Tuesday, February 19, 2013

6th Month: Recap

Now that we have returned to Korea and are approaching the 6th month mark on February 23rd, here is a poem about all of the oddities that we never thought we would get used to again and some we still don’t understand:
Korea is a funny place, filled with new age and tradition,
Experiencing different cultures has always been our mission.

There are things here and there that just don’t seem right,
*Not my photo*
Some make us laugh while others enrage us to fight.

With so many awful smells we often hold our noses,
Between drying fish, trash and kimchi, we’d rather sniff roses.

Walking the streets you’ll notice one thing can’t be found,
Public trash cans don’t exist but there’s no trash on the ground!

Convert this to memory, you’ll never want to assume,
Bring your own toilet paper into the public restrooms.

Speaking of bathrooms, that’s its own gross situation,
Used paper goes in the trash, are there no laws for sanitation?!

To save the city money, schools aren’t cooled or heated.
We have to suffer in the winter and in the summer repeated.

We teach in thick jackets, scarves, and two pairs of socks,
The kids carry hand warmers and wear gloves to use chalk.

The best thing about Korea, is their public transportation,
Causing many headaches in this developed great nation.

Don’t get me wrong, all joking put aside,
There is no place we can’t go without finding a ride.

The problem is traffic laws equate to merely ‘suggestions,’
Cars, busses and scooters do what they want without question.

The sidewalks aren’t safe and are meant to be shared,
Between cars, motorbikes and people, no lives are spared.

You ALWAYS look both ways when crossing the road
Even on a one-way you can easily get mowed.

In a taxi it’s best to just breathe and close your eyes
All the honking and break slamming, you’re just happy to be alive.

On to the busses; the most interesting of them all,
You are packed like sardines with the goal not to fall.

Whether you’ve waited at the stop 30 seconds or minutes,
No one ever queues and people have no rudeness limits.

‘Bows are being thrown and the pushing’s insane,
*Not my photo*
Old people aren’t against to using their canes.

On the blue or green monster, for only a buck you can ride,
Grab a hold, bend your knees as you’re thrown side to side.

It’s hot and it’s smelly, filled with all different ages
These bus situations often set off my rages!

I’ve come pretty far, but I can’t stand the ‘butting’ in line,
Happens almost everywhere and ALL OF THE TIME!

It’s like they don’t ‘see me’ or think they can just cut,
It’s the older generation that feels entitled to butt.

One thing we have gotten used to but will never make sense,
Is making a laundry schedule, here it’s just commonsense.

There is no such thing as a “quick load of laundry,”
No dryers and cold weather make for quite the quandary.

Many a times, I have left for my school,
With wet pants and/or socks, as I planned like a fool.

Not hours, but days, it takes things to dry,
No more doing a ‘load’, just to get by.

On a positive note, Korea’s internet is fast,
The rate of downloads and surfing’s unsurpassed.
*Not my photo*

With so many cell phones and quick access to the net,
No country takes more ‘selfies,’ I could make a safe bet.

Wherever you go, you can be sure there’s picture taking,
But not of scenery, just themselves, with cutesy face making.

Teens have albums on Facebook, full of self taken snaps,
On busses, in coffee shops, or wearing MLB caps.

Facemasks are worn, no matter the season,
Are they sick? Are they cold? I never know the reason.
*Not my photo*

However in wearing the masks there’s something not understood yet,
Removing the mask to sneeze; not caring who they wet!

Speaking of healthcare, this one still throws us for loops,
Outside of the hospitals, patients will gather in groups.

Not to protest or to complain about care,
But to walk around and get some fresh air.

Now this doesn’t seem odd, no reason for fear,
Till you see them in gowns, IV bags, and drinking a beer.

OK, the beer was a stretch, but this I can’t lie,
We often see them smoking as they wheel themselves by!

With so many more thoughts, there are not enough lines,
To write all them down and create some more rhymes.

This is all in good fun, I will always love Korea,
Returning to teach English was our best idea!

**The comics are curtosey of ROKetship

Monday, February 4, 2013

Part I: Bohol, Philippines

2 Posts, 2 Weeks, 2.5 Countries
From January 19th to February 1st, we were lucky enough to spend time in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Macau. This is part one of our trip. Please scroll to the next post for part II.
A sunrise landing in Bohol, Philippines

January 19-20th
We began our journey at 4:20pm when we had to catch the bus from Pohang to the Gimhae airport in Busan. The trip took about two hours and we had no issues which was great. We waited about three and a half hours for our flight to Manilia that left at 10:00pm via Cebu Pacific. We arrived in Manilia at 1:30am and had the pleasure of waiting in the "2012 worst rated airport" until our next flight to Tagbilaran, the only airport on Bohol island, that left at 5:20am. We were tired at this point and the Manilia airport was so confusing. We arrived at terminal 3, and walked all around it looking for the Philippine Air departure gate which we never found. After asking a guard and going on a wild goose hunt, we found out we needed to take a taxi to terminal 2. This airport has three terminals spread among the city. A man approached us asking if we needed a taxi. I said "yes, to terminal 2." He told me it was a set price of $15 dollars and would take about 45 min. Having a Type A personality, I did quite a bit of research on the Philippines before arriving and it said to always take a metered cab. I asked the woman at the information center how much it should cost. She said $4 and takes about 10 min. We walked outside, got in a metered cab and exactly in 10 minutes and $4 later we were at terminal 2.

We went through security and then sat there for three hours until our flight. The flight to Bohol was quick and the sunrise was beautiful. That was the only positive to having such an early flight. We landed on the shortest runway ever, walked into a building, picked up our luggage and looked for the driver to our hotel. The drive from the airport took about 30 min and the scene was an interesting one. A lot of island shack homes lined the road and scooters were everywhere. We stayed at the Panglao Regents Park. It came recommend by a friend but also had great reviews on the Internet. Check in wasn't until 2pm, but luckily they weren't full and we could check in at 7:30am. We slept until 11:00am, then decided to walk the five minutes to check out the beach and have lunch. The beach isn't too big but it is beautiful. It reminded me of Koh Phi Phi a little bit. Restaurants everywhere and people trying to sell us tours of every kind. We enjoyed a nice lunch went back to the hotel and laid by the pool.

Choosing the pool over the beach the first day proved to be the best decision. We ended up chatting with a really nice couple from Denmark, Mette and Thomas, a married couple spending four weeks traveling all around the Philippines. They told us they had rented a motorbike for the next day so they could tour around and see all the sites in Bohol. This was something Andrew and I wanted to do as well, so when they invited us to join them we jumped at the opportunity! We walked down the street, met a man with a motorbike for rent, asked him to bring the bike to our hotel at 7:30am, and then shook his hand.

January 21st
Andrew and I don't particularly like early mornings, especially on vacation, but we felt more comfortable taking this island tour with other people. And if they wanted to leave at 7:30, then early risers we would be! Right on time our motorbike man was at our hotel. Registration papers and two helmets in hand Andrew and I had our mode of transportation for the whole day for the wallet-emptying price of $12! Thomas and Mette's motorbike was 20 minutes late, but what are you going to do. We filled up our bike with gas, for $5, and we were ready for the open road.

The only map we had was a postcard with tourist sites to hit, so navigation was a bit tricky at first, especially because Bohol has no street signs or stop lights. With Thomas taking the lead, it allowed Andrew and I to relax a bit. We rode about an hour before stopping at a bakery in one of the small  villages. For literally pennies, we got to taste all kinds of the most delicious breads and pastries, and give our butts a much needed rest. The drive was beautiful and we could not have asked for better weather. Everything was so green and lush, I felt like I was in a movie. ...Or a Kenny Chesney music video.

Chocolate Hills
We made it to our first destination, and the most famous in Bohol, the Chocolate Hills, in about two hours. While the view was breathtaking, it was just a bunch of really cool hills. We were there for about 45 min taking pictures and resting before we backtracked to our next destination, the Tarsier reserve in Loboc. Tarsiers are the smallest known primate in the world and have existed for more than 40 million years. They resemble Steven Speilbergs Gremlins  They look like teeny tiny little monkeys with huge eyes and Bohol is only one of two places where they live. It was a welcomed break for the butt!

Isn't he so cute!

We got back on our scooters and headed to our last stop, the Busai Monark Floating Resteurant. For $20 we enjoyed a buffet, live music and river cruise. I'm glad we stopped but it's not something I would probably spend the money to do again. Before heading back to the hotel, racing daylight, we had some homemade ice cream. The ride back to the hotel wasn't as enjoyable. Traffic had picked up a bit and we unfortunately we got stuck behind some buses and work trucks with the worst exhaust trails ever. We were both feeling a bit sick. We made it to the hotel at 4:58pm, two minutes to spare on our bike reservation time. We all capped off our wonderful day with happy hour drinks by the pool toasting to travel and good people before parting ways for dinner. We felt so blessed to have met Thomas and Mette. Unfortunately they left the next day so we didn't have much time with them. They have literally traveled all around the world so we enjoyed picking their brains of all their travel tips.

Looking a little tired and sweaty with Thomas and Mette
Besides the beautiful change in scenery, my favorite thing about traveling is all of the people we get to meet. People from all around the world. I love learning from them and seeing things from totally different perspectives. Seriously it was the perfect day, and we have only just begun!

January 22nd
"Today I don't feel like doing anything..." This Bruno Mars lyric comes to mind when I think about our Tuesday activity. We didn't do anything but lounge by the pool reading and playing cards. We ventured to the beach for lunch then returned to the pool. A great day of relaxation after yesterday's adventure.

January 23rd
Andrew and I decided that we weren't quite done with the scooter touring yet. On Monday, we saw all the tourist sites but this time we wanted to ride and stop at will when we saw something that peaked our interest. So from 10:20am until 3:00pm, we drove around the island until our butts just couldn't handle it anymore. We obviously didn't stick out enough as tourists, so they had to give us a hot pink motor bike. "Bad to the Bone" is the only thing that comes to mind when I think about what we must have looked like. We stopped at a local market and walked around. We stopped at a few piers to enjoy the views. And of course we stopped at a bakery...or maybe two. You know how I adore my carbohydrates. The bread is to die for. It's so fresh and delicious....nothing like we can get in Korea, so we HAD to stop, multiple times. We ate lunch at a local restaurant and then walked around a beautiful old church. The weather was cloudy but it was a welcomed temperature. It's nice to not feel like the sun is beating down on you.

January 24th
Today was another day of relaxation. We spent the whole day outside, and the better half of it at the beach. However, only one word comes to mind when I reflect back on Thursday, and that is ouch! Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a sunscreen fanatic. Yes, I like a good tan, but I've always got sunscreen on. In Korea, for whatever reason, sunscreen is super expensive, like $20 for a travel size bottle. So we decided to wait, and buy some when we arrived. We found some, but oddly enough we could not find "waterproof" sunscreen, only "very water resistant" whatever that means. So we bought it. It has worked great the whole time we were here until Thursday. I took a dip in the ocean, dried off and reapplied. Most of my time on the beach was spent on my stomach because it was reading, so it was mostly my back that was exposed...and exposed it was. OUCH! "Very water resistant" my scorched red ass, back and legs Banana Boat. I can't remember a time when I have ever been this burnt. The only bright side to this is that it didn't happen on the first or last day. Had it happened the first, I would have been miserable the whole trip, and had it happened the last, it would have made traveling to Hong Kong much more uncomfortable. Needless to say, I had a very restless night sleep...I'm sure you have all been there.

January 25th
Alona Beach
Our last day on the island and we woke up to pouring rain. We've been really lucky with the weather so I can't complain about some rain in the tropics. It's what keeps this place lush and beautiful. it rained on and off the whole day making the walk to the beach a muddy sandy mess. We needed to go to a souvenir shop to purchase Philippine flag patches for our backpacks before leaving. We returned to the hotel, played some cards and then laid in a cabana by the pool while our feet got wet from the rain. At about 4:00pm we decided to venture back to the beach for a massage. We had been talking about getting massages since we arrived but never did and it was something we wanted to do before we left. Well, stupid me, got too burnt yesterday to actually enjoy a rub down, so I got a $5 pedicure while Andrew enjoyed a $7, one hour, fairly ivasive Swedish full body massage. We ate cheap, delicious barbecue for dinner and watched the Australian open. It was a great ending to our island getaway!

I just have to mention one thing. I read up a lot on the Philippines before coming here and there are so many horror stories out there that it made me quite nervous. But I felt super safe here and the Filipino people are some of the nicest and most genuine I have ever come across. Yes, we got asked about every 10 yards if we wanted a boat tour, or motorbike or massage or sunglasses etc, but a polite "no thank you" sends them on their way. Seriously, we felt so welcomed and were treated so well that if anyone has the opportunity to travel here, don't turn it down on the account of being scared. There is such a sense of community here and they are eager to welcome you to their paradise. Thank you Philippine citizens for your grace and hospitality!

Common Trasportation
Tag City

Man Made Forrest
Beautiful Church


Part II: Hong Kong

Victoria Harbor from the Ferry

January 26th
Our flight to Manila from Bohol was delayed and hour so we had a more relaxing morning. We arrived at the Tag airport at about 10:45am for our 12:15am flight. The two check in counters were so dang slow that we waited in line for about 45 min with maybe ten people in front of us, seriously a joke. We boarded on time and we were up in the air for a quick hour before landing in Manila. We took a cab to terminal three, ate lunch and only had to sit for 30 min before we boarded the plane destined for Hong Kong!

Hong Kong was one place that I was really sad we didn't get the chance to visit the first time we were in Asia so I was super pumped to be going. We landed on time at 6:30pm, but it was dark and rainy so unfortunately we didn't get to see anything flying in. Hong Kong International was really nice and extremely easy to get around so we had no problem finding the bus we needed to wait for that would take us to Hong Kong Island, the area where our hotel is.

After waiting about 20 min, bus A11 pulled up. I handed the driver $100 HK dollars and politely said " for two," (it was $40 HKD each). He looked at me and said "Sorry, no change." So confused, how can the driver not have any change. Everyone knows that at airport currency exchanges they ONLY give you big bills, how could he not have change?! He pointed to a ticket window about 50 yards away so Andrew took of running to try to break the bill before the bus left. Honestly, I was fully prepared to stand in front of the bus to make him wait so we didn't have to stand there for 30 more minutes until the next one came. Andrew came running back a bit out of breath. After going to three different ticket windows, he was able to buy two bus tickets because no one would break the $100 HK bill...so annoying.

We rode the bus for about 40 min before taking a gamble on which stop to get off on. Well, we bet wrong and ended up walking up and down the street, looking at two different maps, trying to find Morrison Street. After a few backtracking turns and a little assistance we found our hotel! The Butterfly Boutique on Morrison. It's a small room, but large by Asian standards. It's really modern and in a great location. We grabbed a quick bite to eat before turning into our hotel to plan our first day adventures!

January 27th
I woke up like a little kid on Christmas; so giddy with excitement about what our first day in Hong Kong had in store for us. We prepared our oatmeal and discussed the days activities. Yes, we bring our own oatmeal when we travel. As long as the place we are staying has a hot water kettle, we are good to go for breakfast! It's filling, and free :) Hey, don't judge, we are on a budget.

We decided to visit Lantau Island. It took about 45 minutes to get to via the MTR, Hong Kong's subway system. Getting around Hong Kong is super easy, very similar to that of Seoul; really traveler friendly. We left our hotel at 10am and headed to the closest MTR station, Causeway Bay. It also happens to be in the center of their "Times Square" which is filled with tons of high-end stores, Andrew and I had fun window shopping. Your inner glutenous pig can really get the better of you in a place like that!

We arrived on the island, saw a Subway sandwich restaurant, and decided it was lunch time! It had been five months since I had eaten a turkey sandwich...and those of you that know me well know that I LOVE turkey sandwiches! After lunch we walked around their "outlet" mall a bit. I quote outlet, because their definition and mine are different. I hear outlet and think big discount prices on last seasons designs. And I was super excited to see a Kate Spade outlet! I have a weakness for all things Kate Spade. When I went in and looked at their prices I was shocked. Their discounted prices are more than full priced items in the US. I wanted to tell everyone, "You're getting ripped off" but I held my tongue, shrugged my shoulders and walked out disappointed.

Self-timer picture after we climbed the stairs to Buddha
We headed over to the reason we came to the island in the first place, the famous Big Buddha. It's the worlds tallest, outdoor seated bronze Buddha and sits a top a hill with some truly spectacular views. We stood in line for about 40 min to take a cable car 5.7 km to the top. When we arrived it wasn't what I had expected, there was a whole little tourist village up there complete with restaurants, a hotel and a dozen souvenir shops. We walked around a bit, taking tons of pictures and then embarking on the 278 step journey to see Buddha. The steps sucked, but at least they were even and nothing like the tortuous "Great Wall of China" stairs. The view from up there was worth it, so pretty!

Blooming Chinese Tea
At 4pm there was a free tea demonstration at an adorable tea shop, Li Nong Tea. She showed us this new kind of tea, blooming tea, where the tea wraps around a real flower, and after adding hot water, it literally blooms in the cup! It was delicious and one of the coolest things so of course I had to buy some as a souvenir  We left about 5pm and waited 30 in a line to take the cable car back down. Lantau Island was a really neat place and I'm so glad we made it our first Hong Kong adventure!

We dropped our stuff back off at the hotel and then walked around for an hour, lost and trying to find a place to eat. Overall, it was a really great day!

January 28th
We woke up bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and with sore legs from a full day of being on our feet yesterday. Again, we started our morning with some oatmeal before taking off for our first destination, the World Trade Center. Luckily it was very close to our hotel so we had a short walk. And we were grateful for the short walk because the site was a bust. Just a tall building with a few unopened shops. I'm not sure what I expected but that was not it.

The 32 cent Star Ferry
Our next must-see was the Star Ferry. An old ferry boat with its principal routes carrying passengers across Victoria Harbour, between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Of course we have the MTR but this is so much more fun! So for .32 cents each we took the short six min ride. It was much shorter than expected, but it gave us a totally different view of the city which I very much enjoyed!

Wedding Dress Replica
After disembarking we decided to head to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. For two hours we took a journey from 400,000,000 million years ago, the Natural Environment land formation to the Modern Metropolis. The six other in-between exhibits were: Prehistoric Hong Kong, The Dynasties, Folk Culture,The Opium War and the Cession of Hong Kong, Birth and Early Growth of the City, and The Japanese Occupation. It was a great, interactive way to learn about the evolution of this amazing city. A must see for all visitors in my opinion.

Following our two hour history lesson, it was time we made our way to "The Peak," a sky high, 360 degree view if the whole city. I read that the best time to go is about 5pm so that you can see the skyline both during the day and at night. We arrived at the tram that would take us there at about 4:15pm and waited in an hour long line before taking the steep incline tram to the top. It was seriously steeper than a roller coaster. There are only two trams running at a time, a ridiculous ratio to the amount if tourists. Once at the top we rode four more flights of escalators before reaching the observation deck.

However, among the excitement of the amazing views it never occurred to us that we could only enter one time. Once you're on deck, you can stay until midnight if you want or you can leave and not return. Our plan was to take some fun day pictures, eat at one of the restaurants with a view and then return to take night pictures. Well it wasn't until we were already on the deck that we learned you couldn't return. Ugh, we had an hour to wait until it got dark. Normally it wouldn't have been so bad except we were really high and it was cold and windy as heck with no place to take refuge. We came to The Peak for the night photo and dangit, we were going to get it! So we waited, as long as we could, took a few photos and went for our "Six month wedding anniversary" dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp because it had the BEST view and REAL cheeseburgers! We waited 45 min for the return tram, found the MTR and returned to the hotel absolutely exhausted!! AMAZING day!
Stunning View of Hong Kong

January 29th
We got an earlier start this Tuesday morning because we thought it was going to be a long day. We ventured over to the ferry terminal to take the quick hour jot over to Macau. It is one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong. Macau's economy is mostly dependent on tourism and gambling which is obvious when you get off the ferry. A former Portuguese colony, Macau was administered by Portugal from the mid-16th century until 1999. Sovereignty over Macau was transferred back to China on Dec 20th 1999. Due to the fact that it is separate from Hong Kong, we had to bring our passports and go through immigration leaving Hong Kong and arriving in Macau then vice versa when we returned. I have to start out by saying that I didn't quite know what to expect when we we arrived. Usually I read up extensively about the places we visit, however with Macau, I didn't read all that much except that its architecture is a strange mix between Portugese and Chinese. Oh, and that you have to try the famous Portugese Egg Tart!

Laughing at how worthless our map was
Well, after waiting in a forever customs line, we walked out to a bunch of buses  We grabbed a map and decided to head to city center as a starting point. Well, being that most of their economy is tourism you would think things would be labeled better. It was such a cluster! We stood is the buses line for way to long trying to decide which bus to take. There were about 20 buses and their descriptions were terrible and no one spoke ANY English. We picked a bus to what we thought would be the city center. We boarded and the bus driver kept waving us off. I had no idea why, but he kept shooing us out. Finally I figured out that he was trying to tell us that his bus didn't go to the museum that was on the front of one of the pamphlets I was holding. I tried to tell him we didn't want to go there. He didn't understand, so I crumpled it up and put it in my back pocket, paid and we got on. This should have been a sign...

Little Vegas
Well, as the bus was stopping, none of the stops that we read it was supposed to stop at were appearing. The city center was supposed to be the second stop...and it wasn't. Oh, great, here we go. So we rode a little while longer before getting off randomly and trying again. We looked like two fish out of water. We were definitely not in a tourist district. The map we had was so unbelievably terrible that and we couldn't find a reference point ANYWHERE. We decided to go sit in a McDonald's to see if we could get some wifi. To add to our bad luck, they had none. Andrew asked two middle school aged boys to point on the map where we were, they just laughed and turned away. Perfect.

Egg Tart!
We left and got on a different bus. This time, we could tell we were headed to the more touristy area. It had now been two hours since we had gotten off the ferry and walking around aimlessly.  We got off, walked a little ways and found ourselves in the gambling district. Score! Tourists! We made our way to the city center and just walked around really having no idea what we were looking at because nothing was labeled and our map sucked. Honestly there wasn't a whole lot to see. It was beautifully decorated for the upcoming Lunar New Year festivities and there were so many people it was insane. I did buy an egg tart and it was as delicious as the hype! We had a late lunch (2:30pm), since we were lost for so long, walked around some more and then decided to head back.

Again, no idea which bus to get on, we wandered around some more. So, ten hours after we left our hotel, we made it safely back to Hong Kong and I could not have been more excited! Sadly for us, Macau was a bust but that was partly our fault for not really having a plan. Sometimes the best travel memories happen when days are unplanned, but in this case, it just caused a lot of frustration and achy feet. We are always learning.

January 30th
Relaxation. We actually let ourselves sleep in. We had been going non-stop and it was catching up with us. Mentally we were tired and physically our bodies felt like we had done a three day workout. We decided to take an easy day without much of a plan. So at about 11:00am, we ventured out to Times Square for a little shopping! After a few hours of window shopping we decided to go back to the hotel for an hour or so to rest our feet. I had read online that one of the top things to do in Hong Kong is to have a drink at one of the bars atop the IFC mall. So Andrew and I decided to venture over there and check it out. We paid way too much for two glasses of wine; so we toasted to an amazing and blessed adventure in Hong Kong at the Red Bar overlooking the lights of Victoria Harbor. It felt a little like a dream.

Enjoying our wine and the view

After leaving IFC, we went to hit up another top attraction, Temple Street Night Market. It was exactly like it sounds. A really long street filled with vendor after vendor selling virtually all the same knockoff goods like handbags, phone cases, t-shirts, Hong Kong souvenirs etc. We decided one some street food for dinner before trying our hand a little haggling fun. Temple Street isn't quite as overwhelming as the Silk Market in Beijing, so we felt much more prepared and had more restraint. After a few hours of walking around and bargaining, we left with two canvas paintings for my collection, a phone case, and some really really good knockoff Beats headphones for Andrew.  It was a fun and more relaxing day.

January 31st

Our last day in Hong Kong :( We knew we had a long day ahead of us. We checked out of the hotel as late as we could, at 1pm because our flight didn't actually leave until 2:10am on the first. We decided in another light day because we didn't want to just exhaust ourselves going into a sleepless night. The last attraction must-see we ventured to was the Ladies Market. Similar to Temple Street, I'm not actually sure why they call it a Ladies Market. We killed some time walking up and down the aisles and just people watching. When we felt like our legs could give out, we searched EVERYWHERE for a place to sit down. One major thing about this country that I can't stand, is that there are no benches anywhere. We decided to go to McDonald's to get a drink and rest our feet, but guess what, NO SEATS! We have yet to go into a McDonald's or ANY restaurant for that matter, where it's not completely packed no matter what time. I've never seen anything like it...so many people just everywhere. And ladies, if you ever plan to visit Hong Kong, do not wait until the last minute to use the restroom. Very few public restrooms and if there is one, the lines are seriously insane...again, so many people!

We decided to venture back towards Causeway Bay, the area where our hotel to grab some dinner before we headed to the airport. We passed a "famous" dim sum placed earlier in the day so we thought we'd give it a shot. Not really knowing what anything was on the menu we chose what we thought were safe bets. Hahaha...could not have been more wrong. We weren't sure what we were eating, the beef was more of a gelatin and one of the nastiest things I have ever eaten. We both tried so hard to eat it but just couldn't. For whatever reason, while we both had our mouths full, we busted out in one of those laugh fits where you cry and can't stop. And the more inappropriate the time and place the more you can't stop laughing. After paying the $9 and feeling a little uneasy about what we just ate, we stopped at a bakery for a piece of bread to get rid of the horrible taste.

We went to the hotel, collected our stored baggage and headed for the airport. Leaving at 2:10am and arriving back in Korea at 6:40am was not optimal. Exhausted, we walked into our freezing apartment with a plan to shower and sleep at about 9:00am. We were happy to have made it home safe and sound, and then realized our heat was not turning on. Either was our gas or our Internet! I was not about to take a freezing cold shower and we could not figure out the problem with our heater. We decided to knock on a few neighbors doors for help since it's all in Korean. One woman yelled something at us through her door but never opened it. A few minutes later we heard someone in the hallway so we asked her to come help. She pressed a few buttons and then just ran out...it never came on.

As a last resort we called Belle. I knew calling her would be difficult because she is not able to see anything. I read her the notice that was on our door and entirely in Korean. Somehow through my horrendous Korean pronunciation she was able to decipher that they cut off our gas because we hadn't paid our bill for four months! Whoops.... To our defense, our electric and gas were on the same bill in Ulsan so we thought we were paying it here. We had seen some of the bills come to our apartment, but it didn't have our names on it and it said SK Telecom. I thought that was the Internet bill which our landlord actually pays, so we sorta just ignored the bill. Big oops. Belle told me what I read said it was a federal offense and we could go to jail. But no worries. She called to explain our ignorance I'm sure, got the amount we owed, about $165, and the transfer number so we could pay right away.

Well, since our Internet was also conveniently out, instead of an online transfer we had to go and find an ATM. We ended up having to walk to two different ones but we got it accomplished. It took a few hours for the heat to actually come on and the Internet guy came at about 1pm to check out the problem. We had been up for about 28 hours at this point and running on fumes. It was not quite the welcome back situation we envisioned.

Andrew and I initially came back to Korea because there were so many places we still wanted to travel to. These past two weeks in the Philippines, Macau, and Hong Kong have been nothing short of amazing. We thank God everyday for this path that he has carved for us and the lives we have been so graciously given. 

Ephesians 5:15-17: Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Times Square
Lantau Island

Somewhere in Macau
Being a tourist