And they’re off!!

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Santa sprinted down the brightly lit kindergarden hallway with her hands covered over her mouth. Her Korean kitten slippers slid around on the hardwood floors as she, dodged, jumped and gently knocked kids off their feet in her panic. Green in the face she made it in time for the flu to abort her body in the correct place, unlike the day before when poor Mark splattered in the hallway10 steps too soon. It appears germs travel extremely fast when one works with kids and although this isn’t how Santa thought her last Friday teaching would end up, it still doesn’t take away from the best year of her life. Kitty kindly strolled through the door at 6:00 PM with some amazing soup that one of their co-workers bought them as a get-well and have a great last weekend in Korea gift. As they sipped their soup they took a good look around their Korean shoebox where they spent the last 365 days “What a year”….

Korea to them is one of those countries, that honestly, no matter how much they talk about it is completely indescribable. There is a large sense of love for the beauty of the land, the children, the culture and the food and yet at the same time they want to flip it the bird and bid it fair well with a giant F*YOU! (after time has passed they will explain Korea in a new light & truth they we’re not able to express over the past year because of their job). Thats not to say that Kitty and Santa will leave Korea with an ounce of hate because it’s so far from that. They have nothing but love for this experience but it was exactly that, an experience. One to love, to learn from and most importantly one that opened their eyes and mind to a whole new world and way of life.
and now…they are off!! Work is done. Hugs, tears and goodbyes are finished. Bank accounts closed. Korea has been an amazing chapter, a wonderful year that will always be cherished for everything it was. They are sad to go but so excited for the journey that awaits them. 90 days, 3 months, 2,160 hours of chaos and life changing travel. 20 friends and family along the way, it truly is a dream come true.
Kitty and Santa plan on updating the blog every few days with hilarious stories on their gypsy life. Thank you to everyone who has followed this journey, you are all a blessing in Kitty and Santa’s life and they wouldn’t be able to do this without your love and support!
In  6 short hours  they get to meet their families at their departing gate in Seoul. Kitty and Santa’s families connecting flight is their departure flight from Korea. It’s going to be an emotional reunion that will make leaving Korea so much easier. Korea will always have a piece of their heart and those kids will never be forgotten. Ever.
As for now… THAILAND.
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Santa’s Bday Rush

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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.

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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!!!

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

Lokhee & Anthony’s Wedding!

Kitty and Santa recently had the honor of attending their friend Lockhee’s traditional Korean wedding.  They were quite excited about attending the ceremony, as they knew it would be much different from the western weddings they were use to.

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The wedding was at a beautiful outside venue and the weather couldn’t have been better.  The ceremony began with a little traditional Korean music and dancing, followed by the bride being brought down the aisle in a small ham (pronounced hum) that was carried by four friends of the groom.

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Once at the alter, the bride and groom took their first bow together.

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Following the processions at the alter, there was more dancing, the belly dancers being Kitty and Santa’s favorite.  During the last dance Kitty spotted something out of her peripheral, as she turned to look a little Korean lady had a hot-floured rice cake next to her mouth.  When she went to ask what she was being fed the lady shoved it right in with a smile and said, “Cake!”  Kitty went to warn the other guests around her but couldn’t even swallow the large ball of rice in her mouth.  She saw Santa was next and stood there helplessly as she received the same treatment Kitty had.  Santa had a mustache of flour and was bent over choking as she tried to quietly consume her rice cake.

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They managed to swallow just in time to hear that the bride and groom would both be tossing a chicken into the audience, if you were to catch one of the birds they would be bring you luck.  Let’s just say Kitty and Santa headed towards the back of the small crowd as they saw the birds fly into the air.  Two lucky men in the audience did somehow grab a hold of the birds and went home the lucky winners.

 

 

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Following the ceremony there were drinks, dinner, and more dancing (whats a party without dancing?).  The bride and groom changed into western wear and read their vows, before a few members of their families gave speeches.  The night was capped off with some sparklers and a ride to the bar for a little after party.

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All in all it was a great experience, and a beautiful wedding.  They are so happy they were able to help celebrate the marriage of their new friends Anthony and Lokhee!

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Buddha’s Birthday Bachlorette in Busan

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Kitty, Santa and Krissy packed their bags and headed to the beaches of Korea to celebrate the long weekend. Buddha’s Birthday is recognized as a national holiday in SK, so they decided there was no better time to give Krissy one last girls weekend away before she ties the knot with her fiance in August!! The weekend was off to a hilarious start when they boarded their bus in Gwangju to find they were not the only english speaking travelers with plans to enjoy the beach. It was like being back at home; they could understand all the conversations that  surrounded them and they didn’t like it one bit. After about 30 minutes of taking in the English chatter, they all began to realize what was going on. Did that man behind us just say “Gather around my lords, we have council members to impose. Right now we will discuss our wizards internal fairy rights?!” They started to listen closely as they realized the group behind them were absolutely serious and they were not playing a game. This was real life to them. Kitty and Santa had heard about these fantasy role-playing games called Dungeons & Dragons, but never in their lives had they come across a group of 15 wizards, lords, fairies and warlockes. Four hours on the bus with this talk, and Kitty and Santa felt like they had been in a real life video game. “Will’s outside, but he’s invisible. Lets grab our royal weapons and head to the streets!!” Kitty, Santa and Krissy agreed with the wizards as they jumped off the bus kicking and punching the air. It was time to hit the streets running!!

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The three gal wolf pack checked into their love motel, got ready and met some of Krissy’s friends at their favorite Indian restaurant. After dinner they went back to their hotel to enjoy some Jameson and dress Krissy up in the bachelorette gear Kitty’s Mom so very nicely sent them. It included (but was not limited to) a sparkly sash, bling bling rings, mustaches, beads, buttons, glow sticks and shot glasses. Everything necessary for a  successful night out. The girls headed to Wolfhounds, a fabulous Irish pub that became their home for the next three days. They danced and sang to some classics like: ‘Nsync and B*witched.  Over the course of the night the wolf pack doubled, and even tripled in number.  With vocals like these, they aren’t sure how anyone could stay away.

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The following morning they weren’t feeling too shabby.  The weather in Busan didn’t exactly make them want to run to the beach, so they picked up some Starbucks and decided to walk around a bit.  They came across Kitty’s favorite fair game, and she couldn’t pass it up without trying her luck.  Krissy also decided she needed to take a stab at it.  Although the carney caught them stealing some extra darts, they ended up winning three hand-made shell necklaces.  They ran away with their dollar store jewels, like three of their excited kindergarten students.

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Just down the street Kitty spotted last nights stomping grounds, “Hey, why don’t we go to Wolfhounds and grab some good food.”  They all agreed they were pretty hungry, and headed in to find a table.  As they waited to order, they decided having an afternoon cocktail wouldn’t be such a bad way to kick off day 2.  As they ordered their drinks and a few appetizers, Kitty spotted something that she hadn’t seen in Korea before.…GOLDSCHLAGER.  Kitty couldn’t resist ordering a round for the wolf pack; she knew Krissy would enjoy the golden delicious treat.  Once it hit Krissy’s lips she was in love.  Let’s just say this round led to a few more, and again, the wolf pack began to grow.  They started playing darts, dancing, and Kitty even got her hair did!  Their table was seated next to a lonely ‘lost and found’ box, and they ended up finding some props to wear for that day’s festivities.  It was a long day at the pub, but one they will most definitely never forget.

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The following morning they weren’t feeling as fantastic as they had the day before.  They showered up, grabbed their props, and headed for the subway.  As usual, Kitty and Santa were cutting it quite close.  While Krissy and Kitty grabbed some food, they sent Santa to hold the bus.  Santa was standing in the bus door with one foot on the ground waving to the bus driver to wait just a few more minutes. Luckily, Kitty and Krissy made it before take off time, except the bus Santa was holding was a bus to Seoul….not Gwangju.  They muttered some “mian haeyos” (I’m sorries) as they ran off the bus, and managed to jump on the Gwangju bus before it peeled out of the parking lot.  As they all reclined in their seats for a much-needed nap, they were thrilled to see and hear that there weren’t any  wizards, lords or warlocks on this ride.  Kitty and Santa had never been happier to be surrounded by Koreans.

Although they didn’t see much of the beach in Busan, it was a great weekend celebrating Krissy’s last fling before the ring!! Congrats to their wonderful friends, they will most definitely be missed in South Korea when they leave in July!!

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Philippines Part 2 – Island Life

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Kitty and Santa found themselves on the back of motorcycles touring around the island with their local friends, Ramos and Denmar.   They rode through the small villages and became very envious of the simplicity that comes with island life. The guys took Kitty and Santa to an amazing beach and showed them where to get the best fresh coconut drinks right from the tree.

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Ramos and Denmar are cousins and both grew up on the island. They explained to Kitty and Santa that their grandparents moved to the island when tourism was nonexistent and had 11 kids. Each of those kids (including their parents) had around 10 or 11 kids. So literally everyone was related to them. They told Kitty and Santa that they absolutely loved their island life and wouldn’t trade it in for anything. They both own little huts by the beach, they have electricity, a TV and good rum. Their pet roosters win them money in the weekly cockfights and they both participate in the Island’s Dragon Racing. Kitty and Santa were in shock when they heard the guys  made around $5.00  a day through booking tours and that was plenty of money for them. Enough for food, drinks and bills. They said if one day they don’t make enough to eat then they just go to one of their 145 relatives on the island whom conveniently all live in huts surrounding them. Denmar said “I’m not rich, I don’t have a lot, but I am so happy. This island is my family and we take care of each other. We are happy and that makes us rich.”  This really stuck with Kitty and Santa. How amazing to meet people who truly appreciate every aspect of their life without the need of materialistic items. People work their entire lives in hopes to retire to an island like this when in reality it would only cost them $5.00 a day to just do it (give or take). Kitty and Santa want to urge all of you reading this that there is no better time in life than NOW. Money means nothing in the end. Do only what you love. Enjoy the amazing life you were granted, the beautiful places in this world and all the bright souls you might meet along the way…because there are SOO many of them out there. Kitty and Santa were feeling truly happy and blessed. 

When they were done sleeping on the beach they went back to where Ramos had said he would meet them. He was there waiting but it was only him and his motorcycle. Confused Kitty and Santa asked where his cousin was. Ramos told them he had to do something so he would be taking them back. Still confused Kitty and Santa both said “On your motorcycle?” Ramos also looked confused “Yes, lets go.” Santa got on and then Kitty did too. They had become those people they were always laughing at riding 3 deep on a motorcycle. They felt very odd about the situation until they pulled up next to a family of 5 and a baby on 1 motorcycle. Then it wasn’t so bad. (to our mom’s: please know these island roads move VERY slow or Kitty and Santa would have never agreed to get on). They safely arrived back to their beach for sunset.

As they strolled back to their favorite beach bar, Nigi Nigi Nu Noos, Ramos offered to take them out the next day on his boat. He told Kitty and Santa he would take them snorkeling and to a some private islands where he could cook them his famous Philippine BBQ chicken. Sounded like a dream come true, Kitty and Santa kindly accepted the invitation!

Even though Kitty and Santa had been hanging around these guys for the past few days they still took the necessary precautions before heading to sea with their friends. That night at the bar Santa told just about every person she met to remember her face incase they saw her on the news in the days comming. She told them a detailed description of Ramos and Denmar and where exactly they like to hang out and every bit of information they told her. When Santa got home she wrote an email titled “IF I GO MISSING, READ THIS”  and sent it to herself and Kitty just in case. Santa was sure the FBI would check her e-mail if something happened. She also wrote a note and left it on her bed for housekeeping. Its safe to say that Santa and Kitty have watched one too many ‘I survived’ / 48 hour murder mystery shows. They weren’t going to be the girls that go missing on an island without a trace. They left clues hidden EVERYWHERE.

Turns out Denmar, Ramos and  a few of their cousins that joined them were really just amazing people. They didn’t want to harm or kill Kitty and Santa, they just wanted to cook them chicken and ask them questions about their life back in the states. The day at sea couldn’t have been more of an amazing experience thanks to the amazing Filipino hospitality and culture!

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Where we enjoyed lunch and a few bottles of rum :  )

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Saying goodbye to the boat and our friends

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❤ Peace, love & freedom to all of you on this journey we call life. ❤

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“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” 
― Oprah Winfrey

Philippines – Part 1 – Helmet Heads.

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Kitty as Santa packed their bags and headed to the Philippines for a well deserved week of sunshine on Boracay Island. They arrived on the island of Caticlan where they were told they could hail a tricycle to the boat docks. Kitty and Santa were skeptical of these tricycles they spoke of. If the 7 year olds on the island drove as bad as the 7 year olds in Korea they might never make it to the beach. Kitty and Santa knew this trip was going to be a memorable one from the moment they climbed into the rickety metal side cart on a motorbike and were handed a beer. A tricycle built for 3….or 7 or 10.

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The sound of motorbike echoed in the air as they rode shotgun with their driver, Ramal, down the dirt roads through the lush tropical forest. Warm air blowing in their faces, the sun on their transparent winter white skin and the smell of sunshine, palm trees and freedom in the air (yes, were talking about that amazing scent).  They reached a port where they got on a boat and were taken to Boracay Island. Kitty and Santa checked into their hotel and immediately headed across the street to the beach.

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Paradise greeted them with cocktails and refreshingly happy and welcoming islanders. Kitty and Santa made friends fast while sipping cocktails. Their new local friends, Ramos and Denmar, helped them set up a few activities for the next few days. They watched as the sun set turning the sky into a swirls of orange, red, pink, purple and yellow. Talk about a sunset.

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Kitty and Santa woke up in the morning feeling like they could go for some true R&R after a night of cocktails so they headed to the beach where they paid $3 for a massage under a private cabana, it was worth every peso.

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They soaked up the morning rays & then met up with Ramos and Denmar for a little adventure. Helmet diving! Kitty and Santa had read about this popular tourist activity and decided to give it a try. They headed out on a boat where they were given a brief instruction on how to lower themselves down to the ocean floor with a giant 15 pound helmet on.  The helmet was open and sat on their shoulders connected to oxygen that pressurized the inside of it. Its kind of like when you put a cup in water and the air keeps the cup from filling up, except Kitty and Santa’s heads were going to be in this cup. Their eyes grew big as they started to question this decision. “Are there sharks? What if science fails and water goes into my helmet? What if the oxygen runs out? What if I get lost down there?” The what ifs went on for 5 minutes before the locals shushed them. They put the giant cement helmet on Santa’s head and started pushing her down a ladder into the ocean. A scuba diver waited for her in the water making sure she got down properly without blowing up her head from all the pressure. Once at the bottom of the ocean Santa stood there all alone waiting for Kitty to join her. She laughed hysterically to herself at the thought of what this must look like. Oh wait, here’s a shot.

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Once Kitty was down there with her they both just stared at each other with that deer in the headlights look. The diver gave them a piece of bread to hold and they were attacked by a sea of tropical fish. They felt like they were in a very strange video game. Kitty’s eyes were large with fear the entire time they were down there. The guide tried to get her to move around but she said no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t seem to gain mobility. Santa started to feel like she was going to throw up in her helmet so she tried to get the guides attention. Apparently she didn’t listen very well during instructions and he thought she was saying that she wanted to go for a walk. He grabbed her and kitty and started pulling them around the coral reefs. Santa was turning white in the face when she tried to motion again that she needed to go up. The guide understood but decided to take Kitty first since she looked like she was going to have a stroke. Santa again was left standing alone on the ocean floor, eyes wide, turning in circles slowly wondering if sharks are attracted to throw up.

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After a short 30 minutes back on land they were shuttled off to go parasailing. Santa was feeling shaky but thought being in the air would help so they geared up and latched onto their superman parachute for liftoff. Up, up, up & away!
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Kitty and Santa couldn’t believe how cool this was! The views were breathtaking.
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About 10 minutes into it Santa again became very ill. This time kitty was afraid the wind might forcefully involve her in the situation. Santa braced herself for the worst as they were being lowered down back into the boat. One of the  workers was kind enough to capture the entire thing on Kitty’s camera. They guessed going from the ocean floor to the clouds in the sky within a hour probably wasn’t the smartest idea for someone who has regular motion sickness BUT they would do it all over again!
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Kitty and Santa travel quotes:
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While waiting for the flight attendant to check their tickets, Kitty has her music blaring in ears and leans over to tell Santa a secret. She SCREAMS “HE SMELLS LIKE CIGS REAL BAD!” Then looks back at Santa like did you hear me or was that too quiet. Then proceeds to shout “BAD. LIKE REAL BAD SANTA” Santa dropped her head down hoping the guy didn’t speak english, or couldn’t hear.
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The customs worker in the Philippines asked Kitty if she had any checked luggage. She looked at Santa and grinned like an excited school boy “Did he just ask me if I want chicken nuggets? I love this place.” Santa didn’t have the heart to tell her what was really going on so Kitty politely answered “Of course I do!” She was confused when he took her luggage and didn’t give her any nuggets. Next time Kitty, next time.
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Santa’s hearing is no better:
Guy: “Have you ever been in a helicopter?”
Santa: “NO. What is that?”
Guy: “A helicopter? You don’t know what that is?”
Santa: “No, but I would love to hear more about where I can find one.”
Kitty: “NO. She would just love to HEAR. SANTA HE SAID HELICOPTEEERRRRR!”
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Cooking Class

Kitty and Santa’s fellow teachers Krissy and Kivi are always poking fun at the meals they regularly prepare for themselves: spam and eggs, grilled spam and cheese, spam and rice, PB&J, popcorn, and anything smothered in Sriracha…what more do they need?  They feel as though they are hitting up all the major food groups at some point in their day.  I mean SPAM? It isn’t just ham!

Krissy and Kivi are always talking about the delicious dishes they are enjoying every evening, and Kitty and Santa had begun to grow curious. Krissy decided to invite them over and give them a little lesson on preparing some down home South African Cooking. Without reservation they accepted the invite. For years back in high school they had attended Sue’s cooking class, so this wasn’t their first rodeo.

They showed up late Saturday afternoon with a garden salad, a bottle of Jameson, and a few loaves of bread.  Mind you if Kitty and Santa had stayed home this is probably what they would have been eating for dinner.  Krissy had all the ingredients laid out and they wasted no time getting started. She informed them that they would be learning how to make Bunny Chow. Kitty got excited thinking it sounded like Puppy Chow, but was quick to find out that Bunny Chow was not the sweet snack she was picturing in her head. This particular dish was Indian, and something both of their families had been cooking for years.  Krissy started chopping while Kitty started snacking, and Santa began taking notes. Korean kitchens are quite small, so they had to take turns peering over Krissy’s shoulder.  A dash of this, a pinch of that; a delicious aroma filled their little Korean villa.  (During their class they also were informed that the correct term for their residence here in Korea is villa, not apartment).  After letting their curry concoction simmer for a little over a half hour it was time to dish it up. Kivi took the loaves of bread, cut and took out the center of each one. Krissy then poured the curry into the hole that was created and topped it with garnish. Kitty and Santa rolled up their sleeves and began to dig in. It tasted just as delicious as it smelled. Success!  Now if only it goes this smoothly when they are preparing it in their own kitchen. Keep your fingers crossed and Kitty and Santa might be dishing up Bunny Chow for you when they make it back to the states!

Cute little Korean Kitchen

Cute little Korean Kitchen

Our contribution....Garden Salad:)

Our contribution….Garden Salad:)

Kivi doing work!

Kivi doing work!

 

Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow

 

 

 

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