A Koh Samui New Years

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Koh Samui, Thailand is a stunning island full of life, color, and beautiful beaches.

We were lucky enough to get to experience New Years in Koh Samui and it is was one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced in my life. No words can describe the wonder of our view.

The night began with dinner at the resort restaurant. I admit, I do not remember what I ate for dinner, but I do remember dessert: coconut cream pie! The only reason I remember this is, because, fun fact- I love the 1960’s T.V. show Gilligan’s Island and they were always making coconut cream pie.

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A few hours later, we took a short walk down from our bungalow to the beach. We stood in the black night, feet in the sand, and watched the waves crash on the shore. I ran out to meet the ocean at the shores edge. The ocean waves crashed over my feet, I closed my eyes and breathed in the salty night air- then I looked up. The sky was on fire, filled with thousands of paper lanterns floating up into the black, endless sky. The most heart-stirring scene I have ever set eyes on.

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All the sparks of light against the black night sky are paper lanterns

As the clock growingly approached midnight, the beach was filled with people lighting paper lanterns and setting them loose into the night sky.

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We struggled to light our lantern as the wind blew across the beach. We finally got it lit, walked out towards the water, and set it free. We watched it float up to join the thousands of others that filled the sky.

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Our lantern joining all the others (the vague spots of light in the background are other paper lanterns)

The clock struck midnight and fireworks burst through the sky, lighting up the dark ocean water.

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This fiery night sky welcomed us into 2012.


 

*In the background of the night sky photos, the small sparks of light against the black sky are paper lanterns

 

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I Missed You, Cape Town

I’m here. I’m actually here. It has been years since my last trip to Cape Town.

And we’ll be here all Christmas!

Revealed: this year’s Christmas family vacation will be spent in Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape Town 2
(source)
Cape Town
(source)

Ah, I missed you Cape Town.


Beautiful time-lapse of Cape Town: I Am Cape Town 2

Check out more stunning images of Cape Town: Lonely Planet Image Gallery- Cape Town, South Africa

 

언영히 겨세요, South Korea

I’m currently sitting in the Incheon Airport, three checked bags packed to the brims, and two carry-ons. Where has the time gone? It feels like a month ago I was sitting in this same airport, one bag shorter, and countless stories and memories short.

Last time I was in this airport, I was headed to Tokyo for a long break. The time before that, I was having lunch with a friend from high school and struggling through using chopsticks in preparation for the months to come. I refused to be that foreigner who always had to ask for a fork everywhere they went, because they didn’t learn how to use chopsticks. Had I been here for less than a semester, the story probably would have been different.

Now that I think of it, had 2015 started differently, this whole story would have definitely been different.

I am sad to leave Korea, but there’s been such a long and big buildup to move out day and the day we all finally flew out of Korea, that I’m ready.

Yonsei—Everything about you was a learning experience. And almost everything about you, was delightful.

Seoul—You came to be home and you taught me so many things. One of which being that I am not a big city girl, but this city really has a charm to it.

On one hand: I’m really excited for all my upcoming adventures, before I go back to my home university in the spring.

On the other hand: I was finally getting use to life in Seoul. Every time I traveled out for a trip, when I returned to Seoul I felt a sense of relief to be back home. A semester is just enough time to get to know the in’s and out’s out of a place, and then BOOM! time to leave.

On the other, other hand: I miss certain things about life at my home university, like my friends and having my extended family relatively close-by.

On the other, other, other hand: When I get back to my home university, I know I’m going to miss everything about life in Seoul.

Korea, I’ve come to love you. There is so much more to you that I will be back. But till then: it’s time for my next adventure.

 

 

So for now, I’m going to focus on right now, be thankful for my time in Seoul and everything it has taught me, and think of some of the little things I’m going to miss so very much:

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Thank you for everything, 한국.


 

[ALL] South Korea Posts:

#MerryMonday India, 2010 and 2011

Countdown previewing past Christmas vacations, in preparation for this Christmas’s reveal!

It’s the last #MerryMonday post of 2015! I would have posted this next week, but there are quite a few blog posts scheduled for next week—get excited.

I’m pretty happy to be closing #MerryMonday2015 with this one.

Episode 3, The Final Episode- INDIA


Home. A confusing word for a third culture kid like me, who was born and raised abroad. The word may mean a lot of different things and different places to me, but India is the “simple” answer I give when people as where I’m “from”. India is a huge part of my life and who I am today, and I miss it every day.

Christmas 2011, before we jetted off to Hong Kong and Koh Samui
Christmas 2011- before we jetted off to Hong Kong and Koh Samui, Thailand

I lived in New Delhi, India for seven years: from 1997 to 2001, and 2010 till my high school graduation in 2013. Our first year back in 2010, we spent Christmas day at home with our beautifully decorated tree.

Better look at our tree from Christmas 2011, before we jetted off to Hong Kong and Koh Samui, Thailand
Better look at our tree from Christmas 2011, before we jetted off to Hong Kong and Koh Samui, Thailand

Decorating our Christmas tree is always a big day for our family. We also kind of, just really like Christmas. Our Christmas tree is always over-filled with ornaments, each with a story to tell and memories had.

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Christmas 2010 was a wonderful first Christmas back home in New Delhi filled with family, a few exciting firsts, and lot of Christmas music.

The day after Christmas, we jetted off to Goa, located in Southern India and known for its beaches.

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Kind of felt like an extended Christmas in the sun filled with family, some more exciting firsts, and a lot of beach Christmas trees.


2016 is going to be a big year for the blog, I have decided. There are a lot of exciting things coming in just the beginning few months of 2016! One of the new series I will be launching in 2016, is #IAmMultiLocal.

The #IAmMultiLocal series will be all about my upbringing, and the places I call home.

Get excited, because the next #MerryMonday (on a Wednesday thanks to my arrival date) will be the big reveal and an early start to a wanderful 2016.

Christmas 2010- the annual tree decorating party
Christmas 2010- the annual tree decorating party

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, doves!


Check out #MerryMonday Episode 1: http://wp.me/p6tsDn-3u

Check out #MerryMonday Episode 2: http://wp.me/p6tsDn-7H

 

 

You Are Here Café

Ever heard of EatYourKimchi? I knew it, of course you have. When in Seoul, you obviously have to visit their and TalkToMeInKorean‘s, café.

Located in Hongdae, the café was pretty easy to find using directions found online. A friend and I went before class on an early, rainy Monday morning. The café was quiet, and we were the only two people in the café for most of our time there.

The café was warm and welcoming, brightly colored, and filled with fun decorations.

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The barista was friendly and only spoke to us in Korean, although clearly understood English.  Designed as a café for language and cultural exchange, my friend and I presumed the barista was instructed to only speak in Korean so that we were forced to practice ours. Which is pretty cool, actually!

Having heard a lot about the milkshakes, I opted for the espresso milkshake- coffee and a milkshake all in one? Yes please!

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We headed upstairs to enjoy our drinks. My milkshake was thick, creamy, and definitely full of espresso. Would 10/10 recommend getting one of their milkshakes!

The café was so quirky and fun, I could not help, but photograph it from pretty much every angle.

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After wandering around looking at everything upstairs, we decided to head down to the famous ‘Speaker’s Corner’. Check out their Youtube channel for more information about what it’s all about!

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It was a short, but sweet visit. We might even return for one of their language exchange nights that seem to be normally scheduled to occur multiple times a week.

The You Are Here Café is a unique experience, that makes you feel comfortable and quite at home. Plus their drinks are great, and I’ve only heard good things about their food! Nothing negative to say here.

Jeonju Hanok Stay Review

When in Korea, you have to stay in a traditional hanok at least once. My friend and I took a girls weekend trip to Jeonju (first Jeonju blog post will be linked below), a city known for being saturated in traditional Korean culture, we took advantage of the abundance of hanok stays.

We stayed at the Taejomaru Hanok Stay 태조마루

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You can see this sign in the side road, clearly from the big road

At ₩130,000 ($111.69) for two nights in a traditional hanok Korean double room, it ended up at ₩65,000 ($55.86) per person for two nights- that’s only ₩32,500 ($27.93) per person, per night! For a one-time experience here in Korea, we couldn’t say no.

Our hanok stay is located just outside the Jeonju traditional hanok village: great location. The hanok stay is down a smaller road, but the sign is easy to spot from the main road if you’re looking down the side roads.

Next to our hanok stay, was a larger, assumably much more pricey hanok stay. In comparison, I would say our hanok stay had a smaller number of rooms, but it means it was quieter.

Our hanok stay grounds were beautiful! Especially, because we were there in the fall, the colors were so vibrant. There’s even a little pond with a few fish in it.

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You have to leave your shoes outside of your room in order to keep the floors clean. Our room was small, but for two people and a short stay, it was all we needed. We had our own private bathroom attached to our room, which you would not get at most hostels.

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Because it was fall, our floors were heated at night. The bed is a traditional Korean-style bed, which means the heat from the floor can be felt through the bed. Unfortunately, being someone who has gotten accustom to cold winters and grew up in with AC, I found the heating overwhelming at night.

Although, I must say we were able to comfortably leave our doors open (at night with the screens pulled to keep the mosquitoes out) while we were in the room, which helped cool down the room.

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No meals were included, but most other amenities were included: sheets, pillows, towels (what as a Westerner I would call hand towel sized, which is commonly used as a body towel here in Korea), shampoo, and body wash.

Overall, it was a great experience. Fantastic location with a lot great restaurants and cafés, the Gyeonggijeon Shrine (경기전), the Jeonju hanok village, and the Cathédrale Jeonju, all within close walking distance.

Location- 9/10

Cleanliness- 10/10

Amenities- 8/10

Staff- 7.5/10

We had to call the hanok stay phone number as no one answered when we loudly said ‘hello’ in both English and Korean. There was not much interaction with the staff, which is fine; the language gap definitely affected that, although they spoke enough English and we (pretty much my friend, not me) spoke enough Korean.

Would definitely recommend for a budget hanok stay!


 

Previous Jeonju post: Photo Journal: Jeonju, South Korea

Taejomaru Hanok Stay 태조마루: Booking.com and TripAdvisor.com