Si Yu’us Ma’ase’, Guam

“The only way I’ll leave Guam is if you make me, but I’ll be kicking and screaming the whole way!”

Well, it happened. As you read this, I am somewhere in the Midwest starting a new life with Peter. It may come as a shock to you, it was surely a big shock to me too. The day we left for our South Korean vacation, Peter received a job offer that would mean we’d have to leave Guam. During our trip, we got a taste for what the weather would be like for us in the future. I hated it.

“Umm I don’t think I want to move anymore.” Peter replied, “I thought you wanted to be closer to your family. If we don’t like it, we can always come back to Guam.”

Since our last (and only) trip home, we’d been thinking about moving closer to our family. Throughout the last two years I’d gone from being extremely homesick and ready for something more, to feeling like I could just give up my old life and stay in Guam forever. This truly is a bitter sweet moment for me, as I am incredibly sad to be leaving Guam, I am excited about Peter’s new job opportunity and what is to come for us in our new home. I’m not sure if I will return to Guam, but I hope I do.

I am terrified. I don’t think I am the same person I was before my big move to Guam. I wonder if I still have anything in common with the friends I left behind and if people will accept me as they have in Guam. I don’t know if I’ll be able to assimilate back into life as a Statesider and I don’t know if I want to. I love who I’ve become, an island girl.

The past month has gone by in a flash and upon my return from South Korea, I had just a couple of weeks to pack three years of my life into a few boxes. It’s not so easy for me to throw things away. I have a memory attached to almost everything, and I like that. I’m starting a completely new life in a place I’ve never been and so, I’ve had to make some hard decisions about what deserves to be in that life.

I have felt so many emotions including something that feels like heartbreak. I’m not sure when it happened, it kind of just snuck up on me, but I fell in love with Guam. It is so unique and has been full of lovely surprises, so it breaks my heart to say goodbye. I will miss the sun, beaches, flowers and my laid back lifestyle. But most of all, the warmth from the people. I don’t think there is any other place in the U.S. where the quality of life is so good, where so many different people can come together and live harmoniously, as I’ve seen while living in Guam. The island spirit is something that I just can’t describe, especially in Guam, you have to live it to really understand it.

I’ve been blessed to live this life and, thankfully, I’ve documented it over the last three years on this blog. So whenever I’m really cold, homesick for Guam, or need a reminder of the good things in life, I can come back here to read my posts and all the positive comments from my readers.

Thank you Guam for giving me this experience. Thank you to everyone who has supported my blog and to all the people I’ve met because of it. I love you!


Buying & Selling at the Dededo Flea Market

If we ever get up early on Sunday, our favorite place to go for some breakfast is the Dededo Flea Market. Vendors set up shop early in the morning to sell their fresh produce, fish, hot food, clothes, souvenirs and lots of other things. I love the smoothies, sticky rice balls, BBQ chicken, and looking at all the plants. Over the last couple of years it has grown a lot. More and more people have utilized the space to sell their own belongings, so it’s a great place to go to find a good deal on second hand items.

One weekend Peter and I also decided to sell some of our things at the market. We got up early on a Sunday morning, before sunrise, and headed up to Dededo. All of the spaces in the main area were already taken by people who sell every weekend. We stopped at the entrance where the lady took our $8 and guided us to one of the open parking spaces to the right. As we parked, glancing in our rearview mirror, we could see a crowd gathering. I thought maybe they were going to tell us not to park there, but when we hopped out of the truck they pulled out their flashlights and started looking at our things packed into the truck. Suddenly, in a frenzy, people started pulling things out and asking to buy them. It was crazy! An hour later, we were left with about one box and had made more money than we thought. We stayed for a few more hours to sell what was left. At 9am, we were hungry and had almost nothing left so we packed it up and left.


Perhaps our success was due to the payday weekend or maybe because we were newbies, whatever the reason, it was a good experience and a lot of fun!




Creepy Creatures of Guam: Eel

Ugh I feel grossed out already!!! I’ve never been a fan of eels, maybe due to The Little Mermaid, but they creep me out so much! Previously, I’d only seen them in aquariums and I’d be thankful that I never had to see them in real life. Until now. One day I was at Oka Viewpoint just looking out over the sea and I saw some colorful fish swimming in the coral below me. And then I saw it. An eel!!!!! I screamed and busted out my camera! I know that they are mostly harmless and blind, but that doesn’t mean that I’d want to be near one. This is why I refuse to go diving. I know, super lame, but I am terrified!! Without diving I’ve seen dolphins, eels, a shark, a manta rey, and lots of other fish. So I’m okay with that.



Beware of the Guam Massage Parlor

The day after I arrived on Guam, Peter had to go to work so I was on my own. Before he set me loose on the streets of Tumon he said, “Oh yea stay away from the massage parlors!”


They’re the places with the Christmas lights on all year long, usually open 24/7, and in the evening there are ladies that sit outside. They’re hard to miss. During our evening walks in Tumon we see non-local men walking past one of the lit up massage parlors. A lady in lingerie usually pops out of the dark building and calls out, “massage!” to the male passerby’s.


I guess it’s surprising to me that 1. there are so many of them on such an incredibly small island and 2. it is so obvious what they do. Maybe I lived a sheltered life in Oregon, but I’d never seen anything like that. Sadly, I’ve become used to them and I don’t even notice anymore. It’s hard to differentiate between the legitimate massage/spas and these ones, I guess I’m lucky that I hate massages so I don’t have to worry. I do wish there weren’t so many in Tumon because they make the village look trashy, but they must be making money because they have prime real estate along San Vitores Road.

Dear massage ladies, at least stay inside when wearing lingerie and leave the Christmas lights for Christmas!

Creepy Creatures: Monitor Lizard

How could I NOT do a post about the monitor lizards in Guam! I first saw one while on the River Boat Cruise sitting up in a tree catching some rays. I wasn’t too creeped out by it either! The next time time I saw two laying out in the sun on the road to Marbo Cave. These ones were about double the size of the first one I saw and they had bright yellow dots all over. At first I thought they were dead because they weren’t moving, then suddenly they lifted their legs and walked into the jungle. I was so creeped out, they look so much like alligators!

Then on a walk down the steps at Oka viewpoint I heard something big jump into the bushes and Peter, who was ahead of me, said it was a huge monitor lizard that was about 5 feet long from nose to tail!!! It’s a good thing I didn’t see that one!! The one in the photos is from Chamorro Village where they have it sitting out for people to pet. For a small donation Peter held the creature, while I took a few photos while saying “Gross!” That’s probably really rude of me. I did have the courage to touch it though, just once. The claws are pretty intimidating and the tail means serious business. These are harmless creatures, but I’m pretty sure they would eat me if they wanted to.


Holidays in Guam

It goes without saying that, if you’re not from Guam, Christmas just isn’t the same. December is the beginning of dry season and has some of the most beautiful, sunny days. So, it’s hard to get into the spirit of the holidays. Each Christmas I’ve spent in Guam has been very untraditional for me. My usual Christmas, at home in Oregon, consisted of family and food. In Guam, we’ve spent the holidays hiking, BBQing at the beach, swimming, and this year eating at a buffet and visiting the aquarium. We try to make it fun, even though it’s not a traditional way to celebrate the holidays.

On Christmas Eve we drove to Agana where the governor’s house was decorated with Christmas lights. We were allowed to walk throughout the property. It was beautiful!

Because there are so many tourists and military people away from their families, nearly everything remains open so it’s easy to find some way to celebrate. Most of the hotels hold holiday buffets and we chose to go to Sea Grill. Our favorite duo, Jesse & Ruby, were the entertainment. We also got discounted tickets to the aquarium and won a gift certificate to eat at Sea Grill again! This Christmas, it rained throughout the day and wasn’t very nice-looking outside, so the aquarium was the perfect place to go.

After that we went home, watched some Christmas movies and fell asleep after all the eating we had done. When we woke up, we watched The Hobbit at the theater.

Hope you all had a nice holiday!


Goodbye Seoul!

Although we were stunned by the cold and had planned way too many activities, more than we could accomplish, we tried to make the most of our vacation!

Throughout our stay we used Seoul’s subway system. Prior to our trip we mapped out the places we wanted to go and which lines we needed to take. I was still a little nervous about using the ticketing machines, but when we arrived I realized that all of the machines had an English option. Unlike our Japan trip, Korea’s subway system was so much easier and a pleasant experience.


On our last day, we decided we needed to cut some of our plans and just do what we could. We woke up late, grabbed some breakfast at Joy Café in Sinchon, and hopped on the train to Gyeongbokgung Palace. We arrived just in time for the English tour to start. This palace was incredible, even more than Deoksugung. Despite being in the middle of winter, the beauty of the palace grounds remained. We walked with the tour group to the King’s quarters, to his Queen’s room, to the pavilion, concubine quarters, and tons of other small buildings. I love the architecture, trees, and pond. We learned about the meaning of the dragon to Koreans and the importance of the Yin and Yang.

From here we walked to the neighborhood of Insadong. We heard that we could pick up souvenirs, but we ended up also getting tons of snacks for ourselves! We tried the street food, soju, and walked around aimlessly. There are tons of art galleries here, too! Korean street food is a must! Peter and I shared a long, spiraled fried potato stick. Peter tried the corn dog with french fries fried into the corn bread. It was all delicious and an experience not to miss. I wish we had more time to explore all the little side streets. It’s a lot calmer and aimed more towards tourists than Hongdae.

Speaking of Hongdae, we headed back there for our last night in Seoul. One of my favorite things about Seoul are the coffee shops. There are many regular coffee shops, but my favorites were the themed cafés like the Hello Kitty Café, the Cat Café, and Mustoy Café. We spent the evening at Mustoy Café painting figurines, listening to calm music, and drinking orange juice. It was the perfect way to end our busy but wonderful trip to Seoul, South Korea <3



Part Four: Birthday in Seoul!

If ever you feel sad about aging, just plan a really cool trip that will make you forget all about it! I turned the big 3-0 in Seoul this year and, up until my trip, I was a little sad. I was feeling very nostalgic and at a loss. Now that my birthday in Korea has come and gone I feel very happy and have nothing but good memories. What a great way to start a new decade!

On my birthday I decided that I wanted to catch the Seoul City Bus tour since we had been walking a lot. For about 24,000 won, which is around $20, Peter and I hopped on the bus tour. It was nice to be out of the cold for a little while.

First stop:

Deoksugung Palace

In the middle of the city lies Deoksugung Palace. We made it just in time to watch the changing of the guards.  As we entered the park, Peter spotted the gift shop where we rested and had some hot cocoa before exploring all the different buildings.




We walked around the palace looking at all the beauty. We passed a gorgeous pond and fountain, though both were frozen, they were still pretty.

Yongsan – I Park Mall

We stopped at the I Park mall to grab a snack and buy some more winter clothes at UniQlo then caught the next bus.

Namsangol Hanok Village

By the time we arrived at this traditional Korean village, I was so sick from the bus ride. Driving in Korea is an experience all on its own. The blast of cold air was welcomed and made me feel a lot better.

We walked up a narrow street to the entrance of this village where we saw the restored homes.


This photo shows traditional shoes warn by Koreans. There is usually someone making these shoes but I think we had arrived too late and missed the show.



What I found most interesting were the fireplaces underneath the rooms. They were used to heat the floors and warm the room. Our hostel had heated floors; although, they weren’t heated by a fireplace.


The village and frozen pond were lovely!


From here we could see the N Seoul Tower, our next stop.

N Seoul Tower

The last stop on the bus tour for us was the N Seoul Tower. We made it just in time for sunset and a view of the whole city. It was amazing!


We had a short hike from where the bus dropped us off and then a quick elevator ride up to the observation deck.


There were TONS of people here. It was nice to see the city lights and read how far and in what direction different countries, cities, and continents are from the tower. We spent a couple of hours here and then back down to leave our lock of love on the Christmas tree.


Again, we ended another night in Hongdae. We found this cat café near Etude House. I was SO excited! This was on my list of things I MUST do while in Seoul.


We took our shoes off, ordered a drink, and read the kitty rules!DSCN8017

I haven’t pet a cat in awhile and was so happy to finally get the chance. There were so many cute cats I didn’t know where to begin. I sat down on the ground and watched as the cats went about their business, which consisted of sleeping near the heater. Peter started to pet a cat when it attacked him! It was so funny and sort of sad. I guess if I were a cat in a room full of cats and people, I’d be grumpy too. I got attacked by another cat who was trying to get away from this kid who kept poking him. So I decided to just watch them and that was good enough for me!


Next up: Goodbye Seoul!


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.


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.


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.



Next: How I celebrated my birthday!



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.


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!


I spotted a super chunky cat.


Continued walking around the monument.

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And headed on to the next thing…


Which was the Horim Museum.


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!


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!