Hiking Mudeungsan

This past December, I spent an afternoon with my friends, James and Melissa. We hiked part of Mudeungsan. Our original goal was to reach the top, but since we had a late start, we all agreed not to go too far.

Hiking is one of Korea’s favorite past times. It’s noticeable with their amazing gear and their beautifully, well-maintained trails. Not only that, I can agree that you can get some sort of addiction from breathing in the clean air and seeing the beautiful sceneries.

At the end of our hike, we rewarded ourselves to dessert. Then dinner.

Now that I’m back in California, I can only look back at these pictures as a reminder of those good times we spent together – especially in our hike. Wishing these two the best, wherever they may be in this small world.

Missing the SRT

A tiny story about missing the train.

Let me tell you a tiny story about this woman next to me on this photo. But before we get to that, let me share with you a little background about myself and that day.

As many of you who have been following me for a while now, you’re already aware that I lived in South Korea for over a year. While living in there, I’ve made efforts to learning the language, but haven’t succeeded past survival Korean…

Anyways, let me paint that day.

My friend Jose and I just finished our trip in Busan and that morning, we have to catch our 9:15am train to Seoul. The previous day, I asked the concierge of our hotel to have a taxi prepared for us at 8:30AM so that we’d at least have 25 minutes of free time before our train leaves. Our things were packed and ready – three suitcases, a ukelele, and our own backpacks – we went down to the lobby to find out that the taxi wasn’t going to arrive for another 10 minutes. We’re on a tight schedule. But I wasn’t too worried because I know the ahjusshi’s can drive pretty darn fast.

However, not this time.

We finally arrived at the train station – 9:15am. A sign says that our 9:15am train will be leaving at 9:17am. Rushing to find the platform that we were supposed to be at, this lady notices us in our urgency and quickly comes to our aid.

“Where are you going?” she asks me in perfect English. After stating where we’re heading, she quickly grabs onto one of my suitcases and begins to run – leading us to where we’re supposed to head.

However, once we got to the right platform, we missed the train.

Rather than leaving me and Jose to figure out what to do, she reassures me that we can still make it to another train. She then leads me to the ticket desk, translates for me for refunding and purchasing new tickets, then leads us to the appropriate platform before she herself had to hop on her own train.

I can say, she was an angel to me and Jose. I didn’t expect to find someone to see our need and to make things a bit easier. I can’t promise that the rest of our trip went smoothly. But small moments like her coming to our aid has made my experience with South Korea memorable.

When the People Speak

Last weekend, on our way to Seoul, my friend Melissa and I met a young man who was heading to Seoul for the very first time. It was hard to believe that it was his first time heading to the capital. After having some small talk, we both asked him again, “Is this really your first time? Did you really never have the chance to visit Seoul before?” Which he then confirmed that this trip really was his first time.

After talking about basic English grammar and some conversational cues and it’s meanings (we shared with him that we were English teachers), he then reveals to us his purpose for heading to Seoul. He, along with many others, are on their way to the capital to participate in the protest against the current president (story here). He hopes that the people gathered together would speak to the current president’s heart and move her to resign from her position. He then invited us to go to the protest.

Out of curiosity and with my friend, Matt, in tow – I went.

Being in the midst of the protest was very powerful. There was a moment where I had to quell the emotions I had deep inside of me. Just think, a few days ago the results of America’s presidential elections were announced and it was very disheartening to see that hours after it’s announcement, people struck to the streets and were sharing on Social Media the aftermath of it’s results!

Although the purpose of this protest isn’t related to the American elections, it showed the power of the people gathering together. And that alone was amazing in itself.

Sometimes, I questioned whether or not I was actually in a protest. There were bands performing live and people dancing. And there were many volunteers helping with the clean-up. But as I shifted towards another part of the protest, I found myself in the midst of the “real chaos.” Loud chanting and banners flying high about the people’s sentiment against the president. Policemen atop of police busses to ensure that the crowd didn’t push through to get to the Blue Palace (where the president lives).

As you browse through the photos I’ve taken, please note that I hold no political stance in this issue. Out of curiosity and through that young man’s invitation, I have decided to attend the protest. I wanted to witness what Korea’s democracy looks like. Please also note that there is strong language in the photos.


– A

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Lantern’s at Jinju

A photo journal of my trip to Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival.

Last weekend, I had an amazing time hanging out with Melissa, Julian and Julian’s former student, James, at the Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival. Wished that we had more time to see everything (and the fireworks !!!!).

Overall, the short trip wasn’t disappointing.

– A
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Reflecting on #happyarvedays

Reflecting on my #happyarvedays

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, I began and finished my #happyarvedays (the 100 Happy Days Challenge).

And that was about over a month ago.

Day 84: Happiness is a day filled with tiny successes.



It was pretty funny how it ended. It didn’t end in a bang as I thought it would. I thought I was going to be enlightened like Buddha or become closer to God (although it made me appreciate the power of prayer even more). Rather, it was just a normal day with a normal reason to smile. What got people noticing that it was finished wasn’t because they saw “Day 100”, but because of the fact that I wasn’t posting a photo on a daily basis anymore. It even resulted in my mom calling me several times in one night because she didn’t see me post anything online for the past couple days. My poor mama thought I was hurt. Sorry Mama for scaring you…

So, it’s done. What now?

Day 98: Ever since @kitsu has introduced me to Korean music in junior high, it has been my dream to go to a Korean concert. Well, today, that dream has been fulfilled. Happiness is when you’re patient enough to wait for something – even if it takes years!

Well, something I didn’t expect was motivating others to also do their own Happy Days Challenge. The kids from my church back at home are now several day’s into their own challenges. Even my own dad has stated that he’s going to begin doing the challenge when the new year begins. It’s pretty amazing to know that you’ve sparked a little inspiration for others to do something like this.

Day 26: Happiness is having a picnic.

Otherwise, when it comes to it, the lessons I’ve learned are the following:

  • Happiness comes in different sizes. Don’t always look for the big things.
  • Don’t expect yourself to be happy all the time. It’s “OK” if you have a downer day. Just make sure that you’ve got something to smile about.
  • I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful people – family, friends, and students alike. Without them, I wouldn’t have had a reason to smile.
  • Lastly, as I stated on Day 100: “…do not rely on just happiness to make you happy. There are other factors that come into play, such as love towards others and self-love. If you don’t have that balance, then it’s pointless to seek happiness.”
Day 100: These 100 days of seeking those moments that made me happy were such a challenge, especially on difficult days. So today’s happiness is: do not rely on just happiness to make you happy. There are other factors that come into play, such as love towards others and self-love. If you don’t have that balance, then it’s pointless to seek happiness.









So there you have it. I’m glad that I finished it and learned more things about myself. So what’s the next challenge for me? Nothing plan so far. I’ll keep you guys posted.

With love from the land of the kimchi,


– A


A student walked into the institute today with his arms covered in stickers. Turns out that his children put those stickers on him. It was so adorable that he didn’t bother to remove them when he came to attend his class. It’s as if he’s proud of the fact that his children just decorated him.

After a brief chat, he then went ahead, took one sticker off his arm, and placed it on my arm. 

Exploring Sokcho

Someone once asked me why I like to travel alone. Am I not lonely? My immediate response was that I just enjoyed it. But after thinking more about it, I think I also like the solitude of being alone as I observe my new surroundings. To listen. This is usually the case especially after several days of being surrounded by people and constantly speaking. Don’t misunderstand, I like people a lot. And the fact that I only have a few good friends here in South Korea kills. But after being surrounded by people for work, I just need to be alone for a day and a half at most, THEN I crave to be back with company.

So for my alone time, I chose to travel to Sokcho. Going there on Chuseok Holiday may be the least recommended time to travel. Actually, traveling during Chuseok, from what I’ve been told, isn’t that recommended. Traffic was insane and I was riding the bus for over six hours. But it was all worth it once I arrived in my hotel room. I chose to stay in HJ House, which is about 5 minutes walk to the beach. However, had a little opsie when I was trying to enter my room… watch the room tour video below…

Sokcho has recently become more popular, thanks to Pokemon Go. It was one of the first things I noticed upon arriving at the beach. Most of the people were on their phones playing the game. I nearly jumped on the bandwagon to play, but decided against it as I didn’t want my phone battery dying quickly and didn’t want to use up my data… Otherwise, the town seem’s very idyllic and it made me wish a tiny bit that I was camping on the beach instead.

Anyways, here’s how my stay in Sokcho looked like 🙂

– A


Places I visited:


  • Sony Alpha 5100

A street cat and a cafe…

Found myself back in Seoul. This time around, it’s for work rather than my own leisure. But even though that’s the case, I still try to squeeze in a couple hours of fun into the visit since it does take a 4 hour bus ride to the city from where I’m from. 

This time around, Matt – my local tour guide – took me to this cafe called Cafe Laundry. Upon arrival, we were greeted by this lovely tabby. My heart melted. She was so sweet and friendly, I didn’t give a care that I was allergic to cats.She made herself quite at home where we were seated, and I was just enjoying her company. This is what happens to an animal deprived gal. 

Once the cat left (to my disappointment), Matt and I got to chatting with the owner of the cafe. The owner, who also happens to be a talented artist, shared with us that this cat is just the neighborhoods friendly cat. She just felt really comfortable to be with us. The cat’s absence allowed me to better observe my surroundings. As I sipped my freshly made grape juice and Matt snaps away photos of his coffee, I noticed that although the place was small, it has a fun side to it. 

As I mentioned, the owner is an artist. At first glance, you think she barely decorated her cafe. But it takes a second glance to notice hidden art pieces. You’ll need to visit to see what I’m talking about. I always enjoy being in creative spaces. It makes for great conversations and spending ones time. Plus, the visit was even more special with the cat around. 

Exploring Seoul with Chea

Meeting friends on this side of the planet is always a great treat! This time around, I’ve finally caught up with my friend since high school – Richard Chea. Or Chea for short.

The last time we saw each other was about six years ago, after I left the high school we both attended for a private academy. Since then, along with a couple others, I kept in touch with him.

When I learned that he was here in South Korea last year, I reached out to him to ask him about his own experience living and teaching here. Before I arrived, he has finished his work-study experience and has returned to California before we could have the chance to meet up.

Until this past month. He came back for a visit and we finally got the chance to hang-out!

For lunch, we hit up one of his favorite restaurants – Nine Road Pizzeria in Gangnam. It was my first time trying out the restaurant’s food, and it wasn’t disappointing!


After lunch, we explored a bit of Gangnam – only to quickly head off to Banpo Bridge (since he hasn’t been there before). Personally, I think the best time to go to this place is at night, when you can witness the Rainbow Fountain show, whilst eating take-out chicken. But since I had to head back home that night for work the next day, we had to make do with daylight.

On a clear and sunny day, Seoul is amazing to be in. This is especially true when you’re strolling next to the Han River and you can easily spot Namsan Tower from where you’re standing. While in the Banpo Bridge area, I highly suggest visiting Some Sevit (Seoul Floating Islands). It has a couple restaurants, shops, and a Hello Artist exhibition featuring a digitalized rendition of Vincent van Gogh’s artwork. The exhibit was was both educational and beautiful.


Although our hangout was brief, it was great catching up with Chea. Especially on this side of the planet!



Breakfast for one

Sabbath morning.

I forced myself to sleep in some more, even though my body woke me up around 6AM – the usual time I would get up during the week. This time around, my body is sore from the workout I had this past week, especially from yesterday’s workout when my friend helped me pump some steel. I made a promise to myself to care better for myself by exercising, sleeping more, and eating better. Especially breakfast.

On the breakfast menu:

  • Chicken (simmered in doengjang) sandwich
  • Coffee
  • Cucumbers




P.S. Because I live alone, I’m still learning how to cook for one. It’s been a challenge, but a good learning experience. For those living alone too, how do you do it?