Thursday, April 28, 2011


This is part one in a series of Hawaii posts which will probably be spread out.

So, we took a vacation the week before Christmas to Hawaii, Maui, to be exact, and I am finally getting around to posting pictures about it.  We flew into Maui on a relatively short, seven hour flight, from Korea.  It was the first time we'd been back in the USA in a year. Kyle's mom, and my mom's favorite traveling friend, met us at the airport with leis. Kyle's parents had gone to the grocery store and stocked us on food for the entire week.  Mark, Kyle's dad was the chef, and he and Kyle slaved away in the kitchen concocting amazing meals.  Hawaii is incredibly expensive spot in which to vacation, so we chose to economize by saving on food costs by cooking at home for the majority of our meals.  Considering the quality of food that came out of our kitchen, I'd venture to say that we made the right choice.  The restaurants in Maui are not only overpriced but also not very exciting or good.
The first day, we decided to take an easy day, relaxing on a near by beach.  It was gorgeous weather, considering we were in our bathing suits in December.  The mountain in the background was lovely.
My mom, who has an alergy to the sun, enjoyed the scene tucked away in the bushes.

Later on, we went shopping in an artisans market.  One of the most exciting of these stores was the hot sauce and other food goodies store.  We spent a long time sampling.
We then went to a BBQ restaurant which was surprising wonderful considering our distance from Texas.
The second day we traveled the Road to Hana.  Because we rented cars, we were able to make this trip with a self guided tour on our own.  The CD buying experience was a trip in itself, as it took us nearly an hour to find a decent CD, but once we did, we were on the road. Mark was the driver, God bless him.  The road was a treacherously windy road.  It is actually only 68 miles long, and I don't think we even drove half of it before turning around to avoid nightfall, but we were on the road for 12 hours.  The real reason it took so long however was because we made stops every few miles along the way.  The road to Hana, isn't really about getting to Hana, but about the stops along the way.  Its a beautifully scenic, unblemished paradise littered with waterfalls, volcanic cliff sides, and teeming rain forests.  It's what one thinks of when they think of Hawaii, flourishing green wildlife.
Our first stop.  Dad n son.

My mom and Mayin, her traveling buddy

We were quite lucky that it didn't rain a ton on us, however because it hadn't rained in days, the waterfalls were a little less powerful.
We made a stop at a botanical garden.  I loved feeding the duck and chasing the peacock for a picture.

frightening spider

rainbow eucalyptus tree

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Italian food Korean style

In Korea, it can be expected, that an outing to a restaurant, will never, and I repeat NEVER, be like a meal at home, in America.  At the tail end of my birthday weekend, we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant.  I'm always hesitant to go to an Italian restaurant in Korea, because they always Koreanize it and never for the better.  For one thing, instead of bread sticks before the meal, they provide something pickled.  Because its an Italian restaurant they don't give you kimchi which they would prefer, but as a substitute, they provide sweet pickles, because as we all know, that's very Italian.  Then, most of the time, their spaghetti dishes are sweet, sickly sweet.  This restaurant was better than most for which I was immensely grateful, although they did have some quirks.  The pizza, instead of being made on pizza dough was made on many layers of pastry sheets, and with a side of honey to dip the crust in.  Also, when they brought the salad which was meant for Mark only,  they set it out for the whole table to share.  Because it seemed that it was meant for the table, we assumed it was complimentary.  It turns out, our assumption was incorrect. And when Dee ordered her coke, they brought a tiny can and six straws in case we all wanted to share.  Fun times in Korea!
sweet pickles

If we all had shared this coke, I think we would have had one sip a piece.

the pizza with the honey

Monday, April 25, 2011

cherry blossom festival 2011

This is my third spring in Korea, and each year, the cherry blossoms are the emblem which signifies that winter has officially left. That doesn't mean that the cold weather is entirely absent from this icy country, but it is definitely on its way out.  This year, we had planned to meet up with friends in Seoul for some bike riding around Yeoido Park, however once we got there, and realized that every single Korean had the same idea, we decided to lay low and just enjoy the fresh air.  It was delightful to just sit and watch the masses of Koreans biking, running, putting out fires in a trash bin, or whatever their chosen activity of the day.  And of course we took beaucoups of photos.

sitting at the park.  Look at my purple feet.

Kyle was trying for a cartwheel.  It wasn't so great!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Birthday bash 2011

As I've grown older, birthdays have become less and less exciting.  In fact, they are downright dreadful now.  I'm moving steadily towards 30 years of age.  I can remember as a child thinking that 30 was the equivalent to the end of the earth.  It seems to me that someone as close to thirty as I am, should have their life figured out, or at least closer to an idea than where I am.  In my afternoon class, ( with 6-9 year old Korean age) one of the questions we have them practice is "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  When its my turn, my throat clogs up with anxiety.  There are so many things I would love to do.  I'd love to be a published author, I'd love to own a tea shop, and a restaurant.  I'd love to be a motivational speaker, a sustainability or a communication expert.  I'd love to work with poor women helping them start businesses. I'd love to work for a non-profit, or start a non-profit.  I'd love to be a mom and a grandma. I'd love to be an entrepreneur. At least these are all things I imagine that I'd love, but who knows for sure unless I try, and I don't know where to even start, (which is why I'm turning to grad school which may or may not be the best solution) but I know that I want my life to mean something.  I know that at my funeral (which I pray is later rather than sooner) that people can say that I had an impact on the world, that I made the world a better place to live and ( in my dreams) that I alone was the cause for world peace :)    But do you know what the kids say to me when I give them my answer? They say "Teacher, you are grown up."  And its true, kind of. At least in their eyes, I'm old. I've even given to saying, "I'm a grandma" when they ask my age.  I have come to realize through my years of anxious searching, that life is about the journey not the destination.  My aunt sent me this awesome quote recently- "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain." And this year, I will try to to remember to dance in the rain and not worry so much about the storm, and hopefully that dance will get me where I'm meant to go.

We celebrated my birthday, the weekend before my actual birthday in Seoul starting out at a Thai restaurant, followed by a cool hip bar called the Bungalow in Itaewon, the foreigner area, behind the Hamilton hotel, with swings and sand on the floor.  The drinks were overpriced, but the atmosphere was chill and inviting.

A delicious mojito.

On my actual birthday, the preschool took me out on a bizarre outing.  First of all, the bus driver of the students wanted to pay for my meal.  That might not sound so strange, except the man has only ever said one word to me, and that was something about trash (in Korean), when he asked me to throw something away for him.  Sarah, the manager of the preschool, said that he is very generous and loves to pay for teachers meals. We went to a Korean restaurant, but with slightly different food than I've had before.  They tried to explain it to us, but all we understood was that there was beef and fish. "Together?" I asked.  "It's on the same burner." they replied.  Basically, that's exactly what it was, beef and fish.  It was good, but kind of strange.  It was a fun evening however, and we all traveled there together on the school bus, which added to the silliness of the evening.  After wards, we invited a few friends who were in the village to come over and eat the Pineapple rum cake that my husband had made.  It turned out okay. It was a little dry, and ugly as the pineapples burned a little, but I really loved that my hubby wanted to make the cake for me.  It was very sweet.  And then as added fun, we all put on the UT (university of Texas) clothes that my mom sent us as a birthday gift to show her our (kyle and my) appreciation.

after we eat most of the meat, they add rice and make it a stir fry.