Friday, October 28, 2011

Fireworks and fall leaves

Every year the Seoul International Fireworks Festival takes place in Yeouido Park along the Han River in Seoul. I really love fireworks so I decided to go. I was told it gets ridiculously crowded so to try and get there as early as possible. Cortney and I got there about 2 hours before the fireworks started to pick out a spot along the river.

It turns out there were over a million people who came to see the fireworks. As it got closer to the start of the show there were literally people covering the park. Everyone brought these little silver square mats to sit on that looked like they were made out of tin foil, alone with their picnic dinners. All of the Koreans were “ooo-ing and ahh-ing” as the 3 countries, Korea, Japan and Poland, all put on their own fireworks shows. Each show lasted about 45 minutes displaying unique sets of fireworks with words and designs. I was especially impressed with the Hello Kitty fireworks!

The leaves are starting to look really beautiful now, so Cortney, our friend, Mitch and I took a trip to Namsan Tower. I'd been to Namsan Tower before, but it was definitely worth a second look.

Seoul from Namsan Tower

Gyeyang Mountain

It’s been a while because I’m finding myself quite busy lately. I have been doing some hiking and I think some of it is worth mentioning. Now that the weather is absolutely beautiful more and more people are outside. Hiking is one of Korean’s favorite pastimes so it’s quite a common occurrence to see a jam packed mountain on any given weekend, pretty much rain or shine. I met some new friends who live in Incheon and met them to hike Gyeyang Mountain on a beautiful fall day. We met at the subway stop closest to the mountain and just followed the mass of Koreans, decked out in their hiking gear, up the hill.
Mike, Jen and Nina at the start of the hike.

We got beautiful views of all the surrounding areas before heading back down the mountain to enjoy some makoli and pajeon, traditional rice wine and vegetable like pancakes, with a nice and funny Korean family.
amazing views

typical for me to be upside down

I even convinced Mike that handstands on mountain tops are a good idea!

It took us many attempts to capture a picture with the three of us actually jumping, but we finally got it!

We made it to the top!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

When we got back to Kuala Lumpur we checked back into our hostel and then explored more around Kuala Lumpur. We went to the Petronas Towers, which are the 3 tallest buildings in the world. They were the tallest buildings in the world until 2004 when the Taipei 101 building surpassed them. However, they still remain the tallest twin buildings in the world. Andi and I did some shopping in China Town and Central Market before we met back up with Aaron and Andrew for a delicious dinner of Laksa.

The next day we did some more exploring and shopping before we caught our late night flight back to Seoul. I experienced Dr. Fish for the first time. Letting thousands of tiny fish eat the dead skin off my feet. It was super weird at first and tickled so badly, but it was a cool experience! Until next time Southeast Asia!

China Town

Central Market


Pangkor, Malaysia

Malaysia: down- 1 camera to the depths of the Indian Ocean, up- about a million mosquito bites and a weird rash. Ha. Despite the mishaps, however, it was an overall good trip. (Oh, and don’t worry the rash wasn’t anything a little Korean hydrocortisone couldn’t clear up.)

We had an early flight on Saturday morning before our long Chuseok weekend. Chuseok is Korea’s version of Thanksgiving where they feast for 3 days. We had 2 days off of work for a total of 5 days in Malaysia. Incheon Airport in Korea, which I’m voting as best airport in the world (from my experience), has a jimjilbang in the basement level. A jimjilbang is a Korean bath house and public sauna. While most of Korea is very conservative they certainly let it all hang out in the jimjilbangs. (Pun intended) It was actually a very relaxing and clean-feeling experience. They give you fresh clothes to wear after you use the community showers, hot tub, cold tub, warm tub, wet sauna and dry sauna. Then you sleep on mats on the floor in a common area. This was nice and convenient for us to catch our early morning flight considering it was Chuseok and the airport was completely packed when we got upstairs.

We made it through immigration, caught our flight just in time and made it to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! Things are even cheaper in Malaysia than they are in Korea, so we took a taxi about an hour to our hostel. We arrived at the Reggae Mansion Hostel, which I was pleasantly surprised at how nice and clean it was and would recommend it to anyone! We did a little exploring of Kuala Lumpur and got our bus ticket for the next day since we were planning on leaving for Pangkor Island early in the morning. Pretty much everyone in Malaysia seems to speak English so we didn’t have a difficult time navigating our way around or searching for what we needed.

The next morning we took a long bus ride to Lumet, Malaysia where we took a short ferry ride over to Pangkor Island. We got some lunch and immediately went to the beach. We enjoyed the warm water and decided to take a banana boat ride, which is where my poor camera jumped to it’s death. We then grabbed some dinner beach side and started up a game of cards to finish off the night.

Monkies all over the island

Our hang out: Daddy's Cafe

The next day we took some motor bikes for a ride around the island in the morning and then hit up the beach again in the afternoon. We ate dinner at a local family owned restaurant on the island for dinner and then took the ferry and the bus back to Kuala Lumpur in the morning.

Delicious fresh fruit juices!

Hornbill birds

riding the motor bikes