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

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VIVA Las ‘Graduation Day’ Vegas

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When kitty and Santa started their jobs at VIVA English Academy they were confused as to why this Korean school would use the word VIVA, a spanish word, to describe their English kindergarten. Perhaps they were aware of the popular phrase that Kitty and Santa had come to love over the years “Viva Las Vegas”. Well, 6 months into their jobs and Kitty and Santa finally came to realize that VIVA Las Vegas was a large inspiration for the school.

Graduation day. A day in the USA that parents and grandparents love. Families come together to celebrate and honor loved ones for their wonderful accomplishments. Middle school, high school, college and even kindergartens hold this special day so when Kitty and Santa heard that they would be hosting 2 days of graduations they were excited and proud to watch their baby geniuses walk on stage and get their diplomas.

Side note: In most Korean private schools the school year ends around February 25th. Korean children then take a holiday that lasts 1 to 2 days. Yes, we said days. Not a summer, not weeks, not months. The children got a good extra 48 hours tact onto their weekend before they resumed classes the following Monday. Just another reason Kitty and Santa appreciate a good ol’ American summer.

They found out a few months prior that their classes would be doing a full play on stage in front of parents along with some English speeches. They worked hard everyday preparing materials with their kids. The Korean co-teachers would drill the children for their lines, correcting the 6 and 7 year olds posture and making sure every high note was hit during dance rehearsals for row, row, row your boat. Kitty and Santa praised each child for their efforts but feared the co-teachers high volumes of stress as they darted around the room beating the desks with a wooden sticks to the tempo of each movement. They scolded the kids and even Kitty and Santa in Korean, instructing everyone to try harder and give more to their performances.

The day finally came. Kitty and Santa watched as their littles one, dressed in caps and gowns, were awarded their certificate of graduation. This ceremony was met with a long Korean speech from a woman people only know as ‘the General’. The General is the cute little old lady who owns the school and is incredibly feared by all. Next was the Korean national anthem and then the kids would be up to do their plays and speeches. Kitty and Santa followed their classes downstairs for what they thought would be a last minute prep before the kids were back on stage.

As soon as they entered the class room children started ripping their clothes off and the co-teachers ran in circles screaming commands in Korean. Kitty and Santa stood pressed up against the classroom wall trying hard not to get hit by a flying shoe. They slowly began to realize that this graduation day was not going to be like the 25 minutes of cuteness and photo ops like the ones back home. This was going to be a full on VIVA Las Vegas performance. A show with verity and color and 15 costume changes. A show that would put Celion Dion to shame and make Circus de Soleil look do-able by a group of 6 and 7 year olds. This was no ordinary show – this was a Korean VIVA Las Vegas English graduation ceremony.

They stood in shock as the co-teachers dressed the children in flashy bright outfits and taped microphones to their faces. Santa eyes grew big as she saw some of her boys dressed in fairy dresses and belly shirts, it was a very proud and confusing moment for her. “This is what the kids were going to be wearing for the little red riding hood play? A little much, don’t you think Kitty?” asked Santa. Kitty stared in disbelief. A co-teacher ran past them and Kitty got her attention “Teacher, time for play now?” she asked. The co-teacher looked at her in shock “No teacher. Time for DANCE.”

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Kitty and Santa went back upstairs to try to understand the entertainment selection while waiting for their turn to go to the stage with their class. They had spent everyday for the past 2 months rehearsing for what now appeared to be a tiny portion of this production. When did these kids have time to learn all of these dances? Within this 3 hours they witnessed their little ones spin around the stage in a ballet recitale. A hip hop dance off. They rang cow bells to twinkle twinkle little star. Played the chelo like Pablo Casals. Pounded on cajon box drums like professional street artists. Dressed like swedish goat farmers in a swiss bell recitale. Danced around stage with African drums. Performed a full English play. Blew out some whimsical music from their recorders. Gave English speeches on lemons, Santa Clause, science, how to make a delicious Spam sandwich and much much more. Kitty and Santa were exhausted after 2 days of watching these shows so they couldn’t imagine how the children felt. The little ones walked away from VIVA with so much more than an English education….we hope to see them again one day…. strolling around the Las Vegas Blvd.

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The birds and the bees.

DING.DONG.DING. “Teachers, today’s excursion will be a safety puppet show presentation in the 4th floor auditorium  See you up there!” DING.DONG.DING.

As Kitty and Santa walked up the stairs with their classrooms they vented about the relief of not having to sing on the bus ride that morning. A fun puppet show sounded so much better. They sat down with their classes in front of 1 woman who had a few bags by her feet. Hm, no elaborate Korean costumes or set, this is a first thought Santa. The woman began to speak in Korean and all the kids chanted back to her. She pulled out 2 dolls, 1 boy and 1 girl and continued to talk. Finding it pretty boring Santa and Kitty started to drift off into their own worlds but were gravitated back to the show when they noticed the speaker singing while undressing the dolls. Then they noticed the dolls had detailing they had never seen on a doll before. The speaker started to point to body parts. Kitty and Santa scanned the room and noticed their 7 year old (really only 5 year old) classes had their heads cocked to the side and jaws dropped. Kitty looked at Santa and whispered “Is this a safe sex talk?” Santa looked like a deer caught in the headlights and was non-responsive. The children started to chant something in Korean as the speaker pulled out a picture. Kitty and Santa’s eyes grew bigger. What in the world?

The kids chanted and screamed….was this some kind of weird game? OH, Gosh yes. Yes, it was. The louder they screamed the faster the sperm traveled to its final destination. The kids went wild when it finally reached the egg. The students had their game faces on and the teachers were all giggling like 5 year olds. “Ok, well I’m happy thats over” Kitty said. It wasn’t though, not even close to it. The speaker then brought out another doll, this time the doll was pregnant and wearing a moo moo. The speaker proceeded to put her hand up the moo moo and with the help of the cheering children pulled a baby, out of the baby doll. This wasn’t the cute kind of baby doll you would give to your 5 year old on Christmas morning. No no, this baby doll was very premature and fully equipped with an attached umbilical cord. The kids reacted appropriately with an ewww.

Next activity! Who wants to be pregnant?! At first the kids didn’t know if this was a trick question, but after one hand shot up in the air they all decided they wanted to be with child. The speaker chose the lucky guy. The little boy approached the stage with caution. The speaker pulled a pregnant body suit out of the bag and showed him. Speaker: “Do you want to wear this” Child: “aahhhaaaaaaa (awkward laugh)” He was regretting his decision instantly and managed to escape before she dressed him in the flattering pink suit.

“Looks like we need a new volunteer!” of course Santa’s student, The Fonzi, jumped on the opportunity.

Kitty’s student didn’t seem to mind the suit but the speakers face is telling her other wise.

After the “safety” puppet show had come to an end Kitty and Santa looked at each other, “Wait, are we going to have to write an excursion report on this?” An excursion report usually entails writing about all the fun things the students got to do on their weekly trip, and this one wasn’t going without documentation.  As they sat in the front of the classroom asking the kids what they had learned the responses were well, hard to put into words.  Let’s just say there were a lot of visuals as the students scanned their english vocabulary for words that described what they had experienced that day.  Kitty and Santa usually help them make the sentences flow, but were drawing blanks themselves.  Nothing like getting the sex talk before shipping off to first grade at the public schools.  We would have gladly grabbed the mic on the bus that day if it meant sparring ourselves the brutality of the so called safety show. Until next week…

Bears at the dump.

Kitty and Santa were so lucky to get 2 excursion days this week. The first being a trip to the Gwangju City dump! Image

When Kitty saw the dump excursion on the week schedule she questioned Santa in a frenzy.  “Do you think we are going to the dump or the recycling center? The dump is really dangerous, I dont think they would take us there.” Santa was a little confused “Well, ya I probably wouldn’t want my kid going to the dump. it’s disgusting but I don’t think it’ll be that dangerous.” Kitty was in shock. “WHAT? There are bears at the dump Santa!” Still in confusion Santa replied “Wait, what? There are? How do you know?” “Aaah YA there are, I know! I saw them when I was a kid. We were in Canada and my dad wanted to see some bears so he drove us all to the dump and we watched one eat a couch in front of our car. It was so scary. I’m just saying I don’t want to see any bears again”. Santa was in tears but she respected the validity in her point. She didn’t want to see any bears either.

Rest assure there were no bears at the dump, just trash and outdated technology. Kitty and Santa felt like they had traveled back in time as they toured the plant. The 1970’s control room, resembling something out of Apollo 13, was fascinating to see still being used in todays era.

ImageThe monotors with just flames really added to the special effects.ImageIf the kids weren’t with us Kitty and Santa would have lit up some cigars and did the countdown to take off! 10.9.8….

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A grungy korean man approached them all like “Check this out” to the kids. He was definitely the coolest guy in the room hitting those buttons and navigating trash in his space chair.Image

Kitty and Santa were actually a little jealous of his mad skills. He could win them a lot of teddy bears at an arcade. Image

On excursion days the co-teachers always act like paparazzi with photos of the kids and everything they are doing. It usually consumes about 95% of the trip, waiting to take photos. This time the lights didn’t seem to flash at all. Although Santa did see one co-teacher making her kids pose next to some steam pipes. Way to keep it dangerous and edgy teacher!

The trip wouldn’t have been complete without seeing how many people they could fit into an elevator ride. 2 classes? no, no…lets go for 3 classes AND the teachers!! Clearly it wasn’t this co-teachers brillant idea but they were successful. 3 classes and 5 teachers deep. Image

“Teacheeerrrr, Jack too close” haha he loves to terrorize.Image

Lessons learned here: Always watch for bears at the dump. The garbage man’s job is like playing in a jumbo arcade room & never underestimate the size of an elevator.

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…

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Kitty and Santa: 0

Jjimjilbang…Korean Spa Land

What does one do on a rainy day in South Korea? Well Kitty and Santa went out searching while in Busan for the weekend and found Spa Land, a Korean jjimjilbang. We had heard previously about these spas also known as public bath houses, but everyone said if you live in Korea its something you MUST experience….and was it ever an experience (always is with us).

We tracked down how to get to Spa Land from our hostel, got off the subway and were greeted by the immaculate Shinsegae, the worlds largest department store. Well there was no way we were going to pass this kind of shopping up so we spent the first few hours making purchases with our well earned Wons (Korean $). We felt like we were flying around the Shinsegae in pretty red dresses, OH look. This ad matches our emotions exactly.

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After shopping we decided to find Spa Land. We were on our way to leaving the Shinsegae when a map told us it was located inside the mall. Perfect! A few escalator rides up, down…back up again and we arrived at the front desk looking like the infamous bag ladies.

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Kitty and Santa paid a whopping $12 USD each to get into this amazing land of spas. We kindly asked the receptionist if there were lockers for us to store our bags in at the Spa and she nodded yes. Great. Kitty and Santa were handed little bracelets that would allow us to make purchases inside the spa, we weren’t really sure what that meant but we headed in.

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The first thing Kitty and Santa do in every Korean establishment is take off our shoes, so I have no clue why we would forget this time. Our first set of lockers were meant only for our shoes before entering the Spa Land, but being the bright individuals we are Kitty and Santa sat staring in confusion at these mini lock boxes. “How in the world are we going to fit all of our bags in this shoe box?” Kitty asked. Santa started grabbing items and shoving them into the tiny tiny box. “This can’t be right” she said. “What about our clothes? Do we wear our jeans into the spa? What are we suppose to be wearing? Do you see any naked people around here? What are people doing? This is weird. Should we just leave?” Kitty and Santa became a box of questions before putting their shoes back on and retracing their steps down to the reception desk. Politely approaching we asked again, “umm, excuse me. All of these bags here, is there somewhere where we can fit all these bags?” The woman politely nodded yes and pointed up the stairs, so back up we went. This time we followed someone to their locker and watched. AHH. Just our shoes! Got it. We locked them up and in we went.

Upon entering we were handed matching jumpsuits to change into and 2 small hand towels, then we’re directed towards the women’s side of the spa. We walked in and awkwardly scurried around trying to find our lockers. The first thing that Kitty and Santa noticed was that nobody was wearing their pretty jumpsuits. Maybe its just a locker room thing? We walked around a little bit (this place should have come with an instruction manual) and then figured it out…

Step 1: Get naked

Step 2: Take a shower/scrub until your raw. Easier said than done (we can spare the details here)

Step 3: Explore the soaking tubs

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES: We found it funny that Koreans go to the beach fully clothed because wearing a swimsuit in the sand would be a ridiculous idea, but walking around naked in a bath house full of woman is like taking a stroll in the park. Us Americans on the other hand have no problem showing some skin while getting our tan on at the beach, but acted like middle schoolers forced into the shower after PE when we had to walk around naked. Kitty and Santa thought that all the people staring at us on the streets were bad, well take off all our clothes and you’ve got yourself Asia’s favorite sitcom. HA!

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We enjoyed a few hot tubs and then ran back to the lockers with our hand towels to put some clothes on and check out what else this place had to offer.

Kitty and Santa would do it all again just for what awaited us around the corner. There were over a dozen different hot sauna rooms, all at different temperatures with different themes and benefits for your health. Snack bars around every corner. There were places to nap…every where. Beds on the floor, reclining beds, massage chairs, reclining chairs, rooms with different lighting. The entire spa area is covered with glass windows, so on a rainy day this was absolutely the most relaxing thing we could have ever asked for. We ate at a delicious Korean restaurant on the top floor, used our little bracelets to pay, Cha Ching! We watched movies on a personal flatscreen in lazy boy chairs. Had a message. There was a full salon available, an outdoor foot soaking pond and shopping! The best part was we did it all in matching jumpsuits with towels wrapped around our wet hair. We looked ridiculous but felt amazing, and that my friends is why the lady in red was flying.

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Finding our Chi


Kitty and Santa set off for a day in Mudeungsan Provincial Park on Saturday. Kitty routed out how to get there by bus and boom. An hour of travel and we made it happen.

Waiting at the bus stop with a pretty hefty crowd Kitty was attacked by a bumblebee the size of a cheeseburger. A little fact about Kitty is she absolutely is terrified of the birds and the bees (literally speaking) so when that flying whopper came at her face like a bat out of hell she did what came naturally. Santa was scared and crying from laughing so hard as she watched Kitty do an interpretive dance involving a lot of screeching  ducking, swinging, swatting and bouncing. After Kitty won the battle with the bee we continued waiting for our bus, only now we had a crowd of on lookers.

We finally made it to the park, or maybe this large hill is a mountain? YEP. Forgot to look into that one, we made it to the mountain for what we thought was going to be a leisurely stroll. As if Kitty and Santa don’t already under dress in gear we showed up at the base of this massive mountain in casual work out clothes and purses. So the staring continued and we proceeded to stand out. We are sort of getting use to it by now.

Definitely need to take some pointers from this guy next time. Prepared for all types of weather! (mind you, it was 82 degrees)

I’m not going to lie, this freaked us out. Especially with no translation of the sign. We determined it meant there were dragon snakes hiding in the rocks that were either going to A.eat Bambi’s dad in front of us or B. swallow us whole. After talking it out we decided if one of us was attacked by the dragon the other person should sacrifice themselves as dessert because finding help with no cell phones or in korean was going to be next to impossible. Kitty and Santa are both very happy we survived.

After hiking up, up and away we finally came to the temples. How amazing. This temple, Jeungsimsa Buddhist Temple, was built during the Silla Dynasty….wait for it….in 57 BC. (ya know, BEFORE CHRIST). Well, I think Kitty and Santa were both in absolute awe that we were able to not only see these temples but politely take our shoes off, offer a prayer and snap a few pictures. Awesomeness.

our first Buddha encounter

incredible views

It was incredible to see people still using these prayer rooms as we walked around

Prayers.

Drinking from the fountain of youth.

“The mountain of the Gods”

After Kitty and Santa journeyed through the spiritual realm of Buddha we were motivated to keep going. So UP the mountain we went! Along the way we were greeted by every child under the age of 11 and every old man over the age of 70. Yes, even the 70 year olds were hiking up, up and away. Shouts of “HELLO! HOW YOU!!!”  came bellowing from friends all around us. It took Kitty and Santa a little off guard as we are so use to blank stares. Eager to respond Santa would shout back “KAMSAMNIDA” in Korean…Kitty later asked Santa why she was saying that to everyone. Santa replied that she was just being friendly. Then Kitty informed Santa she wasn’t saying HELLO she was screaming THANK YOU! ha!

Kitty also noticed that all of the old people smelled like booze and seemed to be staggering at high elevations. We remembered that someone told us about this. Some type of cultural thing where old people drink and hike all day. We should look into those facts but it was strangely interesting to see.

Looking at our city from above the clouds 🙂

Kitty and Santa decided to go off the paved path and onto a trail to seek out another temple. It was a vertical incline but the sign read 1 KM and we thought that shouldn’t be too bad so up we went. Along the way we didnt see many people but we did run into an old woman. She didn’t speak any English but she kept looking straight up and wiping her head as if to sweat – we were too stupid to figure out the warning.

 Kitty, Santa and that old man in the blue hiked and hiked and hiked. We saw a sign that said we had only 1.9 KM left. WHAT?! Well, we already went so far so we had to keep going. The 3 amigos basically walked up those bolders stairs with dragons hiding in them for a good hour before we got worried. We decided that even if we made it to the top theres no way we would have any energy to make it back.  Unlike our friend old blue, we forgot our gear so pitching a tent and having a 5 course meal wasn’t an option for us. So down down down we went.

We thought this would be easier but it actually ended up to be the worst park. We had JELLO-LEG. This is when your legs begin to shake compulsively and move with no control. We were flying down the mountain, crashing into trees was our only hope to slow our speed. It was pretty hysterical and looking back probably a little dangerous. BUT we made it out alive to tell our story.

At the end of the day Santa found a park bench and we took it all in…yes, yes, we live in Asia.

“NOT ALL THOSE WHO WANDER ARE LOST.” -J.R.R. TOLKEIN

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