Jeju Island

Kitty and Santa were told by many Koreans (and by many they mean ALL of them) that Jeju Island was a MAGICAL place and they MUST visit before departing. In fact, since they started teaching in Korea Jeju Island was talked about like a place where Gods dwell. On multiple occasions when Kitty and Santa asked their kids if they could go ANYWHERE in the world, where would they go? The response, without hesitation, was ALWAYS Jeju Island. This place is so incredible that Koreans are convinced it would soon be added to one of the 7th wonders of the world. With it only being a 30 minute flight from Gwangju they booked their tickets and hoped to find some magic in Jeju.

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Kitty and Santa arrived at the Jeju airport in a flash. They walked outside and were greeted with a warm island breeze, big smiles & freshly squeezed Jejudo orange juice. It reminded them of the many vacations they took with their families to Florida growing up. Glowing in the sun they approached their bus that would take them to the hotel. They realized it was about to leave and ran over to bus driver about to hop on. The man started speaking very fast in Korean. Kitty and Santa kept repeating their hotel name hoping that he was asking where they were going. Santa walked over the the bus’s undercarriage and tried to put her bag under the bus when she was jolted from behind. The bus driver shoved Santa over the curb side and then scolded her to get on the bus. Santa was confused and disoriented, not knowing what just happened and she ran onto the bus. Kitty and Santa sat down in the back and looked at each other. “Did that man really just push me like that?” Kitty and Santa couldn’t help but laugh at the obscurity of these Korean bus drivers. The man peeled out of the airport parking lot rambling on in a rage. Sometimes Kitty and Santa look to the heavens and thank the Lord they don’t understand a lick of Korean.

They did some research prior to the trip and found out that Mount Halla is the highest mountain peak / volcano in South Korea and is located in the center of the island. Santa was ecstatic to hear the news, Kitty wasn’t thrilled. They both agreed it would be hard but something they could look back on and be proud of. “I mean, who hikes for 9 hours up 6,398 feet of rocky volcanic terrain?? Kitty and Santa!! That’s who!!” said Santa. “They do?” responded Kitty in a nervous tone. “YAA, they do.” Replied Santa.

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They started the hike at 7:30 AM and hiked to the top. Sweaty and exhausted they ate their lunch with an unforgettable view above the cloud. On the way back down their feet began to throb with excruciating pain. “My feet feel like little balls of hell, they are so hot!!” Kitty groaned. She was not happy and started pointing fingers at the person who thought this idea was so grand. Going down a mountain is supposed to be the easy part but for Kitty and Santa this couldn’t have been any worse. They contemplated calling for a chopper to come rescue them but the wons they had in their bank probably wouldn’t cover the expense.  At one point they stopped to catch their breath and Kitty pleaded with Santa to leave her “Go on without me. Leave me be. I am now apart of the Mt. Hell park” Kitty proclaimed in a zombie like state. Santa peeled her off a rock and they fought back the tears & kept on trucking until they finally got off Mount Hella (renamed by Kitty) around 4:00 PM.  “I gotta start going back to church because I never want to go back to a hell like that again” said Kitty. She announced to the Korean cab driver that her hiking career was over but later admitted ( after she was showered with beer in hand) that she was happy they finished strong. It was definitely a memorable experience and looking back it was worth most of the pain!

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After a full day of hiking they checked into their adorable hostel, cleaned up and set out to explore the island. They ended up falling madly in love with a restaurant named Yongyi that was serving Jeju’s famous Duruchigi, a pan-fried spicy pork & veggy dish that you cook yourself at the table. They ate their once & were hooked for the rest of the week. By their last  dinner they were wearing chef aprons at their family style table, drinking beers, cooking meat & chumming with the staff.

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Unfortunately the Gods of Jeju were not being as corporative as Kitty and Santa hoped and it ended up raining for the remainder of the trip. During breaks between the storms Kitty and Santa flocked outside to see some of the Jeju magic. Some trip highlights were:: frolicking in volcanic rocks, riding horses around the island, chasing waterfalls, eating bug snacks & drinking Korean rice wine with locals in the rain, getting lost in the middle of a rain/wind storm, acting like grammas (wine & backgammon on a Friday night) and cheesing in the Casinos.

If there is one thing Kitty and Santa are good at doing it’s dancing in the rain and this was no exception. They chose to live life to the fullest, shouting from mountain tops and embracing this amazing adventure they were blessed to go on together. Thank you Jeju.

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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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Springing South Korea

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Kitty and Santa spent the last 2 years of their lives on the tropical beaches of San Diego. When they made the move to South Korea not only did they experience culture shock, but the winter weather also brought on a period of hibernation like the Chicago bears they were raised to be. Since the weather has now turned and the flowers have bloomed, Kitty and Santa have come out of their cave and wasted no time frolicking about Korea. Here are some of their spring highlights!

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Gwangju 10K

Kitty decided that it might be fun for the duo to partake in a race while here in Korea.  After a bit of online research, and some translating by Kitty’s elementary students, they had signed up to run a 10K on April 21st.  With a little convincing, their friend Krissy signed up to run as well!  Santa and Kitty didn’t take the training too seriously, as they weren’t planning on winning.  And Krissy, well her training consisted of shopping and dancing at the bar on Saturday nights.

On race day, they had planned on meeting Krissy on the corner so they could catch a cab to the starting line together.  When Kitty and Santa arrived that morning, Krissy was nowhere in sight.  Santa started freaking out, as she always likes to be at least an hour early to EVERYTHING.  They started to walk towards her apartment, but turned around in fear she might have taken a different route and that they’d miss her.  As they neared the corner again, they spotted Krissy who was enjoying a breakfast of champions: Oreos and chocolate milk!

After a nerve racking 15-minute wait, they finally were able to flag down a cab.  They pulled out the race map in hopes that the cab driver would know where they were suppose to go.  He got a bit angry, but in the end they arrived at the starting line with about 20 minutes to spare.  Krissy, Kitty, and Santa all started the race together, but ended up getting separated during their run.  They reunited at the finish line where they were presented with medals, chocolate pies, and sweet bread (not the normal fruit and fuel they were use to receiving post run).  After snapping a few pictures with every Korean fan, they felt as though they had won the race.  Success! One more thing off Kitty and Santa’s Korean Bucket list!

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Shopping in Seoul

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Kitty and Santa hadn’t been to Seoul since they celebrated Kitty’s 26th year of birth in the fall.  This also means that they hadn’t been shopping since November.  In Gwang Ju they have a lot of small boutiques and places to shop downtown, but here in Korea the majority of clothing is one size fits all, or FREE size.  Seems a bit weird, but everyone here is pretty small.  Free size might work for most Koreans, but not for Kitty and Santa.  Their friends Krissy and Kivi also wanted to get up to Seoul, so they decided to all take the KTX train together the weekend following their big race.

This was everyone’s first time taking the train in Korea, and it was a really enjoyable experience for all.  They arrived around noon on that Saturday, and Kitty and Santa found themselves back at the scene of the crime, the Seoul Subway! As Krissy and Kivi tried to figure out what line they needed to take, Santa and Kitty got a snack and decided that after the mix up they experienced the last time they wouldn’t be putting in their two cents.  Fifteen minutes later they jumped on a line that took them directly to their love motel (love motel is how they refer to cheap motels here in Korea).  As Krissy and Kivi would say, it was actually quite nice!  They dropped off their luggage and hit the streets for a day of shopping.  After spending over three hours in the five-floor Forever XI, they decided it was time to get back to the motel and freshen up.  Krissy’s childhood friend and husband are currently living in Seoul, and invited them all over for drinks before dinner.  They enjoyed some Lithuanian sprites and snacks, before heading out to a Thai Chinese fusion restaurant.  After a family style dinner, they headed to an Irish pub for darts and Jameson.  They spent the rest of the night bar hopping, dancing and taking firework shots before ending up eating Doners at 3 am.  According to Santa, Doners is a snack she once enjoyed while visiting her sister in Germany many years ago.  Kivi really enjoyed the Doners, and went back for seconds, thirds, and maybe even a fourth.  The night become a blur after the food coma but they woke up in their beds feeling well rested!

The next morning they enjoyed a breakfast at a cute French restaurant in a quiet neighborhood, before jumping back on the train to Gwang Ju.  Kitty and Santa enjoyed their weekend away in the big crowded city, but it’s always nice to come home to Gwangju!

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Bamboo Forest and Festival

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Kitty and Santa set off for yet another weekend adventure. This time they headed to Damyang for the traditional bamboo festival.They tasted some wonderful traditional teas, cookies and bamboo flavored ice cream. Hiked through the famous bamboo forest, purchased some local bamboo goods and hung out with some bamboo wearing festival dancers. Just 45 minutes outside of Gwangju, this day trip was well worth the wons!

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Mt. Wolchulsan National Park

Santa was looking to get a feel for some real Korean hiking, so while Kitty spent the day studying for her online grad school classes Santa took the bus with a friend to Mt. Wolchulsan National Park. She was told by her friend (an experienced outdoorsmen kind of guy) that it would be a long hike but not to worry. He would provide all the snacks, water and necessities one might need while climbing a mountain. She left around 7:00 AM and returned dirty and tired at 7:00 PM. A full days work but it’s not every day one can proclaim that they climbed a mountain…and hiked an entire national park! It might have been one of her favorite days in Korea so far. Go Santa GO!

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Gokseong Train Village 

One of the many perks of living in Korea is the fact that it is so small, so seeing a lot of the country on day trips is possible. Kitty and Santa decided to hit up Gokseong Train Village on a sunny Saturday afternoon to ride their famous rail bikes around the town’s mountain base. They brought along some snacks, a bottle of wine, two dixies, and of course their cameras for documentation purposes. Kitty and Santa arrived at the bus’s final destination but didn’t see the village they were expecting. After a game of charades with the bus driver they finally were able to get the point across “RAIL BIKES”. The bus driver showed them to a taxi who drove them 15 minutes into the middle of no where. He pointed to a small building next to an old railroad track and said “rail bike, good bye”. Kitty and Santa shrugged, threw him some won tons, and got out of the cab.

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They approached the ticket counter where they asked for a two seater rail bike. The ticket lady crossed her arms and shook them violently, a korean term  they were familiar with, NO. A young Korean with excellent English skills stepped in to translate. “Did you make a reservation?” Kitty and Santa looked at each other and than made a big X with their forarms. “Noo.” Apparently it was necessary in order to ride the rail. Kitty and Santa stood there in contemplation. They didn’t know whether they should wait for another taxi to take them to this village or go on the trek without a mode of transportation…”I mean if we follow the train tracks I don’t think we will get lost…do you?” Kitty asked. The Koreans standing around them thought it would be too far for Kitty and Santa to walk, but they pointed the girls in the right direction and shook their heads as they watched Kitty and Santa disappear.

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It wasn’t long before Kitty and Santa busted into the wine as they followed the tracks winding through the beautiful Korean landscape. They sang some old rail road songs, screamed and jumped around when they crossed paths with a large snake, had a few panic attacks when crossing bridges (it was pretty close to being in the movie Stand by Me…), laughed hysterically and talked for hours about how weird it is that they live in Korea.

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One pretty important question kept coming about, especially when crossing the bridges…do trains actually ride on this rail still? The first time it came up they both laughed it off. Of course NOT, this rail was now for bikes only, and they would have plenty of time to jump out of the way when they saw them coming.  They both laughed and then became very silent…”do you hear that?” Kitty would ask over and over again. Santa kept turning to look behind her, expecting a large freight train to be there. Well, about an hour into the trip there was no mistaking the sound of a bustling steam engine heading their way. Its horn was bellowing and smoke came clouding out the front. Santa screamed and jumped into the ditch, not even thinking about the snakes. Kitty jumped to the side. Santa wanted to go further into the woods afraid the train would take them out. They were happy when they realized this train was full of tourists and it was moving like an authentically slow locomotive.

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After hours of walking they finally stumbled upon the train village. They were greeted with cold beers, carnival rides and amazing locals. Kitty and Santa enjoyed the town for an hour before trying to head back to Gwangju. A few Koreans near by spotted Kitty and Santa scratching their heads wondering when the next train back would be. “Last train to Gwangju is finished. You can ride with us, we take you back.” Kitty and Santa were so happy to have met such wonderful people. They chatted with the young newlyweds all the way back to Gwangju. The day couldn’t have gone any better…Oh Korea!

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 -Sometimes it’s not about the destination but journey that should be appreciated- 

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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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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