Pete and Sam’s excellent S.E. Asia adventures!

Pete and I spent most of 2013 traveling around Asia.  I didn’t get a chance to tell many people about all of our adventures because we were only back in Canada for a short time.  So I have decided to make a break down on what we did, where we went and how much we spent to give some people an idea. So here it goes!

Our main goal behind coming to Korea was to travel. Having already seen a lot of Europe while living in France, we moved on to the next continent, Asia.  Pete and I took every Chance we had while working in Korea to travel, but seeing as though our time off was extremely limited we started planning a large backpacking trip for the end of our contacts. My obsessive nature to plan consumed all of my breaks between classes and drove me to do more overtime than I could handle.  For the first 6 months I worked from 10 am till 10 pm with a 2 hour break where I usually laid in bed trying not to think of how tired I was. But it was all going to be worth it…

Pete and I managed to pay off roughly $20 000 in debt, and save $21,000 for our trip/move back to Canada. We both worked extremely hard and even extended our contacts for an extra 4 months to save every penny possible.  We managed to do all this while still exploring almost every corner of Korea.

To start telling you about our trip I’ll answer the most common questions asked to us.

1. “How many countries did you make it too?”

From December 2012 to May 2013, we made it to 11 different countries/special administrative regions not including Korea.

trip map

We started our trip in the south of Thailand so we could enjoy the beaches and relax for Christmas. We slowly made our way up to the North and then booked a $17 flight to Malaysia to attend Swedish House Mafia’s One Last Tour. After our quick stop over in Malaysia we headed back up to Laos, over to Vietnam, down the coast of Vietnam and boated into Cambodia. We then decided we needed more beach time! So we hopped on a flight to the Philippines and visited one of the most popular holiday Islands, Boracay. After paying way too much for hotels and beer we decided to head below the equator (our first adventure there)! Bali here we come! Side note: at this point in time I was expecting to get an email from my prospective school saying “come and join us for an interview in April!” any day now, but seeing as though a slightly different email came “Sorry, but don’t rush home” we decided to blow our budget and keep traveling.  From Bali we intended on making our way over to Java, but we stumbled upon these three little islands called The Gillis and decided we have seen enough temples in the past 2 years to justify skipping Java. We laid on a beach and snorkeled with sea turtles for the remainder of our visa.   Where to next? We didn’t really decide this until we found a cheap flight to Hong Kong, with a few days in Singapore in between. We went from Hong Kong (to obtain our Chinese visa), to Macau then up to China on a $25 dollar flight. We spent a few weeks there, checking off some bucket list items, before we decided that it was time to head back to Canada.

2. “What was your favourite country?

This was probably one of the most common questions asked and the most difficult to answer. We had so many great experiences in every country.  They were all so different and amazing, how could we possibly pick!? So we have composed a list of “favourites”.

Phad Thai in Thailand

Favourite country to eat: Thailand! We both love Thai food and it was so cheap and delicious! They cater to vegetarians and people who love spice!  We ate more Phad thai, curry and mango smoothies in one month then most people eat in their life!

Favourite country to relax: Laos. We loved, loved, loved Laos. Some people say the acronym PDR (people’s democratic republic of Laos) actually stands for Please Don’t Rush.  The people here are so kind, always smiling and super chill. So chill that at the airport, after having our visas officially canceled to leave the country, we freely walked in and out of security, across the street and around the corner to get some snacks… which they didn’t even check while walking back into the boarding area.  A little more relaxed than what we are used to flying through North America.

Vang Vieng, Laos Tubing in Laos

Favourite country for Beaches: Although Thailand and Philippines are both well known for beaches, Pete and I would have to say our favourite beach location was Vietnam.  We spent a week in Nha Trang and never wanted to leave.  The beach was clean, and not over crowded like Thailand’s.  The waves were HUGE (borderline dangerous) and it made swimming more enjoyable, especially for Pete. And one last thing that puts Nha Trang on the top of our list, the hawkers were not nearly as intrusive and pushy.  They didn’t stand at your towel insisting you needed a second pair of sunglasses.

My Birthday in Vietnam Pete on the Beach in Nha Trang

Favourite country for Snorkeling: Indonesia! On Gili T we intended on staying 5 days and ended up staying 3 weeks. The first time you see a sea turtle is magical.  It looks as though it soars through the water effortlessly and what seems like snorkeling for a few minutes is really hours.  We swam with turtles every day while on Gili T and it has left us with dreams of retiring there.  We also loved snorkeling in Tulamben, Bali.  There is a sunken ship right off the coast that is home to thousands of fish and black tip reef sharks, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

DSCN0665 Sunken ship on Bali

Favourite country for drinking: This one’s a tie! Cambodia because the beers are less than 50 cents and after a long day of cycling the temples it’s exactly what you need! And Laos because nothing is more relaxing then tubing down a river for 4 hours with a bag of beer chilling in the water.

I could go on forever with favorite lists but I think I’ll save some of those for another post.

3. “How much did you spend?”

Since we were on such a tight budget and didn’t want to blow all of our savings, we did things as cheap as possible.

Our total trip expenses were: $14,236.32. That is about $7,120 each for 5 months of travel including all flights.

Here is a little breakdown of where that money went.

trip ex

Some factors that affected our budget

  • Developed cities like Singapore, Kula Lumpar, Hong Kong and Macau. We would only stay a few days here because they were just too expensive yet we were not willing to cut them out of our trip.
  • Traveling during Christmas and Lunar New Year. This drove up the prices for everything!!
  • We tried to avoid guided tours as much as possible because they were extremely pricey but we did splurge a few times and it was worth every penny! Halong Bay cruise set us back about $500 but it was so effortless which allowed us to really enjoy its beauty.
  • Getting sick.  Although the doctors are reasonably priced (and internationally trained… I added this for you mom), it’s still an added expense that was not budgeted for.  My least favorite way to spend money.
  • Broken Camera.  We broke our underwater camera a day before we were snorkeling with whale sharks and it was absolutely mandatory we bought a new one! This set us back about another $150.

4. “Which countries were the cheapest?”

As you can see from question 3 we kept very good records of how much we spent.  Here is an overview of how much we spent each day per person.  This includes hotels, meals, admissions, transport (excluding air) and other misc. expenses like souvenirs. We did sometimes stay in nicer hotels because we were tired of  counting every penny for the sake of comfort.  We opted for a 5 star sweet over looking the Petronas towers when we went to Malaysia for the Sweetish House Mafia concert.  This cost us roughly $60 rather than the usual $20-30 we spend on accomodations.

daily spending

5.  “What country would you want to go back to?”

If you were reading question 2 carefully you’ll already know that Pete and I plan on moving to Indonesia and retiring there forever! But all jokes aside, we would go back to almost all of them! We feel like although we spent a good chunk of time in each but there are so many things to see and do in that we didn’t have time or money for.   I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned to see where we are off to next!

Professional Beach Bums

These were the 5 main questions we got asked most often about our trip! I hope you have a better idea as to where we went and what we enjoyed.  If you have any more questions feel free to ask, we love talking about our trip and hope to start planning another one soon!

Korea Take 2

Since Pete and I have decided to return to Korea I have started to start blogging again! It’s a great way to stay in contact will all my friends and family and let them know what we’re up to!

fall in Korea

fall in Korea

I’ll start with the million dollar question which we got asked numerous of times “why are you going back there again?” Well the short version is that there are not that many jobs* for University grads in Canada at the moment. And the long version that risks me getting into some hot water with my family is that there isn’t much there for us back home.

Being two young and adventurous people with little responsibilities it was incredibly hard being back in Canada for the summer.  We found jobs after a few weeks and we gave it an honest chance, but as the weeks passed our savings dwindled, our happiness went out the door and we quickly realized something had to change in order to maintain our sanity.  I feel bad for having put my best friend, Alaina, through those times.  Sure, she was glad to see us after being gone for 2 years and would never admit we were Debby downers but… we were.  We didn’t adjust very well, we started fighting and bickering and I would have to go to the gym in the middle of the night just to escape my thoughts of how sad we actually were.  It was nothing short of a miracle when our directors emailed us and asked us to come back to Korea.

Pete’s family was ecstatic for us, my grandmother insisted I could “find full time work at Tim Hortans and make decent money to live off of” and Alaina gave me the silent treatment for a few days. We love our family (please note that I am including Alaina in this section because she truly is my family) so much but if it’s one thing we learned while being away is that you can love people from a far.  Love does cross oceans and seas, it flies over mountains and swims through rivers.  I may not be there when Alaina’s little boy goes to sleep every night, but my love is always there.

So we decided to accept the offer to go back and give Korea another go around.  After all the hard good-byes, we made our way back to what we now consider “home”. It is the one place we have spent the longest in the 4 years we have been dating, it’s the place we are most comfortable, have the most freedom and have a life.  We are extremely happy here and love our lives. Pete and I joke that Korea would be perfect for us is we could just uproot all our friends and family and bring them here.  The stress free life and the decent wages have allowed us to travel and accomplish some of our goals that would never have been possible back in Canada.

We know that we won’t be here forever and that one day Canada will offer us more than Korea but for now Korea offers us everything we need and although our friends and family miss us, I hope they are happy for us.

Pete and I rocking traditional Korean Clothes

Pete and I rocking traditional Korean Clothes

Health and Beouty

Before coming to Korea I was worried about the there being a gym readily available to me.  I know this is probably the last thing on some people’s minds but after spending 4 months living in Europe and having my only outlet for exercise being parks to run in, it was my top priority.  If I was to live and survive in foreign country there needs to at least be a gym to workout at.  In fact, it was one of the first questions I asked while in the interview for the position in Ulsan.  So after we got paid we signed up for the reasonably priced gym membership and got our “Health and Beouty” on.

It is conveniently located directly next to my school, so no bus ride was needed to get there.   The gym itself is unlike anything I have ever seen, some of the equipment is something you would see in an 80’s workout video.  They have the shaking band massagers; you know the ones where you put the band around your waist or ass and watch it jiggle away all your fat. By looking at all these stick thin Korean girls you would think such a contraption actually works.  I’m sure it gives a great massage but I am terrified to try it, let’s just say I have a little more junk in my trunk then the average Korean girl.  They also have wooden rollers, inverters, and some interesting old school equipment.  All jokes aside though it is a pretty amazing gym, with almost everything you need. And the great thing is that not a lot of Koreans like getting sweaty, in fact I have yet to see a girl sweat half as much as I do, so it stays pretty clean.

There are only a few negatives about the gyms here.  For starters, the change rooms have the most impractical set up I have ever seen.  When you first walk into the change room you need to take off your shoes in true Asian fashion, which if you like your shoes to be tied just right, it gets really annoying having to take them off whenever you go into the locker area.  Then everything is at knee level because everyone sits on the floor here.  So once you have taken an extra 10 min untying your perfectly tied shoes, dodging the corners on the tables that are out of your line of sight they are so low and tried not to make eye contact with the older Korean women pointing at your belly button piercing while muttering, you are ready to go! Oh but wait, you now have to re-tie your shoes.  So you sit down on the edge of the platform floor and carefully put on your shoes making sure not to bend the backs down like your mother has always told you.  When you notice that every other pair of shoes there have the backs all stepped on and broken.  Some of the shoes there even have built in platforms to be taller while working out! I couldn’t think of a better place to strive to be taller, I bet if they were allowed to wear actual heels on the treadmill they would.  So alas, you have made it out of the change room, 15 min behind schedule, but with perfectly intact shoes.

But wait, that coffee you had for breakfast has really made you need to go to the bathroom!! Not an issue, we’re in Korea, there are sure to be bathrooms here! Right? Well yes right, but hardly what I would consider and appropriate bathroom for a gym.  These bathrooms are fully equipped with the finest in squat toilets and sinks with no running water.  Don’t get me wrong, having backpacked India, I am no stranger to squat toilets, but having done strenuous leg exercises the day before, if I happen to made it down there without falling in there is no way I will be making it back up.  Needless to say, I do the potty dance every now and then until I can run home.

Although the gym may not be up to my western standards in way of the change room and bathrooms, I am just grateful there is a gym.  If anything it just makes for an interesting story and a better understanding of the Korean culture!

Vegetarian sabotage

Ok so I admit it, being a vegetarian in Korea is definitely not as easy as i thought it would be!  Having been here for almost 2 months, I have eaten noodles roughly about 5 out of the 7 days a week… making a grand total of 45 bowls of noodles.  For those of you who know me, and my slight insanity about fitness, eating right and my love for all things veggie, than you might find this blog a bit of a shock. “what! Sam eating carbs every day of the week!!!”, ya I know, crazy eh! but hey, when in…Korea do as the Koreans??

bowl of noodles

I knew full well that with my dietary restrictions that my travels are slightly less adventurous in the food area then most.  But that being said Pete and I are avid cooks and enjoy cooking just as much as going out to a restaurant. Coming to Korea I assumed that living in an Asian country, the birth place of tofu and soy milk, both staples in almost all vegetarian diets, that there would be new awe inspiring vegetarian options! But it seems as though they have not moved passed those two items.  And on top of that, their selection of soymilk doesn’t have the delicious flavors like chocolate or strawberry…its just plain old soymilk.  Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a nice glass, but even France, the country that puts ham on EVERYTHING, had countless more varieties, including banana!

So in spirit of not starving, I have dialed down my vegetarianism a tad…as sad as that sounds.  Previously, I would not have eaten anything with an animal by-product in it… For example; gelatin, chicken/beef/fish stock,anything that was cooked with meat, and so on.  But now, with the language barrier and the fact everything is written in Korean on ingredients lists I find this ever so difficult. Simple grocery store visits have turned into day trips where i bring the words “pork”, “beef”, “chicken” and “fish” written out in Korean.  Besides one questionable dumpling, I think I have done an OK job with avoiding meat all together.

Making a spider pinata for Halloween

The only real trouble I have got myself into is with  a devilish 6 year old who takes pleasure in trying to trick me into eating meat. For those of you who do not know, I work one-on-one with the directors son, MuBon, from 10 am until noon.  After which we go out for lunch with his 2 year old brother June-Young and his auntie. This one particular afternoon we were going out for noodles at a restaurant.  They ordered kong gook su (cold noodles), kal gook su (hot noodles) and dumplings. The only time I had eaten dumplings before were when they were kimchi on the first night in Korea.  But here sat in front of me were the most deliciously smelling, soft gooy dumplings that made my mouth water just by looking at them.  Oh how I craved something other then noodles! I asked MuBon, who acted as my translator to his non English auntie, if they had meat in them.  He mumbled a few Korean words to his auntie, looked back at me with a smile and said “she says no”.  So, I pick up my chop sticks, grab one of these enormous dumplings and stuff it into my mouth with excitement. Yummy, you ask? Well not quite. The first bite into the dumpling I chomped down on what was unmistakably pork.  The tough, chewy texture made me slightly gag and look around for a napkin.  There were none to be found. So in spirit of not being rude, I chewed, and chewed, and chewed some more (I forgot how tough meat was!).  Finally I built up the courage to swallow the lump of doughy pork and washed it down with copious amounts of water. MuBon, who watched me eat the entire thing, was quick to ask “did you like it!”.  I replied neutrally, not wanting to offend the cook, saying “there was meat in it MuBon! I don’t eat meat”. He persistently asked again “ya! But did you like it Samantha teacher!? Did you? You like meat! I knew you liked meat! Here have another one!”… and thus began the struggle between a persistent little boy who fails to understand vegetarianism (who actually thought I was a veterinarian at one point) and my wish to maintain a meat free lifestyle.

One week down!

As we stepped out of the airport we were greeted with signs “Welcome to Korea Samantha an Peter!”. Yay we made it!!  Our recruiter who was waiting for us was this tiny little 5 foot nothing Korean lady, sporting the most amazing 3 inch leopard heels. I was in love with Korea already! Pete and I towered over her, and almost everyone else in our passing. People were not joking when they told us to bring a lot of our own clothes because Canadians are on average a “bit“ bigger then Koreans. I only hoped they had those shoes in my size!! We were quickly whisked off to the train station to embark on the final leg of our journey, a simple 2 hour train ride to Ulsan.  We were handed the train ticket and seeing it entirely in Korean i started to panic a little, not having much energy the only word that crossed my mind was “ummmmm“. Luckily the train had english announcements so getting off at the right stop wasn’t as terrifying as we thought it would be.

So after about 30 hours in transit with zero sleep, laying down and closing our eyes was the only thing on our mind. But sleep we did not. We woke up at about 4 am, very disoriented and confused. Was it 4 pm or 4am? Why was it so dark? What day is it even!?   I tossed back and forth for awhile hopping that I would fall back asleep, but alas I was defeated by the 13 hour time difference and my body insisting that is was 3 pm and that I had drastically over slept. So began our first day in South Korea.

That night we went out to dinner with our directors, David and Antonio, David’s family, and the current western teacher, Alex. Being our first official Korean meal i was very excited to see what there was in terms of vegetarian options (soon you will realize the meaning behind the name of my blog). We went to a traditional Korean noodle house where you take your shoes off at the door and sit on little mats.  Everyone had a good laugh at Pete. Easily the biggest guy in all of Ulsan, trying to sit comfortable at these little tables was near impossible for him.  We were fed kimchi (for those of you who do not know what kimchi is, it is the most widely eaten Korean side dish.  It is spicy pickled cabbage that is left to ferment for days to even years!… it can get pretty smelly), kal-gook-soo (probably not spelled right but that is how you pronounce it) which is thick noodles in a hot milky sauce with dried seaweed on top, and kimchi dumplings (pretty self explanatory; dumplings filled with kimchi, veggies and some other grains). We ate and drank bowls of Makgeolli (a sweet Korean alcohol that is made from rice) until we could not possibly fit another grain of rice in our bellies. Everything was very delicious and I was very grateful to have had such an amazing first day in Korea!

On Monday, day two of Korea, we met our directors for lunch at this one restaurant right next to the school i was to teach at.  The shop owner spoke perfect English and was overjoyed when we told him we were from the Toronto area. He knew a lot about Toronto and Canada in general, seeing as though his daughter is currently studying nursing in Toronto.  He was very friendly and no problem making me a vegetarian version of Gimbap (literal translation is seaweed rice, but it is more like a Korean version of sushi filled with pickeled radishes, long mushrooms, tofu, and egg). Little did i know at the time,  this item soon became one of the only non-noodle dishes i regularly ate. Our directors went over our itinerary for the week, Tuesday pictures for our alien cards, Wednesday we had to go in for a examination to make sure we were healthy,  and every day class at 1:30. Sounds easy enough! Except by “everyday “class at 1:30, they meant today too….

So at 1:30 precisely my new name became `Samantha teacher` and my English vocabulary from grade 2 began to resurface.  For most of my day i work one-on-one with the director`s son, MuBon and then teach 4 or 5 classes on top of that.  The classes ranged from 7 to 14 year old, with varying degrees of English skill. I found my brain instinctively wanting to switch to French because whenever i had to speak in basic foreign language  before it was always french. But seeing as though they barley spoke English, French was not going to help me in this situation.  The beginner classes sat there extremely quiet and listened to me talk.  “Wow! what good behaved kids“ i thought… it soon dawned on me they had absolutely no clue what i was saying. For the rest of the day i racked my brain trying to find the most simple English words to use, and even then they sometimes didn`t quite understand. Thank goodness for Google, my artistic ability, and electronic pocket dictionaries every Korean kid seems to have.   MuBon on the other hand is exceptionally good at English, having had a Western teacher work closely with him from a very young age. He is 5 in Canadian years and 6 in Korean but his English vocabulary, reading skills and knowledge far passes any 5 year old i have ever met.  He spent most of the first day showing me all the books he has made and all his art projects and he talked about everything with such enthusiasm it inspired me to teach him more. Why can`t all the kids be like this! The day quickly ended and the rest of the week went similarly with Wednesday only being the change in routine.

We were picked up bright and early on Wednesday to go to the hospital and have our healthy check done.  I hadn`t really thought too much about it, how much could they really check? I would soon regret asking that question. After they took our height and weight, did an eye test, took 2 vials of blood, 4 tubed of pee, a chest x-ray, a hearing test (where apon i acted out ear surgery to explain my hearing problem to the non-English audiologist), a dental check up, an EKG test, and a final screening with a doctor…. they were satisfied, and i was terrified.  How could you do all those tests and not find something wrong!? On top of all this, the cost of doing these tests was not covered in our contract so we had to shell out 100 000 won each (about 100 Canadian)  of our already very small budget to pay for everything.  Although, to think about it, paying $100 isn`t a lot of money for all those tests, I feel like if you were in the US with no coverage you would pay close to 10x that price just for a urine test.  But i feel as though they were 20 000 won away from putting us under anesthetic and doing exploratory surgery.

Overall our first full week in Korea was rather busy.  But there is no better way to adapt then to be thrown knee deep into the culture and all it has to offer! Over the week we began to pick up many Korean customs which i will gladly share with you (who knows maybe you`ll find your way to Korea one of these days)!

1. You always take your shoes off before entering a Korean house.  Our apartment actually has a shoe room that you first enter as you step into the door. Easily the worst smelling room, but having a ceiling high closet with endless shelves to put my shoes has easily made me the happiest girl in the world! My only regret is not bringing more shoes….

2. You never pour your own drink. There is a Korean saying that if you pour your own drink you will not get married for 5 years. Even if you are already married, it is still customary for someone else to pour your drink.  This is a blessing and a curse all at the same time, because if your drink is empty it will ALWAYS be filled up, regardless if you want it to be.  I find you drink a lot more when you cup is constantly full, and especially when makgeolli is so sweet and delicious!

3. You always do things with two hands.  You pour a drink with two hands, you receive a drink with two hands, you give out paper with two hands, you get change from the grocery store with two hands, you receive and give almost everything with two hands. Even if you are reaching and can only reach with one hand, you place your other hand on your elbow or your shoulder. My left hand has never worked so hard in its life!

4. Bowing is a huge part of the Korean (and i think Asian) culture.  I first read that is was rude for western people to bow to Korean people but soon realized that this wasn`t exactly the case.  When someone wants to say hello, or goodbye or even thank you with respect there is always a bow.  It can be a full bend at the hips bow, or an informal bow of the head.  I find myself bowing many times a day when parents walk in and out of the school.

5.  Drinking! My favorite Korean custom! Drinking is a huge part of the culture.  To share a drink with your boss (and by “a drink“ i really mean 4 or 5) is a sign of a happy work relationship.  We learnt this on the first day of being in Ulsan, at first i was very abrehensive about drinking makgeolli in-front of David, but watching Alex (the other western teacher) and him fully enjoy many bowls i caught on quickly.  Pete now even has a open invitation to do out drinking beer with David after school.

That pretty much sums up my adventures and experiences of my first week living and working in South Korea.  As the weeks go on I feel more and more at home in Ulsan, and i cannot wait to see what else this country has to offer! One week down sooo many more to go!

How it all began

As some of you already know, I am spending the next 365 days working and living in Ulsan, South Korea!  Traveling is probably my biggest passion in life. Having been to over 17 countries, I think I have some experience under my belt, but never have I spent a full year abroad.  I will take you through some of my ups and my downs of living in an Asian country for a year and hopefully for some of my friends and family this provides them with a window into my worldly travels!

Some of you may think that this story began when Pete and I stepped on to the plane to Korea, but it began far before that. It was January 1st, 2011, wait no the 2nd… clearly the 1st we were in no state to make life altering plans. I, being the plan maker of this duo, asked repeatedly “what are your new years resolutions!” and after Pete answering “I don’t make plans” a few too many times I guess it clued in that I wasn’t going to give up any time soon.  So we made plans! Our first was to be nicer to each other, our second was not to say the “f” word (and for you potty mouths out there I don’t mean the word you are thinking of! F as in fat… we were forbidden to say “fat”)… that one lasted until dinner that night, where I proclaimed how “fat” I felt. And our last and final one was to be on three continents by the end of 2011. Me, being an avid traveler, got out my European traveling books and started mapping out dates and times and countries and so on and so forth… as Pete rolled his eyes, what had he gotten himself into?

So as the story begins, Pete and I recently graduated from University of Waterloo after which we spent a few months living in France as Pete lived out his dream of playing football overseas. Or, as I like to think about it, actually got to call him self a “professional football player”.  Isn’t that the dream of most athletes? His season was short-lived, but the friends and the experiences had will live on for years to come. We (and I say “we” because clearly, without me by his side he wouldn’t have had such a fantastic cheering section, even if I’d never watched a full football game ever before in my life) ended up making enough money to spend the last month overseas traveling around Europe. We each got to pick a country we were dying to going to.  Having always wanted to go to Greece and not making it there my first time backpacking Europe in 2006, the choice was clear.  Pete’s choice was opening week in Ibiza.  Having only 2 days to pack up our “closet” in Nancy , we quickly made plans, booked numerous train tickets, hotels, flights and ferries and managed to come out with a whopping 20 euro a day budget. We met up with my good friend Alex in the south of France, and then carried on our journey to Pisa, Rome, Athens, Santorini, Carcassonne, Barcelona, Ibiza and making our way back to Paris for one last baguette picnic under the Eiffel tower.  Two thoughts crossed my mind at this point.  The first being “don’t make me leave!!!!!” and the second being “two continents downs and one to go”.

Having jobs already lined up in Korea, the summer months flew by very quickly.  We spent the time not only with friends and family but also acquiring the “necessities” we were told to bring.  Twenty sticks of deodorant,  four pounds of TVP, spices, bed sheets, three costco size boxes of Tampons and a whole punch of Canadian paraphernalia….. we were set.

The only thing that stood between us and completing our final part to our new years resolution was a 20 hour plane ride.

Sounds simple, eh?

We made it to the airport with more than enough time to hang out, collect ourselves and say goodbye to my mom.  But, fate had a slightly different plan for us.  While checking in, two of our bags were sent into the wrong baggage system. If you are connecting in the states you’re required to take your bags through American customs and then have them checked.  Pete was rushed off past security to see if they could locate them.  Normally this only takes 10 min, but today, of all days, the entire computer system was down.  Not sure whether Pete was coming back out or not, I said my goodbyes alone, scared, and slightly unsure.  What was i doing?  Having dropped me off at that exact same airport numerous times before, my mom just smiled at me and I knew everything was going to be OK.  So I whipped away my tears, and wheeled past security.

The plane ride to California went without a hiccup.  We arrived later than scheduled, with about 40 min to make our connecting flight, which was of course on the other side of the airport. So the flight attendants made an announcement to let the people with the close connections get off first.  The people in front of us had 15 min to catch their plane to Hawaii. Slightly jealous, I found myself secretly hoping they would miss it.  Pete and I were one of the last ones to make it to the gate, but not without hearing our names paged a few times.  We were quickly rushed past and greeted by flight attendants fitted in traditional Singapore dresses.  As i sat down and scanned the menu card that was handed to me; beef, fish, Indian…. SINGAPORE SLING! This was going to be a good flight.

Twelve hours, five movies, and four Singapore slings later we made it to Seoul, South Korea. New years resolution completed with 4  months to spare!