Saturday, November 21, 2009

back from the grave

i used to work for a major korean cellphone manufacturer, which meant i would get to use all the newest handsets before it came out in the market.  this fostered a bad habit for me, to never take care of my phones the way normal people do. every two months, i would just use the next phone that came out on the market, and chunk the old ones into a shoe box.

 it was quite difficult when i stopped working for the aforementioned company.  i can imagine this is how crack addicts would suffer, when their supplier cut them off.  to make matters worse, TMO shut the internet off all unlocked phones on its network.  i had been using an unlocked  AT&T phone, so all of a sudden, i couldn't receive emails, access internet from my phone. SO 2002!!  I WANT TO UPDATE MY FB STATUS!  and it wasn't like i could just open the shoebox and use the old phones.. b/c, well, they're not new.  it's not sexy. 

a couple of nights ago, i came home at 3am from watching new moon.  i immediately sat in front of the computer and googled "taylor lautner shoulders".  a few minutes into my search, my phone started beeping, and what do you know?  my emails are coming through!  and i can access websites again!! 

i don't believe in coincidences.. for some unknown reason my phone is functional again, so i am redistributing the karma by resurrecting this neglected blog.  

it's been three months since my last trip ended.  my life in houston has been pretty low-key.  which explains why i felt the sudden pang of restlessness and decided to book another trip overseas.  (yes, i realize i may have a problem.  will ponder this on my trip)

i'm heading out to spain, with a stopover in london.  spain is such a foodie city, so i'm stoked.  i'll try to keep a more timely update this time around.  emphasis on the word try. 

and here's just a random picture of taytay and kstew.  i know! so cute. 


i am now officially team undecided.  

Saturday, August 8, 2009

taiwanese chicken pattie

my life is now complete. i have held in my hands a crispy, deep fried chicken pattie (imagine chicken fried steak) the size of my FACE. and let me remind you, i'm korean so the face is pretty large.

i can't believe i'm finally on my last leg of the trip. taiwan has been a whirlwind of two days. from bangkok we almost couldn't fly out due to the biggest typhoon taiwan has seen this year. after many hours of sitting idle at the airport, we finally land in deserted city streets, just to head off for an all night clubbing and ktv...

i've always loved taiwanese foods, so i'm sad we have to leave tomorrow. but not before i head back to the night market and eat another chicken pattie... and maybe bring one on my flight tomorrow?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

a much needed summary of the past 10 days

it's a lot harder to blog on the road than i originally imagined. i do have a netbook, but i can't carry it around with me all day (just carrying around my daily essentials (sunblock, cleaning wipes, sanitizers, tp, eyedrops, a hat, a fan, moleskin, water, umbrella, wallet, camera, chapstick) is heavy enough in this scorching heat. most of the time when i'm out on a tour or trekking around town, i leave my netbook locked up with my luggage. and most of the fine hostels i'm shelling out $7-15 a night to sleep in, don't have the greatest (if at all) wi-fi connection...

currently, i'm waiting for a cab in our latest hotel lobby in hanoi- probably the cleanest/nicest place we've stayed for $15/night. and they just fixed the wi-fi today so i've gotta make this quick, before it's back to cyberspace black hole again.

in chronological order since my last entry:

1) singapore: as most of ya'll probably saw the food pr0n on fb, i'll keep it short. we hung out with a family, which was nice. staying in a home, as opposed to a hotel, felt really comforting. food was unbelievable. i am coming back to eat the rest of singaporean cuisine, since 3 days clearly wasn't enough time.

2) flew into ho chi minh city. veronica, a friend from houston, had met some local vietnamese girls on her last trip. so we hung out with them. they were so sweet and seemed eager to hang out and practice their english with us. riding on the back of their motorbike was a trippy experience, i was almost hyperventilating. i also took jo to visit the lunch lady again. it was so good that we went two days in a row. for 13,000 dong (80cents) a bowl, it is by far the best meal i've had in vietnam, hands down.

locals who were baffled when i wanted to eat 2 dinners.

lunch lady!!! so cute

3) took a bus to siem reap, cambodia. the bus ride was long and painful. we left at 6am and arrived at 6pm, exhausted. woke up at 4:30am two days in a row to watch the beautiful sunset over angkor wat and other great cambodia temples. it's incredible how people built such magnificent monuments using nothing else but manpower over a thousand years ago. the grandness of angkor wat silences you the minute you see its majestic silhouette. randomly found our diving class buddies on the steps of angkor wat and hung out. even though we're pretty much just strangers, it was still nice to see a familiar face in another country. at that moment, i realized how much i missed everyone back home.

fobby hat is back in action

look at the tree roots!!!! it was tearing down the temples. madness.

ridiculous, right?

4) made a dash to the airport and luckily found a plane that was leaving for hanoi. paid for the ticket on the spot at the airport (my first time!) and felt instantly spontaneous. after arriving in hanoi, immediately booked a trip to ha long bay. it was still just as beautiful the second time around.

ha long bay

5) this brings me back to now. flying to laos today. we're going trekking and biking in the jungle in luang prabang, which is supposed to be another jewel. i think we're gonna skip sleeping in the "primitive" native hmong houses, though. people in asia advertise their crummy hostels as top rated, so imagine how prehistoric the accommodations in the native villages would be...

i've been on the road for exactly 4 weeks today. overall, it's been an amazing trip. in a way, i actually can't wait to go home (i think the whole trip peaked at angkor wat, so after the climax i feel it's just all downhill from here), but i know a part of me will regret the decision to head back home early.

i'm shortening my trip and skipping china (mainland) entirely. as much as i enjoy being on the road, i actually kind of miss using my brain and working... I KNOW I KNOW it's ludacris. but trust me. having to worry about your finances and the economy and the state of job market on the road isn't exactly the most comforting travel situation. uncle sam's been gracious enough, but i don't want to ring in the new year unemployed. so on that note, if ya'll know any good job leads, send it my way por favor!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

i'm on a boat

and i so wish i could get OFF the boat. forreals.

i think i spent a total of 6hrs on a boat yesterday. and i'm not talkin' nice, stable cruiseships. the boats we were on completely rocked sideways, which gave me motion sickness that lasted over a whole day. when i got in the shower, i was literally swaying side to side while shampooing my hair, just so i didn't have to resist the residual motion sickness.

it was a great day yesterday, though. we are nearing our stay in thailand (thank god). at first, we didn't expect to be in one country for this long- today marks our 16th day here. we just sort of started island hopping, going from one place to another, following dive sites and in search for The Perfect Beach. honestly, most of the beaches in thailand are pretty nice, but it's not all i've imagined it to be.

so imagine our excitement when we finally trekked (and boy, did we trek, i'll get to that in a min) to find The Beach (as leo did in the movie, The Beach) that met and exceeded our expectations...

we were getting our advanced diving certification in koh phi phi (pee pee, not fee fee) island. after going through multiple brochures, we decided on booking a sunset cruise tour around the island, which included a stop at the famed maya bay (The Beach location). our new friends kim and ali have told us something about jumping off a boat to walk over to the beach, since boats weren't allowed there. but i dismissed their story to the fact they were taking a small longtail boat, which is cheaper/crummier. i thought, we're paying a lot more to go on a real double decker boat. it must be different for us.

well, it wasn't. it was exactly that they told us. we had to jump off our boat to swim to the shore. then we had to climb up this ladder, then climb back down on the other side of the mountain wall. after a short trail in the jungle (with SANDSTORMS in our faces- it had been quite stormy both on land and at sea that day), we finally reached maya bay. talk about having to work for your prize!

and the prize, it really was breathtakingly gorgeous. i can see why hundreds of people swim against violent current and go through bootcamp-like trails to get to this bay. i only wish the weather would have been nicer :(

i'm in phuket right now, waiting for our flight to singapore tomorrow. as much as i've thoroughly enjoyed our time in thailand, i'm so ready to peace out.

i should also admit my ultra-antsiness is partially related to the fact i need to go watch harry potter the moment i land in singapore. and finally eating some REAL FOOD to blog about.

laa korn ( ลาก่อน ), thailand!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

i drove on the left side of the road

and this time, it was on purpose!

in order to explore the island a bit more, we rented a scooter to get us around the island. none of ya'll need to hear again that i'm not the best driver, and last time we rented scooters in seattle i ran into a van at the stoplight. however, somehow i ended up being the driver with jo sitting behind me (talk about pressure!).

i must say, i was quite successful on all those curvy, unpaved roads. maybe if i drove on the left side of the road all the time, i'd be a better driver??

so happy to be scootering

we tried to check out a waterfall nearby, which had dried up completely due to lack of rain this year =/ so instead, we just hiked up to a viewing point to enjoy the view- in our crocs!! we were completely drenched in sweat by the time we made our way to top, but the stunning view was totally worth it. we could see all the way to koh samui!

starting off our hike

dried up waterfall :(

much of thailand reminds me of LOST islands

this may be off topic but i have to say, i LURVE my crocs. say what you may, but my crocs (it's the sandal kind, so it's way cuter than the regular version) completely kick ass. they're super comfy, they have much more grip than reefs or rainbows, and they're totally hygienic! two enthusiastic thumbs up from the world travelers :)

full moon

koh phagnan island

after finishing up our diving course, we got on yet another boat and made our way down to koh phangan. It's a much larger island than koh tao, and we're booked at a “resort” that has a tv, a mini fridge, flushable toilets, soap, and... drum roll please... AIR CONDITIONING! Hallelujah!!!

I don't want to sound like a total princess, but staying in the tropics with nothing but a dingy fan was pretty miserable. It didn't help that we'd be all dirty and sweaty from our lessons. I think the only time I stayed clean and sweat-free were about ten minutes after my cold, cold shower, which I wanted to stay in forever just to escape the mugginess of our room.

sunset over haad yao bay, koh phagnan

We're in koh phagnan to check out more beaches, relax and rest a little, and attend the full moon party. It's supposed to be pretty nuts, since january and july have the fullest moons, which equals biggest parties. There's been a lot of forewarning about the parties- i.e. don't take any valuables, don't get mugged, don't get drugged- so obviously even before we headed out, I was a bit apprehensive on if we would even enjoy the night.

The full moon party was completely out of control. It's hard for me to describe the scene.. imagine miles of soft, sandy beach, filled with thousands of backpackers, completely trashed... it actually scared me a little to see how wasted some people can get. Some people came on this island purely for this party, so I guess it only makes sense to go all out. And had I been ten years younger, I'm sure I would have been equally wasted? I drank one beer at a bar, and watched people consume buckets of cheap liquor, dance on stage, sleep on the sand, pee in the ocean, jump rope through fire, draw figure 8's with glowsticks... the whole works. It was definitely something we wanted to see for ourselves, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't ever come back. It was a bit too much debauchery for me. Seeing thousands of wasted people packed in one place totally turned me off- do I look that horrific when I'm drunk?! :(

We also spotted numerous ladyboys working the drunk euro crowd- many of them ended up making out... now THAT's scary!

people were waiting to jump over the fire rope!!! needless to say, so many people got burnt and had to get treated at one of many clinics on site.

more than 10 of these huge dance areas blared techno, top40, trance...

Fortunately, we still made most of it as we've done so far on our trip with our new friends, watching the moon glisten the ocean... I never knew moon could shine so brightly.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

swimming with nemo

I am now a certified open-water diver! Hooray!

Diving is such a trippy experience. I've always liked swimming (not that I am all that good at it, but I like being in/near water) but being able to stay down under the sea (unda da sea!) for over 40 minutes is truly exhilarating.

In a course of two days, we completed four dives total. On our first day, a lot of what we practiced in the swimming pool had to be repeated on the ocean floor at 10, 12 meters. We learned stuff like how to take off and put back on your masks, how to react when your air supply runs out, how to ascend/descend, etc. but on our second day, we actually got to swim around and look at the marine life below, which included a TON of coral and amazing fishes!

So I have a waterproof camera, but it is only waterproof down to 10 meters. I took my camera on our first dive, hoping that we'd stay somewhere around 10 meter range.. but we ended up going all the way to the bottom at 12 meters. My camera actually got a little water inside (I could see the water spot on the screen) but it didn't break. Thank god! I ended up sneaking a few pictures in, since I was supposed to be learning/practicing skills and not taking pictures as a student. I'm telling you, though, these pictures DO NOT do justice to how beautiful it actually is down there. So many fish i've never seen before, countless varieties of coral exist that you just can't see from regular snorkeling.

sooooo many fishes :D and lots of sea urchin i wanted to pick up and eat.

Needless to say, i'm SO SO glad I decided to take diving lessons. I just hope I can continue diving even when I come back to the states. I'm thinking of getting my advanced diving certification so I can sign up for underwater photography :) who knows? Maybe i'll be able to take pictures of whale sharks someday.

Something else I learned during our dive: apparently clownfish (aka nemo) are extremely rare and must be protected. So we saw a nemo “temple”, where ko tao divers set up rocks to circle off the anemone the nemo family lives in. there were three of them total, a dad, a mom and a TINY baby nemo... soooo freakin cute! Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of that, since that was at 14 meters deep.

Now, i'm hoping all of my diving talk has sparked an interest in ya'll... I only know like three people who know how to dive, two living overseas, so i'm gonna need some diving buddies. Who's down??

you gotta excuse my pressurized goggle face and crazy bang action... total 'there's something about mary' action goin' on right there!

looks like we're dancing under water, no?

diving class buddies! fyi, jo and i are like 10 yrs older than all of them. hah.