Sunday, January 06, 2008

Leavin' the K-Land

It's been a while, eh what?

We haven't blogged in aboot... well, 400 days. Give or take fifty.

Good golly miss Molly.

Hil and I decided it was time to resurrect ye ol' blog site and give everyone a slideshow of our lives over the last 400-ish days since we've come back to Canada and settled in to jobs and such.

But, before we venture into our lives post-Korea, there's some much-needed re-capping of our last days in Korea. For a while there the weather was goin' super-swell: sunshine, smoggy skies, and people crowding Dongdaemun market where I bought my 7th and last watch.

Hil and I decided to play some Scrabble (travel-style) outside in our local playground, and the kids wanted to play. Actually, it was a more a chance to see the white-ies and when they realized the game was all about English vocabulary, well, there wasn't too much keeping them around after that.

And one last farewell hike up ye old mountain across the street.

Down to Yo-ee-do Park with some co-workers (Mikey and Chantel et al) for some rambunctious soccer action!

And then a long series of fond farewells:

With our Anglican church dudes...

Our good friends Ian and Dorothy from doon under

The recording studio where we recorded many a crazy cartoon and lecture. Oh the things we learned and the things we said... now immortalized forevermore on the pages of the Topia TOEFL test-prep packages... a dream come true :)

The studio burned down last year.

Our favorite food: galbi the wonder-pork with Mikey, Colin and Joe - our ex-riot police gym-trainer friend dude

Glorious meat

With a nice post-snack at the recently opened Krispy Kreme in Nowon. So good! At least the first one was. The crisco taste lost its appeal rather quickly though.

Our farewell double-date with our uber-rad pals Colin 'n Anne - Greek food in Itaewon. And wine!! It had been a while!

And how could we stay away from one of the many local hof's? With our co-workers...

And that's Manson in the bottom right corner: you rock dude. And now you're a father. That's like 2 really good things going for you. Miss you guys!

And what go-away week(s) is complete without a little tong-dak to keep you occupied?! Fried chicken all the way - but there was a serious need to wash that quality meat down with something. That massive pitcher of beer was the most obvious solution to this problem. Rory, Ji Hye and Nicko, "looking on".

And then saying goodbye to some of our students. Hil got invited over to some students' house for what turned out to be cute and rather awkward... but rad too.

And Fredrick... this kid was the cutest kid that didn't drive me insane. On my last day with him, he took my hand and begged me to come with him - out the class, down the hallway, into the guys washroom (red flags starting to quiver in my mind), and then into a stall (red flags waving) where he locked the door (waving wildly) and then turned to me and said, with tears in his eyes: "Teacher... Canada NO!" and then bursting into tears he hugged me. And nearly broke my heart. He was one of those wonderful kids that makes you want to buy a big enough suitcase to bring back home. I tried keeping in contact with him, but alas, when I asked him for his email, I don't think he really understood the question because he wrote which, if I'm not mistaken, is a series of random letters he liked. I sent a few emails to the address which will be waiting patiently for him if he ever opens an account with that address. Something makes me think it hasn't been taken yet...

Oh and then these gals: hilarious and a handful to say the least! Check out what they wrote on the board for me below:

Notice the commands to make a baby. Tactful and lovely!

And our co-workers....

Me with Cindy, Jenny and Katie

And then a last hoo-ha at the nearby GS-25 corner store
One more shot at rameon, with SKP, 'looking on'
Col, being the stellar man that he is....
Awwwwwwww Bakes! That's right, she got flowers on her last day. That's cuz she rules.
Our last farewell with Col and Anne...
And then, the fateful morning after: happy to be going home, but super sad to be leaving some quality friends

At the Incheon airport, we got a bit stoked. Thankfully we were travelling back with Wendy and that made the whole trip thing like way better. Yah.

And then lo and behold! After a fantasmical flight on Singapore Air (they had chocolate bars for snacks! And over 80 movies to choose from!!!!) we pulled in to Vancouver!! Wendy made her transfer (one of many for her that day!) and Hil and I grabbed our bags and were then met by Jennica and my mom (who totally surprised us). The only logical thing to do was to go down to Steveston and grab some nice fish 'n chips and then soak up some Canadian sun.

And after 1 year and 5 months, many Skype calls, mucho blogging, many adventures and kimchi, we were finally home sweet monkey home :)

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Three and a wee bit weeks ago, Hilary and I were just sitting around our apartment and you know, eating kimchi, when we both felt like doing something different. So, we flew to Thailand. I mean, if you're going to be spontaneous, why not go all the way?

Well actually, the process was a BIT more involved...

Ever since my appendix debacle of '06 (see last June's post), we've both been aching and full-on yearning for:
1) beach action
2) monkeys and
3) absolutely no surgery

So we plotted and planned, and figured we should just go on April 21, and then return with little over three weeks left of teaching. That turned out to be an excellent plan, matched only by the genius of Columbus, Napoleon and the producers of 1996's "Batman and Robin".
In short, is was splendiferawesomeness complete.

We left bright and early from Junggye-dong (like 5am early, which is much too early for any self-respecting Lipsett) and chugged our way out to the airport and on our way to Phuket. And when we got there it was.... raining.

But thankfully that didn't last long and we awoke in a matter of hours to this:

"Is that the view from your hotel room, oh travellers?" Hot monkey, it is. And that was only the beginning of much fantabulousness. Here, below are some more shots of le hotel, as recommended by the haute-qualitay Recommenders, Lydia and Nathan. We give you,


Below, our room... The grounds. And yes, those are coconut trees. And no, we couldn't climb them.
And the breakfasts were amazing!!! There were pastries, fruits, fruit juices, bacon (ooooooooooooooh bacon how we missed you!), french toast and even omlettes made fresh by an omlette man. An omlette man!! Spectacular.
Then we made our way down to the beach to satisfy #1 on our list of things to do, and behold... we did #2 as well: Cape Panwa has its own MONKEY!!! And of course, our little guy couldn't resist to be in the picture as well.
And then, the beach. Well, not "The Beach" (that's later), but our beach:

We took a walky later on down a 'jetty' and noticed how absolutely white we were. I was almost reflective myself.

But we were sporting our Tilley Hats (thanks Sebas!) and that made up for a lack of a tan.

So, we then decided to soak up the sun and get a little bit crispy.

And here are some more shots of what we saw each day.

And night

The next day, we headed on into Phuket Town, a town/city on the South East of Phuket Island. It was dirty, interesting, busy and neato all wrapped up into one crazy package. We spent most of the day refusing (at first politely, then after realizing for the hundredth time it doesn't work, blatantly) Tuk-tuk drivers, taxi drivers, tour operators and massages. It was a bit much after the second time it happened and dude, it never stopped. But we enjoyed walking around and buying mango (AMAZING) and doing some shopping. Some of the archeteture was really interesting; it was a Sino-Portuguese style, and dating a hundred years back? I dunno; Hil was really into the details and knew what she was doing, whilst I just meandered and repeated "NO TUK TUK!!... thank you" countless times.

It was a tropical fruit wonderland, and we were its eager partakers.

There were also some nifty temply thingies, called Wat's (like Ankor Wat in Cambodia) and were Buddhist in religion, yet Thai (or Sino?) in style. Very neato.

After walking around for many hours (and forgetting to pay at a restaurant -we just walked out... accidentally of course... I swear... but SO cool that we could actually do that!), we finally broke down and hired a Tuk Tuk from a really nice (and pushy) toothless Thai man. He reminded me of a post-dentured Walter Mathau with questionable English skills. So he took us around and urged us to go with him to this 'great shopping place'. The conversation kinda went like this:

"Great place. Trinkets, shops... Gut shopping!"

"Are you taking us to a touristy gem shop?"

"NO. No gem shop. Other shops. Trinkets!!"

Yeah, it was a gem shop... that also sold trinkets. Clever man... clever toothless man. But he eventually also brought us up to a huge gold-coloured Buddha ("The perfect centerpiece for any occasion").

And the floor was so dang hot!!! I had to run out for this picture, after which I squealed like a little vocal pig. On something hot.

Eventually he brought us back where we wanted, charged us extra, and left smiling. It was great.

When we headed back that eve to our loverly hotel, there was some Thai music and dancing! Cool.

The next day we decided to rent some sweet monkey scooters. This was one of my utmost dreams for Thailand (#2, after beaches on my personal list), and it was SUCH an amazing time.

We got these hot rides for a little over $6 for the DAY (I love Thailand) and we were told to take the back roads because they were less busy. This was a good suggestion seeing as Thailand decided to go all "Let's drive on the LEFT side of the road!" a while back, which made for an interesting start to the trip!

We filled up our hogs with the 'red' gas at a hand pump station (awesome), and then took to some back roads that were absolutely stunning. They curved up and over the hilly countryside and each turn revealed another gorgeous bay, white sands and jungle folliage. It was spectacular and this wee biker's dream. So... here are some pics.

That would be Hil and me. Oh yeah.

This was an interesting shrine atop a peak. It was surrounded by all of these little elephant statues and incense altars.

There was a whole ring of the things. Very interesting. Also, the tree to the left was fully alive, but bore rusty-red coloured leaves. It wasn't a Japanese maple or anything, but it was quite odd.

There was another shrine across the way on a smaller island and it was GOLD!!!-ish.

When we finally made our way down out of the hills (after many a wrong-turn), we came across the South West of Phuket, which has about 4 or 5 big beaches one after the other. So we parked our bikes of fury, grabbed some lunch and hit the sand for more burning/tanning.

As the light slowly faded, we did a bit of shopping nearby, and slowly made our way back. But not before stopping in to see some elephants and a monkey!!!! Oh but this trip was off to a good start.

This was a little stop halfway back, and they offered hour tours of the jungle atop one of Dumbo's cousins.

You could buy bananas to give to the elephants. Neat!

We didn't take a ride because the dudes who ran the joint seemed to be all into yelling at the poor guys and, well, I guess you don't exactly sing to an elephant to make it move, but it just felt kinda wrong. You know, a "Please" and "Thank you" woulda been nice.

So we head on over to the bar, and lo and behold, there was a monkey!!! I think it was a gibbon, but I'm only assuming that because he looks a little like our little guy, minus the racing cap and cape. Also you can't fling him through the air of your balcony (like OUR monkey can), but I guess he's close enough that it doesn't matter too much.

He started plucking at this guy's eyebrows, hair and armpits (dude) for about 5 minutes before swinging over to the other side of the bar. It was amazing. I mean, we all hear how monkies are so adept at swinging, but it's actually true!! They are!!! Back on the bikes of glory...
And driving with the sunset...

As we were flyin' down the highway, we saw a huge collection of scooters parked on the side of the road. So we pulled over and got to check out another market!!!
Mangoes were 3 for 90cents and FANTASTIC. I was hooked and I didn't stop talking about mangoes and buying them till we got on the plane.

We were zonked when we got back, and so was this kid.

The following day, we awoke to find the resident monkey out on the grounds. I stalked him for a bit and that was rad.

We decided to do something a bit more sedated that day: beach and scrabble. So out came the books, the sunscreen, the scrabble and the monkey, and we just did.... nothing. It was beautiful.

Catchin some rays...
At the end of the day, as we meandered back to our room, there was another elephant kickin' around!!! It's like they breed them there or something.
This boy was 5 years old and veeeeeery cute. We got to touch it and it kinda made me nervous. It was a baby and all, but it was an elephant!!! Hil was all up and petting it and me, well... you'll see.
We had dindin in one of the hotel's restaurants, and it was niceee.
Most nights there were cool lighting storms, and that night the sky did not fail to entertain.
We found out later that the elephants were actually part of a big party for some business thingy, and they later had a fireworks show!!! This first picture is actually little soaring lanterns that floated upwards while lit.
And then some lanterns EXPLODED!!!! AHHHHHHHH!
I jest. These were the fireworks.
The following day, we had thought of doing an elephant trek, but decided against it. Instead, we rented scooters again and went galavanting once more to beaches far away!!!
And the sunsets were amazing that day.That's me looking at one.

We went back to the monkey bar, but dude was on a coffee break or something. But we stayed cuz we saw this:
Dinner was beachside (quite like Penticton's beach... North side... forgetting everything gahhhhhhhhhhh) and my drink was provacative -for a fruit shake.

And so ended our last full day in Phuket. The next day we said goodbye to our bueatiful room...

...and our beautiful beach...
...and we hopped on a ferry to Ko Phi Phi.

And that, my dudes, will be the next post below.