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Part Three: Hongdae

I think Peter and I had the most fun in Hongdae. We spent every evening here! When we got off the subway and walked up the steps to the street I was like, “WOW!” So many lights, people, music playing; it was awesome! There were tons of street vendors selling cute socks and winter gear. Immediately I spotted an Etude House and had to go in (went there three times total!). Korea is known for their skincare. I think it’s interesting that in Asia they consider really white skin to be beautiful and sell whitening skin products; whereas in the West, people will do anything for a nice, golden tan.

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I passed on the whitening products but picked up loads of face masks! Thanks Peter for standing their while I took my time looking through all the beauty products!

Hongdae is the place where all the college people go to have fun. We found a few really unique bars like the Carole King Jazz Bar that was down a narrow stairway in the basement of a building. We had drinks while listening to the owner’s collection of jazz music. Hongdae seemed like the place where you could make your dreams in business come true. Anything that you might have an interest in, could be found here. We had the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in my whole life at a restaurant called Big Hit Chicken. One whole wall was dedicated to alcohol beverages from all over the world. The cool thing was that it was self-serve. So you get a basket and help yourself to the drinks, put your empty bottles in the basket, and then when you’re done take your basket to the cashier and pay.

We also found this other bar called the Chez Robert Artist’s bar on the 3rd floor of another building. It could only fit about 10 people but the vibe, music, and decor was cool. The best thing was that the owner had a cute little black and white kitten that was so much fun!

Also, in both bars I ended up with something called a “Midori SHOWER” which was pretty much a Midori sour but I think something got lost in translation.

Another great thing about Seoul are all the good street food carts. These things are so popular and very worth a try. There are a lot of different types of food, we tried the waffle stuffed with sugar. It was too good.

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Hongdae is full of shopping, as is most of Seoul, but here you can find Korean brands with items made in Korea. We went into Art Box and bought some heat packs and looked around a bit. I could have spent my whole life savings in that store. So many cute things!

I love places where there is art in everything. From the moment I stepped off of the subway exit there were people singing on the sidewalks, a group of kids performing a KPop dance routine, and tons of artwork and beautiful graffiti throughout the parks and streets of Hongdae.

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Next: How I celebrated my birthday!

 

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Part Two: Gangnam Style!

During our last trip to Boracay, PI locals would say to Peter, “Ahh Gangnam style!” We were so confused about what they meant. We found out that Gangnam is the fancy part of the city. There is a fashion district, something similar to Rodeo Drive, and tons of expensive cars. So it was a compliment, ha!

My whole Korean trip now seems to be like a dream, we did so much walking and sightseeing all while being cold. I’m pretty sure there were moments when I was near hypothermia.

The first day we had only been able to find cafés that served pastries, I wanted something a little more filling to get me through the day, so Peter found an American style diner called Travel Maker. We ate breakfast like true Americans. It was delicious!!!

I think this day was even colder than the previous. As we started walking, my sock fell off into my boot and then my boots started to go bad. In just the one day, I had walked the heels off my boots! They were now cutting into my feet and causing lots of pain. We went back to central Seoul in search of shoes at the Lotte Department store, found some, and went on about our day.

We headed to the Gangnam Tourist Center where we had just missed the tour bus. So instead we warmed up and explored the neighborhood. First stop (after tea) was Dosan Park. I can imagine during the springtime that this park is probably really beautiful, because even in the winter it was lovely.

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There were many people walking around for exercise AND there was this really cool area with gym equipment where people were working out. So, of course I had to give it a try. I wish all parks had these perks!

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I spotted a super chunky cat.

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Continued walking around the monument.

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And headed on to the next thing…

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Which was the Horim Museum.

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We walked to the Samsung building, admiring the amazing architecture along the way.

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And finally down the Rodeo Drive of Gangnam. Apparently this is where Korean movie stars come to shop; although, we didn’t see any (not that we would have recognized them) shopping in the cold!

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We stopped at a small stationary store and picked up a few Korean Christmas cards. We also went to a café called Jacob’s Ladder, which had a Christian themed menu. At the end of our Gangnam exploration, we were exhausted. We headed back to the hostel for rest.

Next Stop: Hongdae!

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Part One: It’s Seoul Cold!!!

We’ve made it home safely from my birthday trip to South Korea. Nothing could have prepared us for the cold we felt the moment we stepped outside. It has been three years since I’ve lived in the States and four since I’ve lived somewhere that gets super cold weather like Seoul. We’d bought jackets and sweaters before we left, but that still wasn’t enough. The first day of our trip was spent looking for gloves, scarves, hats, long johns and stopping for hot tea at cafés. I was stunned by the cold and the first night I was miserable. I was thinking, “Why didn’t I think of a warmer place to go for my birthday!!”

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Sinchon:

I’ve been wanting to stay at a hostel for awhile now and I’d heard that Korean hostels were sometimes as good as hotel rooms. So after some research, we decided to stay at Chocolate Tree in Sinchon. The room was spacious and the staff were very helpful, BUT the bed was terribly uncomfortable! After the first night, I got used to the springs from the mattress pushing into my ribs.

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In the evening we walked around the neighborhood and wandered into random grocery stores. Korea has GREAT snacks!! We bought tons of little treats that turned out to be delicious.

 

Next up…Gangnam!

 

 

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It’s that time of the year again, no I’m not talking about the holidays! It’s my 3rd year Guam-iversary!

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November is a special month because it marks the time when I took a leap of faith, quit my job, left Oregon, moved to Guam, shared a life with someone special, and started this little blog!

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I’m willing to celebrate anything that lets me drink on the beach while reminiscing and watching the sunset!

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Thank you for reading, commenting, saying “hi” to me in the grocery store, and supporting my blog along this great adventure :)

We’re Going to Seoul!

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I’d never given much thought to traveling to this side of the world prior to my move to Guam. When I was younger, I’d always been more interested in traveling to Europe to see family. I never would have thought that moving to Guam would mean I would get to explore Asia and the Pacific Islands. It first started with our trip to Philippines then to Japan (which has been one of the best trips of my life!) and soon Seoul, South Korea!

We crunched the numbers, found good deals on flights and places to stay, and decided to just do it. Although most things in Guam are pricey, flying to Asia has been way more affordable and obtainable in Guam than if we were back in Oregon. We have tried to take advantage of that opportunity. So what better way to celebrate my 30th birthday (O.M.G. I can’t believe it) than with a trip to somewhere neither of us have been, South Korea! It’s been more than a year since we’ve been off island so we are really looking forward to this trip! Very excited to add another country to the list :)

If you’d like to suggest anything I should do/places to eat while there, please feel free to leave a comment thanks!

 

 

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There have been only a handful of times that I ever questioned my decision about moving to Guam. One of those times was the evening that I arrived on island. As the taxi pulled out of the airport and onto the road toward my new home of Tumon I noticed that most of the island was dark. I asked Peter where the city center/downtown was and he responded, “I don’t think there is one but I guess Tumon.” I looked out toward the bay, darkness, and in that moment I realized just how small Guam is.

People often ask me where the best place is to live in Guam. I have no idea. For the last three years, I’ve lived happily in Tumon. It was important that I live somewhere that was pedestrian friendly and near the beach, since I didn’t have a car. What’s the point of living on an island if I can’t walk to the beach! Although it is a little pricier than other villages, it can be done affordably. We chose to live a different lifestyle than the one we led in the states. We don’t want a car or smartphones (shock!), we rent furnished places, and try to live as minimalistic as possible. Even though we’ve lived on Guam for a few years now, we try to have fun and live like we might leave tomorrow; enjoying everything we possibly can.

If apartment hunting in Tumon, make sure that you aren’t fooled by the location of “upper Tumon.” People like to advertise as upper Tumon to charge more and make their place more appealing but, there isn’t an upper Tumon, there is just Tumon. If you can’t easily and quickly walk to the beach or you have to cross Marine Corps Drive to get to the beach, you’re not in Tumon. I consider Tumon to be From the Hilton Hotel all the way down San Vitores to Gun Beach/Fai Fai Beach and a little bit up the hill toward Tagada.

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Why I <3 Tumon

  • Although I’m curious about life in other villages, I love Tumon because I feel like I’m on vacation. That’s partly due to all the tourists running around and having fun.
  • There’s always some form of entertainment available; whether it’s the beach, bars, coffee shops, dancing, restaurants, aquarium, parks, live bands, shopping; the list goes on and on.
  • Every hotel has different restaurants, bars, and cafes that are really good.
  • Driving down the hill after a long day at work and seeing the sparkling ocean is just another perk of living in Tumon.
  • And OH MY GOODNESS, cloudy or clear, the sunsets are ALWAYS amazing.

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  • There are so many fun and free things to do in Guam, especially Tumon, that we don’t have to spend a lot of money on entertainment if we don’t want to.
  • Any kind of food you want at all price ranges, you’ll find it in Tumon.
  • There are sidewalks up and down the main road that’s great for running or walking.
  • During my morning walk, I usually pass a foreign couple getting married at one of the many chapels that line the beach. I see them so often that I’ve noticed their weddings are all the same, but I’m sure to them it is a unique and memorable experience. Who wouldn’t want to get married in a chapel made of glass overlooking the ocean?

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  • Beach access is just a few minutes away…can’t beat that.
  • Tumon is the best place to live if you want to be in the center of all the activity and fun. There are festivals throughout the year at Ypao Beach Park and in the Pleasure Island district.

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  • It’s pretty safe and doesn’t take long for police officers to come when needed.
  • Most places have generators in case of power outages (which happen frequently).
  • Sometimes I stop to watch a fisherman throw his net to catch the really small fish near the shore. The beach is a great place for people watching.

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Things I Don’t <3

I wish though, that Tumon was either pedestrians only or that the weekends were, because the cars drive WAY too fast, don’t respect people walking or crossing the street, and tear up the road. During rush hour it’s really hard to get out of Tumon because of all the cars driving through trying to avoid the busy roads.

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As much as I think tourists make Guam a better place, living in Tumon has made me appreciate the towns and cities that aren’t tourist attractions. It is definitely more expensive, crowded, and fast-paced and I can see why someone might choose a different village. Although generally the tourists are fun and friendly, they seem fascinated with Peter’s and my hair. I didn’t think my hair was out-of-the-ordinary and at first I didn’t mind when they’d point at me and squeal, “kawaii, kawaii!!” and sometimes they’d ask to take pictures with me. Then one day my family and I were having a picnic when a tourist came over and pointed to Peter’s hair and then to her camera. I suddenly felt really offended like, “We’re not part of your vacation package nor are we animals in a zoo!!” I kindly said no and from that point on I decided not to let people take pictures of us anymore and to be more mindful of things that I might do when visiting foreign countries. If you can afford to visit Guam, then you probably have a T.V./internet where you can see people with curly hair.

The beaches are gorgeous, with white sand and blue water. Unfortunately there are so many hotels that have monopolized the shores, filling them with large water toys and beach chairs under umbrellas, that it’s hard to find a nice shady place to set up your own beach towel and swim.

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And of course after a busy weekend of BBQ’s there’s the garbage problem.

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There is more good to Tumon than bad and living here has allowed me to lead a completely different lifestyle than I could have in Oregon. I feel like a beach bum half of the time! I truly am lucky to have such a wonderful life, to have had many of my dreams come true, and to be able to experience life on an island. I’m glad that we chose to live this way. I feel so free and never tied down by having too much stuff. It is a great feeling and on top of that I can’t complain about the beauty that I get to see everyday by living in Tumon.

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“Thanks for Nothing…”

If you live in Guam you’ve probably been bombarded by political signs along every road, blocking your view and getting in your way over the last few months. If you’ve tried to watch a Youtube video or visit a website, you’ve most likely come across an ad for Eddie Calvo, the current governor of Guam. So it was to my surprise when the video below, showing a different yet enlightening point-of-view played. What do you think?

(The Truth About Calvo)

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Japanese Memorial, Park Life, and Pig Trails!

Hey everyone, hope you’re all having a great month! Just wanted to share some of my recent explorations in Guam. Starting with the South Pacific Japanese Memorial Park in Yigo. This shrine is in one of the buildings on the main part of the park.

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I’ve been here before but this time I wanted to see the Japanese caves. I took the stairs, which are covered by tree branches, down to the trail that leads to the caves. The trail also leads to a water well, that the Japanese soldiers built to collect water while living in the caves, and then out to the main area of the park.

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Below, shows the area where a Japanese general took his own life during WWII.

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Down in the lower part of the park where the Japanese caves are, we were surrounded by bamboo forests. They make a squeaking noise when the breeze moves them, it is a little eerie at times but so peaceful.

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On sunny days we go to the park! Sometimes when we don’t have time to go for a hike or leave Tumon, you can find me sitting at Ypao Beach Park in Tumon. I love reading, people watching, and feeling the sun on my skin.  Just enjoying my life. Occasionally there are people at this park making boats, like the one in the photo below.

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Finally, what started as a hike to explore more Japanese caves on Nimitz Hill ended with a swarm of mosquitoes attacking us. We hopped on the bike and drove off and around the corner to the trail that goes to Fonte Dam. We followed the trail all the way down until we couldn’t take the bike any further. Because it has been raining on-and-off these past few weeks, the trail was muddy.

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From there we hopped off and walked around a bit. There was this random bridge over a stream that allowed us to walk up some more. It was a pretty hot day so we just sat down, drank some water, and ate the snacks I packed.

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Of course I found LOTS of pig trails, and some dog prints too, that led to a muddy pool of water; I’m sure the pigs like to cool off in that puddle. Although, I would be terrified if I ever ran into a wild boar on a hike, I am always curious about them.

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Some of my best days in Guam have been exploring places where people don’t usually go. We have found a lot of wartime structures on random walks in the jungle. It’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle in Tumon and see a different side of the island that not many people get to see.

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My Happy Place

After this last trip to Ritidian and the outdoor hikes I’ve done since then, I think I’ll be staying out of the sun for awhile and give my skin a break. I love going to Ritidian for hiking, swimming, and relaxing under the trees. I always feel refreshed after beach days, especially after days at Ritidian. It’s so quiet, I could walk on the sandy beach for a mile without realizing it, and when it gets too hot I like to wade in the water. I love chasing birds, looking at the shells and rocks that wash up on the shore, and staring into the sky. It’s always beautiful here, that terrible drive is actually worth it! This beach has a special place in my heart.