Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Bucket List

It's my favorite time of year! Seriously, one of my friends called me Mrs. Claus the other day because I love Christmas so much. This year I wanted to really do a lot of Christmas activities and really enjoy the season, especially because it goes by so fast. Here is the bucket list I came up with for us, we have done some of these so those will be crossed off :)
  • Make Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate
  • Go Ice Skating (preferably at Lotte World because they're decorated for Christmas)
  • Make Christmas Cookies
  • Decorate for Christmas
  • Go see the Christmas lights around Seoul
  • Go to Garden of the Morning Calm 
  • Build a Gingerbread House
  • Watch ALL the Christmas movies
  • Watch as many of the Hallmark Christmas movies as I can
  • Do Advent Calendars
  • Go see the Nutcracker
  • Harry Potter Marathon
  • Make Butterbeer
  • Go to the Express Bus Terminal and see their floor of Christmas decorations
    • This wasn't as great as I was hoping it would be. There was a lot of stuff but it was mostly "clutter" items and expensive trees and I have run out of shelf space for Christmas clutter and I don't want to spend 100 dollars on a 3-foot tree.
  • Go to Daiso and get more Christmas Decorations
We're running out of time to do everything before Christmas! Mark works so much now that we don't really have much time to do much of anything. But we'll figure it out and do everything.

What are your plans for the Christmas season?

See you soon
Kylie <3

Goodbye November 2017

November went by even faster than the other months! Probably because we went on vacation! For half of November, we were in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Then we got back and it was Thanksgiving and the holiday season officially started. So the time, until now when I'm writing this, went by so fast; I feel like I haven't had time to catch up on anything. Here's how November went:

Reading //
I read four books this month, I would have read more if I didn't sleep on every flight we had. I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince which I slowly finished because I didn't want to reach the death, but I managed. then I read Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters, which followed the same story outline as the first book, but that's okay. It was a fun story and I highly enjoyed it again. I read a little Christmas novel that I got for free on my Kindle, Miss Kanes Christmas. If you just take the book at surface level and don't analyze or question the book too much, then it's good and cute. I also read The Paper Magician and I really enjoyed that! It has an interesting magic system, which is something I really love, this one I definitely recommend.However, there is a romantic subplot that feels forced and weird to me; like the author felt like they had to have a romantic element so they forced one in; but I'm able to look past that and enjoy the story. I got the second book for like 3 dollars for my Kindle so I'm excited to read that.

Doing //
We went on vacation :). I have blog posts for each individual country so if you would like a more in-depth look then click the links on each place! We went to Siem Reap, Cambodia where we explored Angkor Wat; Chiang Mai, Thailand where we went ATVing, an Elephant Sanctuary, Ziplining, and a cooking class; and Nha Trang, Vietnam where we lounged at the beach and went snorkeling. We had a blast.

After we got back from vacation, it was almost immediately Thanksgiving. We decorated for Christmas a couple days before Thanksgiving because Mark worked the day of and the day after Thanksgiving. But I cooked all day Thanksgiving to have Thanksgiving dinner ready for us when Mark. Since it was just the two of us, I made a roasted chicken and a small ham, Sweet Potato Casserole, Stuffing, Au Gratin Potatoes, Ruby Tuesday Brocolli Salad, and Green Bean Casserole.

Watching // 
Before we went on vacation, we went and saw the new Thor at the on-post theater. I really enjoyed it and I liked that it felt like a Thor and Loki movie rather than another Avengers movie. We really like the Marvel movies, I think they do a really good job, especially for someone who doesn't read the comics.

We also binged the second season of Stranger Things during the first few days of November. It was so good and we love Stranger Things, I don't know if I like season 1 or season 2 more but we can't wait until season 3.

After vacation, we started watching Christmas movies because I'm a Christmas crazy person and we've basically been watching Christmas movies and The Flash since we got back.

December //
We plan to do lots of Christmas activities and watch lots of Christmas movies. Mark is even extra spirited this year which is really fun. We've been wearing Santa Hats out because why not. This is my favorite time of year so I'm really excited. It's also our two year marriage anniversary on the 29th!

How was your November; if you celebrate Thanksgiving, did you have a good Thanksgiving?

See you soon!
Kylie <3

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Movies to watch this month

I am one of those people who absolutely love Christmas movies but not so much the adult ones, I love the family-friendly and children Christmas movies. I love when I can start watching them. In this list, I have a few that absolutely love and I have to watch, some that I like, and some new ones (to me) that are on the must-watch Christmas lists. So this list will be in that order, my favs to my unwatched.

1) Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas
2) The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3
3) Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer
4) A Charlie Brown Christmas
5) Frosty the Snowman
6) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon)
7) Santa Clause is Coming to Town
8) Christmas with the Kranks
9) 4 Christmases
10) Elf
11) Polar Express
12) Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas
13) Disney's Prep & Landing
14) Naughty VS. Nice
15) Arthur Christmas
16) Frosty Returns
17) Olive the Other Reindeer
18) It's a Wonderful Life
19) The Grinch (Live Action)
20) The Island of Misfit Toys
21) White Christmas
22) Mickey's Christmas Carol
23) Disney's A Christmas Carol
24) Frosty Returns
25) The Mouse King
26) Miracle on 34th Street
27) Christmas Vacation
28) Holiday Inn
29) Scrooged
30) National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
31) Muppet Christmas Carol
32) Saving Santa
33) A Misers Brothers Christmas
34) Year Without Christmas
35) Deck the Halls

This expansive list does not include all the Hallmark Christmas movies I want to watch too; there's so much to watch this time of year. Luckily Mark is in the Christmas spirit and wants to watch Christmas movies too.

What's your favorite Christmas movie?

See you soon!
Kylie <3

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2 Weeks 3 Countries: Nha Trang, Vietnam

This is the last installment of the vacation review! For our last stop of our vacation, we went to Nha Trang, Vietnam for the beach. I don't have as many pictures from Vietnam as I did for the others as we did a lot of stuff at the hotel or the beach and a lot of the pictures were on snapchat or our action cam so the quality is not the greatest.

Day one // Travel
We arrived at our hotel, Sunrise Beach Hotel & Spa, which was a resort style hotel. I chose it because I wanted a nice place with a private beach so that we could just relax. It was nice but a little expensive compared to Suorkear in Siem Reap which was just as nice or nicer. They provided water but not a whole lot and Mark and I drink a ton of water, so we went out and tried to find a convenience store and somewhere to eat. We struggled to find anywhere to eat and didn't manage to find a real convenience store. We did find somewhere that sold the lovely big water bottles that Asia has so we got water and walked back to the hotel. That night they had a Japanese buffet that we ended up eating. They didn't have much that I liked because it was mostly weird fish dishes but Mark enjoyed it. Then we went up and went to bed.

Day two // Beach
Today we woke up and ate breakfast and one of the best parts of the Sunrise was the delicious breakfast. They had a buffet with everything from American continental breakfast foods to Asian breakfast foods. My favorite thing was the croissants and fancy cheese, so I mostly ate that because I never get to eat croissants.

After breakfast, we got ready for the beach and we went to the beach. The hotel had a private beach and beach chairs with towels, so we got some chairs, an umbrella, and towels and set up our stuff. We went in the ocean for a bit and the water, at that time the water was clear and the perfect temperature and the waves weren't too big. For the next 5 hours, we played in the ocean and sat on our chairs and read our books. It was so relaxing and the sound of the ocean was nice. When we got hungry, we walked along the beach and tried to find a place to eat. But again, we couldn't find one that appealed to us and there were no beach showers so I was sticky and gross feeling from the saltwater, sunscreen, and sweat so I just wasn't in the mood to be walking around, dodging traffic, looking for a place to eat. We found a convenience store and got some more water and went back to the hotel to shower.

After our showers, we went out again to find food. We got flagged down by an unlimited food and drink buffet and we decided to eat there. Again, they didn't have much that I really liked. They had a lot of different seafood and weird meats to try, well weird to me like crocodile, and not much else so I ate a lot of rolls lol. After we ate, we went back to the hotel and decided to try their Sky Lounge. We got a couple drinks and sat on the balcony of the lounge and just listened to and watched the ocean. We decided that we enjoyed the ocean so much that we should go walk along the beach. So we did and it was so nice to just walk and talk along the ocean.

Day Three // Explore
We last minute, impulsively booked a tour through the hotel. But, we ended up kind of regretting it and wished we had spent the day at the beach. But we left the hotel with the guide and driver and we went to the first temple, Long Son Pagoda, where we were able to go inside and look around, then we hiked a small hill from there where we saw a huge white Buddha statue. After that, we went to a rock formation, Ho Chong, in the ocean where a lot of boulders were perched precariously on top of each other and we saw a mini-concert using traditional Vietnamese instruments. Then we went to another temple, Po Nagar Cham Towers, where we explored the temples and we saw a traditional prayer dance. After that, we went to iResort where we got to lounge in a mud bath and hot springs. The mud bath was interesting, not thick like we thought but just watery mud. It would have been really relaxing except it was so hot out and then the mud bath was warm.After the mud bath, we rinsed off and got in the hot springs waterfall, which again, would have been nice but it was so hot! We ended that part of the day early because we were like "why should we stay here where its hot water and a dirty 'beach' when we could go to an actual beach. So we ate some pho and left the resort. We went to a market where the tour guide explained the different areas and the different foods and helped us bargain and translate.

We finally got back to the hotel and we changed and went to the beach again. But man, today the waves were so rough and the water was murky, it was still rainy season so that was to be expected. We fought the waves for a bit but got tired so we lounged on the chairs and read our books.  We got cold and hungry after about an hour and a half so we went back to the hotel, showered, and decided to eat at the hotel restaurant. We shared a delicious caesar salad, I got a club sandwich that had an egg on it, which was really good, and Mark got a pizza. After eating, we went back up the Sky lounge because we enjoyed the view, but again, after a little while we decided to go walk along the beach again.

Day Four // Snorkeling
I really wanted to try snorkeling while we were at the ocean, so that's what we did today. It was about a 20-minute boat ride to the snorkeling area. We got in the water and I quickly learned that my snorkel was not on correctly when I breathed in all kinds of water. We got it fixed and went on our way. At first, it was a little panic-inducing, I didn't actually start panicking but it took some mind control and breathing to calm the instinctual fear of breathing underwater. Unfortunately, every now and again, I would breathe in water, but I got better at dealing with it as we snorkeled. It was fun swimming through the coral and seeing the colorful saltwater fish. I really enjoyed finding a cool fish and following it to see that fishy business it had to do. Often they would lead me to some cool spots. I also loved when schools of fish would swim by. Sadly, the coral wasn't that vibrant and there was some trash which is a sad part of human's effects on the ocean.

After the snorkeling, we got room service lunch and we sat on our balcony and ate our lunch while we watched the ocean. It started raining so we weren't able to go to the beach, plus we were tired from being in the water all morning. So we just relaxed in the room and watched movies.

Day Five // Travel
Today was the day we left and I was planning to spend the morning sitting on the beach. Not playing in the ocean, just sitting on the beach and enjoying the sound. But we woke up and it was pouring. We ate breakfast and after breakfast, saw that it was starting to slow down, so we ended up being able to walk along the beach one more time. For most of it, we just stood and watched the huge waves come in. We left after about 40 minutes and right when we got to the hotel it started pouring rain again so we got back just in time. Then we started our travel day home.

Overall, Vietnam was our least favorite place. Maybe Vietnam wasn't for us or we just didn't go to the right area or at the right time. We just didn't find the area to be easy to navigate and the beach wasn't as impressive as all the travel sites said. I think if we do southeast Asia again, we'll do either Phuket, Thailand (because we LOVED Thailand), the Philippines, or Bali for the beach/relaxing part.

I am a little sad that vacation ended so quick. We had a wonderful time experiencing new places and new cultures together. It was so nice not having to share Mark with his job or other people, it was nice just spending time together especially with how much he has to work now.

Want to know more about our vacation? Check out the posts about Siem Reap, Cambodia and Chiang Mai, Thailand.

See you soon!
Kylie <3

Thursday, November 30, 2017

2 Weeks, 3 Countries: Chiang Mai, Thailand

2 Weeks, 3 Countries: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Our second stop on our vacation was Chiang Mai, Thailand. This was the country I was most excited for, I have heard such good things about Chiang Mai so my expectations were high. I must say, my expectations were exceeded. Can we first talk about how amazing Thai food is? I absolutely LOVE Thai food, especially now that we have had authentic Thai food. Thai tea too, so good. This post will be EXTREMELY long, we did a lot in Chiang Mai and really loved it.

Anyway, aside from the amazing food we had there, we spent 4 full days in Chiang Mai. It was enough for the vacation but if we get the chance, we would like to go back. We stayed at Chedi Home and it was fine. The rooms were clean and nice, they had a pool, a restaurant with free breakfast, and they helped you book excursions for 10% off. The only thing that sucked, was that the shower sucked. The shower head misted so by the time the water got to you, it was cold and it didn't give enough water to feel like you could properly wash. Aside from that though, we enjoyed it.

Day 1 // We arrived in Thailand around 5pm and caught a cab to our hotel. We were surprised because Thailand drives on the left side of the road, that probably shows how much research we didn't do.We got settled into the hotel and the hotel restaurant closes at 3pm so we decided to figure out how to get to Night Bazaar so we could get food. Night Bazaar is known for the street food, so we went and got street food. I had heard that street food is one of the cheapest and best ways to eat in Chiang Mai, but I beg to differ. Most of the street food is meat on a stick (something we can find in abundance here in Seoul) or different versions of Pad Thai. To be honest, pad Thai is my least favorite Thai food. I'll eat it, but I don't enjoy it much. So street food for me was not something I enjoyed very much, but if you like pad Thai, you'll love it. After eating, we walked around and explored all the shops and street vendors.
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Night Bazaar
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Night Bazaar
Day 2// We didn't have anything planned for today and I was super overwhelmed so we had a little bit of a late start. But we went and we got a lot of brochures of cool things we could do through the hotel. We spent some time and planned for one activity a day, leaving the afternoons open to explore the city and booked them all through the hotel. We decided that tonight, we would do a Thai cooking class through Tom Yum Thai Cooking School. Around 4pm they came and picked us up from our hotel. There was a couple from Sweden also doing the class with us. Oun and his wife Kai took us to a market where they explained the ingredients and their uses in Thai cooking and they got ingredients for us to use. After exploring the market, we went back to their house where they held the class. I loved that it was in their house as it made the class more personal. Something I really loved about this class compared to the one in Cambodia is that Mark and I were able to choose different menus, us and the other couple actually chose the same 12 meals. Mark cooked:
     Cashew Chicken
     Spring Rolls
     Tom Yom Goong (Spicy and Sour prawn soup)
     Green Curry Paste
     Green Curry
     Mango Sticky Rice
and I cooked:
     Pad thai (yes I know I said I don't like pad thai but my options for that course were slim)
     Cucumber Salad
     Coconut Milk and Chicken Soup
     Panang Curry Paste
     Panang Curry
     Mango Sticky Rice
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Tom Yum Thai Cooking School
The food was so easy to cook, Oun and Kai had wonderful instructions and were patient. They also had a wonderful sense of humor and were so funny which just made the class so much more fun and relaxed.I love that Thai food is cooked fast, they don't stand and stir fry their food for 20 minutes, its in and out of the pan in under 10 minutes. The food, was incredible! I found my favorite Thai food through this class. I loved the currys and the soups and the cucumber salad. Ugh, it was so good. At the end of the class, they took us back to the hotel. Mark and I went and walked around and walked by the river and just explored some.

Day 3// Today we scheduled an ATV trip with ATV Monmaekanin Adventure. They came and picked us up from the hotel and there was another couple with us. We drove up this super windy road up to the ATV starting point in the mountains. Mark and I shared an ATV (even though I read while on the trail on the ATV safety sticker to not carry passengers, oh well haha). The other couple had two seperate ATVs. For the most part, the trail was decently easy and easy enough for inexperienced riders. There was one section, of course the only section I drove on, where it was a little more difficult and I got us stuck. Mark drove us back down that way when we went back down and drove the rest of the time. I am convinced that because Mark was able to keep up with the front guide and we kept leaving the other people behind, that the guide in the back drove us a different more difficult route. We stopped at a road and the back guide came up and told us that we were following him, so we were like okay and continued on. Then we got to a creek that we had to cross and the trail had gotten considerably harder; we got stuck in the creek and realized that the other people weren't there any more. After a little while on the trail, we met back up with the other people, then seperated again from them again and went on a super, super muddy more difficult trail. It was a ton of fun! It rained the night before so it was extremely muddy and that just made it more fun. We came out of the trails extremely muddy.
Chiang Mai, Thailand: ATV Tour
Chiang Mai, Thailand: ATV Tour
Aside from a play by play of the ATV trip, I think it was a great way to see more of Thailand without having to hike 45km. We saw tons of jungle, rice paddies, and small villages; areas we wouldn't have ever seen if we hadn't done this. We've never ATV'd in the states but I think it costs less for us to do it in Thailand than in the US, so it was such a great experience for us. Plus it took me out of my comfort zone, I had to super trust that Mark could drive it and not flip us or send us drifting into a tree or that I would lean weird and send us into some weird spin. It was so fun though and I recommend going on an ATV tour anywhere.
Chiang Mai, Thailand: ATV Tour
After we got back from the ATV tour, I decided to eat at the hotel restaurant because the ATV tour provided pad Thai for lunch. I had Panang curry and Thai tea and it was so good! I absolutely loved it and I think it was only like 4 dollars for both. This was also when we started napping, we were so tired from getting up early and going to bed late for a few days and just traveling that our bodies were just like "No! Sleep!" so we napped for an hour.

Later that night, we went to the Sunday Night Market because we it was Sunday, so we had to take advantage of something that only happens once a week. Now, we live in Seoul so we're pretty used to crowds, but this market was crowded like nothing I've ever seen before. you could hardly move and definitely had to go with the flow. There were so many food stalls and so many street vendors and the market spans for kilometers, up and down the main strip and around alley-ways. We walked for a couple hours buying souvenirs and Mark tried ostrich. There were also a lot of street performers which was cool to see for the few seconds as you walked by. After that though, we were so done. We could not handle being in the crowds any more. So we left and walk around the city that was less crowded. It was a market like I've never seen before though so it was worth battling the crowds for the few hours.

Day 4// This was elephant sanctuary day. Of course I'd heard that this was a must do in Thailand and I was adamant about going to an actual sanctuary that took care of the elephants and did not ride or abuse them in any way. This was the only thing I had pre-booked. We booked with Maerim Elephant Sanctuary. I heard that they were a reputable elephant sanctuary and were easier to get a spot with than Elephant Nature Park. We were of course picked up and brought to the sanctuary where we were immediately given bananas to feed to the elephants over their fence. It was a nice way to be introduced to the elephants. We were then given a change of clothes so we looked like the volunteers that the elephants knew so there wasn't so much change for them. We watched an informational video and were told to get lots of sugar cane to feed them. We went in their enclosure (enclosure sounds bad but its a huge field with a pond and mud bath area, it's not like a zoo enclosure) and fed them the sugar canes. It was so fun to give them the sugar canes in their trunks and watch them chew it. You could pet them as well while feeding them.
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
After we were done feeding them sugar canes, we went to a banana tree farm where we all cut down a piece of a banana tree. Mark cut down a whole tree then cut himself a piece then I cut a piece. When we were going to leave to go back to the sanctuary, we found that someone stole Mark's cut piece, so instead mark grabbed the huge top leafy part of the tree and took that. I thought it was awesome of him and it was so cute to see him carrying this huge top of the tree.
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
When we got back to the sanctuary, we ate lunch and we had this awesome Thai chicken soup that you make yourself. You just put chicken and noodles in a basket and put it in the broth for 10 seconds. Then put the noodles and chicken into a bowl with some broth and add whatever toppings you want. IT WAS SO GOOD. I wish I knew what it was called cause it was just as good or better than Pho.

After lunch, we fed the elephants our banana tree pieces and the elephants loved Marks leaves. they are also so smart. They take the leaves and beat the leaves against their skin to tenderize them and they crack the tree trunk open to get to the sweet middle. Once they were done eating, we took them to an open field where they could play in the dirt, eat bamboo, eat grass, scratch themselves on the trees, and just run free.
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
Once they were done exploring the field, we went and gave them a mud bath. It was fun and interesting but really kind of gross. We actually saw them poop and pee in the mud pond so that made it a little harder to play in. We had the knowledge that they go to the bathroom in this mud and we were basically swimming in elephant poop and pee. Mark was one of the first to cover himself in it along with another husband and of course, Mark threw some at me. I joined in the covering myself with it as well as the elephants but it took some mind over matter to do so. After playing in the mud, the elephants went to a deeper pond where we rinsed them and us and splashed the elephants with the water. They practically lay down so you can get super up close and personal with them. Then that was the end of that excursion.
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
The elephants are such majestic, intelligent creatures. I'm so happy that sanctuary's like this exist, the elephants deserve better and it's so cool to see how intelligent they really are.
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
How sweet does Mark look with this elephant? <3 During the day, the sanctuary had a professional take hundreds of photos of everyone. So at the end of the day, we paid 800 baht and got about 250 pictures, 250 professional quality candid photos on a flash drive. I was so happy they did that and I love all the pictures. *All pictures of us at the elephant sanctuary are from them*

After playing with the elephants, we got back to the hotel and we took a nap and then went to Mr. Kai's to eat dinner. We saw the restaurant when we were exploring the Sunday Market and I thought it looked good, particularly because they had more than pad Thai. I got the Tom Yom Goong chicken soup and a Thai tea, Mark got green curry and a Thai tea, and we shared some spring rolls. The food was so good and the Thai tea was amazing and helped the spicyness of the food.
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Tom Yom Goong
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Green Curry
Day 5 // Today we booked a zip-lining excursion because why not. Mark and I have been zip-lining a couple times and we really enjoyed it and it can be kind of expensive in the states, so we decided to do it in Thialand. We went through Eagle Track Zipline. We went for the Gold Package because we love zip-lining and wanted to do all the zip-lines, high ropes course, and abseiling. We got there and got all of our gear and headed out. Overall, Mark and I were slightly disappointed. It didn't suck by any means, but the entire track seemed to be really tame for an experienced zip-liner. In our group there was a Chinese couple with a toddler who was so brave and so cute. He loved everything and did most of the zip-lines by himself. Along with another couple who were new to zip-lining (we knew that because they messed up on every zip-line somehow but that's okay). We had fun but we have done much more extreme zip-lines and high ropes course so this was just an activity to get out in nature. We recommend it if you haven't been but if you have, there may be better zip-line tracks for you. After zip-lining, we went back to the hotel, napped, then went out and explored a few buddhist temples and ate at Mr. Kai's again, it was so good! I got the coconut milk chicken soup this time and two Thai teas and Mark got cashew chicken and two Thai teas. We also shared a papaya salad (so good and tasted a little like the pomelo salad from Cambodia) and some spring rolls. The food was so good! We also got a Thai massage today and it was nice, pretty relaxing for me and not so much for Mark. He's so tight from doing so much PT that he was in pain half the time, the masseuses were laughing at how tight he was. We got it at a place that highers ex-inmates so it was a good cause too and so cheap.

That was the end of our Thailand portion of our trip. If you're still here at the end of the long post, you're amazing and I appreciate it! We loved Thailand, especially the food, so I had a lot to talk about. It was also the longest leg of our journey.

Check out the posts about Siem Reap, Cambodia and Nha Trang, Vietnam!

See you soon <3

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2 Weeks, 3 Countries: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ah, long time no talk, because WE WENT ON VACATION! On November 7, Mark and I embarked on a 2-week vacation to Siem Reap, Cambodia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Nha Trang, Vietnam. This was our first time traveling internationally together that was not with the military and we had an amazing time! We didn't really get to pre-plan a whole of activities because we finally got the signed, approved leave form on November 5th and I didn't want to do too much planning in case it didn't get approved and we had to cancel everything. Anyway, here's a recap of all we did and probably a lot of pictures. I will be doing this in 3 posts to keep it from getting too long.
Every place we stayed and every activity we did, we highly, highly recommend.

Day 1 // We got to Cambodia at 7pm and our hotel: Suorkear Boutique Hotel & Spa, sent a tuk-tuk to pick us up. It was such an experience! It was hot and muggy but sitting on the bench of a tuk-tuk driving through the streets was so cool and such a wonderful way to start the vacation. At the hotel, we were shown to a wonderful room with a private balcony and outdoor bathtub. We went out and ate at the hotel restaurant where mark got Cambodian Curry and I got a beef stir-fry. Both were amazing! We weren't curry people before this trip and now we are. 

Day 2 // We took a cooking class through our hotel. At 9am we were taken to old market where the chef told us about how Cambodian people shop for their food. There were so many different kinds of fish, meat, and veggies, granted in conditions that would not be okay in the US but that's the interesting part of travel, seeing the differences in how people live. After touring the market, we went back to the hotel where we learned how to make Pomelo Salad with Prawns, Cambodian Chicken Curry and Curry Paste, and Caramelized Palm Sugar with Banana. All the food was delicious and so easy to make. I was incredibly impressed with the Pomelo Salad. 
Cooking class at Suorkear Boutique Hotel and Spa in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Pomelo Salad at a cooking class at Suorkear Boutique Hotel and Spa in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Khmer Curry made at a cooking class at Suorkear Boutique Hotel and Spa in Siem Reap, Cambodia
After the cooking class, we took a tuk-tuk to Old Market where we walked around and explored Old Market, Night Market, and Pub Street. We got foot massages for 3 dollars each, a "deconstructed" vanilla latte where the vanilla syrup came in a light bulb, which just made it more fun. We also spontaneously went to the Angkor National Museum which was $24 a person. I'm glad we went as it was interesting, especially the room of 1000 Buddha's; but man, there was so much information and a lot of the same statues but from different time periods that by the time we got halfway through, we were burnt out. It was worth it though. On our way back to Old Market, we found a little restaurant that had super cheap food, it was about 3 dollars a plate and 50 cent beer. So Mark got Cashew Chicken, I got Lok Lak (kind of like any of the Chinese saucy chickens), we shared spring rolls and we got two beers each for a grand total of 11 dollars. It was great and the food was delicious. We walked around pub street some more and we found a bar with live music so we sat and listened to that until it was time for our hotel tuk-tuk to pick us up.
Deconstructed Latte, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Lok Lak at Siem Reap, Cambodia
Pub Street at night, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Day 3 // Today we had plans to explore Angkor Wat. We had scheduled a driver and tour guide through Angkor in English. The owner, Sorm Son, had wonderful prices and came highly recommended. He was so incredibly knowledgeable about the history of Angkor Wat and Cambodia. I learned so much from him. I'm so glad that we got a tour guide because I got way more out of the temples than I would have otherwise. He came with a tuk-tuk (because we loved traveling by tuk-tuk), cold water, and cool lemongrass-scented towels (which were a Godsend, they were the only thing that kept me from being totally miserably hot). While walking through the temples, he knew the best routes and best times to get to each temple to make sure we avoided the crowds and took tons of pictures of us. This is the itinerary he had for us:
     8:30AM-12:00PM - Angkor Thom
                                      Visit South gate
                                       Leper king terrace
                                       Royal Palace
                                       Elephant Terrace
                                       Tapromh jungle temple.
     Afternoon: Visit Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
For lunch, we ate at a restaurant near Angkor Wat that Mr. Son brought us to and he recommended we try the Amok, which is some kind of fish in a sauce, cooked in a coconut.
Amok, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Seeing Angkor Wat itself was amazing. It was incredible to be standing in and walking through a thousand-year-old building; the intricate stonework was mind-boggling because the people who built this were able to carve intricate designs into stones which have lasted a thousand years and through wars. The English Major/Language lover in me LOVED seeing the Khmer writing on the walls, to think of all the history written on the walls that's now gone hurts me. I highly recommend that if you can go to Angkor Wat, that you go, it was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Funny story, I bought some flowy elephant pants from the market the day before because I saw so many people wearing them and they looked so cute and breezy. I wore them to Angkor Wat because they request that you cover your knees and your shoulders and all I owned that I could wear were jeans. We didn't even get through the first temple when they tore pretty much completely along the crotch. Luckily, I brought jeans just in case. But boy it was so hot! I've never sweated so much in my life, gross I know. So if you go, bring a maxi dress/skirt or buy a maxi skirt, not those flowy pants from the market for 2 dollars. 
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Day 4 // Today was a travel day, we left the hotel around 10am and rode a tuk-tuk for the last time. To be honest, we were a little sad about it. 

A couple tips for those traveling to Siem Reap: come with lots and lots of small US dollars (1 dollar bills and 5 dollar bills). Most places will not take their currency, they want small US dollars and will give change in Cambodian money. Bring something long and breezy for exploring Angkor Wat, especially if your traveling April-October. Take tuk-tuks everywhere. They're so fun and an experience you can only get there. Try off the main strip restaurants, that's where we found our favorite foods. Temple Pub on pub street is super pricey compared to everywhere else on pub street and the drinks aren't as good. Of course, don't drink the tap water. Go to a convenience store and buy a few big bottles of water -  the good thing about Southeast Asia is that they have 1 Liter water bottles for a dollar or less. Only use your credit card at the airport, the hotel, and the ATM, check the ATM for weird cameras and card skimmers first of course. All ATMs give US dollars that you can then exchange for smaller dollars. If you want a phone there, buy a sim card from the airport for a couple dollars, it's much cheaper than getting a pocket wifi. You get enough minutes and data to get you through, you're on vacation so you shouldn't be using that much data anyway.

We really enjoyed Siem Reap and I'm so glad we went; I was a little worried we wouldn't like it at first but we did. Two days was enough for us to see all we wanted: the markets and Angkor Wat.

Check out the other posts about our time in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Nha Trang, Vietnam.

See you soon <3

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Goodbye October 2017

Goodbye October 2017 - October Recap
Did it seem like October seemed to go by faster than any of the other months? It’s one of my favorite months since it starts my favorite time of year but I feel like it went by so fast that I didn’t even get to enjoy it. I still had a good month though.

Reading //
Goodbye October 2017 - October recap
I read two books and got mostly done with one and halfway done with another. I read the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and it was great. I had a hard time with it at first because I had read Daughter of Smoke and Bone freshman year of college, four years ago, and it took me a long time to remember what happened and get back into the world. Once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed it but it took me a while to read because it was so hard to get into. This is not a series you should wait too long between books with. I also read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets because it was free with Kindle Unlimited and I really wanted to start using my new Kindle!
Goodbye October 2017 - October recap
I am nearly done with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The Harry Potter books have been what I read in bed at night before I sleep since I can read on my Kindle without waking Mark up. I am also halfway through Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters. I really wanted to finish both but didn’t in time.

Watching //
There haven’t been that many good movies in Korean theaters this month and the on-base theater hasn’t played anything good either, so no new movies this month. We did watch some Halloween movies from my Halloween list and that was a lot of fun. We also watched more of The Flash and of course, Stranger Things. We are watching it slowly since it’s only 9 episodes long and season 3 won’t be out until next October. But we’re really enjoying it.

I decorated for fall and Halloween, of course. I would have gotten some more decorations had I had access to Target but alas, putting out the decorations we do have was fun. I also got a couple new Halloween mugs.
Goodbye October 2017 - October recap
Goodbye October 2017 - October recap
We went on a little mini hike with some friends to a little temple near where we live and we explored a botanical gardens which were beautiful.
We tried Indian food for the first time ever and really enjoyed it! We love finding places to eat that are close to us and not on the other side of Seoul. We also at a Beef & Leaf that’s down the street from our house that I originally hated but enjoyed this time around. So yay for finding new places to eat!
We live right by an Air Force base and they had an air show this month and the flight path was over our house. So we got to sit on our balcony and watch the jets do cool tricks and fly-bys. We also got to ride in a helicopter around Seoul for free through the military base! It was an incredible experience and such a great way to view the city.
Finally, we carved pumpkins and watched Charlie Brown. Mark did the Halo Game symbol and the Bat, I did the Jack-o-Lantern. It’s not Halloween for me if I can’t at least do those two things.
Overall, we had a fun month with a few new experiences and great new food!

November //
I’m so looking forward to Thanksgiving! This will be our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple, while he works that day, either we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving on another day or I’ll have Thanksgiving dinner cooked for when he gets home. I also can’t wait to start our Christmas celebrations as I am a Christmas fanatic.

How was your month and what are you looking forward to next month?

Talk to you soon!

Kylie <3