Friday, June 2, 2017

Korea Life: Adopting a Cat in Korea

Before I moved to Seoul, I was constantly watching all these posts about cats that needed to be adopted. I wanted one so bad, but I knew that I would be making a move soon. I kept telling myself to wait and wait. After I moved to Seoul, I knew I would be here for awhile. I decided it was time to add an extra member to my one member family. I had a cat in mind, I wanted a middle aged cat, preferably black (I wear all black and the hair wouldn't be as noticeable).

There are some cat rescues in Seoul. I researched all the places to adopt a cat from in Korea. Google is your best friend here and there are lots of helpful websites about adopting. I decided I couldn't handle the rescue houses. How do you pick out just one cat from all the cute cat's that need homes??? For me, this wasn't an option. I would be weighed down by guilt. I was kind of hoping a needy cat would just fall into my lap one day. 

This didn't happen. So, I found this site ( where you can find cats that are in need of homes and can directly email the current foster parents. I stalked the website daily for a few weeks, unable to make a decision. Then one day I saw the cutest cat. He was nothing like what I had wanted. He was only a year old (I was honestly thoroughly against a kitten before this). He was ginger and white in color with the cutest pink nose. I tried to talk myself out of it because I had really wanted to take on an older cat.... but I loved him just from his picture.

The process was easy. I emailed the foster mom, whose email was provided at the bottom. The foster mom was the nicest person and she was really helpful. She answered all my questions and let me come and meet the cat before I decided to adopt him. So, one weekend I went to her house to meet the cat with my friend. This poor kitty was too scared to even come near me or my friend. He hid in the bedroom the whole time. You would think this would turn me off from adopting him, but it was the opposite. This made me want to take him home even more, so that I could love him and keep him safe. 

The next weekend, I spent the whole day shopping and preparing the pick up my new kitty. The next day, with everything ready for him, I went and picked him up. He was thoroughly scared and it didn't help that we had a 30 minute or so subway ride with him in a carrier. When we finally got back to my place, he refused to come out of the carrier, but this was expected. However, unexpectedly, that night he climbed into bed with me. He made himself comfortable pretty quickly and now owns my apartment (and my heart). 

My experience adopting a cat in Korea has been pretty easy and pain free. This is due to a great foster mom who was easy to talk to and really nice. There are lots of cats out there for adoption and even though the rescues are sad, this is still a much better option than a pet store. There are so many pet stores here that only cater to kittens and puppies. It is a really sad because when they get too old, either they become breeders or go to a shelter. So, putting any money into these businesses is something I am thoroughly against. I could go on forever on that topic. The rescue homes have a much more complicated process than what I went through but it is understandable. There are people out there that adopt for the year they live here and then decide they don't want to take the cat/dog back home with them. Which is another topic I could also kick off on. Anyways, if you are looking for any sort of animal, please go the adoption route and know that it may be the more tedious route, but so much more rewarding. 

In conclusion this is my new cat 부끄 and I am obsessed with him. I highly recommend adopting if you have the time, money, and maturity for adding a pet to your household.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Korea Life: Moving from Cheonan to Seoul

I recently (read almost 3 months ago because I post everything ridiculously late) decided that it was time to make the move to from Cheonan to Seoul. I wanted to live in Seoul originally but....  when I moved to Korea, I didn't have any previous teaching experience. Seoul is a much bigger city with a much more competitive market for English teachers. I knew if I wanted a good job in Seoul, that I would need experience first. I picked Cheonan for a lot of reasons; it was close to Seoul, it was a transportation hub (I could get anywhere pretty fast), and it was a great place to save money. I loved living in Cheonan and it's a great city to live in. But I am from a big city and I wanted to be back in a big city surrounded by lots and lots of people. When my contract finished at the end of February, I made the move to Seoul.

First things first, the actual move. Due to the situation of having no time off between jobs, I had a very limited window of time for moving. I ended work on a Friday night, moved to a new city on Saturday and started at a new job on Monday. To say it was stressful is a complete understatement. My school helped me hire a truck for Saturday to take me from Cheonan to Seoul. It was supposed to cost around 120 dollars, which isn't bad for a city to city move. Well, I specifically asked for a moving truck because the amount of clothes I have was in definite need of a full on truck. Unfortunately, something changed last minute and the truck was unavailable. A medium sized van pulls up in front of my apartment right on time, but I looked at it and said "not happening, my stuff can't fit in that thing!". The grumpiest faced old stepped out of this van. He looked just severely pissed from the onset. Luckily, I wasn't going through this alone (my male coworker, who is a worrywart, wouldn't hire the truck unless he knew I wasn't going alone). We moved all my stuff down and out of my apartment and into this truck in maybe 10 minutes. We had to tetris my stuff in and the grumpy faced man kept sighing and asking why there was so much stuff. Once we loaded all the stuff, he said he wasn't going to drive for the same price. He wanted 60 more dollars because there was so much stuff. I had no choice but to say yes because my stuff was already in his truck. We all piled into this van and were off on the long ride to Seoul.

No joke, it took 5 hours.... 5 hours!! The trip is usually 2 hours but the traffic was horrible and my new apartment was on the Northern most edge of Seoul. Janelle was blogging the whole way and the van was hot. It was miserable. We were all whining and annoyed in the car. But the absolute worst part was how bad  I needed to pee. I needed to pee so bad. I cannot even begin to explain this pain. I should have gone before we left, but I didn't, I was stupid and my bladder, kidneys, whatever... it paid for it. I was literally crying by hour 3. I wanted to ask the man to stop but we were in such bad traffic, it wasn't moving, and I was scared of the driver because he was grumpy. I thought I was going to pee in the back of this man's van. Since, my friend was vlogging the whole thing, she caught the crying on camera. I wish I could say it was funny now, looking back... but it wasn't. The pain of needing to pee that bad will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Anyways, I made it and unloaded my stuff faster than it was loaded because the man was rushing us. But I was finally moved and I was in my new apartment. My friends went out to dinner with me for my first night and then they went back to Cheonan.

That was my moving experience in Korea. It was pretty bad. From the wrong truck, to the grumpy old man, to the bladder infection that I thought I would get.... it was rough. But I guess I successfully moved with all my stuff... so it's not as bad as it could have been. I could have been dropped off in the middle of nowhere and had all my stuff stolen or something. (I don't know, something definitely could have gone very wrong).

Adventure Time in Korea: Vivaldi Park (Skiing for the First Time)

Working at an academy (aka Hagwon) in Korea doesn't come with a lot of vacation time. There are lots of holidays with 4 day weekends but actual vacation time is minimal. Usually, you will get a week in summer and a week in winter. So, those of us working as teachers at Hagwons tend to take these weeks very seriously, you must get EVERYTHING you can in in in this short week. The sqrew and I decided to check out one of Korea's hottest spots for skiing, Vivaldi Park.

Now, I am from Texas, I didn't actually see snow until I moved to Korea, so you can already guess I have never, ever been skiing in my life. I was accompanied by two other people who had never been skiing before either. We knew this was going to be an interesting, maybe dangerous, experience.

We had help from one of our Korean coworkers in booking everything. Vivaldi Park is not a big tourist place for foreigners. Many Koreans were surprised to find out we were going there because apparently there are more foreigner friendly (read English speaking) places to go. But our coworker said this was the best skiing and that we should go here. She helped us book the house and gave us an itinerary with a break down on how to do pretty much everything.

Heinously early on Christmas Eve (and wearing couple clothes ;)), we got on a bus to Seoul then on a bus to Vilvaldi Park. The bus from Cheonan to Seoul was easy, because we had made that trek a million times over. But the bus from Seoul to Vilvaldi was a little harder and actually we almost missed it because we were confused. The bus driver was also very grumpy. There were much louder people on the bus but he kept telling us to be quiet and that we were too loud. (Note this actually happens to us a lot, we are not being particularly loud. We think it's the language difference that makes it sound like noise, so it's more bothersome). We weren't really sure what to expect pulling up but we went winding through some mountains and came up to this amazing resort. When we got there we had to call our pension man to come pick us up. He pulled up in an unmarked white van and just motioned for us to get in (can you say sketchy). He was very kind but his English was very minimal.

Maybe 10 minutes later we pulled up to the cutest set of pension houses. He helped us with everything and tried to explain everything as best he could. We had a kitchen with everything we would need (minus food). There were two big beds and lots of bedding under the stairs to make a bed on the floor (that was my bed). Our bathroom was huge and the floor was heated. This was a big deal, because it was really cold and floor heating usually stops at the bathroom. Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night in winter is not usually a fun experience. So, the floor heating in the bathroom was a BIG deal. We had a hot-tub on the back porch (it had a lock and we didn't have the code though). There was a grill out back for grilling our own food if we wanted to. It was great butttt it was a little far from the main stuff happening. That being said the owner is always available to drive you wherever you want to go.

30 minutes later we loaded back in the car and the man drove us up the road to a shop to rent our ski gear. The place we went had everything you needed. There were levels of clothing and we chose the cheapest. We probably could have gone eccentric, but we decided to dress in all black because we were all pretty sure we were going to die anyways. The people at the shop were really helpful and although they only spoke korean, we got through everything with no problem. They kept laughing at us because we were always confused because we had never worn ski gear before. Once we looked the part, we loaded back in the car and we were off.

We drove back up to Vilvaldi Park and got out. This is when we realized we made a rookie mistake. Everyone was walking around in regular shoes and were carrying their ski boots. We found out there were lockers inside and we could have left our regular shoes in those. It was really unfortunate because it's hard walking in ski boots and we looked like a group of slow penguins waddling everywhere. We were half hoping to get a lesson when we got there and half thinking maybe we could wing it on YouTube videos. When we looked at the prices, we decided we were winging it and would have to hope for the best. (For future reference, for half a day of skiing it costs 88 just to get in and the lesson costs 100 extra for 2 hours).

Here is where the fun begins. Vivaldi Park is a big man-made snow ski park. There are lots of different hills to choose from and a stage with performances down at the bottom. There are soooo many people. so you are bound to crash with someone eventually (if you have no idea what you are doing, read us). We took it slow and just tried to get used to skiing around. We were doing well on the ground. Little baby slants were fine and we were gaining confidence and making it work. But then I got cocky. I blame myself completely for what happened next. I suggested trying the slope after we had been practicing for a little while. Now I didn't say an actual slope, just the smallest one. We cued up to take the baby lift up to the top of the baby hill. We thought we would be okay because we only saw children and instructors on this baby hill. First the lift was a struggle bus of its own, we kept ramming into the people in front of us and we almost fell just trying to get on the lift. We should have known then to turn back. Getting off was a whole nother struggle. I couldn't stop and almost died getting off, Janelle immediately fell, and the golden child, Cassie, was just fine. We could have stopped then but we kept going. So, we try to practice at the top a little and I felt like I was getting the hang of stopping and it was going fine. We were hovering around people taking lessons and trying to copy what they were doing. However, Janelle immediately went spiraling into the mesh wall and splatted like a bug. She got stuck for the longest. Cassie and I died laughing, which caused me to start going down the hill too fast. I didn't know how to stop, so I just fell to avoid crashing and dying. Janelle tried to get back up and went maybe two feet before she was back tangled in the wall. I tried to get back up but couldn't. I was stuck on the ground. Cassie was doing fine and looked like a professional skier.

At this point, Janelle and I were both flailing in the snow but we were too far apart to help each other. People were watching us like we were crazy but no one was helping us. Because I couldn't stand back up, I slowly "skied" on my butt down to Janelle. We tried to take off our skis to walk down but realized we didn't know how to take them off. Finally, I got one ski off but it turns out the other one was broken, so we continue to flail in the snow trying to get our skis off. At this point, people were pointing and we were about to pee ourselves laughing because the situation was so ridiculous. I had to take off my ski boot with my ski. Janelle had gotten both skis off successfully and we walked (I hopped on one shoe) down the hill. Cassie was waiting at the bottom, having become a master skier in no time. Janelle and I were done skiing forever. We took some pictures to prove we did it. But we walked over to the stage to watch performances from whoever and let Cassie keep practicing her newly acquired skill. We decided to hang up our skis and go inside for some coffee. (Note: It may seem like we were upset at this point, not at all. We may have failed but it was fun and we were still in good spirits and having fun.)

We were wiped by the time we got back to our pension and Christmas Eve dinner was instant noodles and some chips. Champions of the day, we decided to call it a night early.

Christmas Day, we decked out in our tacky Christmas sweaters and decided to hit up the mall we saw. We walked around and ended up in the arcade. There were lots of games to play and some fun 4D rides. . There are lots of restaurants and some shopping but if you are not skiing, there is not much to do. We had fun exploring anyways. Christmas dinner was a nice restaurant by our pension but walking in the dark definitely gave off a scary movie vibe because we were surrounded by trees and fields.


The last day we went to Ocean World. Ocean World is an indoor swim park located at Vilvaldi Park. The outside part looks like it would be AWESOME for summer but the inside was the only thing open for winter time. There is a lazy river that takes you outside for a little bit. That was fun because we got to swim while it was snowing. There are a few slides and a wave pool. There were some games you could play, but it cost extra money. There are also some hot-tubs and saunas near the changing room that are sectioned off by gender. We spent most of time floating the lazy river and sitting in the wave pool.

We left early the next morning and headed back to Cheonan. All in all, it was a really good experience. We had a lot of fun. I will never ever ever ever ever ever suggest going skiing without some sort of instructor. Vivaldi Park was great and was a fun place to go skiing and hang out. We didn't stay at Ocean World long, but it was worth the day visit. So, if you are looking to go skiing in the winter or to a water park in the summer, this is a really great option.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Adventure Time in Korea: Namsan Tower Visit

Namsan Tower
One weekend in Fall, we decided to make a Friendship Lock and make the trek to Namsan Tower. Namsan Tower is a tower in Seoul. Traditionally, people put "Love Locks" along the top of the tower. When you lock your love into the top of the it means that your love is forever. A lot of people put friendship locks up or they will put their names with their favorite idols (We put our names with sharpie on the wall with our favorite idols).

We bought a ridiculously cute lock, covered it with stickers and our intitials. We had a general idea of where we were going, however we were a little lost. We just kept trying to follow signs. Eventually we found the cable car that takes you up to the top. You can walk or take the car up and down. We opted to cable car up and then walk down. The weather was lovely but we didn't want to be sweaty on the way up. The cable car cost about 15 each..... possibly.... maybe.... something along those lines.

When you get to the top of the tower, there is a lot to do and see. There is even a movie theater there. First things first, we went in search of a spot to put our lock. There are literally millions of locks everywhere on around this place. There are lock trees and lock balls and lock benches. Just everywhere. We put ours along one of the paths that seemed a little less crowded. It was  fun to read some of the locks and see all the colors.

Love Walls
We then went exploring around the top. Most of the attractions are dedicated to "love." There are lots of cute things to take pictures with. If you walk up and down the layers, there are some great photo ops. There are even places to set up your camera to take the couple photos. There are some cafe's and food places inside. We found some really fun photo booths. We had a great time taking pictures and you are able to stick the pictures on the wall after you are done. A lot of people are making out in the photos on the wall. We were making guesses of which couples were still together or not.

Photo Booth Fun

After taking a million couple photos with eachother and thoroughly exploring the top. We decided to make the trek down. Fall is a great time to make this hike, it's not as hot as summer and the colors during the walk are stunning. The trees were all red, yellow, and orange. It was really a beautiful site.There are lots of stairs on the way down, and we saw a lot of girls walking up in heels. The hike up would not have been too bad, but the cable car was also a fun ride. We did the "basic" thing and took photos of the leaves on the ground. There were some great views and if you are good with a camera, you could probably get some great photos. (Note: Take a charger with you because my phone died on the way down because of all the pictures and videos at the top T.T)

View from the top of the Tower

Korea Life: Halloween in Seoul

On Halloween weekend, we wanted to go see zombies at Everland, but we didn't end up making it. However, that night we decided to dress up and go out in Hongdae. Halloween is not a big holiday in Korea. We had all come from countries where people our age go all out on Halloween. But it is a lot different in Korea. There are not many Halloween costume stores. You have to order online or get creative with your own costume to dress up for this holiday. If they do have costumes, it is usually for children. Nothing compared to the giant stores we have back in the U.S.

Halloween Squad in All Black
We made a visit to the local costume store and bought a few props and were ready to go out for the night. We had read that Itaewon and Hongdae are the best places to go in Seoul for Halloween because they have the most foreigners. So, with our dinky costumes we went out for the night. When we first walked out of our hostel... we were a little embarrassed because there weren't a lot of people dressed up and people were staring. Every once and awhile we would see someone else, but we definitely felt quite ridiculous. We headed for where the foreigners usually go "The Park" (I have mentioned this place in a previous post and once again I know how to walk there but not actually what to call it). When we got there, there were tons of other people dressed up. We actually felt under-dressed when we got there because everyone had gone all out with their costumes.
Probably shouldn't be out at this point....
We met up with friends there. We saw a lot of our favorite Youtubers filming for their channels. We took pictures with some of the best costumes. It was strangely cold that night, so we were decently whiny from the cold and decided to drink until we couldn't feel it. We ducked into a bar close by, and kept drinking and were those ridiculous people that maybe should have stopped drinking or gone home. Then we ducked into a shady club and decided poles were the thing to be on....

Eventually we stumbled home, one by one between 5-8am or 9am. I think I slept maybe 2 hours before I had to drag my insanely hungover self off the floor of my hostel to catch a train back to Cheonan. It was a great memory and a fun weekend. Maybe next year I will try Itaewon so that I can write a post on the differences between the two places.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Adventure Time in Korea: Trick Eye Museum and Love Museum

One weekend the crew and I decided we wanted to go to Everland. Everland is an amusement park in Korea and during Halloween time they have a zombie exhibit and we really wanted to go. But because we are all bad at time management and didn't plan things through properly... we never made it to Everland.

We were in Hongdae for Halloween weekend (post about that later), so we decided to check out the Trick Eye Museum that we had passed by a few times (also at any and all hostels, there are tons of flyers). So, after a little bit of wandering (and getting lost a little bit). We found it, the infamous Trick Eye Museum.

Actually, the Trick Eye Museum, Love Museum, and Ice Museum are all connected. On the ground floor, you walk straight into the Love Museum. You pay 5 or 7 dollars for something you would never ever expect from Korea. Korea is a decently conservative country, but when they decide to make something sexual... they go all out. We were all shocked and surprised when we first entered the museum.

Cassie giving birth to me
Anyways, first stop... the Love Museum. This museum is filled with great photo ops. By great, I mean disturbingly hilarious photo ops. The whole museum is dedicated to sticking your face on top of sex scenes and dirty scenes. You just move from one picture to the next. We actually saw a lot of couples taking pictures there and giggling. Everyone was giggling as they take the pictures. To be honest.... it did feel a little uncomfortable being surrounded by people and taking a picture on a giant squirting penis. But if you are into that, this museum is for you. We had fun, but I didn't show anyone the pictures from this museum... because well.... sorry Grandma.

The Death of Janelle
When you walk out of the Love Museum, you have the option to leave or go down the stairs. If you go down stairs you go to the Trick Eye Museum. You buy a ticket outside, it's some price that I don't remember and you get a free ticket into the ice museum. The Trick Eye Museum is solely dedicated to taking pictures that are meant to trick the eye. There are instructions for every picture zone. There are written instructions but I don't remember if they were in English as well. But there are photo examples, so we just tried to copy the example photos. There are painted marks on the floor that tell you where to stand to take the picture. If there are lots of people there, then you may have to wait to take pictures at the places that you want. But it was decently empty when we went on a Saturday afternoon. There are tons of fun photo opportunities. I definitely recommend going as at least a group of three or more. Because you will need to switch out taking the pictures and a lot of the photo ops are for two or more people. My friends counted and I posted 22 photos from the Trick Eye Museum on to my instragram.

That Igloo Life
When you leave the Trick Eye Museum, there is a Carnival thing on the side. There are games to play and prizes to win. We went in for two seconds, but after the Trick Eye Museum, it wasn't that fun. But around the corner, there is a giant freezer door. You show the lady your ticket and walk into the coldest room known to man. There are lots of ice sculptures and a big ice slide. (This ice slide is decently slim, so if you have big hips... you may not fit. None of wanted to test it out because we were too frightened of being "that" person that got their butt stuck on the slide.) There are more photo ops in here. However, I will say it's superrrr cold and we were not dressed appropriately for this, so we were in and out pretty quickly. But it was pretty fun for a free side museum.

All in all, this was a really fun place to visit. I highly recommend going. We had a lot of giggles and fun. If you like taking pictures, this is a great place. It's not too expensive and there is a lot to look and do between the 3 museums.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Adventure Time Korea: Fishing in Boryeong

In October, the hagwon I work for gave us the opportunity to go fishing as a group in Boryeong. We signed up to wake up at 4 in the morning and take a two hour bus ride to Boryeong. The information about what we were doing was skimp at best. We were told a day, a time, the word fishing, and we would be eating the fish raw. Most of us signed up to go because... well... you move to Korea to experience life right?

We boarded the bus at 5 (maybe) in the morning, Unfortunately, our bus driver got lost on the way to our harbor and the 2 hour bus ride was extended to 4 hours (not an exaggeration). But we did make it to the boat. We loaded onto this small boat with a friendly captain and the sun had finally come out for the day, things were looking up.

A little back story, I used to go fishing every New Year's Day with my grandfather when I was young. We would take the boat out and everything we caught we would fry up later. This fishing was nothing like that.... absolutely nothing like that. There were no fishing poles, we had something I don't know the word for. It looks like the thing you let string out for a kite with.... if anyone knows the word feel free to inform my ignorance. There were weights attached to the end as well as hooks. We put on gloves and were told not to let the string cut or take off our fingers (not sure if this was a joke but it didn't feel funny). We had to put live bait on our hooks, too. (I am not sure the impression of me that this blog portrays. Maybe because I am always climbing places and seem up to most things, you may think I am the outdoors type..... wrong, very wrong. I do things because it is more fun that not doing them. But I detest bugs and the like and having to put live fish on this bait.... it was a no a big no from me). I made everyone else bait my hook for me. Then we had to.... well catch fish because that's what you do when you are fishing. I was the first to catch a fish (what what) but had little success after that. Also, I was scared every time I caught a fish, screaming and screaming to get it away from me. Between all of us we caught a decent amount of fish. We caught a few other things too, a baby shark and tiny octopus.

Then we were asked if we were hungry. We said yes, assuming it meant we would dock somewhere and a meal would be prepared for us. Once again wrong, the thought was wrong. The boat captain took out a rusty knife, cleaned it and started slicing up the fish we caught on the middle of the boat.  He served it to us on the little cutting board he was using, bones and all. Now this is a western thing, where we don't really eat fish with bones in it. I have had to get over that here. While I wasn't a fan(read traumatized) of watching him slice the fish alive, it tasted pretty good fresh. We dipped it in a little spicy sauce, which gave it some flavor. Next he sliced up the shark. I never, ever thought I would try shark, this is not something I ever set out to eat or was like a goal to try one day. But fresh shark is really delicious. I felt terrible because usually I don't catch my animals and watch them die.... so I was in a moral dilemma. However, I got past it and ate because if I didn't then it died for nothing.

Next we decided to stop for a full lunch. The captain took us to his house on this tiny island. The island seemed a little scary. Like a bad horror movie where they take people to kill them. And there was this creepy looking house that I swear was haunted. We were told it would be an hour before the food was ready. We decided to take a walk.... this is where things started going downhill for me. While walking we saw dead wasps all along the road. But they were like giant mutant wasps. They were no joke the size of my fist. All of them were dead but with so many dead ones there was bound to be a live one. As we walked I was really scared of the wasps. That's when it happened... I felt the back of my head because I thought I felt something hit it. There was something in my hair. I started screaming and having a tantrum in the middle of this deserted road thinking there was a wasp in my hair. My friends had stopped and said there was something in my hair. Fear... massive amounts of fear. (Quick back story, earlier on the boat, the captain had tried to throw a small dead fish bait over the side but it hit me in the head before bouncing off and into the water... or so I had thought. ) When I finally stopped screaming and pulling out my hair, with tears running down my eyes, my friend (thanks Cassie) pulls something from my hair... it was the dead fish from the boat. I had a dead fish in my hair for maybe an hour or two. It was funny after the fact... but I thought a giant mutant wasp was going to sting my head and kill me... and that's not funny. An old Korean lady had watched the whole thing and probably thought I was possessed by the devil or something.

We had a spectacular meal prepared by the captains wife and had some coffee afterward. When we were going back on the boat to get back to our bus the temperature dropped drastically. Then it started to pour on us. We got back on the bus for a 3 hour bus ride soaking wet and freezing. That bus ride was hell. But we made it home and no one got sick. But the dead fish in the hair incident has never been forgotten and I am scarred for life.