Santa’s Bday Rush

DSCN1024

As Santa’s birthday approached kitty and Santa felt shocked that an entire year had already passed from when they signed their contract to move abroad.  They reflected on their time over seas and both agreed that a single year can change so much in ones life. They both have felt truly blessed to have been on such an adventure and even more thankful they got to do it together. Santa was feeling a little lost about her birthday as she knew this was closing a chapter in her life she truly loved. Moving overseas, teaching and traveling have made her happier than she could have ever imagined. Kitty reassured her that although the future of the unknown is scary, it’s also exciting. “If your 25th year of life was this good, just think of how great 26 is going to be”. Kitty is certainly wiser as she has almost a whole year on Santa. Santa pondered this for a short while and agreed. She immediately knew that she needed to do something on her birthday to prove 26 would be a fearless year. In 3 short weeks they will both embark on a 90 day adventure of a lifetime, traveling to 6 different countries, meeting up with family and friends along the way, then heading to Chicago for the holidays. Santa will continue on to chase a life long dream of becoming an actress in California while kitty will most likely move abroad again to continue her passion of teaching the future generations of this world. It’s the ending of a great 13 year journey they spent together and the beginning of their own separate adventures that will surely be just as exciting.

Santa made the decision to drag kitty along on a thrill seeking weekend to prove just how brave she was going to be this year. They started the kick off in Seoul where they went to a bunch of awesome pubs, drank great craft beers & met some wonderful new friends. They headed to a rugby tournament on the morning of Santas Korean birthday and sat on the river drinking Cass beers, playing felt ball, chumming with the 711 owner & making new friends. The night continued on at a local pub called phillies where Kitty surprised Santa with a candle lit birthday cake and a happy birthday song that boomed louder than the music in the bar.

946342_10100690544919617_1776253490_n

Untitled

The next morning, feeling the effects of the night before, kitty and Santa managed to roll out of bed and jump in a cab at 7:00AM to head to the bus station. They grabbed some food and water and got on a 3 hour bus out of Seoul to start their day of adventure. On the list of things to do was whitewater rafting, zip lining and Santas ultimate bungee jump!!!

DSCN1072

Kitty and Santa’s guide showed them a wonderful time during the white water rafting as he screamed commands in Korean and scared the girls into a state of shock. “HANA! DUH! HANA! DUH!” (meaning 1,2) Kitty and Santa flapped their paddle side to side hoping they were doing it right. The boat was shared by 2 older korean men and 2 middle school boys. The 4 guys on the boat repeated the guide screaming “HANA! DUH! HANA! DUH!” in military like chants. Kitty and Santa tried really hard to keep up but when their form started to get sloppy the guide threw his paddle down, grabbed Kitty by the life jacket and tossed her off the boat. He then looked at Santa in a rage and Santa dropped her paddle and jumped out of the boat on her own. Kitty and Santa laughed swimming next to the boat, wondering how they were going to survive the rest of this rafting trip with this maniac. Back in the boat they hit some rapids and got a few adrenalin rushes.

DSCN1068

They then pulled their raft up onto shore, Kitty and Santa thought the trip was over. They survived. WRONG. The guide made them follow him up to a waterfall where he grabbed one of the middle schoolers, knocked him over and held his face under the waterfall. They watched in fear as he appeared to be practically drowning everyone on the boat, holding their faces under the water until their bodies started to flail around in a panic. He would pull their heads out from the water and before they could catch a second breath he would shove it back under. It looked like a torture scene from a war movie. After the 4 guys came weezing and coughing away from the fall the guide looked at Kitty and Santa with a “YOUR NEXT” face. They both shook their head in fear. “We’re not doing that” Santa said with a shaky voice but before Kitty could respond Santa was pulled away towards the fall. He grabbed her face and held it under the water pounding down. Santa tried to escape, kicking her legs about as 25 whole years of life flashed before her eyes. Koreans stood around laughing waiting for their turn to be water boarded. Kitty stood in a state of shock and fear. Korea is one hell of a culture. Kitty was up next and after fighting it for a few minutes she caved and let the man almost kill her. As they walked back to the raft feeling confused about what just happened Kitty mumbled “why do I always let you talk me into these trips. This is the last time SANTA.”

DSCN1044

After a hearty lunch of ramen noodles, beers and snacks they suited up and zip lined around and over the river with a new and much nicer guide. The only issue with zip lining was that they thought somehow the speed would reduce when landing on the plank, they were mistaken. There was a big blue mat on the tree that they were apparently supposed to brace themselves for a crash landing. Well, no one told them so after their first zip they both flew head on into the mat in a true George of the Jungle style, they were both surprised they didn’t go through the tree leaving just a silhouette of their bodies behind.

DSCN1052

DSCN1069 DSCN1070

The last stop of the day was Santa’s bungee jump. Her official birthday present to herself. fearless freedom and courage! She was suited up, climbed into a crane and lifted 200 feet above the river. The guy inside asked her if she was ready and she responded. “fuck ya. lets do this” He opened the door to a small plank where he told her to step out to the line. She looked back at him and said “I’m going to fall” He responded, “NO. You’re going to jump! On the count of 3, ready?” “YA!” She looked down at Kitty and all the people cheering her on that were the size of ants. She did a few fist pumps, spread her arms out like a new pair of wings and when she heard 3 she jumped up into the air. It was the most amazing free fall she had ever experienced.

DSCN1078.AVI-001

1184918_523710814364583_1549297059_n

Santa’s birthday was the BEST one yet, which only means one thing. Getting old means that life simply gets more and more amazing. Santa wants to say thank you to Kitty for making it so special and thank you to all her old and new friends that made this day everything it was. 26 is off to an incredible start!

Here is a video that Kitty made Santa for her birthday. It is one of the BEST walks down memory lane.

http://youtu.be/IjSQFhU5f-U

Happy Birthday Kitty!!

Well it finally happened, she’s all growns up. Kitty turned 27 in South Korea, but every where else in the world she’s only 26 years old so we’ll stick with the real facts.

Kitty was a bit nervous about ringing in her 26th year of birth. She was feeling old. Where had the time gone? The years felt as though they were flying by. She remembered the day she had asked Santa to be her best friend at her 16th birthday party. It felt like it was yesterday, and that had been over 10 years ago!  Kitty and Santa would have never thought Asia is where they would be galavanting for their 26th year of life.

Kitty & Santa at 16 years old

Kitty told Santa she didn’t want to do much celebrating. Slothing and catching up on American TV was all she wished for, but Santa wouldn’t have it. She surprised Kitty on the morning of her birth with some of her favorite fuels; a massive cinnamon roll, a cheesey bagel topped with more cheese, chocolate milk,  Starbucks latte, presents, and decorations that hung all over their Asian living room. Kitty felt like a kid again. This is what Cindy (her mom) use to do for her growing up (not the adult size buffet, but the decorations and gifts).

As she skyped her family and opened her presents she became a little emotional. Cindy had sent a cute/creepy frame of herself with a recorded birthday message. The laughter turned to tears. This was kitty’s first birthday away from her family. She might be 26 but she missed her family all the same. She soaked up the tears with her blankey and headed to school.

nothing makes us miss home more….

Thanks to Santa, Kitty’s co-teacher and all the kids were highly aware it was her birthday as well. She was greeted with lots of hugs, happy birthdays, chocolates, pictures and one of the best birthday presents she could of asked for. Kitty’s kindergarten class along with her coteacher had been working on a poster size card with messages from each student. As you can see from the pictures below the English lessons are really paying off:)

Kitty even got a second cake from the bosses at the weekly meeting. Their true feelings were revealed with the 3 small words on her cake.

After school all the foreign teachers went out for some dinner and drinks. It was so nice of them to come out and help Kitty celebrate. We all made sure to be tucked in bed by midnight because we had to be at school the next morning. I guess when you get old you also become willingly responsible. It was the perfect end to the perfect birthday. Thanks to everyone that made it so special!!

Lost in Transportation

Kitty and Santa headed to Seoul to really celebrate the big birthday. Seoul is the biggest city in Korea and they decided it would be a perfect adventure for the weekend. They had plans for shopping, dinning, exploring, and indulging in a few well deserved cocktails. After about a 3 1/2 hour bus ride this is exactly what they did. They checked into their hostel and had lunch at Subway (upon kitty’s birthday request). No 5 dollar footlong, but it was worth every won. They Shopped until they literally almost dropped. Then had dinner at a delicious noodle house. Enjoyed a few glasses of wine and hit the streets to celebrate a long but successful day in Seoul.

New purchase: all the cool kids in Asia wear fake focals…just trying to blend.

Bunk beds, favorite part of sleeping at hostels.

Kitty and Santa found a jazz bar that featured Frank and the boys, sipped on some Jameson and talked about life and all the different kinds of money hanging above them. Ironically,  Santa went to buy the drinks and handed the bartender what was equivalent to $3.00 USD, he gave her the “What’s this” face and she knew she messed up. Good thing Kitty always has enough money to bail her out. Apparently she thought she grabbed $50.00 for the night out and only took $5.00. She will probably learn the currency just as they are leaving Korea, Kitty is worried she will have to relearn what a dollar is upon returning home.

Kitty and Santa will spare you the details on how the rest of the night went and fast forward to Sunday morning….

So there they were, sitting in the subway station at 11 AM while soju was seeking it’s revenge from the night before. SIDENOTE: When life gives you lemons and you act cool and add soju, nothing good comes of it.

Santa had her head down on the table at McDonalds praying that if it was going to spontaneously combust that it would happen soon. Kitty plopped down in her chair staring in confusion at the 2 meals that sat in front of her ” Either I’m seeing double or I think they misunderstood when I ordered a double cheeseburger”. They finished what they could and Kitty packed up what they couldn’t. “We gotta get home, lets do this.”

They thought they had mastered the subway system the previous day, but in their hazy stupor they would soon find out they were sadly mistaken. They purchased their train tickets, hopped on the train and after a few stops realized they were going the wrong way. They ran off, pushed their way on the packed car going the other direction, and finally made it to the blue line to transfer. This is when things really went wrong.

They followed the signs for their transfer train, but when they tried to enter with their purchased tickets the gates came down on them hard, real hard. Kitty and Santa looked at each other in confusion, backed up, and returned to the machine where they purchased another ticket. They crossed their fingers and tried a second time with success.  They got down to the train and realized they were about to get on the wrong one. At this point kitty and santa were exhausted. They wanted to click their heels and be back in Gwangju. They ran back up the stairs, but as they tried to exit the gates flew up and almost took them out AGAIN.

Now they were mad. They had paid twice and were not going back for round three. They busted through the gate and made a run for it. They were finally in route to the correct train, but in order to get there they had to bust through a few more gates. Now breaking the law is unlike Kitty and Santa, but when no one speaks English and they have no way of explaining themselves, sometimes there just isn’t any other way. They hopped on the right train, the doors shut but they weren’t moving.  After 5 minutes Santa broke into a sweat and almost had a panic attack. “Do you think they are looking for us? Should we turn ourselves in? I can’t believe we are going to go to jail in Korea.” Kitty started getting defensive ” Look, the thing is if we are on camera, we’ve paid twice and haven’t gone anywhere! I’ll tell them Santa. We’re not going to jail today!!” Just as they were about to make a scene in front of the Koreans swarming around them the train started to move. They both took a seat and kept quiet for the rest of the ride. But don’t you think for a second that Kitty and Santa didn’t pay for what they had done. Their legs bare the consequences of their actions. Regardless of the bruises and bumps they had made it to the express bus terminal and that’s all that mattered at that point.

After their subway switchup they couldn’t have been happier to see their bedazzled bus. Kitty and Santa were finally out of the woods….or were they? Immediately upon entering the bus they reclined in their seats, pulled their eye masks down and it was lights out.  They felt like it had been minutes when the bus came to a screeching halt. They sat up and realized they were at the half way point. They stumbled off the bus partially still asleep to use the bathroom and  grab a drink for their extremely dry pallets. As they scurried out to the parking lot they stopped dead in their tracks at what lay before them. There were a million different buses that all looked the same. Which one was theirs??

Kitty and Santa immediately broke into a sweat and their hearts started to race. They were going to be left behind. These bus drivers didn’t do a head count like in kindergarten. They walked down the line of buses but none of them looked familiar, or they all did. Thankfully Santa remembered their bus was blue. That narrowed it down, but there were still a dozen blue buses in the lot. They split up and started running onto each bus checking their seat numbers for their belongings. After running on and off what seemed like hundreds of buses Santa had found their ride seconds before the bus driver slammed the door and punched the gas.

Kitty and Santa were speechless. They slumped back into their seats and let out a huge sigh of relief. Better luck next time…

Public transportation: 2

Kitty and Santa: 0