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FOOD

Three months ’til I’m home… And I’ve already started thinking about all the delicious things I’m going to eat when I get there. (Hopefully not all at once!) Food is one of the things I miss most about the great country of America. So here’s a list I made on a flight from Korea to China a few weeks ago, after I ate an exceptionally bad airplane meal…

Vanilla bean ice cream with fresh raspberries on top. (The ice cream has to be Breyer’s and the raspberries have to be from the bushes around my mom’s house, not from the store.)

My mom’s lasagna. (Lasagna noodles cost $10 here!)

no, that’s not actually my mom’s lasagna… but close enough!

Basmati rice and fresh veggies from my mom’s garden. (You would think I eat tons of rice in Asia, but I don’t. It’s sticky rice. Yuck. I like my rice plain with butter. The only pics I could find on Google Images had the rice and veggies mixed. No! The veggies go on the side people…)

Key lime pie. (The most delicious dessert ever! Oh how I miss it.)

Good beer! (Anything from a local Asheville brewer.)

Goat cheese. (I like to make bruschetta with olive oil and garlic. They do have goat cheese at the foreign food store in Itaewon, but it’s like $12… I bought it once.)

And then there are the restaurant meals…

The Purple Onion: Black beans and chipotles layered with cheddar, sour cream, and salsa served with tortilla chips

Green River BBQ: Pulled pork with baked potato salad, fried okra, and macaroni and cheese

Chili’s: Chips and salsa and loaded baked potato soup

Olive Garden: Zuppa toscana, salad, and breadsticks

Any Mexican restaurant: Queso and other deliciousness

O’Charley’s: Spicy jack cheese wedges

Arby’s: Arby’s Melt with curly fries

Wendy’s: Frosty (the only chocolate thing I really love)

Urban Burrito (or any other burrito barn for that matter): A big fat chicken burrito

this one’s from Chipotle

Did you gain 10 pounds just from reading this?? 🙂

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11 Questions

More randomness found in the blogosphere in an attempt to cure my boredom…

1. What is your favorite song/artist?

I don’t really have one. I know that’s weird, but I’ve never really been into music. I like(d) to listen to it in my car, and on my iPod when I’m going on a walk, but I just listen to random crap. I did recently buy my first concert ticket in YEARS… Lady Gaga! It better be awesome.

2. If you could eat one thing/type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

If you had asked me a year or two ago I would have said Mexican. But since moving to Korea, it’s Indian (if you thought I was going to say Korean food then you’d be dead wrong). I love samosas, naan, and curries… Mmmmmmmmmmmm. This is the last Indian food I ate (two weeks ago in Bangkok):

3. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up, and what are you now?

I really don’t remember. Probably a teacher. And I know now that’s definitely not for me! I’ve also wanted to be an FBI agent, travel writer, and wedding planner. Now I am a student and will hopefully be a librarian in two years!

4. What’s your favorite movie?

Tie between American Psycho (love Christian Bale) and Requiem for a Dream (love the music… which now I have to listen to). Speaking of which, here’s a really awesome/horribly disturbing Kenny Powers quote from the last episode of Eastbound & Down: “I feel like my life has become Requiem for a Dream, and I have front row tickets to the ass-to-ass scene.”

5. What is your favorite place to shop?

Old Navy and Target!

6. What are five things you never leave the house without?

Cell phone, camera, wallet, hairbrush, and mirror.

7. How many kids do you want and do you already have their names picked out?

Not sure… Maybe zero. Or one. I would like a girl but I only have a boy name picked out: Finnegan Teller. Don’t make fun of it. For a girl, I like Harper, Riley, Jane, Lucy, Emerson, and Ellis.

8. What is your favorite TV addition?

SONS OF ANARCHY!!

9. What is the longest road trip you’ve ever taken?

For my mom’s 50th birthday, she drove from NC to where I lived in TX and then we drove through northern NM to AZ (the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Tucson). Then we drove back through southern NM and TX (Balmorhea). Read all about it here.

10. What is your favorite book?

Probably Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. It was pretty amazing. But yesterday I finished a really awesome book called The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I cried and laughed out loud several times in Starbucks.

11. What is your favorite day of the week?

Well now that I’m unemployed, they all kind of run together… I guess Friday. I have to leave the apartment for a few hours in the afternoon while our house is cleaned, so I usually go to a movie and then come home to a spotless apartment. It’s nice.

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These are a few of my favorite things…

Really bored. I’m sick of doing schoolwork and watching TV and I don’t want to go outside because it’s so dusty and makes me sick. Stumbled across this survey in the blogosphere…

Favorite Color?

Pink and green! Always. I love the preppy combo.

Favorite Number?

83. It all goes back to second grade. Two boys had to pick a number and the teacher told me the number before they guessed. Don’t know why that has stuck with me all these years!

Favorite (Non-Alcoholic) Drink?

Lemonade!! Especially the “Simply Lemonade” brand. Limeade and pink lemonade too. Classic Coca-Cola is a close second.

Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook all the way. I signed up for a Twitter account long ago but I’ve never used it.

My Passion?

Traveling!! I have seen a lot of Asia and Europe and will have visited 35 countries by the time I turn 30 (in August). I still really want to go to South America, Africa, Australia, and India… And many other places!

Bali, my favorite place in the world… So far! 🙂

Favorite Animal?

That’s a hard one. Not monkeys! I now have a fear of them. I used to like pandas when I was a kid (and am excited to see them at the Beijing Zoo in June!). I guess I’ll say cats, since I have a very quirky one. Bella is sleeping in a guitar case as I type this.

Getting or Giving Presents?

I really, really enjoy giving presents. If I know the person well I like to find that special something that I think they will love. But who doesn’t like to receive?

Favorite Flower?

Pink gerbera daisies!

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Oh, How Pinteresting!

This week, on Pinterest…

1. Baby shower planning! Just found out that my stepsister Ruth and her boyfriend Michael are expecting! So I’ll definitely be throwing her shower. 🙂 Theme ideas: Lil’ Pumpkin (the shower will be in October), brunch, Stork Express Airlines…

2. I also started thinking about theme ideas for my 30th birthday party! And Daniel’s. For me: Flirty 30 (cocktails and cupcakes), 80s, or Roaring 20s. For him: beer tasting or Dirty 30. Wouldn’t this cake be perfect for an 80s themed party? I love it!!

3. Another random party idea: A Favorite Things Party! The premise behind the party is for each guest to bring five of her favorite “can’t live without” items to share with the other guests. When the guests arrive at the party, they write their names on five slips of paper and then pick five other names out of the bowl. One by one they will show the group their favorite items, and then each of the names they pulled will get to take one item home!

4. Blue and orange! I saw these blue and orange dishes at E-Mart the other day that I fell in love with. I would seriously consider buying them and shipping them home if I thought they wouldn’t break. Also love this blue and orange outfit:

5. A DIY jewelry idea: Make a charm bracelet from coins I have collected from other countries. What a cool souvenir!

6. The perfect tote bag for a future librarian like myself:

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Weekly Update

Haven’t posted a regular old update in awhile, since I’ve been traveling for most of March… First to Busan and then to Cambodia and Thailand. I only have two months left in Korea now! I need to plan some stuff to do because I don’t leave my apartment that often nowadays… I am going to Jindo for the sea-parting festival and got tickets for the Lady Gaga concert (she’s kicking off “The Born This Way Ball” world tour in Seoul!).

I’m getting so excited about our big trip and returning home to America! We’ll be back home just in time for the 4th of July and Coon Dog Day. I definitely want to go visit my dad in July and hopefully Wyatt and Callie can come back to NC with us for a few weeks. More recent travel plans: Daniel and I are thinking of going to Niagara Falls after Karen’s wedding in Detroit and Tessa, Kathryn, Adrienne, and I are taking a Caribbean cruise over Labor Day weekend for our 30th birthdays.

The Walking Dead season finale was pretty awesome and season three should get pretty crazy (Daniel even agreed to start watching it again). Of course, the two episodes before the finale were even better, with the deaths of Dale and Shane. Mad Men returns tonight and Daniel is super excited. I started watching Hung while on vacation. I’m on the final (third) season now… It’s not the best ever but entertaining enough to finish the series. Also I can’t believe they killed Mike off on Desperate Housewives! I cried at his funeral. 😦

I went to see The Vow and it was just OK… I thought for sure I would shed some tears but no. Channing Tatum was still hot though. I saw This Means War before that and it was highly entertaining, which was surprising since I didn’t think it would be that good! (Me and my silly expectations.) But I love Reese Witherspoon and both guys in the movie were super hot. Also watched The Rum Diary (OK) and Midnight in Paris (weird) on vacation. The Hunger Games will be here April 5th!

Last night we went to Jinhee and Philip’s house for dinner. Man, what a feast! Spaghetti, Gorgonzola pizza, bulgogi, four kinds of fruit, Oreo cheesecake (which I brought), and waffles! We also played Rummikub, which I had never played before, and it was really fun! Then Daniel and I had a spontaneous night out with friends at Mad Dogs and Traveler’s.

seth and daniel at the mandu stand

Hope to get back to the grind tomorrow. All these vacations have really thrown me off schedule. I need to get back on my WW diet, start walking, and stop procrastinating with schoolwork! Wish me luck. 🙂

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Kanchanaburi, Thailand

For my last two days in Thailand, I had booked an overnight tour to Kanchanaburi called River Kwai Delight. It cost 4700 baht with a 700 single supplement surcharge ($180) which included transportation from and back to my hotel in Bangkok, an overnight stay at The River Kwai Jungle Rafts (coolest hotel ever), four meals, a visit to the Mon Village near the hotel, a Mon performance at the hotel, a ride on the “Death Railway”, and trips to the Bridge on the River Kwai, Thailand–Burma Railway Center, Allied War Cemetery, and Hellfire Pass Memorial and Museum. Whew!

On Sunday, I was picked up at 6:30am (it was supposed to be 6am but they were late) and we arrived in Kanchanaburi around 9am. We were given the option to take a boat to the Bridge on the River Kwai for an extra fee but I chose to just take the bus. The Bridge on the River Kwai is famous mostly because of a movie with the same name but the real bridge is one of the main engineering feats of the Death Railway that the Japanese forced POWs to build during WW2.

Next we visited the Thailand–Burma Railway Center, which is an interactive museum about the Death Railway. It was pretty interesting and I learned so much I didn’t know about WW2. (Then again, I don’t know much about history to begin with.)

Next door was the Allied War Cemetery, where Australian, Dutch, and British POWs were buried.

After that, we piled back in the bus to drive another hour to get on a boat, where we took a 40 minute ride up the river to The River Kwai Jungle Rafts. I loved this hotel!! All of the rooms, the lobby, the dining room, everything was floating on the river! Each raft had a sundeck with lounge chairs and a porch with hammocks and every room had a personal balcony in the back with a hammock. Twice during my stay the three elephants who live in the nearby Mon village would come down and bathe in the river right behind my room! The most fun part was swimming in the river. Strap on a life jacket, jump in at the first raft, and then float down. Just make sure you get out before the last raft!! After lunch, we had the afternoon to relax. I could see how it could get boring staying there for an extended amount of time, as there is no electricity! So no TV, internet, etc. The darkness of the room did get annoying at times (I put my clothes on inside-out twice!) and the bathroom was a little stinky. But for one night it was wonderful! All the oil lamps lighting up the rafts at night were beautiful.

Later in the afternoon we visited the Mon village up the hill near the hotel, but I wasn’t too impressed. It was pretty boring and I would have rather spent more time swimming or relaxing. Also that night after dinner we watched a Mon performance. The children were very cute and the highlight of the show but the singing of the older women sounded more like wailing and was painful to my ears!

The next morning we visited the Hellfire Pass Memorial. In addition to visiting the museum, we also walked along a trail to the actual “Hellfire Pass”, which was the most difficult section to build on the entire railway and where many POWs died. It got its nickname due to the mixture of hammering noise and lighting from fires and torches at night that created an eerie illumination which looked like the “fires from hell”.

After lunch we took a ride on the Death Railway. It was 40 minutes in a train car with no air conditioning so I was pretty sweaty when it was over! But I enjoyed watching the river and jungle scenery go by.

Overall I would recommend this trip, but it might help if you’re a WW2 history buff. I’m certainly not, and wished the trip had included some other day trips instead, maybe to a waterfall or tiger temple. I will credit the company’s organization; they were pros every step of the way.

Word to the wise: Bring mosquito spray! And wear lots of it! I am covered in bites.

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Bangkok, Thailand

Welcome to Bangkok! Upon arrival to Suvarnabhumi Airport, I could not find the Airport Express Bus service mentioned in both my Lonely Planet book and online. Turns out it was discontinued in June 2011! So instead I hired a bright pink taxi to take me to my hotel. I was worried about the crazy driving I’d heard about, especially since there were no seat belts, but the driver was actually pretty good. And the trip only cost 330 baht ($11) including the airport surcharge and tolls. Not bad!

Sivarin Guesthouse was a great place to stay and I highly recommend it. It is located about ten minutes from Khao San Road and is also within walking distance of other major attractions such as the Grand Palace. My room was spacious, cutely decorated, spotless, and most importantly had AC! The wifi worked well and the staff members were helpful. There were only shared bathrooms, but that came in handy on my last night when I had already checked out but wanted to use the bathroom and take a shower! I booked through Agoda.com at a rate of $22 a night. The only downside was it didn’t include breakfast.

I only had one full day in Bangkok so I didn’t get to see too much. Plus it was so damn hot. If you go in March I recommend only going out in the morning and evening. Seriously! This is me with my “I hate sweating” face on:

I ended up going to Khao San Road three times during my short trip! I thought I would hate it, but I loved the cheap mango smoothies (40 baht), pad Thai (25-50 baht), foot massages (100 baht for half an hour), and shopping (I got four tank tops for 100-150 baht each, elephant pants for 200, a necklace for 90, and a purse for 100). Remember than $1 is around 30 baht.

I thought the Amulet Market sounded cool so I decided to check that out. There were lots of monks out shopping so it was interesting just to wander around and observe. I kind of wanted to buy an amulet but (a) I’m not Buddhist so I don’t think it’s right and (b) I remember reading some book when I was a kid about an amulet that had an evil curse attached to it or something… And I just can’t forget about it. LOL.

On my way to the Grand Palace, a con artist found me!! He said he was a teacher, that the Grand Palace wasn’t open until after 1pm, and that there was a nearby temple with a standing Buddha that I should check out instead. Luckily, I had already read about this trick which apparently leads to a “gem scam”. I hightailed it out of there!

The main attraction that I saw in Bangkok was Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace. I seriously debated not going as the entrance fee was so steep (400 baht or $13) but it was so sparkly and shiny and just drew me in! Unfortunately it was too hot for me to enjoy it. I was dying. Even after drinking four bottles of water and two smoothies in the previous two hours. Seriously, don’t go to Bangkok in March. Also, no need to buy or rent pants or shirts on the street to enter the premises: you can rent them there for free (200 baht deposit for each). Note that you can’t just wear a scarf over your tank top as I tried to.

Wat Phra Kaew means Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Apparently it is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The Emerald Buddha itself is not that big and is housed in a building where you can’t take photos of it. But the grounds were stunning. There were many structures and statues that were elegantly decorated and embellished with bright polished tiles. The Grand Palace was the official residence of the Kings of Siam/Thailand from 1782 to 1925.

Lastly, I visited the Santi Chaiprakarn Park simply because it was near my hotel and I hadn’t seen the Chao Phraya River yet. The park was lively and full of hula hoopers and jugglers (mostly foreigners). It was also right next to the Phra Sumen Fort, which was beautiful.

Just a few more tips:

  • Tuk-tuks in Bangkok are a rip-off. Take a metered taxi. I took one from the Grand Palace back to my hotel for 45 baht ($1.50).
  • On my way back to the airport I had the hotel book a shuttle van for me, which cost 150 baht ($5) and took a little over an hour.