monk Cave

The view from the inside of the cave was beautiful!

Seoraksan Seoraksan

We took another side trail, and ended up hiking up to some gorgeous views!

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As the week rolled on, the camp ground continued to fill up as people packed in like sardines.

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Jared brought along his GoPro the next day to photograph our hike.

Seoraksan

This hike lead us up a beautiful valley along a stream.

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The next day, we headed out to hike Ulsanbawi– beautiful mountain ridge in Seoraksan.

Seoraksan

Ulsanbawi is a very popular hike in Seoraksan, and unlike the previous days, we were surrounded by crowds of people eager to hike up this popular trail.

Seoraksan

Seoraksan Seoraksan Seoraksan

It was beautiful, but we prefer to hike without crowds of people around us, so it was not as enjoyable as our previous hikes.

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Seoraksan National Park has been coined the most beautiful place in Korea, and if you ever get the chance to visit, we highly recommend that you put this on your list!

Stay tuned next week for pictures of our trip to Daegu, Korea’s third largest city.

Snail Mail Collective Round Three

Hey guys! I know I haven’t been posting as much. I’m sort of in the process of deciding weather or not to keep the blog. Things have been busy lately, and it’s been so much easier to just post pictures and update everyone via Facebook!

Anyway, I received a very cool package from Australia today! The lovely Megan from Neither Here Nor There sent me chocolate! Oh, and a few other things, but the important one was the chocolate biscuits! I also love the aboriginal notebook and boomerang!

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Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift Megan! I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you!

And I was crazy enough (again) to forget to take a picture of what I sent her!

Snail Mail From Belgium

I’m so sorry this post is late, but here it is! Last week, I received a lovely package from Belgium. I joined the Snail Mail Collective in July, and I’m so glad I did. Melyssa and Chelsea put together this amazing idea to sign up for a snail mail swap with different people from around the world. At the beginning of each month, Melyssa and Chelsea will post a link where you can sign up for the Snail Mail Collective. You will be paired with someone else, and you will have a few weeks to get to know them. After you know your partner, you send them a little gift from your country! What a great idea, right?

I was paired with the lovely Michelle from Very Hungry Explorer. She is an expat living in Belgium who loves traveling. She’s been all over the world, and I’ve enjoyed reading about her adventures and seeing her pictures.

Snail Mail Collective
I was overly excited as I ripped open the package that had traveled from Belgium to South Korea. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that she had sent me real. Belgium. chocolate! Yum! Yes, I’ve eaten every drop already. She also included a Brussels magnet, a few postcards, and a Manneken Pis coin purse. While traveling through Europe in 2007, I actually stayed in Belgium for a few days. I loved being reminded of the Belgium culture and sites.
Gifts from Belgium
Delicious!
Belgium Chocolate
I went to this square right after Christmas time. It was night and everything was gorgeously light up! It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.
Belgium
One of my favorite parts about Belgium was the people. They were so kind and helpful. Everyone seemed to be happy and willing to help, especially the gentlemen. Of course, much of their charm was also intended to woo you into coming to their restaurant that day.
Belgium Post Card

Thank you Michelle for the lovely package that brought back so many memories. And thank you Chelsea and Melyssa for this lovely opportunity. If you think you’d like to participate in the Snail Mail Collective, than click here. The next installment will be starting at the beginning of September.