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Travels

3 March 2012

So, it seems I’ll be blogging over here. It’s easier and faster for on the road stuffs.

Hope you enjoy!

Goodbyes

16 February 2012

Today was 6th grade graduation. The ceremony consisted of pushy parents trying to get the perfect picture of their graduates; grandparents holding fake lighted flowers bought just outside school gates; restless younger siblings running around the gym; bbbbbbbbored teachers listening to the endless names and speeches; 5th graders ready to take over the school; and of course, the graduates themselves.

I didn’t teach 6th grade this year so I didn’t really care much. I barely knew those kids when they were back in 4th grade but haven’t seen them much since then.

(It was a grade that included THIS kid. How many times can I link back to this story???)

While saying goodbye to them was easy, it was my beautiful, precious ‘lil 3rd graders that got me today.

I escaped before graduation to pop in each classroom and say a quick goodbye before they headed off for the next 2 weeks for spring break. I walked into the first classroom and the kids were all over the place getting ready to go, but the instant I walk in I hear “LOLLLLIPOP!” and they all come to attention and some come up to me and grab an arm or my sweater as I explain to their teacher what I am doing here.  I then speak to the class, “Hi monkeys! …I…uh…just wanted to say…goodbye….I’m leaving Korea….” and BAM. Tears. My tears. Then  a billion little questions. Then a translation from the teacher for clarification and then BAM. Tears. Mine and theirs!

I quickly bowed out and did this TWO more times. The last class was my very favorite and as I could barely choke out a tearless “HELLO!” let alone “goodbye” when one of the lil guys with a giant head asked, “Lori Teacher- GAME OVER??”

I don’t really know what that meant but his quirky smile and enormous energy got me to giggle, got the monkeys to giggle and we got to share in the best emotion ever: laughter thru tears.

It was a sweet morning.

 

 

 

 

You’re doing it wrong

10 February 2012

I bought a box yesterday to package stuffs to send home.

It’s big enough to fit about 2 scarves and a pair of shoes.

I’m going to need about 20 more of those.

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I decided to clean out my fridge 10 minutes before I left for work this morning.

All that’s left in it is a carton of milk and some garlic.

Apparently, I’m done cooking for the next 3 weeks.

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Some jerk handed me my tax forms today informing me they are taking about a third of my paycheck. My FINAL paycheck.

I totally resent the messenger on this one.

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I gave away half my books, sent home the other half.

Be on the lookout, Meg. I sent them to you.

Unfortunately, now I’ve nothing to read.

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I thought today was Thursday.

It’s Friday.

That’s the only ‘smart’ thing I’ve done this week.

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Bad dreams: a first world problem

8 February 2012

Wanna hear about the dream I had last night?

Of course you don’t.  Listening to other folks’ dreams is mind-numbing and boring. But, I get to type whatever nonsense I want here so today it’s my dream and an extra bonus will be my interpretation of it.

So, in this dream, I’m on a beach. The weather is nice, there are loads of people around and I am staying in this excellent beach front villa. I’m traveling alone though so it’s kinda quiet. Then, all of a sudden this decent looking fellow comes into my villa like he owns the place. I’m ok with it because he is so pretty and while we are chatting all of his friends come in. Beautiful girls, handsome boys.

(Sorry, but it’s not that kind of dream.)

So, as I’m talking to one dude, I notice another is STEALING of all things my electronic wine bottle opener! I quickly excuse myself and catch this guy as he’s slipping out the back door and ask him to return my opener. He gives me a hand-operated opener instead. I take it and yell at him to give me the electronic one. He then hands me my spatula.

I continue to ask him and he continues to hand me various kitchen utensils and appliances but not the electronic opener. I’m getting pissed and turn around for some kinda help and notice some girls taking my make-up bag out the front door.  So, I run after them.

I yell at them to return my things and turn back around to see other folks taking my pillows out the back door.

Pretty soon, my villa is hemorrhaging with these ingrates stealing all my things while I am getting dizzy from running back and forth unsuccessfully trying to stop them all. I think to myself “I’m gonna call the cops!” but then I realize I am in a different country and don’t know if the emergency number is 911 or 119 or 150 or what?

Then I wake up.

(I checked on my wine opener. It was hanging safe and sound in it’s proper spot.)

I’ve been dreaming a lot about my upcoming travels. Pretty sure this brings some light to some of my hopes/anxieties:

-I hope I meet lots ‘o peeps.

-I hope one of those peeps is a hot dude.

-I am anxious about things that might go wrong as I travel alone. Or that I’ll lose something of “value” during my travels. (I’ve just bought some travel insurance, so that might ease the dreams tonight).

-And most importantly, I have a troubling attachment to my kitchen utensils.

There’s my ramble for the day. Be gone.

 

One Month

2 February 2012

In the next month I have to sort myself, my apartment and my emotions for departure from this part of my life.

Sorting myself means preparing all documents and supplies for my upcoming trip. This is fairly easy (at the moment) for I am a pretty laid back traveler and ultra organized. I’ve already got docs and visas and flights nicely organized in a folder prepared for my first month of traveling. Well done me.

Sorting my apartment means divvying four years worth of stuff into piles of things I send home, things I take with me, things I give away and things I throw away. I.hate.packing. This will be the most annoying. I’ve slowly started with various corners of my tiny apartment that somehow filled itself with countless things. For example, change. I have coins from all over Asia in glasses, jars and tins. I sorted it and took it to the bank and posted over $100! That’s like a week in Cambodia!

Sorting my emotions will come later. I’m ok for now. I have slight emotional fluctuations. Yesterday I was so in love with EVERYONE. I was hugging and giggly and and jumpy for no reason whatsoever. My non-huggy, non-touchy Korean colleagues were a bit taken back. Ha! Wait until the last week of Feb. I’ll probably be a hot emotional mess of tears, laughs and anxieties.

Anyway. One month. This is where I am at today. Thursday. One of the coldest days of this winter.

Budget

28 January 2012

I’ve never been good with money. I blame it on the credit card company who gave me all that fake money back when I was 18 and off to college. I’d swipe that card at everything: college bookstores, supermarkets, bars, malls, gas stations, fast food joints, tanning salons. It was like magic. Until I got the bill. My heart would stop each month looking at the ‘outstanding balance.’ I actually had to PAY for all that stuff with my OWN money??

BTW- “my OWN money” refers to calling mom and dad and asking for allowance. Don’t be fooled.

Then I saw the ‘minimum payment’ line. I fell in love with the ‘minimum payment’ line. It meant I could throw down $50 or so a month and keep living like a queen.  And, I got so good at that that they’d raise my limit! Sweet! More spending!

Until it got to the point where the ‘minimum payment’ line became higher and higher and I started hating it more and more.

Thus began a downward spiral. My debt was so out of control that I kept it a secret from EVERYONE. I even tried denying it to myself. It was the biggest burden I ever had to carry. A deep black hole that weighed on me daily. Being in debt is not something I would wish on anyone.

Coming to Korea finally gave me the advantage to pay off all my stupid mistakes. ALL of them! So now, I love my credit card again. Especially since it’s a mileage card I use it to rack up miles and points to help fly me around the world.

Knowing I’ll be jobless and planning a 3 month trip probably comes across as irresponsible to some. I totally get that. Especially the way things are these days. Who knows when or where I’ll find another job. But, while I do acknowledge that, I am not going to let it stop me. My purpose for moving abroad five years ago was to see the world. I don’t want to leave here without seeing some of the most magnificent places that are at arm’s reach from me.

I hate that money is such an important stipulation to live these days. It seems wrong to me that a man-made ‘necessity’ like money be the driving force of life. I totally respect working hard and earning your way through life. If it weren’t for my parents’ hard work and their ability to save my bank account ass countless times, there’s no way I’d be able to do what I am doing today. But, I wish money wouldn’t be the thing that limited us in our ability to explore life how we dream to.

Thus, I come to terms with spending my last earned dollars won on seeing this corner of the world. I’ve set a budget that I am DETERMINED to stick to. No more irresponsible credit card charges. And, whenever and wherever I happen to be when I’ve reached that limit, I’m either gonna find a job nearby (fingers crossed I run out in Bali!!) or use those miles to fly myself to South America! …. I mean HOME.  Home.

(After a few months in Argentina.)

Oh, the places we’ll go

25 January 2012

So, after a mere 3.5 years in the Land of the Morning Calm I’ve decided to end my tenure as a wanna-be Korean and move on. This is a very bittersweet moment for me as the past 3.5 years have been ah-maz-ing. I have been fortunate enough to come to Korea and experience its culture, its people, its food and fall in love with it enough to FORCE myself to leave and try something new.

What’s that something new, you ask? Well, I too would like to know.

I’d like to have a well thought out plan to my post-Korea life, but I actually only have a clue to about the following three months and even that is pushing it! But, three months is a lot of time to do a lot of stuff and that’s what I hope to do.

My plan is to do this: Go. Explore. Engage. Learn. Love. I’m not doing anything no one before me hasn’t done (wow, so many negatives in that sentence…you get it? aka “I’m not reinventing the wheel.”), but that doesn’t make me any less excited about it.

And, clearly I’m excited about it…I’m blogging again!

First I’ll journey to Hong Kong.

I hope to meet with some friends (currently living in Shanghai) for a mini-reunion along the beautiful banks as we drink a beer and look at Hong Kong’s sprawling skyline.

After a few days there, I’m off to Yangon, Myanmar.

To be honest, I don’t know what much to expect of Myanmar but I loved to read Lonely Planet’s quick take on it. It has recently undergone a political shift and tourism is starting to open up more now than ever before. I’m currently in the process of obtaining my visa and finding places to stay for the first few days and what I read again and again is how warm and welcoming the Burmese people are despite living under an oppressive military regime for so long. I truly can’t wait for this part of the adventure.

When this is all said and done, I’ll head to Thailand to meet Justy and Nicole!

I’m thinking there will be some elephant riding, some beaching, some monkey swinging, some scuba diving…also, I know I am going to do some yoga down south and get me a traditional bamboo tattoo (shhhh…don’t tell dad!).

That’s all I have officially booked. After this I plan to hit up Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and of course Bali!

At this point, the only money I am certain to have is the amount to get me to Mexico to one of my best friend’s wedding at the end of May. After a weekend of some long overdue celebrating with best friends, I’ll hope to have something to get me back to Colorado.

If not, I’ll be making tamales and surfing on the seashores of Mexico until I do.

***Oh, and HUGE caveat! This is what I WANT to do. Not set in stone. I could jump on a plane with Justy and Nicole and be back in Colorado in time for…April Fool’s? But really…I could. No joke.