A Virtual Golf Experience

golfing

Golf has never interested me. My family plays while I drive the cart and soak up some rays. That’s how it goes. My only other golf associated memories are from Squaw Valley. I spent many childhood summer days hunting for golf balls in the creek that runs through the golf course in Squaw. My neighbor and I would make loads of lemonade and cookies to sell on the border of the golf course, right where the golfers usually ran out of balls. They couldn’t say no to two little girls selling cheap golf balls and snacks. We raked it in. That’s really the only thing I liked about golf; it made me money.

Dave convinced me to give the sport a try and we finally went this weekend. Where in Seoul did we go golfing, you might ask? In a basement down the road, of course! We went screen-golfing. For 15,000 won per person, you can golf nine holes at many courses form around the world, or at least their digital counterparts. We chose an easy course in South Korea for my first (and most likely last) try. The room is equipped with clubs, gloves, and popcorn. You hit while standing on a platform that tilts based on the slope of the course. Birds chirp in the background, and if you ever make the ball into a hole (which I didn’t) there is applause from the invisible crowd.

my golf swing

I am not a golf convert. I found it a little frustrating and I understand why people throw their clubs. It’s not an easy game, and I’m certainly not cut out for it. That being said, screen golf is a fun rainy day activity and I’m sure it’s great for avid golfers living in the city who can’t make it out to a golf course that often. If you get nauseous easily, I don’t recommend watching the screen as the ball flies and hits the ground. It made me feel a little dizzy, but that could be because I’m not used to video game graphics. Dave won our match since I couldn’t manage to get my ball anywhere near the putting green. Oh well!

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The Seoul International Fireworks Festival 2011

Last night we went to the Seoul International Fireworks Festival in Yeouido. I was very wary about the crowds before going. Seoul is home to many people and I knew it was going to be crowded. When we got out of the subway car it took us fifteen minutes before we could emerge from the crowd and breathe some fresh air. I don’t handle crowds very well. I’m small and get pushed around, plus I really don’t like not being able to see where I’m going. I imagine it’s more bearable for the folks who can look over the shoulders of the people in front of them. I’ve never seen so many people in one place. We’ve been to some pretty crowded events in Seoul, but this took the cake.

We found a spot on a bridge that overlooked the river and the park and waited for the show to begin. I put my camera on infinity burst mode and took over 500 pictures total. The show lasted about an hour and a half. There were three different displays by teams from Japan, Portugal and Korea. They used over 11,000 fireworks.

It was a stunning show and by far the most fireworks I’ve ever seen. The whole thing was set to music, but we only heard snippets here and there. At times there were so many fireworks that it looked like a huge blob of light in the sky, almost apocalyptic, which was fitting because walking out of the park seemed like a mass migration during a zombie apocalypse or something.

Here’s a time lapse video of pictures I took at the festival:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MozYqQGXs-Q]

 

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Us Wanderers

Most of the people I meet abroad in Asia are in the same boat as me. Not many are traveling for a few weeks; they are traveling for months on end or teaching English. So many of these people, myself included, are in their twenties and haven’t committed to a career path yet. Exploration is more enticing, and quite honestly we don’t know what to do.

We’ve been told to do what we love, but because our economies at home are in the crapper, to take what we can get. So, do you sell out and take whatever job you can if you can’t get a job that pays you to do what you love? Do you move back in with your parents? Read more

Top Cloud With My Love

Dave and I are frugal people. We have been very money conscious here in Korea because we want to have a nice chunk of travel money and lots of money to fall back on when we go home. Despite our stinginess we have still managed to eat quite well while in Korea. I love to cook and have used that passion and our thriftiness to make some good home cooking without breaking the bank. Our 2 year anniversary was this past weekend and we wanted to splurge on an expensive dinner at Top Cloud on the top floor of the Jongno Tower (one of Dave’s faves) overlooking the city. The restaurant has two sides, the dining room and the buffet. We made reservations at the buffet side because it was slightly cheaper and we thought it would be nice to taste a little of everything.  The food wasn’t super creative, but it was yummy. At Top Cloud you are paying more for the view than the food. We lucked out with a table by the window and the jazz band. The music, the lighting, and the view were incredibly romantic.

The restaurant has two sides, the dining room and the buffet. We made reservations at the buffet side because it was slightly cheaper and we thought it would be nice to taste a little of everything.  The food wasn’t super creative, but it was yummy. At Top Cloud you are paying more for the view than the food. We lucked out with a table by the window and the jazz band. The music, the lighting, and the view were incredibly romantic. 

I’m so lucky to have found someone like Dave, who shares my passion for travel. I know I wouldn’t have been as happy as I have been in Korea without him. He’s my rock and I’m thrilled that in 6 weeks we’ll be hitting the road to backpack through Nepal, India, Thailand and Malaysia together. I’m the luckiest girl in the world. Could I ask for anything more? Dining with the man of my dreams while listening to a lovely singer overlooking a much more panoramic version of this view (it was very hard to capture a good image between the glare and the lighting)…

Korean Thanksgiving and Our Second Trip to Sokcho

We are just finishing up our much appreciated five-day weekend for Chuseok aka Korean Thanksgiving. Chuseok is a holiday where families gather together, eat good food, honor their ancestors, and give thanks for the plentiful harvest. Gifts are exchanged on this holiday and the grocery stores are stocked with large gift set boxes of whatever you can imagine. One teacher recieved a gift set of shampoo. Eight bottles of shampoo is more of burden to me than a gift, but I’m guessing the idea is that you can share with friends. A very popular gift set is the spam and oil set. Yum. In case you don’t believe me I have some photographic evidence.

Read more

My 6 Cardinal Rules for Living in the Tropics and Having to Coexist with Bugs

I started this post while I was living on Koh Tao last year. Today I dug it out of my computer and finished it. I left the intro alone even though I no longer live on Koh Tao.

I don’t like spiders. I know they are the good guys for the most part, but they are creepy. In my defense, I do have a somewhat legitimate reason to be wary of them, my house growing up was filled with spiders that used to bite me in my sleep. I guess it’s not just the bed bugs you’ve got to worry about. So this morning, when I was tying the bikini string around my neck and noticed a spider crawling on my top, I naturally freaked. I let out a pitiful squeal, hit my chest and sent the spider flying to the ground. I used to be a spider killer, but Dave has taught me otherwise, so in his honor I gently swept it outside to live with its spider friends in the outside world on Koh Tao in Thailand, where it belongs.

This entire scenario could have been avoided had I not broken Rule #1 of my six cardinal rules for living in the tropics and having to coexist with creepy crawlers. Read more

The Gangseo-gu Neighborhood Pesticide Motorcycle (or truck)

I’ve been waiting to post about this until I got some photographic evidence and today I finally was in the right place at the right time with my camera thanks to Dave and his keen ear. We’ve seen a motorcycle drive around our streets a few times spraying a white cloud of mosquito killing pesticide in the air. Every time we’ve seen it we’ve been almost at our apartment and have had to bolt up the stairs to safety. We don’t know what the motorcycle is spraying, but we know it can’t be good. Sprays that kill anything generally aren’t great for you to be exposed to. Read more

My Failed Attempt at Urban Gardening in Seoul

We got lucky as far as apartments go. We have the largest one at the school. Two bedrooms, a big living room, a large bathroom and a balcony we could sit on. In the early spring I decided to try my hand at some urban gardening on our balcony. I got sunflower, basil, and wild flower seeds. I also got some rosemary, lavender and daisies from the flower shop down the street. I made pots out of water bottles and set everything out on the deck. Every day I watered my plants and checked to see what was growing. I was ecstatic to see my little seedlings spring up. It was a great way to start my day. Then one morning, after it had been raining for a few days, I realized I couldn’t open the door to the balcony. My plants were trapped!!!

This building is only two years old and it’s already falling apart. Buildings are made quickly, but not well here. It’s not about quality. The property next to our building was a hole in the ground when we first got here and in nine months they’ve managed to build a large apartment building that is almost ready for people to move into. When the buildings start to fall apart and are too crappy inside to occupy they just remodel.

Our building was certainly made quickly and cheaply. The wood boards on our balcony and the entrance to our apartments weren’t treated and as far as we can tell they aren’t really nailed into anything in particular. The boards are warped up and some are on their way to popping off. It just so happens that the boards that warped on our balcony are the ones right in front of the door. Read more

Inspiration

While flipping through summer vacation photos from our trip to Busan and Boseong, Dave pointed out a common theme in all of my pictures: wherever I go, I always come home with a significant amount of pictures of the intricate artwork I see at palaces and temples along the way. It’s surprising I hadn’t noticed this trend myself since I consciously take pictures of the details I like in hopes of using them for inspiration some day. Not sure what I will use them as inspiration for, but the colors and designs seem to speak to me.

Dave suggested I post some of my favorites, so here ya go! Below are pictures from temples and palaces in Korea, China and Tibet. Despite all my time in Thailand, I really didn’t manage to take very many temple pictures and the ones I did take don’t quite make the cut. I guess I’ll just have to go back! Read more