Korea Livin'

this is a new chapter in my life...let's see where it takes me...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cambodia - 3rd world or developing?

For those of you who haven't "Googled" it yet, please view some pictures from my recent trip before you try answering this question.

Is it possible to have truly clean food products in these conditions?

A power source - a car battery.

You are looking at "homes."

10 minutes prior to this picture, he was at the fence, hands grasped together, asking for money.

All the cows I saw were as bony as this one. Healthy food source?

One of many malnourished kids I saw.

Do you think your answer is accurate? Well, according to The International Statistical Institute, Cambodia is, in fact, a developing country. Can't argue with hard facts, right?

A quick history lesson before I tell you of my humbling experience...

During the 1960's, Cambodia's population was over 7 million. During this period of time where Buddhism was most prevalent, the leader of Cambodia was Prince Sihanouk. In 1970, things started to change. Sihanouk jumped ship and joined forces with the Khmer Rouge, a communist organization led primarily by Pohl Pot. Attacking Lon Nol, lieutenant-general and Cambodia's army, war began. Side note: Cambodia, at the time, was also caught up in their neighboring country's war, Vietnam. Because Cambodia had relations with both Vietnam and the US, Pohl Pot's suspicions grew with Vietnam and continued to strengthen his group. Apparently, by 1975, Khmer Rouge grew to over 700,000 followers. Pohl Pot took over Lan Nol's army completely. At this time, Khmer Rouge had a specific mission: to reconstruct Cambodia. They only wanted the population to be labor workers and based their goal on agriculture. Anyone that did not support this view was tortured and killed. All educated intellectuals were to be eliminated as well as others that had an anti-communist position. To wrap up this history lesson, Khmer Rouge had killed over 2 million people - men, women, and even children in the most disturbing ways (pictures shown later).

Now, let me give you a glimpse of my humbling experience.

In my first three days, there was no air conditioning, a mosquito net encompassed the padding on the floor I slept on, and at times, there was no running water. In fact, during a shower one morning, the water stopped. The water source was empty. I stood there, naked, suds in my hair, with no idea what to do. A worker of the hostel came to try to fix the water system but failed. Therefore, I had to continue my shower by "bath" which was the water used to "flush" the toilet. This bucket of water with mosquitoes swarming around it sat next to an in-ground (squatting) toilet. I used a scoop to splash my body and rinse my hair. Although you may not realize, in comparison to what Cambodian families endure on a daily basis, I was still living in better conditions than many Cambodians.

Honestly, I feel like I could never properly express my experience. Pictures would never do it justice. But my hope in this is to show my family and friends how amazing this country is and how different it is from the life we live.


Where to start...

I traveled with a friend of mine that I had met in Korea a little over a year ago. Her name is Stefanie Hale and she's definitely Canadian. She says "Eh" a lot and by the end of our trip, I was saying it too! It was the end of her teaching contract and she had decided to travel Asia before returning home. I had posted on Facebook about wanting a travel buddy for my vacation since I wasn't 100% comfortable traveling alone (in addition to family members being worried x100). Steph was all for having me join on her adventure so within three days of talking, my flight to Cambodia was booked. I had three days left to decide what I was going to do. Literally, I searched every country that would be "kind of" on the way back to Seoul. The cheapest flight, Singapore. Not only was the ticket affordable, I knew I'd be safe traveling there alone. Side note: What I didn't spend on the ticket, I made up spending while being there. EEk!!  The vacation was planned that easily. 6 days in Cambodia, 3 days in Singapore.

I arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia one day before Stef. The flight wasn't bad, the food however was. My hostel had arranged a tuk-tuk (took-took) to come pick me up. The airport was very small and a storm was rolling in which made the sky beautiful as the sun was setting. After getting through security, I had to get a tourist visa. It was a little bit more expensive than getting it through the Embassy before traveling, however it was quick and easy. Stepping outside, the tuk-tuk driver was standing there holding a sign with my name on it. I won't lie. I had nervous, worried butterflies in my stomach when we reached the tuk-tuk. Immediately, I looked for identification. If anything were to happen, I would know the license plate number of the tuk-tuk and his working identification number. I've watched the movies "Taken" and "Taken2." Getting to the hostel took about 20 minutes. At this point it was dark therefore I didn't get to see much. Checking in was easy and painless. And I have already explained my living situation for these three days. After getting settled, I went to Pub Street which is very famous. It was nice to sit there, not having to talk, but just enjoy people watching and a 50 cent beer. Yes, that's right! Beer was CHEAP! It was early to bed for me.

The next day, I met two girls staying at my hostel. They were there because they wanted to backpack around Asia. It was nice because I was able to walk around the town with them and spend the day with them before Stef's arrival. The three of us found a lunch place to enjoy a Cambodian meal. Because it was hot and none of us had adjusted to the weather, we decided to lay low on Pub Street. We got massages for $3 which came with a beer as well. The workers were Cambodian teenagers. After school, they go to the hot spots, working for a little shop, advertising massages, manicures, and pedicures. They are all really sweet and love speaking English (as much as they know). It was a great way to kill time.

Stef arrived around 7pm, got her settled, then went to dinner with the girls I had hung out with during the day. The four of us had a lot of fun! We took pictures with restaurant workers, locals, and together too. You'll see these below.

Our last two days in Siem Reap included going to Angkor Wat where we saw different temples (Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon...), going to the Night Market, and experiencing different kinds of food. My pictures won't do the temples justice but it was an unforgettable experience. I'm so thankful to have gone and observed this famous part of Cambodia's history and land. Oh, and don't worry, I got to hang out with my favorite little primates too!

Stef and I were looking forward to our bus ride because we knew it would be air-conditioned. The ride south to Phnom Pehn was about 5-6 hours. We made two stops along the way for a bathroom and snack break. Toilets there...well, we will just not talk about that. Anyway, arriving there was easy as well. Our hostel had our tuk-tuk driver there waiting for us. He was such a nice man. If I remember right, Andy (our tuk-tuk driver) is around 30 years old with a wife and kids. We were happy to have him drive us around each day in Phnom Pehn in order to help him make money for his family.

Our time in Phnom Pehn included seeing the Killing Fields (this is where thousands of people including men, women, and children were thrown into mass graves), Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (this is where a school was made into a torturing and prison site), and relaxing by the pool at our hostel. There is a lot of information about the historical sites we visited that if I wrote it, this post would be a longer novel than it already is. I'll let the pictures do the talking as I usually do.

After my time in Phnom Pehn, I said my Goodbyes to Stef as it was the last time I'd see her until I visit her in Canada or she visits me in the states. I boarded my flight and headed to Singapore.

Arriving in Singapore was a complete 180 from my experience in Cambodia. When I got off the plane, I was amazed at the size of the aiport and how clean, amazing it was. There were coffee shops, souvenir shops, restaurants...galore! Being familiar with public transportation due to my Korea living, it was easy to make my way to the subway and buy a ticket. Finding my hostel was a bit difficult because of the construction that was happening along the main roads, but eventually I found myself in Little India. This area is full of Indian products, people, and restaurants. My hostel was nice. The worst part was that the air conditioners had set times when they could be on. I made sure I was up and about, ready to leave my hostel by 11 every day as the a/c was automatically turned off at 9am. And I didn't return to my hostel until about 7pm because that's when they could be turned back on.

My first night out in Singapore, I explored an area called Clarke Quay. I don't know what I was thinking. All the restaurants and bars in the area were ridiculously expensive and overpriced. It was interesting to walk around the area - everyone is actually really rich or they're good at dressing the part. I felt out of place in my "nice" traveling outfit and flip-flops. But I dared to be seen anyway. There was a drum line playing on the bridge which was amazing! I have pictures you'll see below. They were very entertaining and received a lot of attention. I made my way to an outside bar to order a beer (thinking it would be the easiest on my pocket). Guess how much it was?! Really...guess...$16!! Yes, 16 AMERICAN dollars. It was ridiculous. You better believe I savored it! While standing there, alone, drinking my over-priced beer, a girl across from me was also sitting alone. We smiled at each other and I asked if she was alone. She was, therefore, I went and joined her. We instantly got along. She was there on business because she works for an insurance company. The owner of the bar/club saw us and said if we wanted to, we could go check the inside out for free. Considering it was $30 admission, we took the offer. She bought us a round of drinks, as she said she would never use her daily allowance for food/drinks. Afterwards, we were hungry so we made our way to an outside taco stand (as you can see, us trying to keep it cheap). There, we met some people who are part of a news show or filming company, I can't remember the specifics. They challenged me to a spicy taco, thinking I couldn't handle it. I did, so they took care of my check! At the end of the night, they were so kind, they called their limousine taxi service and paid my way home. Unexpected and amazing!!

The next day, I slept in and decided to walk around Little India. Then afterwards, I made my way to the Singapore Flyer. It was AMAZING! Not so much fun going alone...as you have to ask people to take your picture for you...and everyone else is there with a loved one or family. The Singapore Flyer is "the thing to do" on a date in Singapore. I paid too much money for a photo, but, I felt I had to. Next, I headed back to my area. It was very uneventful until I met a nice married couple while walking back to my hostel. I sat with them and showed them how to play rummy. Afterwards, I showered then went back to Clarke Quay for dinner. I went to an Irish Pub for a beer and hot wings...simple and easy...still expensive! When I made my way back to my hostel, there were some people hanging out in the main area. I sat and talked with them. They were really nice and invited me to go along with them to the Singapore Zoo the next day. It was my last day and I wanted it to be adventurous, therefore, that's what I did.

The Singapore Zoo was very big. The five of us thought it'd take maybe 4 hours. Nope. We were literally there ALL DAY! You'll see pictures soon. Nina has them on her camera as mine died. We are still in the process of trying to share photos in the easiest way possible. We all come from different countries - Germany, Netherlands, Australia, States...
After the Zoo, we were all exhausted BUT...we knew we had to make one more stop before I had to get back to the hostel to pack for my flight that night. We went to the famous shopping area called "ION Orchard." Literally, it has everything...and we definitely made a dent in our pockets. The deals were AMAZING! I bought 4 pairs of shoes for $40. We all bought "friendship" bracelets. As the four of us girls shopped, Ben hung out in a coffee shop, waiting patiently. Time was ticking so we hurried back to our area to get some Indian food before I had to leave.
Saying Goodbye was bittersweet. I was ready to be home in my bed, however, I felt I was just getting in the groove of "backpacking" and making friends while traveling solo.

My journey home was no picnic. Arriving at Singapore airport at 12am, I was given quite the surprise. Because my layover in China was going to be longer than an accepted window, I was told I needed a Chinese visa. While booking my flights, I was not given this alert like usual. Therefore, I had to get on the phone with Expedia to attempt a flight change. While being put on hold for quite some time, all I could think about was the fact that I didn't get "change flight" protection, therefore I immediately had the assumption that I'd be charged my ticket, plus a new ticket...costing over $1,000. When I explained to customer service my situation, he got his supervisor on the line right away. The supervisor was so kind and very helpful. He said this was something that was not my fault (let's be honest, I should have done more research). Quickly, he looked up new flights and was able to change my itinerary with no charge. In fact, I would have received a refund but he said since I didn't have the protection, I have to forfeit it. Ha. No problem! The refund was $5. The only downside to the flight change was that the flight wasn't going to be for 17 hours. Due to the fact that the subway system was closed, my only option was to sleep there, in the airport, all night. I attempted to get comfortable on benches but I was too paranoid of falling asleep and my bags getting stolen. The next day, before going through security for my flight, I found a shopping area in the airport (let me remind you that this airport is extravagant). People actually go to the airport to "hang out." There's coffee shops, shopping, restaurants, and the list goes on. I couldn't believe it and wished I saw it earlier. But anyway, I enjoyed some last minute shopping to say the least.

Arriving in China was terrible. I was hot, tired, in need of a shower, and a bed. The airport in this city (I won't even attempt to spell) was terrible. There was no wi-fi which meant I couldn't let people know I was safe. And there were no 24-places to kill time (my layover was 13 hours). In the end, I was suckered into getting a hotel that cost $30 for one night. I didn't care at this point. Shower, bed, wi-fi. Check, check, check! And free transport service. DONE! After taking a shower and texting the family, I was able to lay down and watch t.v. for a bit. I didn't sleep well in fear of not waking up in time, but at least I was able to rest my body and eyes. The rest of the trip home was smooth sailing thankfully.

To sum it all up, Cambodia was an eye-opening experience for me. Singapore was expensive but enjoyable. It was liberating to travel alone without any help. I learned more about myself that I would not have learned if it wasn't for doing this. I was just as thankful for this trip as all the other trips to different countries I have had. I will say this one will always hold an extra special space in my mind and heart. When you see what I've seen, you realize how lucky you are (Cambodia), but also how average you are (Singapore) at the same time. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Pictures to be posted soon. I apologize again for the EXTREME tardiness.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

And the nominee for the Liebster Award goes to...

ME! 진짜?! (translation: for real?!)

Yes everyone, my wonderful and lovely friend, Emily, blogger of  Emily's Elixir, has nominated me for a fun blogging award. 
Now you are wondering...

What are the deets of this award?! 

It's for bloggers with under 200 followers that get nominated by associate bloggers. It's a fun way to expand the word about your blog, as well as helping other bloggers get noticed.


1. Each blogger should answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
2. Choose 11 new bloggers to pass the award onto and link them in your post.

3. Create 11 new questions for the chosen bloggers.
4. Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
5. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.
6. No tag-backs!


If you could have breakfast anywhere, where would it be and what would you have?
Honestly, two weekends ago, I had the most amazing breakfast on cafe street in Jeongja (area in Seoul, South Korea) at a restaurant called Stonewall! It is a bit expensive, but definitely worth it. I would order again - the breakfast that includes: eggs, German sausage, homemade style potatoes, and salad. It also came with pancakes, but due to my gluten issue, I passed those off to my friend, George. The breakfast was the perfect amount and the taste was amazing! (highly recommended if you're living in Seoul) 

What is your favourite lip balm?
Hands down, my favorite lip balm is made by Arbonne. It never lets me down.

What did you do last weekend?
Last weekend consisted of playing flag football on Saturday, followed by a delicious "seafood in a bag" dinner located in Itaewon (area in Seoul, South Korea) with some new friends. On Sunday, I went to a clothing swap (genius idea), a BBQ dinner with exchange students I met at the swap, and ended my evening spent with my Korean friend/co-worker, Natalie, and her boyfriend. 

What is your best fashion buy?
This is literally the hardest question you could ask me considering my favorite hobby is shopping. Yes, it's a hobby, not an obsession or habit. With that said, I'll have to choose...a simple, v-neck tee from H&M. It can be dressed up or dressed down. 

What is your favourite way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon?
Best rainy Sundays are spent inside in pajamas, curled up on the couch in a blanket, with my friends, enjoying our favorite shows or movies, while talking, snacking, and enjoying a few beverages. 
(Comma-splice much?! Yes, I'm an English teacher) 

What is your favourite beauty product?
Recently, my friend Amy, introduced me to a face peel made by Skin Food. It is a popular brand that is made in Korea. Because I have sensitive skin, I was a bit nervous to try it. Once I used it, however, I noticed a difference in the way my skin felt. It was smooth like a baby's bottom. Seriously. 

Do you prefer dark, milk or white chocolate?
Milk chocolate, most definitely. But of course, there's that voice inside my head that says, "Dark is healthier." Meh. Bring on the Cadbury Cream-filled Eggs and Snickers!

What is your favourite book?
50 Shades. I can't help it. Guilty pleasure. Enough said. 

What are the top five cities you'd like to visit?
I'm going to stick to cities in the U.S. otherwise it would be impossible to choose. 1. Boston 2. Chicago 3. New York 4. Honolulu 5. Denver

   What is your middle name? (if you have one!)

What, or who, inspired you to start a blog?

My main inspiration to start my blog was to keep family and friends updated on my journey in another part of the world, South Korea. Continuing to update them on my stories and pictures has allowed them to see just a slice of my life as a newly world traveler.  


  1. I have now traveled to 6 countries: Canada, S.Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, and Singapore.
  2. I am a reality TV junkie.  
  3. I had an appendicitis when I was 6 years old.
  4. A movie star crush - Channing Tatum
  5. My sister is my Bestie. 
  6. My dad gives me the best hugs.
  7. A favorite shopping purchase are new earrings.
  8. One of my favorite evenings are spent having fajitas and margaritas with my step dad and mom.
  9. Teaching and coaching have always been my passion.
  10. I love the smell of coconut tanning oil.
  11. My favorite ice cream is vanilla with Hershey's chocolate syrup.






Okay, so I don't have 11 people I follow in order to nominate the proper amount.


  1. What is your favorite comfort food? 
  2. What is your drink of choice?
  3. If you could choose 3 countries to travel to, which would they be?
  4. Who is your mentor/role model?
  5. What is one word you say often?
  6. What has been your biggest challenge this year?
  7. Describe your most embarrassing moment. 
  8. Describe a perfect day.
  9. What is a nickname people call you most?
  10. Who was your favorite teacher in school and why?
  11. What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

XO, MaLeah

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Manila, Philippines

Unfortunately, there isn't too much to report from this trip. Fortunately, it was spent laying in the sun with a good friend, RELAXING!

This trip was planned in a week. My friend/co-worker, Brigitte, brought to my attention at work one day, a 4-day weekend that was coming up for us. Other hagwons (private English academies) were not getting this long weekend because it wasn't an actual Korean holiday. Our CEO, Mr. Song, chose these days as a "thank you" for our hard work during intensives.

Anyway, I was thinking maybe a long weekend in Busan (one of my favorite places in Korea as it's located on the coast). However, Brig had a completely different idea. She said, "We're going to the Philippines." And all I had to say was, "Yes please!" We were planning it ourselves until she received a special deal through a Korean tour company called "R Tour." Their flight deal was $350 round trip. That solidified our decision. We bought our tickets. I was in charge of finding a resort for us to stay at...as my search went on, we decided to stay at the resort our friend Mel stayed at during her Christmas vacation. It's called "Sofitel Resort." Mel had only good things to say, therefore it made our decision easy. It was near the airport, shopping, food, and other tourist attractions. This was all we needed to plan as we wanted to make this trip a "no stress, do whatever we want when we want" kinda trip.

All I really have to report is that Brig and I truly enjoyed our relaxation weekend. As much as it would have been nice to learn a bit more about the history and culture, we really just needed the break. And that is exactly what we did our first day. We laid by the pool, where we were served lunch and drinks. We took naps, read, and had girl talk by the pool. When the sun started going down, we went back to our room to sit on our balcony to watch the sunset. We enjoyed a couple of drinks while getting to know each other and bond. Then we decided it was time to go explore the "nightlife." We went to an area called, "Greenbelt." It is a well-known shopping, eating, going out area. There are usually a lot of tourists. We met a nice man from Norway that was there on business. He picked up the tab - Thank you Norway man!! Then we made our way to a cafe bar. It had live music - the band was singing salsa music - and yes, I danced my night away. Not having experience with this kind of dancing, I was a bit nervous. Brig used to go to salsa dancing classes in Washington during her college years. She felt comfortable and was most ecstatic. For the first part, I sat and watched. It wasn't until a guy came to our table to ask me to dance that I finally did it. He was really nice, twirled me around, and made me feel like I was a professional. His name, I have forgotten, however I do remember he was there traveling as we were. He had studied in Brazil for a year and that's how he picked up the salsa technique. Needless to say, I am in love with salsa dancing and want to try it out when I get home. After dancing for a couple hours, we decided our beds were calling our name.

Our second day there, we went shopping at the Mall of Asia (aka SM Mall). It is HUGE! We didn't even make it through half of the mall...partly because we were wore out from trying clothes on, and we wanted to lay by the pool again. That's exactly what we did. We hailed a cab back to the resort, changed into our suits, and headed to the pool. This evening was laid back. We stayed at the resort, ate at the sports bar (which the food was delicious), played some cards, then went to our room. We watched a movie and fell asleep quite early.

The third and final day was a repeat of day 1. We had breakfast in our room, went to the pool, and literally consumed as much sun and heat as we could. By now, the lifeguards and servers of the pool knew our faces and what we liked to drink. When the sun started to set, we went inside to change into our travel clothes. Since we had a few hours before heading to the airport, we went back to the sports bar for food, drinks, and Speed (card game). As we sat there, we talked with the bartender who informed us of all the things we missed out on and suggested we come back to the Philippines when we have more time to travel.

Getting to the airport was painless, however being there was a different story. The whole trip Brig and I kept forgetting that the Philippines was an hour behind Korea's time. Our phones hadn't changed as they usually do automatically. We were there a little over 3 hours early. YUCK! The airport in Manila is small, hot, and humid. There isn't much to it and it was in the evening so the stores that ARE there, were mainly closed. We did what we could to make the most of those last few hours but we were definitely ready to get on the plane...or be back at the resort!

All in all, it was a successful trip. It was much needed. I'm so thankful I was able to have that experience.

1. People in the Philippines always referred to me as "ma'am" or "miss."
2. Getting TAN!!
3. Developing a new interest - salsa
4. Learning more about Brig
5. Filipino food is delicious!
6. Adding another country to my passport
7. Christian, our waiter at the resort
8. The time difference situation becoming a joke
9. Not spending as much as anticipated
10. Being able to relax 100%, completely careless of time.

Here are some pictures from the trip. Sorry there aren't more. We were by the pool most of the time...

"wang-wang"...after Googling this term...we learned that this basically means "cutting in line." this term was created and used by President Aquino (President of the Philippines) 

we're going to the Philippines!!

YES! Rm 911. Interesting.

if you know me...you know this is monumental!!

we made it!

there were always 2 lifeguards on duty. 

waking up to this was fantastic

oversized pillow cushions at the pool. best nap ever.

beautiful sunsets from our balcony

front of the resort...

Mall of Asia (SM Mall)

enjoying the sun before heading to the airport

about to say goodbye

going back to cold weather - big thumbs down!

she was equally saddened.

at the pool

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Harlem Shake - Bundangers Bundanging

In Korea, foreigners are always finding new ways to entertain ourselves as well as Koreans. In the first video, you will see a really cute video of kindergarten students making a "Harlem Shake" video with their native English teacher. 

After more inspiration from other videos being posted, a couple foreigners living in Bundang (about 15minutes from where I live) came up with the idea to have a group make our own in various locations. During a one-day video shoot, we were able to create four videos, parodies of "Harlem Shake." If you search for videos on YouTube, you will find a plethora of different videos that have been made for this song. I must say, ours tops the charts. I hope you enjoy!! PS. I am the dino. 


I must say, the subway shoot turned out the best.
We were getting kicked out of AK Plaza (big shopping mall), therefore, this video was rushed.
This location, outside AK Plaza, gained the biggest crowd. Unfortunately only 2 Koreans joined in. I was busy trying to get a few girls to join so you don't see me until the last few seconds.
Inside Travelers Bar - the owner, Jason, was very supportive of our idea.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

After my U.S.A visit

Getting on the plane to come back to Korea was bittersweet. My mind and heart were at war with each other. Saying Goodbye another time to my family, knowing that I would not see them until October 2013 put an ache in my heart. However at the same time, the excitement I had to return to my surrogate family as well as my friends is indescribable. And as much as I loved being home, spending time with Dad & Denise, Mom & Mark, Juju, Matt & Carson, and Sue, I wanted my Korea life back. It was unexpected to feel the way I did.

Since I got back on December 1st, a lot has happened...many adventures full of laughter and excitement, along with sad moments - a readiness to get back to the states.

Let's start with the adventures first. In December, I had the chance to spend a fun-filled Christmas Eve night with Ben. I made dinner then we opened presents and visited. We both worked on Christmas but in the evening, I made Christmas dinner for a few friends. On the main menu was: baked chicken, veggies, mashed potatoes, and salad. For dessert, my friend Lauren brought an amazing ice cream cake she picked up at Baskin Robbins. After dinner, we watched the famous "Christmas Story" while visiting and playing cards. I must say, it was a success. For New Year's, I had to work (no surprise). This didn't stop me from spending it with Ben and our friends. We got ourselves dressed to impress, then met up with his friends in Gangnam (located in Seoul). It's amazing how big American holidays are. Korea always does an amazing job recognizing our special days - making special events at restaurants and bars to help us celebrate. Unforgettable to say the least.

Fast forwarding through January to the end of January/beginning of February. Ben's departure was at the end of January, therefore not able to be here for my birthday. As soon as he arrived in Washington, he sent a birthday card to make sure it arrived on time. Mom & Mark also sent a birthday package for me to open the day before my birthday. I LOVE RECEIVING MAIL!! In the package was a cupcake kit - all the things I needed to make birthday cupcakes. They turned out well considering I made them from my toaster oven. Everyone at work devoured them. For my 2nd birthday in Korea, I decided to keep it small - with my closest friends. There were ten of us total. We went to COEX Intercontinental Wine Buffet located in Seoul. It was 35,000won for all you can eat and drink. The food was prepared really well; I was impressed. Needless to say, it was a successful birthday evening. On my actual birthday, because it was a Monday, it was a co-worker birthday dinner - we had Korean BBQ, which as always, was amazing. We kept it to an early night due to our work schedule. Getting close to present time...the Korean New Year (Seollal - Lunar New Year) was February 9-11. This is one of the holidays that DYB (my work) ACTUALLY gives us a break. My friend Mel (Melissa) is from Washington. I met her through my co-worker/friend, Brig (Brigitte). Her and I knew we wanted to do SOMETHING special. At first, we talked about flying to Japan until our conscience got the best of us and we decided not to spend so much money on a 3-day/2-night trip. Therefore, we resulted to another Busan adventure. It is a beach located south of where I live. We signed up with a group which was perfect because we both knew a few people that were going. Friday night, we left on a bus with the others in our group. After an all-nighter on the bus, we arrived in Busan around 6am - just enough time to check-in to our motel and get about 4 hours of sleep before waking up and meeting the group downstairs for our first day of fun. We spent Saturday playing shuffle board, eating a delicious American breakfast, and then walking/talking/hanging out on the beach. In the evening, we went to a restaurant/bar that served us a delicious meal of pulled pork, beans, and vegetables. We ended our night, dancing the night away. On Sunday, we went sight-seeing. Our tour bus took us to a lighthouse located along the beach (it was a beautiful lookout point). Afterwards, we headed to the famous Jagalchi Fish Market. It was most interesting to see the customs associated with the fish market. Watching Koreans handle the different types of fish and examining their lifestyle struck my curiosity. It is so different from the Korean lifestyle in Seoul. This was our last night in Busan. After we got back to our motel to take a nap and shower, we headed to Haeundae Beach (another side of Busan). Here, we went to another foreigner bar called Wolfhound to have another western meal. I have to be honest...it was TOO much western food for me. I was hoping and wishing for Korean food again (looks like I'll need to be able to cook it for when I get back to the states). We ate, enjoyed singing some songs of the weekend. The next day, before we headed home, we visited a famous temple that is located right near the ocean. It was beautiful; pictures coming soon (hopefully). Overall, this trip, I can report to say it has been one of my most favorite weekends in Korea - traveling-wise. The people I met are easily becoming some great friends. The things we did were monumental!! LOL

Here we are in the present. Don't get me wrong, I am still enjoying my time in Korea. I still love my students and co-teachers. My co-workers are awesome and we get along great. With this, I have new friends and old friends that I get to spend a lot of time with. But I have to be honest. At times...most recently, I feel that I have fulfilled my time here. I know my family and friends will like this next sentence. I am ready to get home. There are goals that I have yet to accomplish back home. It's going to be time, come time in September/October, for me to apply for my Master's - get the REAL degree - Master's of Arts in Teaching. I WANT to be a certified/licensed teacher. MY time here in Korea has most definitely solidified the fact that this is my "calling." I can't wait to be a licensed teacher and hopefully get back into coaching high school sports. Hence my earlier point of stating that I have had sad moments - for the mere fact that I feel ready to take the steps to accomplish my long term goals.

There are seven months and some change left. I have every intention of living it up! Currently, I'm involved in a women's Bible study every two weeks, church on Sundays, fun with friends on Fridays and Saturdays, and small trips in between. Also, Ben and I are helping each other train for a couple 5k's...hopefully reaching to a 10k...if our interest and desire continues....we want to train for a 1/2 marathon....possibly as far as a full marathon. We may be 5,600 miles apart, but we continue to encourage one another in our goals. I'll keep you posted...

A new goal for the New Year...keeping all my readers updated on my life until I'm back in the states. Commitment. Coming at ya!!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Drum roll...

You all should have guessed...Miss MaLeah, Miss Pro-Procrastinator...

Of course it would take me more than a couple days to update you.

As of October 9th (or 16th), I am officially in Korea for another year. DYB, Korean teachers and students, have all influenced me to stay one more year. After thinking about it and praying about it, this is the best decision for me. As much as I miss my family and friends, this gives me another year of teaching experience along with being immersed in a different culture, learning the customs of others. There is much more I have yet to explore here. But don't worry, be happy. I will be home, God willing, next year (September-ish 2013).

Cheers to another year of funky smells, socks, and styles.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Since Thailand. Since 4 months in 1 post.

And now that I have brought you up to date with my Asian Vacation and a quick run down on May and June, I know you are wondering how I have been since then and what has kept me so busy.

July and August were fun summer months, aside from being sick. I battled a throat infection (thank you Korean air) and tonsilitis....or something. Honestly, I have lost track of the times I have been sick here in Korea. It is becoming a bit of a joke. Especially when you hear about what is next in this post. However, there were good times to be had, and I had them. I went on a couple adventures with my hiking group, CIK (Climbing in Korea). We went river trekking, twice. As always, the first part of the hike, I thought to myself, "What was I thinking?!" but in the end, it's worth the pain. Also, there were many evenings spent with friends on our patio (aka Family Mart plastic furniture) and strolls along the river with Em and Layla. We found a cute waffle cafe about 15 minutes from our apartment - we call it Cafe Road - filled with cafes, italian restaurants, and cute boutiques. It has been one of our favorite places to walk around. There is also a nice Thai restaurant in the area as well. Oh! And in July, there was an event called "Mudfest!" It was interesting to say the least. I would go again...but change a few things...definitely get a hotel and not stay at a pension. Floors are not my fancy. Mudfest is where I met Ben. We have a mutual friend, Steve. Ben and I have enjoyed getting to know each other and we meet for church on Sundays. He has been my date on a couple occasions and we continue to develop a close friendship/bond. He'd fit right in with my friends back home. Also, Em's boyfriend, Kevin was in Korea visiting for about 2 weeks if I recall. I had a lot of fun getting to know him and finally meet the man I have heard so much about over the past year. Him and I tease each other a lot about who Em loves more. I think I win! These were the most exciting parts about the two months...

We are reaching the end of September now. In fact, tomorrow is my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY being in Korea. I wish I could say I was celebrating, dolled up, a night on the town with my friends. Unfortunately, my overly active self has landed me a nice spot on my couch until further notice. Wednesday of this week, I woke up having troubles breathing. After two hours, I finally text my co-worker, Daniel, to ask him what I should do. He called me, keeping me as calm as possible until he was at my door. Right then, he grabbed my purse and helped me to the hospital. The Dr was able to see me right away...checking my temperature (slight fever), squeezing a pressure point on my hand which brought me to near tears, and pushing on my stomach as if he were trying to grab my insides (another tear jerker). Of course, we can't forget the "Open mouth say, "Ahh...(in a heavy Korean, broken English accent)"" I made my way to the xray room, confused as to why he wanted to see my bones (yes, that was what I was thinking). After about 5 more minutes, I went back in to see the Dr, watching him look at my results. Fortunately, Daniel came in with me so he could also listen to what the Dr was going to say. Daniel has been in Korea a couple years longer than I have and has taken some Korean classes. He can understand more than he thinks. Dr's results: Pneumonia. Definitely not what I was expecting. As best as he could, he tried to explain that it has affected my right lung and I will have to take antibiotics for a week, rest, and be back for a check up on Tuesday, October 2. This house arrest is boring. Did I mention that this weekend is Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving)?! I had plan to go to Gwangju with Ben to see a couple museums, eat lots of Korean food, and relax. But, instead, the long 4 day weekend will be spent in Suji-gu with Ben, movies, books, and soup. Needless to say, although I'm not getting to be my usual adventurous self, I'll get to spend quality time with an amazing person. Our goal: Read a lot, watch a lot of movies, eat good food, clean my apartment, and study!! Maybe, if I'm feeling well enough, we will go to church on Sunday.

And there you have it!!

My post in a couple days will be the one you have all been waiting for...will she stay? or will she come home? Most of you may know, but the ones that don't know, I'd like to keep you on the edge of your seat for just a couple more days.


PS. I will post pictures from the last few months soon. Waiting is the best part!