Tag Archives: travelling

125 lbs to Seoul: 5 Words to Remember When Packing

3 Oct

There are 2 types of packers in this world: the Kitchen Sinkers and the Chemists. I am a chemist, one of those freaks who packs two weeks before the trip, then pack and re-packs and packs again. In my head I’m slowly shaving the fat and assembling the best possible suitcase. In reality my fellow compulsive packers and I are all just waiting for the inevitable moment when we put our bags on the airport scale and receive our final verdicts is.

There are 5 word that will help you in your quest for perfect packing.

1. LimitsThe only good thing about international flights, beside free wine, yes I said free wine and beer, the only thing you pay for is hard liqueur- usually. I digress, the only good thing is you can normally take  125 lbs worth of stuff with you. It’s usually two checked bags weighing no more than 50 lbs per bag, and 25 lbs in your carry-on and one personal item (purse or murse).  Here are the links for the airlines that are heading in the general direction of Korea, Korean Air and Asiana Air . The links will help you figure out your baggage limit.

2. Weather. The easiest thing to do is look up your city on weather.com or even just Wikipedia and check out the annual highs and low for each city for the month(s) you’re going. Can you get any jackets that will do double duty? Nice enough for a night out and possibly snowboarding the next day? North Face has a new line of stylish coat specifically their Grace Trench Coat that can roll up to the size of a parka but has all the stylish of your favorite Macintosh and its half the weight. 

3. Schedule. You should be honest with your self about what your planning on doing during this trip. If it’s all beaches and night clubs, then pack sundresses and flip-flops. However, if its museums, night clubs, and a side job then pack a couple nice shirts, some pants and a going out dress and heels, you get the idea. Personally, I know that as much as I enjoy the great outdoors I will be going out four to five days a week and hiking once or twice a week.  There is no reason I would need to bring five pairs of hiking pants and my hiking boots even my regular work out stuff with sneakers will be just fine. From what I’ve heard Seoul is a city that dresses to the nines 24/7. You should also see how everyone else is dressing before you go if you can. It may sound a very conformist but from what I’ve heard if I dressed the way I do in Seattle in Seoul I would look like a bum. I understand to each his own and all that nonsense but in some countries this isn’t just an issue of fashion.  I am talking about a country’s traditions and views. In many countries all over the world personal appearance is a matter of pride for people. They do not wear ratty t-shirts, and they’ll wonder why you insist on doing so. How you dress can also help you when it comes to security as well. With many crooks targeting travelers it helps to disgust yourself as much like a local as possible not flashing around that fancy new phone or camera helps as well.

4. Duration. This is more for the backpacker question but for me a one year TESOL contract is just the way it is. You definitely want to think about how many seasons your going to go through.  Also you should know if you’ll be able to buy the clothes you’ll need in the country your going. I’ve heard it’s a problem for busty women and giant guys (or vice versa) in asian countries. My rule of thumb is for 6 months+ of travel bring enough clothes for 3 weeks. But when you have more that 2 seasons to pack for I say, for every 7 days you pack for 2 of those should be season specific.

To review the duration equation is:

(7 outfits x 3 weeks) = outfits for <6 months 

[ (5 outfits x 3 weeks)- (2 seasonal outfits x 3 weeks) ] = outfits for <6 months for variable seasons            

Total Days Traveling/2 (or 3 if your feeling really bold)                                                            

5. Money. Not really a rule but an undeniable truth. I don’t know how many times I found cool items at St Vinny’s and other local charity shops for next to nothing. Items that you can guarantee will always be available these are also items you DON’T NEED TO PACK. These “always available” items are typically jeans, shirts, or dresses. Even Helen Mirren shops at charity shops when she goes abroad.

A is for… Australian Meat Pie

12 Sep

I’ve been meaning to post this for the last week but here she is …  …my Meat Pie! And  I have to say it tastes almost as good as it did in Australia-maybe it’s wishful thinking.

Below is the recipe I used and as a tip, I added a tbsp on horseradish to the mix my second time around, definitely gives it that zing!

  1. Pre-heat oven at 220 degrees Celsius (428 F).
  2. Brown meat and onion.
  3. Add 3/4 cup of the water, bouillon cubes, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, pepper, oregano, and nutmeg.
  4. Boil and cover for 15 minutes.
  5. Blend flour with the remaining 1/4 cup water until it becomes a smooth paste; add to the meat mix.
  6. Let cool.
  7. Grease a pie dish and line with puff pastry.
  8. Add the cooled filling mixture; brush edges of pastry with milk or beaten egg; put the pastry top on; press edges down with a fork.
  9. Trim edges and glaze top with milk or beaten egg.
  10. Bake in a very hot oven, 220 degrees Celsius (428 F) for 15 minutes.
  11. Reduce heat to 180 degrees Celsius (356 F) and bake for 25 more minutes, or until golden brown.
  12. Serve with veggies, fries, or salad.

(recipe taken from) Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/australian-meat-pie-21726#ixzz1XhuqQoho

And for all you vegetarians I’ve added a veggie recipe. I have yet to try but if you beat me to it let me know how it is.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 250g thinly sliced mushrooms (any variety)
  • 100g button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1½ cups (375ml) vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup (65ml) soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 med carrot, diced
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed (or homemade equivalent)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
1.Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (356 F).
2.Heat olive oil in a frypan over med-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms and saute until well browned. Add the carrot and stir.
3.Add vegetable stock, stir to combine. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to simmer.
4.Simmer 8-10 minutes until carrots are just tender.
5.Stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle skillet with flour, stir in. Simmer and stir until sauce is thickened (1-2 mins). Remove from heat and stir in thyme.
6.Roll out pastry to size of pie plate.
7.Pour contents of the frypan into pie plate and top with pastry.
8.In a small bowl or cup, whisk the egg and water with a fork. Brush pastry with egg mixture. Bake 40 mins or until pastry is golden brown.
And to top off your night here are some lovely Meat Pie Ad’s- ENJOY!

ESL Part 3: Visa Application

11 Sep

Once you receive your issuance number your ready for your application.

  1. Visa Application (and sometimes Interview)

I foolishly thought because I received my issuance number I was all set and my plane ticket was on the way, I was unfortunately mistaken. Your issuance letter is what you need to apply, and believe it or not just because you receive you issuance letter does not mean your guranteed to receive an E-2 visa. It’s all part of the application (which is conveniently linked below).


After filling out the application and attaching a passport sized photo, you will want to run it down to the near South Korea Consulate or pop it in the mail addressed to the Consulate ASAP- do not walk-RUN! TIME IS TICKING AWAY! Below is a link to the current consulates in the U.S (as of 9/10/11).


You may also need to interview and or bring a copy of your transcripts. I personally didn’t not need to to either, but its best to be prepared.  I’ve heard the interviews can go from a few minutes to 30 minutes and can cover the obvious, “why do you want to go to Korea?”, to “what is your teaching experience?” and even “do you enjoy taking drugs?”.

On Tuesday I dropped off my application in person to the lovely ladies at the Korean Consulate in Seattle with my $45 (remember cash or money order only).  I waited about 3 days and picked it up this past Friday. After you’ve gotten over the shock of seeing your visa and holding it in your hot little hands, its best to letting you school/recruiter know your visa number ASAP. I received my travel itinerary over the weekend. Because I left things so late I only have about 2 weeks till I leave, I’ve found most people have between 4 to 8 weeks. So now its time to get some farewell drinks in before you head off.

P.S. Learn Korean!

Now that the hard parts are over its time to try to learning as much as you can because no one like being the a**hole who can’t even say “hello” or “thank you”. With a quick trip to iTunes you can find plenty of FREE ESL podcasts and lessons. Most with come with links to websites where they want you to pay  for more lessons. That being said it’s still cheaper than Rosetta Stone. Since I’m a cheap-skate I opted for KoreanClass101.com, the website is great and the dialogue shows up on my iTouch while I’m listening. So far I can say:

Hello: Ahn-nyung-ha-se-yo

Thank you: Kam-sam-nida

Korean BBQ: Bul-go-gi

Delicious: Mas-is-seo

It’s a work in progress…

Europe Pt deax: the REAL adventure

19 Apr


Paris is for Lovers

22 Mar

Traveling to somewhere on the cheap is always a challenge. Even more so in big city, however
large and world renowned city this can be difficult especially
as they’re museums, cultural delicacies, and sights that sometimes you may or may not want to
“just take a picture” of. But with a little planning and alot fo patience anything is possible.
And as cheesy as it sounds you never know who your going to meet and who will help you along the

This is a story about love in Paris.

It was an unusual warm sunning day in noth yorkshire. I’d been freaking about this trip to paris for weeks! Especially after
watching the movie ” Taken” with Liam Nesson. i had a contigence plan that included a detailed itenerary of exactly what
sites we were seeing and in what order, what i would be packing to where, and all my parents (In the USA) contact details

So with a rock in my gut i went boarded the train to leeds. After about 10 minutes of listening to my instant immersion
french I gave up- if i don’t have it now I never will. Frustrated at my late of discipline, I’d known I was going for the
last month and a half. By the time I boarded the bus I was in panic mode- “what if no body speaking english, omg they’re going to hate me! I am the ugly American!”. Or worse, what if they think I’m british, I’d recently perfected my “Ferne Cotton” look alike wardrobe. The flight went off with relative ease and like the tourist I am I was taking pictures of the tarmac and myself in the seat. For the best deals head to Jet2.com. 50 pound return… you can’t ask for much more.

After flying over the Paris it just hit me! THE LIGHTS! It really is just lik ethat U2 song! The city is just covered in tight and tidy rows! Again I have to give props to Jet2 on and off the plane in 15 mins. Seriously I urge everyone to be a carry on only traveler- especially given the current extra baggage fees.

So as a carry on only travel I hussled right off the plane and didn’t have to faff about with any baggage issues. Coincidentally every time I’ve had to check luggage on any airline something has always gone wrong- its a curse. So the first thing I do when I get to the airport is ask the first person I see if they speak English, in English- what an ass.

So a short walk, and a quick shit in my pant after seeing some French soldiers and carrying massive machine gun I’m at terminal 3, where the metro to take you into town is.

Its a little freaky to be honest. But anything in a city your not familiar with after dark would be.

There was a dangerously cute Parisian guy on the train in a green skunk funk jacket … big teeth, dribbly shaped nose, sad eyes, sullen cheeks, and greasy floppy hair. Unfortunately he was sitting next to an equally chic blond woman with blond razored hair cut and wet look legging- pain fully skinny but working the Paris- rock n roll chic look quite well! Topping off the look with some monochrome funky addidas sneakers. They quickly departed in to the night when I reached Gard Noord, the first real place to run off the RER and get the metro. This interchange will get you into the city, when you get into the Paris.

The most important thing you should remember about he transportation system is the metro will get you anywhere in the city but the RER will get you to the suburbs and Versailles so if you find you self on the bottom on the station with no where else to go, head up. If you jump on the wrong train with the wrong pass, if the ticketing agents (who I didn’t see any of) don’t catch you, it will still be a hefty price back. Not that I got to find that out as I had my first brush with French politics as an ATC strike shut down the trains to Versailles and kept the Louvre doors closed.

After jumping off at the Gard de Noord (North Train Station) I had to ask fro directions and then I headed up a level to the 4 to Bardes DeRochescourt, little did I know it was in the shitty part of town where all the drug dealers (big black guys/ little white thugs, as I was later told- some things are sadly universial). As I got off the train and ran like the child I am to see and smell the Parisain air I’d been dreaming about I got a whiff of what reminded me of Bourbon street on Good Friday, and what looked like a scene from the 9th ward in New Orleans, a place where my dad and I had gotten lost one night when looking for Tipatina’s so he could sneak me in to see the Psychedelic Furs :-), a fruitless journey but fun none the less . So I was definitely a little freaked but I’d see worst, even if it had been from the confines of my dad’s SUV, but I’m was 24 yrs old damn it not 16 and I was seeing “the real” Par-ee. So I asked a normal looking passer by where the hostel was and she said across the street and over- not too far if I wanted to walk in front of the creepy french g-sta’s so I walked around. But about every 5 ft I saw a group or a person that looked like trouble so I kept my head down and eyes up and looked for my hostel. I did look up when someone said something to me, and then they proceeded to say something that even in another language you knew was dirty. Then I looked up and scowled and they followed me to the hostel doors getting louder and louder.

The hostel reception didn’t seem to mind or care about me or the creeps at the door. I went to my room when my roommate from Madrid and I had a weird but funny conversation due to my lack of French and her lack of English- Spanish was our only real sort of way to communicate and even 5 minutes in I was wishing I’d not used the online translator for the majority of my Spanish homework. An Asian couple came in next. The room had its own bathroom but I was too tired and had forgot to wear sock or bring pjs so I was just going to sleep in my clothes- until I realized just how freakin hot it was in the room -ugh!

So after in a fit of heat induced rage I pulled my jeans off and got settle just to start hearing that damn snoring and as I kicked my leg out in frustration I kicked my jeans off the bed…. idiot….

The whole night between the Asian man HIDEOUS snoring and the spanish girl slapping the wall to make him shut up or at least get the hint to shut up I didn’t really get to sleep, but at least I had my shower to look forward to and on a whole the room was totally clean- mattress, sheets… everything. So 4am hit and I’m bursting, but like a moron I’ve picked the top bunk on a bunk bed with a person I don’t want to piss off below me, and I’m in a tee shirt and undies. This whole trip I was totally conscious of not wanting to be the ugly American. And I don’t care what your social bountries are in your culture I didn’t need anyone catched a glimmer of my anything in the pale moon light that lit that purple sweat box of a room up!

I waited, sleeping in 10 minute increments for Madrid girl to wake up so I could ask for my “pantalones” and to “vamo el bano”, but I ended up getting my pant and then she rushed off to the loo. So I sat there holding it for at least 20 minutes, I wish I could have wet by self- really, some times I wish it were socially acceptable, however I’d only brought one pair of pants so this was just unfeasible.

The shower was just what I needed and I got ready,packed up my crap and took off out in the world! PARIS!!!!!!!!


I went to the kebab place next door, which I’d read on the internet had the best kebab anywhere in the world. And again I was wishing I’d not given up so quickly on my itunes French lessons. The kebab shop had something that looked vaguely like a really deformed pancake crossaint thathad been fried, it was deliecous and only 3 euros (including one of the best coffees i’d ever had. The more I looked around the kebab shop it looked like one of those dive cafes you see Tony Soprano and his entourage at in the wee hours of the morning. I thought I may have once again, been in the wrong place at the wrong time. I couldn’t tell if they were Greek or Algerian, or some other nationality in southern Mediterranean or Northern Africa. They were nice enough but hadan air that said they belonged there, defanitely not the kind of restaurant/cafe where they over compliment you and are deperate for you to know they need you patronage and acceptance. Watching the old men (all 50+ walk in and out and the younger men come in and head to the back of the restaurant you had to wonder what was going on. In the 20 minutes or so I’d been out there I’d seen at least at least 4-5 guy going in the back an stay back there, all well dressed street wise, and plenty of jewelry. The best was the grandpa looking guy doing all the cooking, seemingly harmless but could have easily been a mafiaso boss.


Before heading to gay Par-ee I’d tried to make an itinerary with all the sight (Eiffel, Arc, Champs, Cimt. De Pere- jim morrison, versailles, lourve, pantheon, bastille, sorbonne). I used the Time-out Paris book as much as I could thanks to its handy metro station map. I headed to St. Michel first to catch the RER out to Versailles.

After about 20 minutes of waiting, another American tourist came up to me asking about versailles. He was either gay or very well spoken and wearing a chicago bears t-shirt and a huge bagpack that screamed TOOOURIST. The more I was talking to him the more annoyed I became with American’s and really started to doubt how much I would be able to put up with it all when I got back. But back the trains, he told me the attendent said it wasn’t running and she told me “technically it was”- the guide book said get on the vick or vero trains…. there were none on the departures board and thanks to my handy-dandy O2 blackberry the Versailles website said they would be open were as the lourve website said they would be shut due to the strike- and eager to tell anyone who would listen that he was

I’m so in love! The city is amazing! it makes you want to fall in love! Had a fabulous time-better than fabulous- they had this huge strike so the louvre and Versailies was closed so i went and saw all the other sites. When when I was searching for Jm Morrisons grave in the Cimitere du Pere i met this guy- he totally just starting speaking in french to me and and I just smiled and nodded like you do and then i tried speaking french and it just kinda snowballed!The rest of the day was me trying to speak french and him doing okay with the english, we did the Sacer Coure, so amazing! my favorite spot in all of Paris! And then he’s proceeded to eat my face- almost literally LOL, and ya it was a little too agressive for my taste but he seemed well into it hahah. It felt extremely wrong and then just felt right. When in Paris, right?… why not make out with a cute french man! (and he was older too… 30 😉 lol! But in all fair need the guy did butter me up before going in for the kill… its was wild and weird and crazy and completely random! So then we got dinner and went for a walk along the Siene and then I decided I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower at night- so we jumped on the metro and high talled in to the Tower. When we get there and its complete dark by then so we ended up making out for a couple hours in front of the Tower… dude it was just picture perfect – like a god damn movie!!!! I keep thinking I’ve hallucenated it! From the time I met him to the time we went our separate ways- it was just soooo unexpected and fantastic. It was almost too perfect, especially considering when I first met him I thought he was one of thsoe creepy guys that preys on tourist like in that new Liam Nesson movie “Taken” which is why I didn’t get into the specifics and lied about everything (said I was with 5 other girls and guys and then pretended to check my phone saying they’d been texting me so they knew where i was)- because in reality I went to paris completely on my own. So when we were laying on the stairs at the sacre clour i was like sooo have you seen this movie and I describe the movie “taken” and then he was like ohhh… and then there was this light bulb and he’s like, “do you think I’m going to take you?” and I was like “vous me dire” (you tell me) and then he got all serious and was like ” if you wish” and then gave me this killer grin… ahhh! I could have melted into a puddle of mush! LOL! I seriously laughed for like 5 minutes bc i was just soooo embarassed… I don’t think he got it lol- then I was like okay, well let me see some id. And he busted out his bus pass, work ID’s and everything- and everything he told me corrolated with his ID’s, he conducts medical trial testing for this University Dierot something something- its over by the sorbonne- he said doctor but when he was describing what he did it sounded like a research type of doctor not a hospital type. Wheeeeeeew- Paris was amazing.

On my way to the airport my pass had apparently expired (even tho it wasn’t supposed to) the night before and thankfully it was 5am and no one was a around so in frustration I jumped the gate and hopped on the first train to arrival which was maybe 20 seconds later 🙂

But after we say said adios… ahhhh which was just toooo perfect… he held my head in his hands and just,…. ahhh kissed me next to the St Michel metro stop (next to notre dame)…. my heart hurts just talking about it- just one of those kisses that makes your lips be all plumped up for hours after… omg. And then he wrote his number on my hand kissed it and said good bye- I honest to god felt like I was in a movie, I almost wanted to cry (I’m pathetic I KNOW)- THINGS LIKE THIS JUST DON’T HAPPEN TO ME… if it was a movie tho i’d have a way better wardrobe- god i looked like a hobo- theres pic of him in paris album on here.

So I stayed up all night in this cafe next to the St. Michel metro stop “Cafe depart” and people watched and chatted with the waiters, wrote some postcards, the usu.

but holy crap!

On my way to the airport my pass had apparently expired (even tho it wasn’t supposed to) the night before and thankfully it was 5am and no one was a around so in frustration I jumped the gate and hopped on the first train to arrival which was maybe 20 seconds later 🙂