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Stateside

Well, we returned to America safe and sound after a long and sleepless flight over the Pacific. Neither of us did more than briefly nod off, so upon landing in Seattle we looked stunning. Justin quickly shuttle us to his apartment where I was viciously attacked my mother. She lunged from the darkness of the bathroom attempting to scare the crap out of me. It was actaully really sweet. We hugged and cried, and I did that annoying screaming thing that girls often do that I usually make fun of.

With all the excitement of having not just my mother surprise us but my dad and little brother also, we were no longer tired. I hadn't hugged my family, with the exception of Justin, in over 2 years.  I was blown away they conspired to surprise us.  We spent the next few days enjoying the company (including Andrea who is in Lynnwood), and ignoring our jet lag to the point of sheer exhaustion.

After Seattle, we hopped down to visit some of Alex's extended family in Arizona. Alex's…

Quickie Update: Vietnam

The nice thing about traveling without concrete plans or a schedule is the freedom it has given us to improvise and choose our own adventure. It's that freedom that allowed to us extend our stay in Hue after some nasty food poisoning, and may have found us the greatest way to tour the Mekong Delta region. More on that another time.

We're currently in the small central highlands city of Dalat. It was founded by some French dude looking to beat the heat of the lowland summers. While it offers a respite from the already seething heat, there is little else to do in the town. It's nice for that reason, too. I've been a bit travel weary after a month of constantly moving, and just needed a day or two to recuperate. The chilly nights have been excellent for sleep, and probably the last we'll need a blanket for the remainder of our trip. In mid-March, while we were in the North, Saigon was already registering temps of 90+ degrees F.

Tomorrow we leave for a beach town south o…

Gyeongju

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It's a relief to spend these last few days in Korea wrapped in the mountains of Gyeongju.  The mountains are very spiritual places, and I could walk all day for all the glorious views and surprises on the trails here. 

The reverence for history and Buddhism is thick there. I don't know if there's something particular about the region, but we greatly appreciate the contemplative nature of the town and surrounding mountains.








So far, so good

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Well our adventures didn't start out as planned, but we've made the most of it. Missed our first bus to Gyeongju and ended up in Busan for two nights. But I enjoy Busan's flavor, so it wasn't that much of a setback. We wrapped up loose ends in Gwangju with a quickness on Monday, and the most difficult part was parting with Master Lee. I cried a bit, and I think he wanted to, too. He hugged me for quite some time. Beyond that, I'm happy to report Alex's contract was upheld.


We're doing well and enjoying our travels around Korea right now. Finally made it to Gyeongju on Wednesday. There's so much to see that we decided to stay until Saturday morning. We were also fortunate enough to run into a man that runs a budget hotel, AND he speaks excellent english. He drew us a great map of must-see attractions. Gyeongju is a large historical area with massive burial mounds of past kings. Lots of Buddhist culture, too. We were on Mt. Nam all day tod…

Audrey's (brief) Retrospective

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When asked about my experiences in Korea, I’ve discovered that words escape me. In the grand scheme of things, Alex and I have become so accustomed to the society and culture of Gwangju that we have a hard time remembering the specifics of our lives before coming here.

Korea is a country of nuances, which is why I find it so difficult to explain. I simply do, and of that I am the most proud. Living here has been challenging and far from easy, as you’ve no doubt read on this blog. At no other time in my life can I remember being so calm yet so awkward, or so self-conscious yet confident.

The cultural differences, even those that irk us, are just a normal part of everyday life, as is Kimchi. No longer does anyone warn us about spicy food or linger over us to make sure we know how to cook our Sam Gyup Sal. Most people, with the exception of children, barely seem to notice us as we wander our neighborhood. We are familiar and comfortable faces to shopkeepers and restaurant owners,…

Alex's Year End Retrospective

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Another year has passed and I guess I should write something about what I supposedly have learned over the last two years. Again I think it might be short, but I have learned some things. And even as I look forward to about two months of wandering, and no longer having to be responsible for other people’s children, I will miss much of Korea. But the one thing that I have learned that has the most lasting impact, the one that will stay with me long after the memories have become hazy, probably as it will be the cause of that haziness, is that I am becoming an old man, and faster than I would like. I can sense that you might now go look at our profile or mine at my defunct (due to my laziness) blog, and say to me that I am not yet thirty. Very true that is so I guess I should elaborate. These are the ten ways in which I am becoming an old man before my time:
Hair Lines – I am balding and quickly, and my body hair is increasing daily. I
know that this is not something too special, …

Nervous Nurse's Needles & The 2-for-1

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I really don't have an issue with needles. I don't mind getting my blood drawn, and don't get nauseated at the sight of a syringe. Most of that ease comes with the idea that the person wielding the needle is a trained professional. That being said . . .

Thursday morning I was scheduled for Hep A & Tetanus boosters. I think the nurses drew straws to see who would have to poke me as they huddled around the vials in a tight circle. The unlucky nurse, looking nervous, brought in the two syringes. I did my best to alleviate her stress by pretending to be distracted by my cuticles or the chart of sport injuries on the wall. In other words, giving her room to do what she does without feeling the pressure of my eyes.

I vaguely remember the last tetanus booster I received. It was after I had been attacked by the neighbor's German Shepherd. The sensation was that of being punched in the arm over and over and over and over and over . . . and then a constant ache th…