Ladies and gentlemen it’s been a while, but I am back in Hong Kong and have started classes/gotten adjusted to my schedule and the HK lifestyle. I’m so happy for my return-it has proved itself to be worthwhile and I am LOVING my 2nd take at Hong Kong. For one, I partially know where I’m going when I hop on a bus and two, the experiences just keep getting better. As an update, in December I traveled to China, South Korea and Thailand:
Returned to the states in the later part for Christmas, New Years and my brother’s Beautillion:
And am now back in the HK! With great roommates, a fabulous group of friends and more exciting stories to share.
So stay tuned-Ill try and keep you as updated as ever!
China>Korea>Thailand Excursion, a set on Flickr.I’ve finally returned! Out of 2,700 photos I’ve selected the following 443 to represent my trip. Enjoy!
Our 4 days in Korea are over and my, were they DELIGHTFUL and MAGNIFICENT! I was able to meet up with Lani and she took care of us and led us around the city of Seoul! We visited so many places but here are a few of them:
While in Korea I visited Insa-dong and Namdemun, as well as the Seoul Tower, Myong-dong, a jimjobong (the overnight spas), norebong (karaoke), Dongdamun, a handful of palaces. Hanok Village, Bukachon, and a few other places. I also got to witness people protesting against the FDA agreement Korea just made with the United States. Overall it was a fantastic 4 days and I’m now in Thailand for another 5. Becca and I just arrived yesterday night, went straight to our hotel and woke up the next day to a beautiful pool and sunshine and WARM WEATHER! A nice contrast after Korea. We ended not being able to couch surf as planned so we are booking hostels daily and moving around the island of Phuket. Today we made our way to Patong Beach and are currently resting after a day on the beach and eating food from street vendors (corn, fresh coconut water from a REAL COCONUT, adn “banana pancakes”). I have taken SO many pictures and it makes me truly sad that I can’t post them in real time, but rest assured there will be so many when I get back to my MACkenzie in Hong Kong. Today we rode elephants in Phuket and booked our travels to Phi Phi Island for tomorrow’s adventure where we will scuba and snorkel and be beach bums : )
Hosteling is… interesting. It defenitely makes me more aware of how I want to travel in the future, but on the way, wayyyyy positive side we have had American toilets ever since we left mainland China and I am extremely grateful (don’t mind the holes in my sheets or that I have to share a room with 3 men and 5 other girls). Some of the people I’ve met here are on trips longer than mine… like 3 month trips. I’m thinking, “Do you have a job?” or “When do you work?” But I keep those thoughts to myself and act like I’m a novice at this “traveling and sharing my space thing.” Thai people are extremely nice. My dear friend Bristol who lived in Thailand for a while taught me some words before I left and they have basically won me every man in Thailand… joke. But people do like it when you speak their language and I feel very humbled in trying to communicate with respect. Like everywhere else in Asia, products are dirt cheap here… nothing to follow that, just a fact. I return to Hong Kong on December 2 and received confirmation to volunteer at the TEDx conference and I am excited!
A quick shout out to Matt for housing and putting up with 2 girls in his apartment for 3 days, Lani Barry for being our personal tour guide, Korean teacher and “Random Korea Fact” informer, and Apostolos and Kendall for coming all the way into Seoul to karaoke with us. Everybody raise a glass (of water) to more adventures and travels for the next few days before heading home to America!
Email me your addresses if you want a postcard! I may not have internet for a few days but I will do my best to get one to you!
Wow, 2 words: FOOD and KARAOKE! Today Wathen, Becca and I ventured around downtown Seoul. We visited a palace, got some yummy drinks at Nescafe Cafe, saw the Tteok (rice cake) museum, went through Insa-dong bought the GREATEST brooch (from this cuteeeee boutique), made our way to E-Mart (Korean K-Mart) and helped save Matt’s future marital status by assisting him in picking out a jacket instead of a grandpa sweater he would like to classify as a jacket. We then met Lani’s friend Dani for dinner and then met up with APO! (Another Wheaton-ite) and his girlfriend Kendal and Lani/a group of students from Konkuk Unversity (Lani’s school). We then all headed down to karaoke across from Lani’s campus and had a BLAST! So much singing, so much laughing and so much FUN! Had a blast. Becca has all the video’s on her camera so those will be uploaded whenevs, but for now the written will have to suffice! Tomorrow we go to an overnight spa with Lani and ALL GIRLS! Ooooo, can’t wait!
More to come!
So our first, full day in Seoul was a success. We got around a lot, bought some goodies, ate some treats (bibimbap) and met some AMAZING people. We had to have had at least 5 different languages being spoken at once. It made me glad for Lani’s experience in Seoul-a true abroad opportunity where she not only learns the language, but is surrounded by people who live in the culture and help her to learn more about it (or teach them as they all protest to Lani’s informative tendencies). It was so good to see my friend! Truly truly grateful to be able to share it with not one, but two people from previous walks of my life, and one new one. Very exciting! Can’t promise photos but they will be on Flickr ASAP!
Good night from Seoul!
OHMYGAWSHHHHHHHHHHHH we’re in KOREAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Thanks to Matt Wathen for hosting us with heated floors and a shower/bathroom duo. Becca and I trained here for 24 hours, folks. TWENTY FOUR. Which we thought was going to be 16. Ha. We didn’t even speak chinese and figured it out. But after peeing in the floor, being 2 feet from the ceiling in a sleeper car and eating pomelos all night we made it. Got to Beijing, took a taxi to Tianamen Square, got to the Forbidden City at 334 and discovered it closed at 330. We ate some street food (Becca=shark meat on a stick and dumplings, me=noodles), had some hot chocolate/espresso and then headed to the Airport after fighting our way through the subway. You would’ve thought Yao Ming was at the back of the train the way people were literally pushing against us to get on the train. Then as we exited someone yelled, “Welcome to China.”
Big plans for Korea! More to come tomorrow.
Today is my little sister’s birthday! WOOOOOO! As I am not in the country and without phone I must send a video, but I hope it will suffice. May you have the happiest, of happiful birthdays.
BRIEF: Becca (a fellow SCAD-dy) and I are traveling. First mainland China, then South Korea and last Thailand! I’m gone for about 14 days before returning to Hong Kong and then flying back to the states. Becca will continue on to Vietnam and Cambodia.
So the day started out a little something like this: Becca and I taxi down to Sham Shui to get on the MTR toward mainland. The trip down the blue line was beautiful-very lush, a lot of trees and a lot of clumped villages. Serene and very peaceful. Plus the MTR wasn’t crowded and silly packed so it created a nice atmosphere.
At one point we were on the blue line and the train stopped and everyone got off… except for us. We didn’t realize it until this sweet little boy walked by, pulled doen his face mask and said, “You have to get off and switch trains now.” It was so cute, and such a life saver! He walked ahead and Becca and I slowly followed (PS Becca’s mountain/climbing/I’m-living-off-the-earth-for-12-years bag weighs about 50 pounds and everytime she puts it on, my back hurts and it’s a 2-person situation). We look around the corner and the little boy is waiting for us! He knew we so lost, so out of our fields and just plain American tourists. Ha! It was so nice he led us to the other side of the train where another gentleman told us which connecting train to take (Lok Wu) in order to get to Shenzhen. They were both so kind.
So once we got off that train we left the MTR station, headed through customs, and then had to go through another set of customs because we were technically “leaving Hong Kong” and entering into “mainland China.” We thought we were supposed to be in the “Mainland Visitors” line, but apparently not as we got rejected by a security patrolling the line-no words were exchanged, but she just shoo-ed us out of the line because we obviously didn’t look like any of the other “mainland visitors”. The minute we hit Chinese soil everyone was in our faces, “Missy you want taxi? Taxi. TAXI!” Man: “Goungdong?” Me: “Huh?” Him: “Shenzhen?” Me: “Yes.” Kept walking. It was crazy. I knew what I wanted to buy and a girl in my Art History class told me the name of a shop her Aunt went to to get purses. Ironically it was located less than a mile outside of the MTR/Customs exit. We went inside (me wheeling my bright green suitcase and Becca with her 12-year bag) and instantly this man says, “What chu lohking fah?” Me: Handbags. Him, “Oh come come, I show you… you want Gucci?” Me: “No, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Tory Burch.” He looks at me and raises his eyebrows. “Oh you good woman, I like. Oh yes yes, come I take you to my shop and I show you.” So he took us to his shop which had 4 other ladies in it-apparently he’s just the runner to bring in traffic. They were the sellers. They handed me catalogs of watches, purses, shoes, wallets… everything with a name brand, and told me to pick whatever I wanted. They said they’d bring it from the warehouse and I could further pick from there. I don’t how many total purses I picked out but when they brought them back (after our lunch which I’ll get to in a second) I had 2 huge bags full. Ridiculous. I sorted through the lot, made a few friends (Effie and Alan) and in the end got a free Tory Burch wallet and 2 jade bracelets. Girl hooked it up! These are my purchases with which I am so pleased.
So excited to be ballin’ at my new job in Kansas City with Hallmark (which I secured this past week)! Anyway-while my friends at this shop were getting my order Becca and I had lunch and walked around the shops where I found a tea shop and got some amazing smelling tea for my Mom.
We got hungry and Alan took us up to this “cafe” which was actually a dim sum restaurant. Becca and I ordered a few plates of unknown things, 2 of 6, which turned out to be good (they were noodle dishes).
Then we met this lady who’s name we still do not know.
There is a whole video on this lady’s shenanigans, but basically, she must of been a hot asian commodity in a past life time (which we saw in photo albums she brought to our table) and now owns a textile shop? We don’t know she didn’t speak any english except for “thank you” and “bye bye” but I don’t think she knew what “bye bye” really meant because she kept coming back to our table. She was video taping us and taking pictures-I couldn’t tell if we were the celebrities or if she was. Becca has the video on her camera so as soon as we can I’ll upload it, but boy what a day.
Oh! Wait, so then-this isn’t even it. After I shop and we eat, Alan takes us to the train station to buy tickets so we can get to Beijing. We wait in line, get the front and 1) the lady doesn’t speak English and sweetly just smiles at us and 2) there were no more tickets! AGH! At this point I just laughed… we deliberately didn’t buy our tickets online because the website looked like fraud in the making, and then we went to buy them in person and they were sold out. At this point we had gone less than 3 miles into Shenzhen, bought some goodies, ate some food, got rejected (again) and hopped our little American tails back on the MTR to head back to Gold Coast, Hong Kong and try it again the next day. But not before some photo opps:
That is my chunky bag of goodies. We were both kinda grateful we had go back to Gold Coast-so I could drop of my purchases (instead of luging them around to the next 2 countries) and so Becca could purchase camera things and try to repack her 12-year backpack. I also decided that I after one day of wheeling around little green, I didn’t want to do it for 14 days. When I got home one of my roommates friends was there and was throwing away a hiking backpack! I grabbed it, tried to cut my current suitcase items in half, and repacked it into the backpack. So excited to give it another try tomorrow. At this point we won’t have anytime in Beijing (sorry Great Wall and Forbidden City… or the hostel we paid for which looked really nice) but we head to Korea Monday night (tomorrow!). While there we are staying with a former Wheaton-ite and will get to see a long long time friend from High School and former IBer. I’m super excited and can’t wait to reunite!
This post is just about as long as out day felt and I hope you’ve enjoyed it : ) Until our next recap!