Countries I have visited

When I first went abroad at 19, I had no idea that I was about to fuel a full-fledged addition: travel. The travel bug bit me, and it bit hard. I created a 100+ item Bucket List and spent countless hours working toward those goals. Two were set to a deadline of turning 30, which won’t happen until 2020 for me. With three years to spare, I checked off these two items:

  1. Visit 30 countries by 30
  2. Visit six continents before my 30th birthday – (Why not seven? I am saving Antartica for when I have money to visit, prepare and explore properly. Visiting Antartica is something I want to do in the very far future.)

Here are the countries I have visited – in order:

  1. U.S.A. – 1990
  2. Ireland – 2009
  3. Italy
  4. The Vatican
  5. Denmark
  6. Sweden
  7. Germany
  8. France
  9. Spain
  10. New Zealand
  11. Australia
  12. Peru – 2011
  13. England
  14. Scotland
  15. Poland – 2012
  16. Hungary
  17. Slovenia
  18. Austria
  19. Czech Republic
  20. South Korea – 2013
  21. Cambodia – April 2014
  22. Japan – October 2014
  23. China (Shanghai) – October 2014
  24. Thailand – November 2014
  25. Myanmar – December 2014
  26. Mexico – July 2015
  27. Canada – July 2016
  28. Colombia – September 2016
  29. Portugal – July 2017
  30. Morocco – August 2017
Map your travels.
Map your travels.

From Colorado to…

While I was in San Francisco this weekend, a dear friend I met in Korea and traveled Myanmar with sent me a message urging me to start blogging again.

I have vowed to start blogging again because…

This should come as no surprise to anyone: I am putting my things in storage and traveling again. I bought a one-way ticket to Cartagena, Colombia. (Curious about the cost? A one-way from Denver to Cartagena: $156.39 USD.)

Here I am in Muuido, South Korea in 2014 with my trusty pack, a 65-litre Osprey. I named her "Rosie."
Here I am in Muuido, South Korea in 2014 with my trusty pack, a 65-litre Osprey. I named her “Rosie.”

The plan in Colombia: to live abroad while working my job remotely. I have been with Pro R.E.A. Staffing for a year and have been working remotely the entire time (moved from Georgetown, Texas to Crested Butte, Colorado to Denver – all while working my same job). Now, Colorado to Colombia.

So, thank you, Rikus

My friend Rikus is right. I have been living in Colorado since Thanksgiving, yet have not posted anything about all the beautiful hikes I have been on or the wonderful people I have met.  Those posts to come… 

Honestly, I have a love-hate relationship with blogging. I love it when someone says they read a post or found a post about Korea helpful. I spent years thinking only my mom and grandma read it. Hi mom!” Yet, I hate how much time I spend thinking about how to make a post perfect, yet each post fails my expectations and standards for myself. More on being a type-A perfectionist later, too...

 

 

 

 

Bulguksa (불국사)

Earlier this year, I worked in my company’s publishing department editing a Korean history book. While a lot of the information blended together because of the extensive detail and use of Korean names, I did learn a little about the Silla Kingdom and its grand history. Among many things, Silla is credited for creating the first unified Korea by conquering the two kingdoms of Baekje (백제) and Goguryeo (고구려). The Silla, an ancient kingdom of Korea, once called the city of Gyeongju its capital, which is partly the reason I wanted to visit.

IMG_1848 Outside the Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal, Chris and I rented a scooter for 25,000 won for three hours. After we picked up a handy map of Gyeongju in English from the tourist center outside the bus terminal, we hopped on our scooter and hit the road.

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Not too long later, we arrived at our destination: a famous temple. Bulguksa (불국사) is the main site to see in Gyeongju. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the biggest temples in Korea. The structure standing today has gone through dozens of renovations, but it was incredible to think that Koreans were on this sacred land more than 1,400 years ago building this very temple.

We skipped seeing the Seokguram Grotto (석굴암) because the weather started to turn on us (check out my sweet rain poncho!). We hopped back on the scooter and headed out to see a sex museum; however, the steep admission of 10,000 won each scared us away.

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On our ride back to the bus terminal, I spotted a line of luxury cars parked casually in a coffee shop’s parking lot. We stopped to take a peak (and a handful of photos). To no surprise, we weren’t the only ones enjoying the view.

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Getting to Gyeongju: I took a 50-minute bus ride from Dongdaegu bus terminal. The cost is no more than 4,300 won ($5) each way.

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. 

 

Korea Burn

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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.

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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.

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

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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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“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.

The ferry to Bijindo Island (비진도)

 

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The early morning ferry from Tongyeong to Bijindo was 45 minutes of blissful views. With Chris’s arms around me, I knew I was living life right. I have spent the last year pushing myself to experience more and improve myself more. I’m not perfect nor is my life, but I do spend a little bit of every day improving it bit by bit. It is moments like the ones in the ferry that I am truly thankful for.

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How to get to Bijindo Island (비진도):

  1. Take subway line 1, the red line, to Seobu intercity bus terminal (서부 바스 트름이나ㅣ). The Seobu intercity bus terminal is right outside of Seongdangmot station, exit number 3.
  2. Buy a ticket to Tongyeong (통영) from Seobu Bus Terminal. You cannot buy tickets online, but you can call 1330 to find out ticket times
  3. Then take the ferry from Tongyeong Passenger Port Terminal.

Tongyeong (통영)

Tongyeong (통영) is where you take the ferry to Bijindo (비진도). On Friday night, I traveled to Tongyeong, where I’d meet Chris before heading to Bijin Island Saturday morning. I heard that Gangguan harbor (강구안) is the place to walk around, eat and sleep. I took bus 101  from the Tongyeong Bus Terminal to the Gangguan harbor. The bus costs less than ₩1,500.

At the harbor, there are replicas of the turtle ships used in ancient war times. There are dozens of love motels surrounding the harbor. I recommend staying at the Theme Motel on the west side of the harbor. Chris and I had dinner at the Jungang Live Fish Market (중앙활어시장), where we picked out what fish we were going to eat. Check out pictures of our fishtastic dinner here.

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On Saturday morning, we could have walked to the Tongyeong passenger ferry terminal (여객선 터미널) but opted to take a ₩2,800-taxi to catch the 7 a.m. ferry.

I recommend arriving twenty minutes early to the ferry terminal. The terminal is a departure for nearly a dozen ferries. The hiking Koreans were clad in their uber expensive head-to-toe professional hiking gear and were eager to buy tickets. Yet, not so eager to help me. I experienced some trouble getting a ticket because the ferry was delayed twenty minutes. Thus, the Korean hikers were throwing a fit at the ticket counter. I gathered all of this from body language because no one spoke English. Thankfully, Chris and I grabbed some vanilla lattes and a spot on the 7:20 a.m. ferry heading to Bijindo.

Getting to Tongyeong: From Seobu Bus terminal in Daegu, it will take about 2 hours and 20 minutes and cost ₩13,000.

Getting to Gangguan Harbor: The local bus stop is right outside of the Tongyeong Bus Terminal. I took bus 101, but I also read that buses 10, 20, 30 and 40 (₩1,100) run to Gangguan Harbor, which is near the Tongyeong Ferry Port, where you catch the ferry to Bijindo.

Getting back to the bus terminal from Gangguan: Take local bus 501. Tongyeong Bus Terminal is the last stop.

For more information on the ferries, click here.