Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Game Plan

This year will be a year of saving! I have decided that I should save as much money as I can from now until next March and then set off to travel the world for a year or two! I am already starting to research means of travel and places to go. The one thing missing is someone to do it with! If anyone feels like they can save around $6,000 - $10,000 this year and would be willing to sleep in crappy hostels and meet amazing people and see the beauties of the world in a stress and drama free environment then by all means let me know!! Most of the people I met on my short trip to Thailand said that they all stopped in Australia for 6 months to work. I figure that maybe I would end up there around June/July (their winter) and work at a ski resort of some sorts for the season!

First things first is to start GROCERY shopping and making my own lunches and dinners. Or limit my lunch to $5 footlongs/$2.50 slices of pizza :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Quick Thailand Recap in Pictures

DAY 1: Floating Market & Tiger Temple

DAY 2 - 4: Cambodia (Siem Riep)

DAY 5 - 7: Koh Samet

DAY 8 - 14: Koh Chang

DAY 15 - 17: Bangkok

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Korea w/ Brooklyn

*quick note: I am writing this blogs at the free Internet cafe in Seoul, I will edit all entries when I get back to NYC and interject photos were necessary

As I board the plane and settle in for what is bound to be 15 hours of hell flying over the arctic to the eastern world I have one mission: Find myself somebody to hang out with for the 13 hour (yes 13, not 10 hours as I had thought before) layover in Seoul, Korea.

To my surprise the second I sit down in my seat I immediately pass out as the 4 small children in the two rows ahead of me are running and screaming and crying in their row (NOTE: Remind me to never unless its an emergency travel with babies! Its not like they will remember any of the trip and why put them through all the stress of cabin pressure?!). I wake up to the voice of the pilot estimating that it should take only 2.5 hours to reach the destination. I thought I was dreaming when I woke up because there is no way that I could have slept 12 hours on a plane and miss all the snacks and dinner that was handed out (unlike domestic flights, international flights still take care of their people!).

As the lady next to me got up to use the bathroom I noticed a friendly, fluffy haired guy sitting one seat away from me. I smiled and inquired where his final destination was... THAILAND! I was very excited about this and immediately started making plans with him to explore Korea as soon as we got off the plane, so what if he wasn't an available tall man... I figured a hipster from Brooklyn on his was to meet up with his girlfriend in Thailand would do just fine.

We hopped on a bus that was heading towards city hall, found a map of the city and took off flowing the itinerary of an article I printed out that explained exactly what to do in Seoul if you have a 10+ hour layover.

Thank god I kept my coat on during my flight because apparently Korea, unlike Thailand, is as FREEZING as New York!!

With my new friend in tow we grabbed cups of black coffee at the Seoul station and headed to Nandaemun or the "Great South Gate" is one of the old gates of Seoul that used to protect the city from Tigers, built over 600 years ago... apparently 600 years did a lot of damage because the whole thing was under scaffolding :( I was a bit disappointed about not getting to see the real thing.

We then headed over to the Gyeongbokgung palace which was amazing! I have never seen anything like it. The Koreans are very detail oriented when it comes to painting their temples/palaces! We were there pretty early so not too many tourists were around and we could just wander around without having to fight off any crowds.

My Brooklyn buddy didn't have a coat and it was a freezing morning so we headed to Insadong which is a cluster of inter winded alleyways with lots of tea shops and restaurants along with other touristy souvenir shops. We had delicious tea at a cafe that looked as if you were sitting in an old train. After wondering around some more we both realized that Koreans don't open shop until 11am so with our empty tummies we decided to go across the street to check out the Jogyesa Temple. Before you enter the temple one must take off their shoes, once inside you have to put your hands together and bow showing respect. Sitting down before the three HUGE Buddhas that were behind the "altar" we were surrounded by older Korean ladies who were praying. Unlike people kneeling and saying a silent prayer at a church these ladies would stand up, bend over, and kneel a ridiculous amount of times as they held a string of beads that I assume is similar to the catholic rosary.

After a half hour of meditation, we had to sucome to the growls of our stomachs, and headed back to Insadong for Lunch. By this time the streets were filled with more people then before, mostly business dressed. We chose a nice wooden restaurant in one of the alleyways off to the side. We ordered Bulgogi, Kimchi stew and a pork dish with the help of my printouts about Korean food... I was not about to accidentally order dog or fish heads or something equally disgusting! I have decided that kimchi is not for me and that if I were to be forced to eat bulgogi for the rest of my life I would be happy to do so! The bulgogi was delicious!! I have never had anything like it! My next mission is to track down good Korean restaurants in NYC and start eating bulgogi on a regular basis!

Feeling stuffed we decided to try out the subway system instead of walking back to the bus station. Both being from New York we were floored when we discovered how sparkling clean and advanced the subways and stations were. The subway cars are a lot wider and hum lightly while in motion. A ladies voice announces in Korean, Chinese, and English the name of each stop and there are televisions inside that play advertisements as well as show the names of the stops. It was quite an easy adventure to get back to where we needed to go.

We got back on the bus we were both satisfied that we did not get stuck at the airport for such a long time especially since there was still a 6 hour flight to Bangkok awaiting us. Once at the airport we took advantage of the free Internet and the Asiana rest area which has a kids zone, a spa, and a movie room! The airports of East are very human friendly and shiny clean!

All in all my first steps on the Eastern land have been positive and I am very happy to have ventured out and explored the city as for who knows if I will ever have the opportunity to visit Korea in the future.