Over the weekend we attended our dear friends wedding on the east coast of Korea. The couple opted to have the wedding at the dive shop that we’ve all come to know as our home away from home on the weekends.
Friday evening we got off to a bumpy start with a flat tire along the way in the middle of nowhere…still two hours out from our destination…Lol… Thanks USAA…ehh…or not (lesson learned). So just how many did it take to change a tire? Thankfully with help from some friends that coordinated with the local police station, an ambulance, police car, a fire truck, and a local garage all came to our rescue. Unfortunately we were missing an important piece of the puzzle, the lug nut wrench. Who would have thought? Lol… Poor Mr. B he took it out of the queen Volvo and put it in my car because he noticed that I didn’t have one. He was going to pick one up to replace his, but forgot. Hence our Dilemma. Eek. Eventually we got on the road after some grumbles, f-bombs, and Korean photo ops.. Yes, after the tire was fixed they wanted a photo with Mr. B shaking the local policeman’s hand and bowing to one another. Again, we’re going to be featured on some side of the road signage on the importance of being prepared. We were again back on the road, thankfully so because we were transporting the booze, THEE dress, and dinner reception decor. Basically the party don’t start till we roll in. We can laugh about it now. We rolled in and rolled right on into bed.
We cannot take credit for the cake, it’s the one item we didn’t transport. The poor thing just didn’t make it all the way in and out of Seoul and to the East Coast. The top slid off the cake and the fondant shaped sea creatures drooped and reshaped themselves. The lovely Ms. Louise and I did our best and tried to shift some of the fondant. At the end of the day it all worked out.
The wedding and dinner reception was small but in the best way possible, sweet, and intimate. It was the perfect recipe for a relaxed and very memorable day. There were lanterns that provided romantic candlelight on the dining tables and twinkle lights strung from the ceiling of the tent above. Swoon! It was awesome getting to see all the various little details the bride and I discussed actually come to life.
The guest toasted with fabulous reds and whites the entire night, and dined on Greek salads, savory potato curry tarts, fresh grilled corn on the cob, grilled burgers, bratwurst, and vegetarian kabob. Many heartfelt thanks to Roy, Jeff, Mark, and Mr. B for being grill sergeants and keeping our bellies at bay throughout the evening.
The entertainment was absolutely perfect with live musical performances during the ceremony and throughout the dinner reception from Ms. Laura Kenny, or Kenny as she’s known to the group. Wow can this gal sing! Download her song on iTunes here! (Shameless plug)
The newlyweds brought together such a diverse group of friends. Everyone just clicked so well and really enjoyed the good company. It was wonderful getting to meet in person all the faces and names we had heard so much about. By the end of the evening we were all good pals sharing laughs as if we had known one another for longer than 12 hours.
How was your 4th of July? Did you get to celebrate with a good ol’ cookout? Take in the local fireworks display? We hope it was possibly your best one yet!
We didn’t do a typical Independence Day celebration this year, but then again are we ever doing the typical over here? Nah… But boy did I miss me some grilled cheeseburgers, bratwurst, and fresh corn on the cob, oh and our families too! Thursday evening right after work we grabbed some snacks and hit the road south to meet up with our friends at a ferry port. We purchased ferry tickets to visit the island of Ulleungdo and Dokdo. These islands are located off the coast of Korea have been on my bucket list since moving abroad. Yippee I get to now cross them off! I love getting to cross things off my list!
Friday morning we woke up early, ate our Korean breakfast consisting of a rice porridge, kimchi, fresh tomatoes, and coffee. Lol…of course we tried it, but as you know there are just something’s you can never shake…mine is an American style breakfast. I opted for yogurt, a banana, and coffee.
We boarded the ferry that took us 3 1/2 hours to reach the island of Ulleungdo. Here is a link to see more about the island. http://wikitravel.org/en/Ulleungdo
The island was absolutely beautiful! We loved how preserved and untapped it still is! There is hardly any industry, except for tourist and fishing. However even with the tourist there isn’t a ton of large luxury hotels eating up the land. The water was so clean, so blue, the air was so fresh, and the land was so lush and so green! I really had to keep pinching myself to remind myself that we were still in Korea. It was just that breathtaking.
We rented a large passenger van and cruised around the one main “highway” stopping off at all the little must see marks on the map from our car rental guy. It’s really easy to travel to all the locations, park, and walk. You honestly could do the island in one day if you rushed it, but we took our time, plus we had the entire weekend.
The guys got in some dives and were really excited about the clarity of the water and just how much sea life there was. Mr. B is already putting together a fun dive trip for the 38th Parallel divers. Something to stay tuned in for.
One morning we took another ferry, another hour and 40 minutes to Dokdo island. Here is the link http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264142 . The really awesome history about Dokdo is that Korea is constantly fighting with Japan over it, and still is. Japan has even wrote in history books that they teach their children that the island is theirs.. But Korea unfairly took it….but it’s not the case, and they found historical documents showing otherwise. While it is rather close to Japan, Japan would love to have it for the fishing rights. It’s pretty interesting. Oh and Korea has one resident living on the island. Also Korea is manning the island with stationed Korean police.
The ferry ride seemed much longer because we ended up cruising over two fishing nets that got wrapped up inside of the propellers. Oops. They did a number on the boat because it delayed our trip significantly. In the end they couldn’t cut away all of it and decided they needed to service it once we docked back on Ulleungdo. I felt sorry for the group leaving Ulleungdo that night that was scheduled on that very boat.
I think the a-ha moment was when someone decided to take a smoke break in the restrooms and the smoke detectors went off. I just sat looking up waited for the overhead sprinklers to kick on, luckily they didn’t. I’m not sure where the disconnect was with the passenger and all the signs posted in Korean not to smoke, smoke free vessel, etc. Eh…. I guess sometimes the struggle is that real.
We were nervous because the day we took the ferry to Dokdo island the waves were larger and there was the possibility we wouldn’t be able to dock on the island to get our chance to set foot on it. Thankfully we were able to dock and had some time to snap a few photos. It was really neat!
We met an older Korean gentleman, actually two different ones. Both such characters absolutely worth notating for future memories. The one worked on the ferry and kept a personal log book of guest he’s spoke with, said hello, blessed. He insisted we sign his log book and that we tell him where we were from in the states, after responding he proceeded to give us many thumbs up. We felt loved nonetheless. The other character sought us out while in line awaiting to board the boat back to mainland Korea. He handed us his business card and stayed he wanted us to return back to the island in August for a 5k that we could run or walk, all expenses paid. This man meant business and stood there wanting confirmation with guarantee we were coming. Sweet man. He then pulled us out of line insisting we get a photo with him in front of the boat, again posing with the thumbs up. Lol, I see a pattern here… So we got the photo, he seemed happy, but then later pulled just the two men out for a photo. It was harmless, but the joke was that our faces were now going to be on some Korean noodle restaurant sign that endorses just how delicious the noodles are. Do us a favor and keep your eyes peeled for us if ever in Korea. So that wasn’t the last of him, once on the boat he then purchased us all cold canned coffees and passed them out to our group. Too kind!
Fortunately and unfortunately, MERS the Middle East respiratory syndrome, has really made a dent in the tourism for Korea. Its made for some pretty fantastic advantages for travelers such as less people and discounted prices at some attractions. Almost all the attractions on the island were empty and we almost always had a discounted price.
The entire time we were on the island we ate what the locals ate, mostly seafood. Honghapbap-mussels with steamed rice, haemulcheon- seafood/green onion fried pancakes, sanchae bibimbap, ojing-eo bulgogi -squid grilled at the table with vegetables and hot pepper sauce. We tried the local flower shrimp, chicken shrimp, tiger beef, and frequented and befriended a local coffee shop.
The shrimp was out of this world! We were blown away by the taste and the fact they were only boiled. No old bay seasoning here folks. We would have ate sooooo much more, probably our weight in shrimp, but at 80,000 won a kilo…. Eek…bit pricey.
The tiger beef was outstanding as well! Again pricey coming out at 100,000 won per couple, we had three couples. But where else are you going to get to sink your teeth into a local delicacy like the island tiger beef? Nowhere but Ulleungdo so you just have to do it once.
The coffee shop was fantastic! The owner so nice and had excellent taste with his quality of bean choice. We highly recommend getting a nice treat there after a meal. Try the waffle, trust us it will not disappoint!
All and all the trip was wonderful and getting to pal around on the island with some good friends made the trip that much more! So if you find yourself needing to get away from Korea without getting to far away, check out the mysterious island of Ulleungdo.
More helpful information about traveling to Ulleungdo Island:
These are two of my favorite photos from this past weekend at the beach. I feel like they just exude summer. The calm, carefree, slow, peaceful, just be in the moment type of days that you only get to really feel during the dog days of summer (no pun intended). These are the days I find myself clutching onto for dear life as an adult.
What a view! We woke up every morning to this view of a Korean seaside village with brightly colored roofs, and the sea water so flat and crystal clear. Every spare moment I could snag I’d hideaway and find myself with the biggest grin on that balcony reading, sunning, watching the dear sweet ajumma’s tending to their flowers and vegetable gardens below, and at night taking in the beach or starry sky.
The days were filled with the perfect amount of sunshine, pillowy clouds, warm sea breeze, freshly brewed coffee, and meeting new friends. Plus I heard that the dive conditions were excellent, once you got past the frigid water temperature. The evenings just as breezy and blissful, filled with the celebratory Memorial Day Patbingsu, and BBQ. Ahhh perfection!
As we wrapped up our last evening with friends I made sure to pause and look towards the twinkly sky and give my heartfelt thanks to the many men and women that lost their lives defending our freedom. Without that selfless sacrifice we wouldn’t get to enjoy these carefree beach weekends year after year.
The dive shop that Mr. B frequents has become like a second home to the both of us. We look forward to the ocean breeze on our faces and in our hair. The escape of letting the crowded city and everyday stress behind. Catching up with friends that have become like family to the both of us. It’s deeply cherished and has absolutely become a big part of our lives.
It was a special weekend as we were invited back to the opening of the shop for another year of diving. The shop’s opening ceremony kicked off with paying respects to their ancestors, Korean rice wine flowing, and a big ol’ BBQ with copious amounts of food being served (Thank’s again for grilling Jeff). It was surreal to look around that night under the big tent and realize that we didn’t all speak the same language, we didn’t come from the same countries, but everyone there all held the same passion for diving and that made everyone one in the same in that moment.
The 4th of July is one of those holidays that we Bees really crave a good ol’ BBQ, the rays from the sunshine, fireworks that light up the night sky, lounging by the pool, or on beach with your close friends and family. We almost had it all checked off the list this year, minus being 6,875 miles from the Pennsylvania and most of our family. Almost…
We headed to the East Coast of South Korea and Mr. B finally got in some diving and I some much-needed R+R+R (rest, relaxation, reading). Kelsey joined up with us on Saturday afternoon along with some fun friends from the UK, South Africa, Korea and the US. We learned all sorts of useful British and Korean words — crisps, brass monkey and chincha. HA-HA.
Waking up each morning and falling asleep each night with the sounds of the ocean waves crashing against the rocks right outside of the resort windows was so calming. The view was breathtaking even when the fog rolled in over the boat harbor. I couldn’t contain myself with all of the gorgeous wild flowers popping up all around too.
In the morning we really roughed it by grilling on our little Korean stove top with our cast iron skillet. Wakey wakey eggs and bakey. We actually had quite the little spread going for “roughing it”. Greek yogurt, red grapes, blackberries, English muffins with the nooks and crannies, because really is there any other kind? In the evening of course we had our BBQ and a nice selection of condiments.
The dive shop owner had the sweetest Boston terrier dog named 사랑 salang, korean word for love. Ohhh and how I loved this dog! It was so playful yet reserved and chill. It walked around playing a game with us all. she’d find plastic bottles and random items from the divers, latch onto it then wanted people to try to take whatever it was from her. She salang was sweet.
I strolled over to the observatory one morning, then again to show Kelsey too. What a wonderful ocean view and breeze felt from up there! I could have stayed out in that ledge all day. The deck had clear glass floor that allowed you to view the ocean below your feet. It reminded me so much of being in Chicago with the glass observation deck. You never know quite how people are going to react. Even in a different language body language is all the same.
The original plans were to dive this weekend at the east coast, relax, stroll on the beach and get carried away with a good book. That fickle mother nature had other tricks up her sleeve. The waves and wind were definitely ideal for a surfer, not a diver. We decided to improvise, road trip and meet up with a new couple along the way.
Part of our unplanned road trip led us to visit the most northern point of South Korea’s east coast. The area we traveled was the Goseong Unification Observation Centre. If you recall from past post, we’ve seen the DMZ from the west coast along the 38th parallel, however this was the opportunity to check it out from the east coast. The observation platform is a small educational center about the North with the history about Korea’s divide. I felt like it was much more relaxed and less tense (if that is even possible) in comparison to the west coast observatory. For example you can drive your own almost right up to where you will get to view North Korea!
From the platform you get to see Mount Geumgangsan, Haegeumgang, and islands of the coast in the distance. I stood there for a long time just staring through the telescopes to the other side of Korea. I couldn’t stop thinking about how beautiful the beach and view were but how ugly the other side truly was.
The holiday weekend wasn’t a complete bust, Sunday the sun greeted us bright and early, Mr. B got in some diving while I returned to my original plan of getting wrapped up in my book and taking a stroll along the beach. This day was truly a reminder of how life is good.
Happy Labor day to everyone out there, enjoy! No cookouts on the grill for we Bees this year…but I do see Johnny Rockets in our near future… 😉
Over Memorial Day we spent a wet and wild weekend on the shores of a wonderful little island of Cebu, in Moalboal, located in the Philippines. The location isn’t very touristy, it was just our style. Most resorts in the area cater to Scuba divers, so entertainment is very laid back and there are next to no night clubs. You can relish in the fact that a cold beer is less than 45 Pesos in most bars, or about 50 cents in US Dollars.
While Mr. B dove with our friend Chris, I spent most of my time snorkeling, and relaxing on a rather magical porch, sunning, reading and of course…sipping on something fruity and refreshing. Just look at the view! The sea lapping right up to our little porch, pleaseeee take me back!
On the last day of our trip we all went sight-seeing around the island, swam with whale sharks, and experienced a “natural” massage at the Kawasan Falls, and ate halo-halo the Filipino dessert made from UBE (purple yam) . Experiences I will never ever forget!
We are aching to get back to the coast again. I do believe that I am suffering from lack of the sea, sun and sand as we speak. That porch off the ocean solidified that we need to invest in a beach home someday. Ahhhh, Somedayyy. When I am in the office I feel the soft quiet pull of the salty wind and sand. So, so unbelievably ready for the summer in South Korea, how about you?
Today we woke up at 4AM so that we could get everything together and be out the door for the East Coast. Well, I’m not quite what you would call a morning person. I move…mmmm… what’s another word for slow? Snail speed, ah yes! Lets go with that.
I’ll be the first to admit, I was the cause of our lateness today. Oops..sorry Mr. B.
Once we got to the Rest stop to meet up with our group, I decided on my first ever grown up drink. Coffee! What were you thinking? Again, much to early for anything else. I ordered a Carmel macchiato. I have had a few sips here or there from the coffee aficionado, Mr. B, but never my own full cup. Growing up my family never enjoyed or appreciated a good cup of joe. The fresh brew just wasn’t part of our morning routines. I always thought of coffee as the crazy man’s drink. You drink it, you get hooked, you can’t function in the morning without it, repeat routine. I assume this is why I too never got excited for the stuff. Well, whatever the case, today marked an adult milestone for me. Did I cross over? Does this mean, I too am finally a “grown up”? Look out Mr. B!
We got back on the road fairly quick and departed for the coast.
Once we arrived, Mr. B set up his scuba gear, while I parked it on a beachfront park bench and Skyped with my grandparents.
Today, for the second time in a row this weekend, I woke up with Mr. B and went to the indoor pool. Yesterday I swam 30 laps, today I pushed myself a bit harder and did 50. Mr. B jokingly said that he needed to buy me a wet-suit for the pool because my lips were turning blue by the time I got out. When he said that, it instantly took me back to childhood memories, the days of swimming until my lips were blue, teeth chattering, convulsing shivering, but not daring to admit it’s time to get out and warm up.
Those were the days!
I stuck around a bit longer this morning to watch the Scuba students in action. Don’t tell Mr. B that I said this, but he’s such a natural! He loves scuba and it truly shines through when he’s helping to assist the students, or explain something more in detail. It’s just so darling watching him light up.