Many Happy Trails

I am a bit biased, I admit. I am from California and am proud of the fact. We have everything you could ever want -- beaches, mountains, small towns, cities like San Francisco. What do you like to do? We have it. You like picking mushrooms, deer hunting, swimming, diving, surfing, hiking? We have it. So, when I say that New Zealand reminds me of California, that is a good thing.

We have been hiking almost every day. It has been great. First we hiked near the sea, then in fern laden forests, over mountains, and through gorges. We have seen every different kind of terrain and climate. It snowed on us a few days ago. We went swimming a few days before that.

If you like hiking (tramping in NZ terms) you will love New Zealand. If you like beaches, you will love NZ. If you like skiing or mountains, you guessed it. You will still love New Zealand. It is actually smaller than California; it is about the size of Colorado. There are only 4 million people. The largest city is small by our standards. It is great. As I mentioned before, there are 10 sheep for every one person.

A couple of things we have enjoyed besides hiking.

Meat pies.(and beer!)

Tiny horses (or ponies). 

Seeing where the hobbits live. That's me being Gollum (in the rain).

Awesome Beaches.

 Strange mushrooms. 

And of course....a couple of hiking pics!

So, I know I sound like a Chamber of Commerce ad for New Zealand, but I love it here! I have a lot to say about it and although this post is short and photo heavy, once I get back into "real" internet land, I will talk more about WHY I love it so much. Until then, Happy Tramping! 

Oh and a very late Happy Easter to everyone! I have been out of blogland lately, but am looking forward to reading everyone's posts once I get home!



Firstly, you've heard the song by Phoenix - Lisztomania? No? Well you should. HERE it is on Youtube. I don't know where else to show you where I don't get copyright infringement by suggesting it.

But that is not what I was here to talk about. I just wrote the title and started singing the song and voila! I had to tell you! If you don't already know, there is also a thing on Amazon called Listmania. These are lists of books created by users of Amazon. Sometimes they are very helpful, like when you want a free E-book for your (iPhone) Kindle (Free Books HERE).(EHow Hints HERE)

But I am not going to talk about that either.

I am here to ask you: Do you love lists? I do. I write lists for everything. EVERYTHING. To Do List. Travel Ideas List. Books Read in 2011 List. Blog Ideas List. Possible Career List. Ideas for Organizing my Life List. Grocery List. Movies I Want To Watch List. What I Will Make For Dinner This Week List. Yes. It goes on and on. The List of lists. It goes on!

When I was a kid my parents gave me a Kodak 110 (I think that is what it was) and my Dad told me to note the number of the picture and to write down where it was taken so later when I develop the film, I will know where I was when I took that photo. I did. I still do. It's a little different now, but I have a calendar where I note down where I am each day so when I go to organize my photos, I have an idea of where the (heck) I was! I also keep maps and things so I will remember names, especially if I am in a country where they speak a foreign language and the names are hard to remember.

So, in honor of all the lists, here are a few I have written that may be of use to someone besides myself.

Different Places To Stay When Traveling
You May Be in India If...
Great Apps For Your iPhone
What I Love About Vietnam
Weird Things English People Say

Enjoy! There will probably be more where these come from. Also, if you don't already do Chelsea's Ten on Tuesday, you should. It is a fun list as well. You can see mine HERE or her Archive Page HERE.

This post is part of the A-Z blogfest. L is (OBVIOUSLY) for List. You can find my other posts HERE.


Keep Coming Back

Where My Parents Live (And Put Up With Me Occasionally)
You know how it is when you go on a two week vacation from work? You get home, you go to work the next day and you feel like, ug, you don't want to work, you know that YESTERDAY at THIS time you were _______________ (sipping cocktails, laying on the beach, exploring Mayan ruins...fill in the blank). You have to get back into the swing of things, even though it was really only a couple of weeks that you missed.

Imagine now that you have been gone for a year. I know. YES, I have been gone for a year. Granted, I DID go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it's not quite as extreme as it seems, but man, this time, at the END, I've got it bad! I have the oh-my-gosh-I-can't-believe-it's-almost-over-ITIS. We have about 3 weeks left of a one year trip.

First, I don't want it to end. I have been to so many fun places. I want to see more; I want to do more. I know, I sound like a spoiled child, right? Nothing is ever good enough; nothing is sufficient. But seriously, how does one go from one mindset to the other? It is difficult.

Today, I went hiking in New Zealand. Soon, I will be at home trying to find a job. How depressing is that? I know, real life really comes at you sometimes, doesn't it? But for some reason the last week it all hit home all at the same time. I have to go back to "real" life. I have to get a job. I have to figure out how to pay my bills. I have to figure out my life.

Do I want to go back to school? Do I want to find a permanent job, where I don't have to move around all the time (it's looking better and better)? Will I live on the West Coast, the East Coast, the Middle, Abroad? Will I buy a house? Will I rent? Will I have enough money? Am I smart enough? Should I start over? Do I even want to?

So many things run through your head. It is going to be hard to get back into the "groove" of things. My friends have all forgotten who I am; they know I am never around. I am not always the first one they call anymore (especially since right now there is NO way to get a hold of me!) They are used to me being gone. Will I fit back into their lives? They have kids and jobs and families and homes and....where do I fit into all this?

However, it will be SO NICE to be home! Being in one place for more that two or three days will be absolute heaven. Being able to CALL my friends and family will be a joy. And best of all, I get to hug my Mom. I miss her! (and Dad too...of course!)

Parents are great. They will always miss me. They are always there when I need them, even if I am sometimes not around when they need me. What would I do without them? All my stuff is in storage at their house. They have my checkbook; they pay my bills. My mother is my unofficial stand-in. She makes sure none of my mail is important. If it is she opens it and...pays the bill or whatever needs to be done. It will be nice to go home and relieve her of the duty. She is a superstar.

So I will go home and I will help my dad build something (this is what happens - it's inevitable) and I will cook and bake and make my parents eat "real" meals (they often eat chips and cottage cheese for dinner) and they will put up with me and even pretend to like my food, and then I will go and take a photo journey with my Mom and we will take photos of the same stuff we always take photos of.

It will be good. I will have arrived. I will be home.

K is for Keep. See my other A-Z posts HERE


Jets and Other Travel Stuff

I have had a few requests for travel tips. So I made a page. You can check it out HERE. It's a work in progress, so bear with me and please let me know if there are things you know about and I don't or things I should change, delete or add. I like hints from other travelers. This is what we are all here for.

But, if you don't feel like reading the whole travel page, I am going to give you the short version today.

- I use ORBITZ for most of my travel needs. I don't always use them to book, but I always use them to compare prices. You can get flight, hotel or car through them and sometimes  you get a deal if you book them all together.

- Don't be fooled. I stay in a lot of hostels, which are the cheapest option besides camping. You can find a good hostel in any country (even the US!) for anywhere from 5 dollars to...(in NZ, OZ and the US) 30 dollars a person (due to this, if you are in the US, I recommend Motel 6). You can find worldwide hostels at Hostelz.com or Hostelbookers.com.

- If you are going to book a car in the US, use Priceline! First, go to Orbitz. Find out how much they are charging per day for the cheapest car. Then go to Priceline and bid HALF that! Most of the time, somebody will accept it!

- For international flights, I use Kayak. It's basically similar to Orbitz, but on Orbitz, one of your cities has to be in the US. For Kayak, it can be anywhere. You can also book your car and hotel through them.

- I recommend getting a Frequent Flier number, even if you "think" you will only fly that company once. There are partners, so all you really need is the "Big Three" --- United, Delta, American. They are partners with many international airlines, so you can almost always get credit. Plus, you MAY get a FREE flight out of it. Why not do it? What do you have to lose? (the same goes for hotels and cars. You can see my travel tips page for website links)

- If you have not already checked out these travel related posts (packing etc), do it!

How to Pack Light For a Long Trip
Top 10 Essentials For Your Pack
10 Things You Will Be Glad You Lugged Around
10 Things You Want to Do Before Kicking The Bucket
10 Weird Things We Saw Abroad
10 Reasons Nepal Is Better Than India: A Guest Post

Now let's go somewhere! Where do you want to go?

This is an A-Z blogfest post. J is for Jets! You can see the rest HERE.


I'm Not An Addict, Baby

I have only been on the internet ONCE in the past 10 days. I know. Crazy, right.

Why is this crazy? What happened to normal life? WHY do I have to check my email every day?

Because it's become a habit, that's why. I mean, I don't need to check it and half the time, nobody, except Walgreens and LinkedIn, have emailed me anyway. So I waste my time getting online to see that Yay, there's a sale on Prell at Walgreens. What a waste.

I also subscribe to a lot of blogs on Google Reader. If you do too, you KNOW how hard it is to ignore! You would rather knock down your Reader total from 798 to 100 (yay, what an accomplishment! and I didn't even have to leave the house!) then....Mow the lawn, pay bills, hang out with that girl from work who keeps asking you to go for drinks, study....you know what I mean. The list goes on and on. Why am I not outside?

And then there is blogging. Why DO SOMETHING when you can blog about it? Or maybe it's "Why do anything UNLESS you can blog about it? I bring my camera everywhere and I document Every.Last.Thing so I can post pictures later to the internet. In fact, right now, what am I doing? I am blogging. When I should be completing the 189 things on my "To Do" List (100 of them which I can probably do on the internet).

So, I would rather live my life. A hike: yes. A drink with friends: sometimes. A book: often. I am an advocate of going outside. I am a firm believer in children NOT watching TV when they can go ride their bikes, run around, play dress up or build a fort. However, as an adult, I am a hypocrite.

So this week, I am going outside. I am going hiking. I will read more. I will spend more time playing board games with my boyfriend instead of ignoring him while I interact with people I've never met. So if I am not around, I am sorry. I am outside in the sunshine, enjoying the environment, soaking it all in.

I will be back in a couple of weeks (addictive personality! cough!) to read all of your blogs and make sure I don't go over 1000 posts in my Reader (obsessed! cough!). Also, for those of you who are visiting from FTLOB, I will eventually go and check out every one of your blogs. Please be patient. It may not happen for a little while.

Does anyone else get this - this angst to get away from the internet, yet the desire to go back to it? How much time do YOU spend on the computer a day? (ps. when I am at work, I am on the computer probably 12+ hours a day. Now, it's more like one[+] hour[s] a day)

Post title credit: Fiona Apple

This post is part of the A-Z Blogfest I am (kind of) participating in. I is for I'm! You can find others of this ilk HERE


How To Peacefully Coexist

So, I think I mentioned that we rented a camper-van and are driving around the North Island of New Zealand. 

Have you ever been in a tiny box with the same person for a very, very long time? You sleep in it; you (sometimes) eat in it; you put your dirty socks in it; you drive everywhere in it. It is not self contained, aka, it does not have a shower or a toilet or a power supply, so you spend a lot of time with your head light strapped to your head, playing rummikub inside the van (down by the river).

You also spend a lot of time fighting over who's going to drive, directions/where to go, why so and so's stinky socks are sitting on so and so's backpack, why so and so forgot to plug in or unplug the fridge, where did so and so put the cups.....and so on.

And there is no place to go. You can go and sit in the front to "be alone", instead of sitting in the back. We have made a joke about it -- the front is the study, the back is the living room.

The problem is compounded by the fact that it gets dark around 6, so there is not really anything to do after that. Also, the camping grounds often close their gates around 6 (it is going on winter here), so you can't even leave and go do something. Also, some of them don't even have lights or a table or anything! So you have no choice than to...you guessed it...sit in the van!

We have also only had one place with hot showers, so not only is it dark in the van, but it's pretty smelly! So, why do we subject ourselves to this, you are wondering. Well, despite all above statements, it's FUN! We can go wherever we want, whenever we want to. We can even drive till we drop and then sleep pretty much wherever! We have spent the night near the beach, in prime forest locations, with great views and...even in a parking lot. We have all our food with us -- I can have a ham a cheese sandwich ready in a jiff, no matter where we are! We don't have to carry our backpacks or find out when the next bus is! We can go to all the nooks and crannies that public transportation doesn't go to! It's GREAT! Such freedom!

Anyway, it's been 7 days so far -- we have 15 to go. We haven't killed each other YET (keep your fingers crossed for me). I will check back in a week or so and we will see how it's going then, shall we!

Today's post is part of the A-Z blogfest. H is for How. You can find the rest HERE

I leave you with a photo:

Snell's Bay

PS -- Deirdra over at A Storybook World just awarded me this. Thanks Deirdra! 


Great News (and No Net)

I have great news! I was featured over at For The Love of Blogs!! This is like the granddaddy of all good blogs! If you are looking for a new blog to read, new things to learn, fashion, food and fun, this is a great site. AND all the folks who are part of the community over there are really great as well. Thanks girls!

As a side note, as gung ho as I was about the A-Z Blogfest, I have some sad news to report. There is not very much wifi in New Zealand. I KNOW! I thought it would be no problem getting online, but alas, I was mistaken! Sometimes you can find internet cafes, but the going rate seems to be about 8 dollars an hour. And as much as I love blogging, I am just not sure it is worth that much. So. Darn it! I had such great plans! However, I will probably keep up the letter theme just for fun. As you can see, today is G for Great!

Right now, not only are we deprived of the internet, but we are driving around the North Island of New Zealand in a camper-van. What an adventure! The camping facitilies range from a dark "parking lot" to nice ones, like the one we are in now, which has hot showers (NOT common), laundry (yay for not being smelly for a little while) and wifi (for 8 dollars an hour! This will not be a long post *wink wink*)

We spent the last week touring Northland, which is the area north of Auckland. We did a lot of hiking -- we have been *trying* to hike a little each day so we will be "in shape" when we get home (just in time for summer and bathing suit season).

I am going crazy thinking while hiking: adding things to my mile long To Do List, thinking about how and when I will get a job, thinking of the people to visit and the things to see while I am home. It will be really nice to unpack and at least be in one place for a couple of weeks. Then I will have to go back to work!

I will leave you with some photos of the New Zealand scenery.

As seen from the back window of the camper-van.

Northland -- Snells Bay

Typical NZ Resident
Fun fact about New Zealand: There are about 4 million people and 40 million sheep. This = 10 sheep per person!

Ten on Tuesday (13)

Okay so I really don't have time for this week's ToT, but Lisa from LisasYarns, who I totally think is cool, posted these Q's to Chelsea at Roots and Rings, so I am going to do it, for Lisa's sake. Dude, she runs, she travels, she travels to run, she is a finance whiz. She's cool. I relate to her. So...now to the Qs. 

1. If you work, do you drive to work or take public transportation?
I don't work! But once I get a job, I will probably drive, although I would rather walk, ride my bike, or take pub tran. In SF, I took the Muni (public tran) or walked. I loved it. I think it is the way to go. All these singles in cars really drive me crazy!

2. How often do you get your haircut? Do you go to the same person every time?
Wow. That is an interesting question. I used to ALWAYS go to Karen at Hairplay in San Francisco. She is awesome. Plus she has hair similar (thin) to mine. So she knows. BUT I have not "lived" in the city for about (it PAINS me to say it)...7 years -- Since 2004. So, basically here is my hair routine. No haircut. Then I lived in Florida in 2005. A gay guy cut my hair there. I loved it. Then I went for about 3 years without a cut. In 2008 my friend Chris cut it (you can read THAT story HERE) so I could send it to Locks of Love. Then I didn't cut it again. Until about 2 months ago. Remember I asked you guys if you thought I should cut it? And then I did? So there is a really long answer to a short Q.

3. Do you read the newspaper? If so, a hardcopy or the online version?
I usually just watch the CNN summary. I also listen to NPR. I don't really read the newspaper.

4. What is the best book you have read this year?
Wow, this year hasn't been too long yet. I just read the Girl Who Played With Fire. That was good. Otherwise, I am having a hard time "loving" books this year. I seem to find fault with each one. Around Africa on My Bicycle was good.

5. What is the best movie you have seen this year?
I haven't really seen any.

6. Do you tend to crave sweet or salty foods?

7. Do you eat breakfast every day? If so, what do you have?
Most days, yes. Cereal or fruit. Definitely coffee. Every day, coffee.

8. If you celebrate Easter, what Easter treat/candy are you most looking forward to?
I do celebrate, but I am missing the family fun this year. I miss the homemade ice cream.

9. How late is “sleeping in” to you?
8 o'clock

10. Where are you going on your next vacation?
Well, that is a great question. I think maybe Sweden, or Czech Republic. Or maybe Romania. Or Morocco. Who knows. 

Thanks Chelsea and Lisa! What a fun list!


Food Lovers Paradise

I love food. And South Korea has not let me down. Here are a few of the yummy things I have tried here.

1. Street Food -- of course! I always try the street food, as it is usually cheap, fast and what the locals eat!

Bacon wrapped sausages. Yum.

Tempura Veggies and Seafood
2. Fresh Food Markets. There are so many of these, and they are so fun to walk around! However, my favorite experience was when we found a weird shellfish (previously mentioned here and photo below) which we wanted to see the inside of. A fisherman obliged us, cut one open and gave it to us raw, right then and there!

Fish Market

Does anyone know what these are?
3. Next we have...of course. Kimchi. It comes in many shapes and sizes and colors. They put each one in a separate bowl. I love it!

Who needs food when you have kimchi like this?
4. Last but NOT least, all you can eat, Korean MEAT BBQ. Actually they have potatoes and rice and veggies and kimchi (of course). But mostly it is meat. There are about 30 different kinds, you pick it out, pile it on a plate and cook it yourself at your table.

MMMMM Bacon!
Anyway, I am not getting any skinnier, that is for sure! But I am happy!

This post is part of the A-Z blogfest. F is for Food! You can find other posts HERE.


Essential Travel Items

My Paperchase Notebook (source)
I have written a bit about packing before. Last week I wrote about how to pack light. I have also written about 10 things every person should have in their pack for a long trip. For those two as well as additional travel tips, go HERE. Today I want to talk about my essential travel items.

- Wet Wipes: I use the Target brand face wipes. They come in a pack of 60 or a pack of 10. This pack of 10 just came out. Before I would buy the 60 pack and separate them into Ziplocs so I wouldn’t have to carry around 60 at a time. But now Target does it for me. Thanks Target. These are good for everything. Miss a shower, use one! Eat an orange on the bus, use one! Go pee in a questionable toilet, use one! There are so many uses for these things -- you can even use them for their intended purpose and wipe your face!

- My Paperchase Notebook: If you don’t know about this brand, you should. You can find them online or at Borders. The notebook I love the best is a travel notebook with dividers, pockets and one little Ziploc pocket in the back. There is plain paper, lined and grid. It is great for keeping track of my travel notes, budget and keeping stubs and mementos! This is the best notebook EVER.

- Earplugs: Yes, I use these A LOT. On the bus, in hostels and even sometimes when I just want to read my book and my boyfriend is watching TV (in the same room of course). They come in very handy.

- Money Belt: I don’t always wear this, but it is a handy place to keep your extra money and your passport. I do use it a lot, but even when I am not using it, I know where my important things are.

- Gold-ban Antibacterial Lotion: This moisturizes and cleans! And by golly, it doesn’t smell really chemically. It fact, it smells good! And doesn’t leave your hands all dried out like the regular Purell Antibacterial stuff.

- Shampoo: I know, you are thinking, “duh”, but really, shampoo can be used as shampoo, body wash, hand wash AND laundry soap. Really, you should always have some on you. It’s not just for hair.

- Ziploc bags: Can be used to separate laundry, to carry that shampoo I talked about so it doesn’t leak, to carry food if you buy any in bulk or to keep your camera in when you go to a place in the rainy season. Basically I usually bring half a dozen gallon sized ones and half a dozen quart sized ones. One tip, don’t buy the cheap ones. I did that, and they just all ended up splitting open anyway.

Okay, so now you have it, some essential travel items. I am sure I have probably left out several and I am sure that you guys have many more suggestions!

Let me know what I am missing. What do YOU consider an essential travel item?

This post is part of the A-Z Blogfest. E is for Essential. You can see my other “letters” HERE.


Delightful Dives

Do you like to go diving and snorkeling? I do! If you haven’t done it yet and want to, there are a few cheap places to get certified. You can go to Koh Tao, Thailand. I believe as well that Roatan, Honduras, is cheaper than most. Once you get certified, the world is, literally your oyster, and your puffer fish and your loggerhead turtle. Below are some of my favorite places to dive, in order of preference.

- Sipidan, Malaysian Borneo - This was the perfect dive site. The water was clear, you could see for miles, the coral was brightly colored and there were huge schools of fish, turtles and sharks. This was a divers paradise.

- Dahab, Egypt, Red Sea - The Red Sea looks like a swimming pool. It is gorgeous. It is also warm. The area here was very clear and there was tons of great coral. The fish were plentiful and I even saw two octopus!

- Padangbai, Bali, Indonesia - We just recently went here, and although we got overcharged by the dive company, the dive was great. Again, you could see for “miles” and there were tons of schools of really colorful fish as well as plentiful coral.

- Cairnes, Australia, Great Barrier Reef - Of course this had to make the list, but surprisingly, it wasn’t my number one. The coral here was not as nice as the above mentioned sites, although there were tons of reef sharks and many fish.

- Koh Tao, Thailand - I learned here and it was a great place to learn, as the water is nice and warm and the seas are not too rough. Also the wildlife is plentiful and the water is usually clear. We did have a few days where the visibility was not as good, but all in all I count this a great place to learn or to dive.

So, now you are ready to go! Strap on your tank and let’s get diving!

Have you been diving before? If so, where? Did you like it?

This is part of the A-Z Blogfest. D is for Delightful. You can find my other “letters” HERE.


Car Talk

Car Talk has dual meanings for me. First I am going to talk to you about the radio show on NPR. If you haven’t listened to Car Talk, you should. You can download one free every week as a podcast on iTunes, or listen to it on NPR; I think it is on Saturdays, but I am not positive, as I usually just listen to it as a podcast. Anyway, whether or not you like, or have, cars, you will love the sassy attitude and corny jokes that Click and Clack provide for you each week. Two Italian guys from Boston, they are funny, witty and they actually do know a bit about cars.

This brings me to the second subject:  My car. I have a super old car. It runs great, but there is only one problem. About 10 years ago, a lady hit me in the front drivers side and it dented the fender and smashed out the headlight housing and bent back the hood a little. Right afterward, I moved to San Francisco and didn’t need a car anyway, so I never fixed it. I put it on the front lawn in the driveway at my parent’s house and left it, not knowing if I would need it or not.

So, now I am trying to decide if it is worth fixing OR if I should just scrap it and go and buy another used car somewhere else. I really don’t know. It does run great. However, it is a diesel, which is good for mileage but bad for the environment. The interior is nice; I had just put a rebuilt engine in it right before the accident; all the power windows work. It is not a super crappy old car. The only thing wrong with it is that it has a big dent. Oh, and it’s a 4 cylinder and barely makes it up hills! But I can live with that.

It will probably cost a couple of thousand (hopefully less, but that’s a generous estimate) to get it back on the road again.

What should I do? Also, do you listen to or like Car Talk?

NOTE: This is a post for the A-Z blogfest. C is for Car. You can find others below.

A is for A Day.
B is for Bookmark.


Play Ball (and Beer of Course)

I know, as always I am early for Kimberly's Grab a Beer and Look What I Did Last Week, but I am posting anyway, and if I get a chance to link up, great!

On Monday, I went to the DMZ and barely, not really, got to look over the fence at North Korea.

On Tuesday, I relaxed and explored the streets of Seoul. I also talked about food on Ten on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, I checked out the Palace Museum in Seoul. I also talked about confusing English words.

Palace Museum
 On Thursday, I had a bus ride to Busan.

On Friday, I started the A-Z Blogfest. I also walked around the fish markets in Busan and saw an Octopus escape it's bowl!

Yesterday, I went to a Korean Baseball Game! I am very bummed that I am missing the SF Giants, which is my favorite baseball team. However, I got to see the Busan Lotte Giants instead. What fun! It is much more active than a US baseball game. There is tons of cheering, song singing and funny bags on the head! It was great!

Lotte Giants

First, it's a hat. And then you put your trash in it! Genius!
All in all, a great week. Today we will do some hiking, relaxing and get ready for another bus ride back to Seoul tomorrow!


Bookmark Break Update

After a few days on the beach and a couple of long bus rides, my book list is finally getting longer! At my last update we were at 13 books.

Add to that:

With No One as a Witness - Elizabeth George **** (great Mystery read if you are looking for a new author. She often uses the same characters)

Whirl of the Wheel - Catherine Condie ***(free ebook from Amazon. Kind of a kid‘s book, but it was cute enough and it was definitely short and sweet)

Compromising Positions - Jenna Bayley-Burke ** (totally chick romance beach book)

Meridon - Phillippa Gregory *** (I had heard she did great Historical Fiction, but this one was a little strange, and not that historic in my opinion, but it was still a fun read)

New Moon - Stephany Meyer *** (I am getting tired of the main character. She seems like a melodramatic pain in the butt. I will probably read the rest of the series though)

So now we are up to 18! I am still way behind many of the others, but ahead of the average, so I am not doing too bad!

What I am currently reading:

The Girl Who Played With Fire
- Steig Larsson

For more book info and fun and to see the entire list, you can go to my Bookshelf page!

What book are you reading? Is it any good? If it is, let me know -- I will read just about anything! Also, if you want to join in on the Bookmark Challenge, it’s not too late. All you need is a list of whatever books you have read in 2011.

Note: This is day two of the A - Z blogfest. B is for Bookmark.

Click HERE to see A (A is for A Day).


A Day In Busan

Being in Korea is so different from being in many of the other Asian countries. For example, and most importantly, there is toilet paper in the public restrooms. And there ARE public restrooms! Wow! In fact, I know I talk a lot about toilets but Korea has had THE BEST toilets in all of my travels so far. They have things to wash you, front and back, heated toilet seats, rear end dryers AND automatic toilet seat lifters (for both up and down, one seat or two. This would make a great present for many of our male significant others, I think!)

Super Fun Toilet

Also, everything is more expensive. Aside from Singapore, Korea is the most expensive Asian country we have been in so far. However, having said that, things ARE run very efficiently here! The bus is fast and comfortable and there are no goats or chickens on board with me!

The third and most difficult thing is that they really don’t speak English. As always, hand gestures and facial cues really can get  you far, but sometimes you feel like you are missing out or doing things the hard way since you can’t always ask directions.

Yesterday we traveled by aforementioned bus from Seoul to Busan. Busan is in the very south of the country, and Seoul is in the very north. However, South Korea is not so big, and the ride only took about 4 hours. Busan is a very heavily trafficked fishing port, and I have to admit, I heard it was a fishing village and I pictured a tiny town with stone houses, cobblestone streets, little boats and wrinkled old Korean fishermen wearing cute hats. I was wrong. It is a HUGE port, with big harbor full of freighters. Also, apparently many Russian and Filipino sailors, as we found out last night when we took a walk and found both Russian Karaoke Bar and a Filipino Karaoke Bar.

Today we went to the fish market. There were all kinds of fish, octopus, squid, crabs and more! It was packed with stalls full of frozen, dried, fresh and LIVE animals and was a sight to behold. I saw an octopus escape it’s bucket and get away and when I pointed it out to the lady, she just laughed.


Another great highlight of the day was that we found a new shellfish. I don’t know the name but it is the strangest looking thing. It is red with little bumps -- it almost looks like a tuber. I can’t explain it. We were sitting near a vendor, watching him shuck them, and he let us try one, straight from the shell, raw and salty. And it was good! Then he gave us a shot each of Souju (Korean spirit) and even let us take a photo with him. We offered him some money but he just laughed at us and sent us on our way.

strange new shellfish

So, all in all, a great day in Busan! Hopefully tomorrow we will find even more new things to see and meet many different people who we can’t talk to but with who we still can find a common ground!

Have you ever had to use finger pointing and grunting to get what you wanted in a foreign country (or maybe even your own?)

NOTE: Today kicks off the first day of the A - Z Blogfest. You can read more about it in the link, but the basics are that we have to blog every day in April except Sundays, which will make 26 days. This is the same amount as letters in the alphabet and so each blog (in order) will have a letter theme.

Today is Day 1. A is for A Day.