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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Yonggungsa Temple: Busan

Happy Tuesday Y'all! 

It's time for another Travel Tuesday. Today I'll take you guys back to Busan. 

On our quick trip to Busan we were able to stop off at Yonggungsa aka the Temple by the Sea. Unlike most temples that are in the mountains- Yonggungsa is right on the ocean. This temple was originally built in 1376 and then reconstructed in 1970. 

Matt and I didn't have any plans for Busan other than seeing the beach, so we added this temple to our list. And if you are ever in the area- I would recommend making a stop here. It was really one of the most beautiful temples I've been to so far. I think the ocean just added to how amazing it was. We actually visited at the perfect time because the cherry blossoms were in bloom, so it made the temple grounds all that more beautiful. 

Be prepared for a ton of pictures- I couldn't help myself. 

 {I feel like all the taxi drivers in Korea need to be praying to this pagoda} 

{This walkway was filled with beautiful statues} 

All through the temple there are buddhas that represent different things. Buddha for the birth of a son. For academic achievement. Good marriage. It was interesting to see all the different buddhas. 

 Do you love this place or what?!? 

Yay for spur of the moment adventures. I am so glad we were able to make it to this temple. It was so worth it. We took a taxi from Haeundae beach and it was about 8,000 Won. You can also get there by subway or bus. 

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Easter 2014

Last Easter, Matt and I were celebrating in Hawaii. We had Easter brunch and dinner with our friends and family and had a wonderful time. We dyed Easter eggs and chatted with our friends for brunch before church, and then had dinner with more friends and a game of Jelly Bean Uno. 

That Easter, even though we were far away from Georgia, we had people to get together with. It was so nice to be surrounded by friends and cousins. It was wonderful to know that we were not alone. 

This year was a different story. We really didn't know what we were going to do in terms of celebrating Easter. I knew I wanted to color eggs. I knew I wanted to have a dinner, but I really didn't have the energy to fix a large Easter dinner for just the two of us. 

Honestly, I was really missing home. I know Matt and I chose this life of travel. And most days I am excited by the adventures we have. But sometimes I just want to take part in the family activities that are going on back in Georgia. Even though I was having a nice little pity party, our Easter turned out quite nice. 

Before church, Matt and I had a nice breakfast of eggs and American style bacon. (Yes- it's hard to find American bacon here.) Luckily, our church was having a Easter potluck after services so we were able to have that Easter dinner without having to cook a huge meal for ourselves. The ward provided American style ham (again- something we wouldn't be able to find). Because most of our ward members are military families there was a lot of food that you can only buy on military bases. Since Matt and I aren't in the military- we were pretty lucky to get these treats. American style ham- dinner rolls- jello- green bean casserole- brownies- root beer! It was pretty exciting. We had a great time eating and visiting with people from our church. I'm glad we decided to stay and participate in the potluck. 

After the potluck, we decided to color Easter eggs. This year I really wanted to try my hand at the nail polish marbling technique. So we got some nail polish and I gave it a try. We also painted eggs with paints we had laying around. We chose this because I really didn't feel like searching for food coloring in Korean stores. I wasn't too impressed with the marbling, but by the end I was getting the hang of it. 

{Eggs- Nail polish- room temperature water- gloves (to stop polish from getting all over your hands)- toothpick} 

I used the tutorial from Henry Happened for my egg marbling adventure. None of my eggs looked like hers, but again I think if I had experimented more I would have gotten it. I just was tired of wasting eggs. And our apartment was really starting to reek of nail polish, so I knew I needed to stop. 

Even though the eggs didn't turn out perfect, I still liked how they ended up. 

And those are our 2014 Easter eggs. I can't believe Matt and I didn't snap one picture of the two of us. I got 50 million of the flipping eggs, but not one of us. Does this ever happen you guys? 

Overall, our Easter was great. I think by the end of Korea I'll be ready to start celebrating holidays with my family back in Georgia. But regardless of where we are- Matt and I seem to always have fun. 

I hope you guys had a wonderful Easter. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Letters #33

Happy Friday Y'all! 

I hope you all had a wonderful week. This week was pretty low-key. We have zero plans for the weekend other than getting ready for our trip next weekend! 

Dear Saturday and Sunday, Thank you for being an amazing. It was filled with studying and relaxation. I also got hooked on the BBC show "Call the Midwife". I may or may not have binge watched that. 
 On Sunday, we had a nice dinner at our church and then came home to color Easter eggs. We tried this nail polish marbling technique for some, and it was an experience to say the least. (But that's a story for another day.) I wish we could have been back home coloring eggs with my Abuela, but one day, we will be back. 

Dear Monday, I had a wonderfully lazy morning and a pretty great day at work. I was able to leave work an hour early which was amazing. 

Dear Tuesday, Another lazy morning with a little bit of GRE studying happened. Wednesday-Thrusday consisted of the same routine. I am proud to say I worked out four days this week, so that was pretty amazing. On Thursday, I read some exciting news- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is opening in Osaka, Japan this July! I have known about this park for the last 9 months, but I never knew when it was scheduled to open. Now I can finally plan my October trip and see Harry Potter world. 

Dear Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I am beyond excited that in a few short months I will be traveling to Harry Potter world. So excited in fact, I kept telling Matt… I'm so excited I'm so excited over and over again. I am searching for the perfect outfits to wear to the park. Woo Hoo! 
(Yes, I'm a HP nerd and proud of it.) 

Dear Friday, Today was a pretty good day. I had my problem student Edward today, but luckily that class went by fast. Mr. Edward likes to be really rude in class, and he spends most of his time sitting with the director of the school because he is such a disruption. I don't know why he even bothers coming to class since he refuses to listen, but such is life. He's a little turd and some times I dread his class. But enough with the annoying student :) 

I was able to leave work 2 hours early today, and it was a amazing. I got to leave work when it was still light outside which never happens. I also got to Skype with my Abuela and Papa which was really nice. I love being able to just press a button and hear their voices. 

And that brings this week to a close. 
I hope you all had a wonderful week and have a great weekend! 

Love, Alex. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Haeundae Beach: Busan

While we were on our weekend getaway down South, we were able to stop off in Busan for about 5 hours. The top thing on my list of to-dos was see Haeundae Beach. 

Haeundae Beach is one of the most popular beaches in South Korea. In the summer, the beach is jam packed with people. The whole beach is lined with umbrellas. Since I am not one to enjoy a beach so packed you are literally sitting on your neighbors, I thought going in the Spring would be perfect. 

We had the beach basically to ourselves. It was too cold to get in the water or lay out for a bit, but I really enjoyed walking up and down the beach with my feet in the water. 

I miss Hawaii so much, and being back on the beach was like being back home. I wish we could have spent more time there but I guess we will just have to go back before the crowds take over. 

Overall, the water and the beach were in pretty great condition. I thought it would be a lot trashier because of how busy it gets (maybe it's different in the summer), but it was a pleasant beach to walk around. 

Matt and I walked along the pier and continued snapping pictures of the  ocean. There is a nice wooden walkway that wraps around the ocean that I would recommend walking through. 

 I love the old ladies in the background. They were having a blast on this suspension bridge. 

Gwangandaegyo Bridge- This was another check off my list of to-dos. I really wanted to see this bridge, so check and check. I wish we could have stayed and seen it at night, but this was a pretty amazing view as well. 

We only had a short time walking around Busan for the day, but I know we will be back. It reminded us a lot of Miami (well- at least CSI Miami) because of the glass buildings that were surrounding the beach. 

If you are visiting Korea, I would recommend a train ride down to Busan for the day or weekend. It's a pretty amazing city to explore. The KTX train takes about 4 hours and the ticket price is about $36. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Homemade Applesauce: Recipe

Happy Monday Y'all! 

I don't often post recipes on the blog, but sometimes there comes something that is so tasty- and so easy- that I have to share it. 

For the past couple of months, I have been craving applesauce. I didn't eat it a lot back home, but I ate it enough to always have a jar of it stocked in our fridge. I think it's the best after work snack. Since Matt and I get off work so late, we don't really eat dinner. But we still want a little something, and usually that something we want is sweet. I think applesauce hits that craving perfectly, and it's not nearly has bad as a cup of ice cream or a candy bar. 

Well- since applesauce doesn't exist in Korea- I had to find a way to make my own. 

I searched and searched and really didn't like any of the recipes I had come across. Some added a bit too many ingredients. Others used an oven (which we don't have). And some I just didn't want to use. 

But then I came across The Pioneer Woman's Homemade Applesauce recipe and I was sold. I believe I found the recipe on a Friday, and by Sunday I had a batch made up. It is a an easy recipe, and it is so delicious. By Wednesday, my applesauce was gone, so we made another batch this weekend. 

You can always go to The Pioneer Woman's blog, which you really should do because she has amazing recipes, but here are a few pictures of our applesauce process.

 I am mainly showing you these to illustrate how easy this recipe is. If I can make this, so can you. 


8-10 apples- 1/2 cup brown sugar- 1 tsp Cinnamon- Juice of 1 Lemon- 1 cup Apple Juice-

*The first time we made it we used Apple Juice. The second time we just used water. I think both batches tasted the same, so we will continue using water instead of juice.* 

**PS** Don't you love the Korean labels on my ingredients?!?

Okay, so first peel-core-and cut the apples. I peeled and Matt cored and cut the apples. If we had one of those fancy apple core and cutter things- this whole process would be faster. 

Add all the ingredients to a pot and set on medium to medium high heat. Stirring occasionally. Cook for 25 minutes. 

When the 25 minutes is up, you can mash them up with a potato masher. If you want the consistency smoother you can always use a food processor. 
*The Pioneer Woman gives really good directions on how to get it nicely pureed over on her sight. 

Because we like our applesauce a little chunky and because we don't have a food processor, we just mashed them and it is delicious. 

And that's that. I would say the whole process takes about 45 minutes. 

And both times we have used 10 apples and it has made 64 ounces of applesauce. We just store ours in some tupperware and throw it in the fridge because we eat it pretty quickly. 

Have you ever made homemade applesauce? Do you have any homemade recipes I should try? 
I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Letters #32

Happy Friday Ya'll! 

This weekend I have big plans of dyeing Easter eggs and studying for the GRE. Little bit of fun with a whole lot of studying. 

Today I am linking up with Kate's Daily Diaries again, so I'll get started with my letters. 

Dear Last Weekend, You were quite uneventful. I spent Saturday taking a practice GRE test, and realizing I need to put way more time into the math section. Sunday I studied a bit and watched Parks and Rec. I have finally caught up with the whole series and I really love that show. 

Oh! We also made homemade applesauce on Sunday, and it was amazing. I'm going to talk about our process in a post on Monday, but I gotta say it's probably the best applesauce I've ever had. We finished eating the batch we made by Wednesday, so we're going to make other one this weekend. 

Seriously- so good. And I know I said we ate it, but really Matt had a couple of bites and I destroyed it. 

Dear Monday, Middle School test prep is still going on, so I got to leave work an hour early. I made use of that time by doing a bit of exercise and catching up on the blog. It was also my niece's 4th birthday so we made an amazing birthday video for her. Dear Bubble Tea, I have been craving you for a while, and Monday I finally got me some bubble tea. MMMMM…delicious. 

Dear Tuesday, Noting too exciting happened on Tuesday. Oh well, we did get the news that Matt's boss didn't approve his taking 5 of his vacation days, so the Thailand trip we were planning on taking this August got squashed. I was actually really pissed because my director approved my days off a long time ago. Speaking of… Dear Director, Thank you for being a pretty amazing director. You support me when necessary and let me do my thing the rest of the time. You are also really supportive when it comes to days off. I am really lucky to be working for you.. and not the neurotic woman Matt is working for. :) 

And I may or may not have had another bubble tea. 

Dear Wednesday, Today was one of my long days since I have 6 classes, and my second to last class is filled with middle school boys… aka my turd class. (I know- I know- I'm a great teacher.) This class schedule makes  for a really long day, but today I had movie night to look forward to. Dear Divergent, Well- thank you for finally making your way to Korea. I'm glad I finally got to see the movie, and I gotta say- I was impressed. Plus, I love when American movies come out here. It's like a little piece of home. 

Dear Thursday, Well we have some news! Since our summer Thailand trip was bust (at least for 2014), we decided to plan a quick trip to…. Vietnam! We have a very short summer vacation at the end of July and so we booked tickets to Hanoi, Vietnam. 
Dear Vietnam, If you asked me a year ago- shoot 6 months ago- if Vietnam was on my travel list- I would have given you a hard NO. But being in Korea has changed that. And reading other travel blogs has changed that. And so we bought tickets. I am nervous, but overall very excited. We got a great flight, so we will be in the country for 5 days. Yay! 

We plan on spending two days on a boat like this cruising Halong Bay. 

Dear Mom, I know what you're thinking. 'What the hell? Vietnam?' But I promise- Vietnam will be cool, and if not- it's an adventure! 

Dear Friday, Thank you for being here and so quickly too. Overall, the week went by fast. I wasn't as productive as I should have been, but you know what- sometimes that's how it goes. My goal for next is to be more productive.{IE- Study and workout more… and not sleep in everyday.} 

Also, today marks the official two week countdown before Cambodia! That's right- in two weeks, Matt and I will be on our way to our next adventure of Cambodia. So very excited! 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! See ya Monday. 

Love, Alex 

Daily Diaries with Diaries of an Essex Girl

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cherry Blossom Festival: Jinhae

Happy Thursday Y'all! 

About two weeks ago, Matt and I headed south to see the cherry blossom festival. 

We took a train to Busan and spent Saturday wandering around the city. Then we took a bus over to Changwon for the night, and Sunday morning we took a short bus ride over to the city of Jinhae. A few minutes before we arrived in Jinhae, the bus took us through a tunnel and when we popped out- we had this amazing view of the mountains and tons of cherry blossoms both above and below us. It was a really amazing sight, and it really got me pumped up for the festival. 

I had been looking forward to the cherry blossom festival for a long time. I read about it before coming to Korea, and put it on my Korea Bucketlist. Overall, I had a pretty good time exploring the festival. But you know that feeling when you've built something up so much in your head and then you get to the thing and it's like… oh- okay. Well, that's kinda how I felt with the festival. 

We still had a good time, but I know we won't be going back there next year. That being said- I think this should be on everyone's Korea Bucketlist if you are visiting Korea in the Spring. It was a pretty neat experience. Plus, I saw amazing couple outfits, so I was all good. 

Here are some of the pictures we snapped while exploring the festival along the Yeojwacheon Romance Bridge. 

There are about 8 'scenic' cherry blossom spots throughout the Jinhae area you can go and explore. Matt and I had high hopes of hitting about 5 of these and then we saw the crowds and I quickly said no freaking way. We went to a festival in Seoul back in November, and I thought that was bad. Ummm- it was nothing compared to the hordes of people at this festival. 

As the day went on the crowds got worse and worse. So I would recommend getting there early and seeing the most important thing on your checklist just in case. 

Matt and I checked out the romance bridge and the naval academy. We wanted to do the 1-Year Stairs to Jinhae Tower because I read it has an awesome view, but there were just way to many people. When I climb a butt load of stairs, I like to set my own pace- not feel pressure to go to fast, or to be behind people moving like snails. {Can you tell I hate crowds?} 

We also wanted to see Gyeonghwa Station, which by the way- I thought would be right in Jinhae-but it's not, but the crowds for getting onto the bus were ridiculous. Like I'm pretty sure people were trampled in the process of getting on the bus… It was like reliving our Everland experience. I actually think Matt vetoed this one, so we just went over to the naval academy. 

Now- I really don't want to scare you guys off from going to the festival. I really think it was worth the train ride down and everything. I just want to give you fair warning- the cherry blossom festival will have a crap load of people and then some. But I think it's worth the hassle, especially if you are an earlybird. I think that's the key- go early! And maybe not on a Saturday or Sunday. The taxi driver that took us back to our hotel said the festival would be a lot less busy on Monday. 

In terms of positives (because I want to leave this on a good note), the festival is pretty well organized. There is an information booth right off the city center, and the guides speak pretty good English. In the city center, there is always some sort of entertainment. Everyone we ran into was super friendly and helpful. There is tons of food and drink. And a good many of places to sit. Plus, there is tons to do to keep you busy for the day. And the trees do look very pretty. 

So what do you think? Would you brave the crowds just look at some flowers? 

Treasure Tromp