In October we were so lucky to have Chris’s parents come visit us in Korea! Not only did they decide to come all the way to Korea to visit us, they also agreed to take a trip to Hong Kong with us, and they even filled an extra suitcase full of our favorite goodies from home. We are very lucky.
Our trip started out in Seoul. Chris and I took the KTX from Ulsan up to the airport, where we met Chris’s parents outside of baggage claim. From there we took the train into town and caught a cab over to the hotel we stayed at. Funny story, taxi’s in Korea are usually run on LPG, so they have these massive LPG tanks in their trunks. It’s great for me, not so much for people traveling from the airport, with lots of bags. That’s why we actually took two cabs from the train station to the hotel, one with Chris and his parents, and one with me and the bags! Thankfully the hotel wasn’t far away — and thanks to the crazy driving in Korea — we made it in no time. My cab actually left after the other one and it still got there about five minutes faster…I win??
When speaking with other expats before our big move to Korea, one of the most common things people told us was that you would make friends for a lifetime. The weeks before we left for Korea were a blur, lots of packing, lots of saying goodbyes, and lots of advice, so this “you’ll make great friends” stuff — if I’m being honest — kind of made me laugh. I kept thinking, I’ve got friends, and I’m sure I will make friends there, why do people keep telling me this??? Well, now I understand. Once you are completely out of your comfort zone, and I mean, COMPLETELY out of your comfort zone, you look to others in a similar situation and you just grab hold and don’t let go! You make friendships that are more like family, because these people are your family away from home. When you live at least 14 hours of plane travel away from your actual family, these are the people that will bring you food when you are sick, water your plants when you go on vacation, and meet the mailman so that they will finally deliver that long lost package from the U.S. They are the people that you see every day. So, when my friend Lara (who has now moved back to Houston, which makes me VERY sad) asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding this past September, I couldn’t say “YES!” fast enough! Granted, I didn’t think through the exact details of getting from Korea to you know, Sun Valley, Idaho until much later, but we got that worked out really quickly, after I convinced my parents to meet me in Utah for a road trip to Yellowstone National Park!
After an easy flight (sarcasm at its highest) over to Salt Lake City, I met my parents at the baggage claim! Side note, to get to Salt Lake I took a cab to the bus stop, took a bus to the train station, took the train to the airport in Seoul, flew to San Francisco (after a delay in taking off), sat on the tarmac in San Fran because another plane was at our jet way, ran through customs (thank you Global Entry), rechecked my bags for Salt Lake where the gate agent told me “oh, you’d better hurry!”, ran through security (thank you TSA Pre Check) and made it to my plane where they held the plane for a Korean family that was on my previous flight. #thanksunited
I can’t believe that 2016 is already here! I remember thinking in January (of 2015) that this day would never come, and not only is it here, but it got here a lot more quickly than I would have ever expected. As you might have noticed when reading my blog, this year has been the year of travel for us. Traveling has always been something that I have loved, seeing new things, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people are things that I truly enjoy. I am so thankful for this year and everything that I gained from it.
January had us enjoying the very cold weather of Korea, having just gotten back from beautiful Mexico and semi-warm Texas. It was hard to come back to Korea to be quite honest with you, but we made the most of it with small trips around the area, including a trip to Muju for a ski day!
February again saw us sticking around Ulsan. Chris was busy with work, and I was busy coaching. We did however take a few day trips on the weekends. One being a trip to Bugok Hawaii to see the ice sculptures. They were less than stellar, but we did have some fun tubing down the man made tube hill. #onlyinkorea
March had us taking a very quick trip back to Texas to see our close friends tie the knot! We had a great time catching up with friends and seeing family, even if it was only a 7 day trip.
April was our biggest trip to date! In Korea, or at least at the schools that I coach at, we get a two week spring break, so spring break we did. We started out the trip in Myanmar, headed to Thailand and ended in Laos. Thailand is still my favorite place to travel, but we made memories of a lifetime throughout the entire trip.
Kuang Si Falls, Laos
Chiang Mai, Thailand
May was another month of little leisure travel. I did however take a trip to Jeju island and one to Seoul with our High School Soccer team. We had several tournaments that we were participating in and the High School girls team were the Tournament Champions! Winning all of their games. #bifsbears
June brought us back to Texas for Chris’s little sisters wedding! We were able to set up a training for Chris in Dallas, which let us stay a little bit longer without having to use vacation days. I also opted to stay an extra two weeks so that I could attend my friends Bachelorette party as well as spend some time in La Porte and Houston with friends and family. It was again hard to head back to Korea after that, especially since I didn’t have Chris with me to convince me it wouldn’t be so bad. Which is how I came up with the idea of a trip a month until the end of the year. Crazy, I know, but it made the rest of the year fly by!
Painting with a Twist
Galveston Bay Mako
July brought me back to Korea just in time to celebrate the 4th of July, and my 29th birthday. For my birthday, Chris and I jet-setted off to the Philippines for some fun in the sun. Another great trip, and another animal experience for the books. My favorite thing was swimming with the whale sharks. Do it, you won’t regret it.
Happy 4th of July
In August we took a long weekend trip to Japan. In a very short amount of time, we visited Fukuoka and Hiroshima. I love a good trip to Japan, so it doesn’t take much to get me to go. Adding in that I get to visit Hiroshima, a place that was high on my list, made this a no-brainer trip. Plus it is only a 45 minute flight from Gimhae airport.
Atomic Bomb Dome
September saw me leave Chris in Korea for a family road trip to Yellowstone Park and the Grand Teton’s. Really, I was a bridesmaid in a good friend from Korea’s wedding. I just convinced my parents into a week long road trip before hand so that I wouldn’t be completely jet lagged for the wedding. Also, it was a great way to force them to take a vacation, and I got to spend some quality time with them.
October brought Chris’s parent’s to Korea for a their first visit to Asia. After a few days here, we headed to Hong Kong! It was great getting to show our family our home away from home, and even better getting to experience a new city with them.
Hanok Village Seoul
November was fairly busy with our girls Middle School soccer team winning all three of their tournament games, and again being the team to beat. Chris and I also took off for a trip to Cambodia and Vietnam.
Sunset in Cambodia
Finally, December saw the end of our Cambodia and Vietnam trip (more blogging on this later) and the start of the Christmas season. This was our first year to not be with our families, and it definitely made for a different Christmas. While we made the most of our time here, we definitely missed our families back home.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Essence Hotel Bike Ride
Christmas in Korea
This year was filled to the brim, to say the least. Our biggest travel accomplishment was visiting eight new countries, on five different trips. I also got up close and personal with some elephants, a few tigers, a monkey and some whale sharks! Needless to say, we’ve had a very thorough tour of Asia. Even with all of that traveling, we managed to make some great memories here in Korea as well. I look forward to what 2016 will bring us!
Cheers to next week’s stories of our adventures in Korea!