Vatos Urban Tacos

A Seoul must-stop: Vatos Urban Tacos.

The atmosphere is vibrant and the place is always buzzing with Koreans and foreigners. The margaritas are big in size while the tacos are big in flavor. My personal favorite are the Kimchi Fries.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
Vatos’s Kimchi Fries are unbeatable.

Smothered in braised pork carnitas, killer kimchi, cheese, cilantro and onion and sour cream, doused in their own hot sauce, the Kimchi fries are mouth-watering good.

Whether you’re there to chow down on some gourmet tacos, topped with spicy chipotle and seasoned goodness, or just there to drink, Vatos Tacos is the place to be.

 

IMG_6649
A Coronarita will run you $15, but you’ll never look back.

 

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
Three urban tacos for less than 11,000 won ($12).

 

Be a Toursit in Kansas: Largest Ball of Twine

A few years back, I visited the world’s largest ball of twine. It was as anti-climatic as you would imagine. It was on my bucket list to be a tourist in my own home state of Kansas.

biggest ball of twine02 biggest ball of twine01Cawker City is home to the largest ball of twine and only 469 people, according to the 2010 Census. The ball measures more than 40 feet in circumference and weighs more than 14,000 pounds. 

 

Hello 2015.

In October 2013, I moved to Daegu, South Korea and started what would be a yearlong journey of teaching English Monday through Friday and traveling every weekend. I met a man in May and quickly fell in love as we explored Korea together. When my contract ended in October 2014, I set out alone for two months traveling through four S.E. Asian countries.

Once I returned to the U.S., I embarked on a two-week road trip through America with Chris, the man I fell for in South Korea. Now, I am packing up my belongings at my parent’s house in Kansas and preparing to move to Georgetown, Texas, a town outside of Austin.

Chris and I admiring Emerald Bay in South Lake Tahoe, California on New Years Eve, December 31, 2014.
Chris and I admiring Emerald Bay in South Lake Tahoe, California on New Years Eve, December 31, 2014.
As I settle into my life stateside, my goal this year is to blog about my time in Korea, my trip to Cambodia, my weekend in Shanghai, my adventures in Japan, Thailand and Myanmar, and continue to push myself to be honest, open and informative. And, of course, plan for my next trip…

Collecting your pension

One thing I did not mention in my first two posts about applying for a job in Korea is that my job includes a pension plan. The pension is on top of the salary, severance pay, round-trip airfare, health insurance and furnished apartment. Not bad, eh?

The pension is called a lump-sum pension refund. If you qualify, a small amount of money is taken out of your paycheck each month and matched by your employer. Unfortunately, my British and Kiwi coworkers pay into the pension yet do not qualify to receive the pension at the end of their contracts, yet Americans and Canadians can expect to receive their lump-sum pension refund four to five weeks after ending their contract.

 

That is what 9 million won looks like in 50,000 won notes. Not too shabby.
That is what 9 million won looks like in 50,000 won notes. Not too shabby.

My pension is meant to be around 1.6 million won (or $1,550)**  after working in Korea for 12 months. For me, the best part about this money is that it was an added “savings” account for me. While I was able to save about 59% of my paycheck, this is added savings that I did not have to account for.

Collecting your lump-sum pension refund is easy. The woman in the office in Daegu speaks English. Some male foreign teachers have tried to snag her number, so she is good looking, too. I recommend visited the office four weeks before your flight out of Korea to give you time in case you’re missing documents.

It is an easy trip to the National Pension Service Office.

Be sure to bring:

  • Passport (original)
  • Alien Registration Card
  • Flight ticket (should be within one month of departure date)
  • If you want your money transferred into your KEB account, bring your KEB bank account passbook
  • If you want the money transferred into your home country’s bank account, bring the following information: bank’s address, phone number, account number, routing number, and a copy of a bank statement.

Where’s the National Pension office in Daegu? 
Beomeo Station (범어역), on the green line. The LIG building is between exit 1 and 4. It is a huge building, you cannot miss it.  The office is on the 11th floor.
If you want to be lazy and take a taxi (you are about to get 1.5 million won, so you can afford to splurge) Tell the taxi: 범어역 출구 1번으로 가주세요 – (Boh-Moh-Yuck-Chool-Goo-Eel-Bohn-Euh-Roh-Gah-Choo-Say-Yoh)

Phone: (053) 750-9180
Address: 11th Floor, LIG Bldg., 712 Dalgubeol-daero, Suseong-gu, Daegu

 

** UPDATE: In Mid-November, $1,900 was deposited into my Bank of America account.

Korea Burn

IMG_2091

Korea Burn was held on 4th of July weekend in the town of Taean, which is on the east coast a few hours south of Seoul. I arrived late Friday night on the Enjoy Korea bus. Enjoy Korea is a solid travel company ran by an awesome American girl, Stacey. She has done a great job putting together trips and packages for low-stress, high-satisfaction fun. I highly recommend going on an Enjoy Korea trip.

IMG_2081

<

The Burn was something I was really looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. My friends from Cheongju put together an awesome themed Camp of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

This incredibly talents guy made a fire breathing Jaguar Shark.
This incredibly talents guy made a fire breathing Jaguar Shark.

While costumes are not required, it is one of those things you will wish you had put some time into a costume. Korea Burn is an event where the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. The biggest lesson from Korea Burn is BRING BUGSPRAY.

IMG_0218

Chris ordered this headdress off of Etsy in preparation for the event.

Teaching in Sangin

IMG_0482

My coworkers and good friend Rikus, who the students call Matt Teacher, went on vacation for a week. It was during middle school testing, which is a time I do not have classes but instead work on preparing test questions or work in my school’s publishing department.

Covering Rikus’s classes was a welcomed surprise because the students are a few years younger than my 12- to 14-year-old students. There were loads of differences between teaching these different age groups.

IMG_0517

First, the students were incredibly kind and took the time to say hello. The students were happy, carefree, not stressed and seemed to enjoy being at academy (or at least better at hiding their dismay).

“Me! Me! Me!” was exclaimed when I asked,”Who wants to read the first paragraph?” It was a welcomed change from the middle schoolers averting eye contact when it came time to be called on.

IMG_0498

Busking in South Korea

My friend from, Chad Huston, university sent me this video he saw it was from South Korea. I love that seeing the word Korea made think of me.

via K Mingz’s YouTube

In one year in South Korea, I rarely saw anyone playing in the subway. K Mingz seems to have a good time doing it.

As for the subway in Korea, I can’t say enough on how clean and efficient they are. I wish I could always live in a city with public transportation.

Students want soju, too.

student essay01

Essay question: What is something you want to do when you grow up? Give three reasons.

“I want to drink a sojue soju. because When I was young I drank a Beer accidenly accidentally. But It’s very delicious so when I was grow in adultup, I want to drink sojue soju or Beer. ”

 

written by a 13-year-old student

An artist in Insadong

During my five-day holiday, I traveled to Seoul to have a museum day, a beach day and a hiking day. On Tuesday, September 9, I set out to explore the Seoul Modern and Contemporary Art Museum and Insa-dong on my own.

After exploring the museum, I walked past Gyeongbokgung, the large palace, and one of the small gates to Insa-dong, a touristy street full of shops and many foreigners. I have visited Insa-dong before but this time was different because I was alone with no time restraints and able to take my time looking around.

IMG_3293

 A homeless man in a bright neon vest had to move his home because a generator was on fire. There was a lot of commotion and excitement.

IMG_3300

An artist set up a table with two red plastic stools across from him. He was asking for models to sit so he could quickly draw their face with a traditional brush and black ink on a small sheet of white paper.

I sat down and the artist smiled at me with his kind eyes. A family of four stopped to look over the artist’s shoulder as he quickly drew my face.

IMG_3310

When he was nearly finished, his phone rang. He apologized and picked up to answer. He spoke quickly in Korean, but I recognized the word, “no” and “text.”

IMG_3313 IMG_3314

After hanging up, he finished my portrait and asked me to sign my name. He kindly allowed me to take a picture. His goal with the project is to draw one million faces. He was able to complete a face in less than two minutes until he is interrupted by a phone call, of course.

IMG_3317

“What are you doing?”

I leave Korea in exactly two weeks and some are starting to wonder, “What are you doing?” To no one’s surprise: I’ll be traveling after my contract. Twelve weeks of solo travel to be exact.

The plan: Japan (October 7-19), Shanghai (October 19-22), flight to Bangkok on October 22. No plans from there except that I will visit: southern islands of Thailand, Bangkok and northern Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Vietnam. The lovely Jessica will be joining me from November 4 to the 14th in Thailand for ten days of adventure. Other than that, I will be trekking solo in search of the best food and experiences Baht, Yen and Kip can buy!

Map your travels.
Map your travels.