Sonntag, 1. März 2015

10 most memorable stories

6 weeks and 3 days have passed since I arrived back home in Germany, and it seems forever.

During the 10 months prior to coming home I have seen so many places, been touched by so many hearts, and yet after being back for such a short time it feels as if none of this has actually happened. Honestly, it's just surreal to think I've been strolling down 5th ave 7 weeks ago or playing roulette in Vegas just 8 weeks ago. And a month earlier, I was baking in the sun in Fiji and exploring the terrain of Tom Hanks' "Castaway". But this all actually happened.
And during those 10 months in which I've grown more than I ever have the 19 years prior to the journey, opened my eyes (funny cause I'm Asian), and learned what living really means, NOTHING has changed back home. Literally. Nothing.
Yes, of course, people have new girlfriends and boyfriends, someone's grandma might have passed away, some road constructions have finally finished, and my old school mates have new jobs.  *Such wow. Many amazing.*

But instead of describing to you all how horrible and despressed I (am supposed to) feel, constantly dwelling in surreal memories, I will let you be part of the most memorable things that I have come across during those 10 months that I know for sure happened to me.
The numeration doesn't actually correlate with the importance or awesomeness of these following events. While some of them might seem boring to you (because I've already blogged or told you about them), others may seem way more personal, interesting or scary, but they're pretty much all equally awesome.

1. Finding Elke and taking her to the top of Mt Stuart by sunrise

The story of Elke is the story of a special friend. She was once bought by my brother Wayne, who had been in Australia for 6 months in 2013.
When Julie and I first arrived in Cairns, we checked into Corona Backpackers where Wayne had been staying previously, and where he had left Elke, because he couldn't take her on the plane. She was still sitting in the same room where he had left her a year back, and were surprised to find her scratchless and beautiful as ever. Elke had no idea that her second journey had just begun. We kept her in our car for weeks and showed her everything the Australian East Coast had to offer. The most wonderful time we spent with her was at 5:30am on top of Mount Stuart in Townsville, where we got to witness the sunrise together.
Finally, we had to say farewell to Elke, when we got to Agnes Water, because we couldn't bear her anymore. She took up too much space in the back of our car (where we slept) so that we'd have to squeeze in order to fit in. We left her in the hands of Cool Bananas hostel, where she is happily resting to this day.

2. The Dungeon

The Dungeon {duhn-juh n}: A smelly, stuffy hostel room in Brisbane's Citybackpackers that holds 30 people in bunk beds, lacks windows, and frequently has people's stuff stolen from.
And my home for about two weeks that I shared with 29 other people. We became like a big, gross family, and even did yoga together.

3. Buying and sleeping in Gregan + driving on the left side of the road

Our first very own car! Our first very own home! Yep, we even slept in the back of the car every night for 5 weeks. It is supposedly not very legal to do so, but as long as you don't get caught, you're all good. Julie and I bought the Mitsubishi Magna Wagon off of two German girls in Cairns, who had named the car 'Gregan'. We had a great time with her, except for the last couple months, where we tried to sell her and nobody wanted her, so that I ended up selling her to a shady construction worker on Gumtree (Australia's Craigslist/Ebay Kleinanzeigen) for $300.

4. Cutting my hair

One of the less pretty memories is the one of my weird decision to suddenly get all my hair cut off by a transgender in Bangkok (it was hot and my hair was down to my butt). No hate for trans people, but for people that don't know how to cut hair and call themselves hairstylists while charging you triple the price of a usual hair salon in Bangkok. I guess the language barrier played a big role as well. Maybe she thought 'a long bob with volume just like Jessica Szohr's hair' (even showed her a picture) really meant 'an afro that looks like a dust mop'. Because that's what I looked like afterwards. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but eventually Julie and I cracked up laughing while almost dying in the taxi on the way back to our hotel.
Luckily, I got my hair fixed by the amazing Kristen Bramble later in Mackay.

SADLY I don't have any more picture of the mess that was my hair before Kristen fixed it. Julie might have some photos to blackmail me, though.

5. Losing my phone in KL and finding one in Mackay

Minutes after Julie and I arrived at the Kuala Lumpur airport and got our baggage, I had my iPhone stolen. I was bawling for having lost my pictures and memories on the phone, especially from the trip so far. So Julie and I made it our mission to find another phone for me in Kuala Lumpur within the next couple days. And we did! But in order to get it, we had to go through the hassle of dealing with a Malaysian creep in his late 30's that would only sell us the phone if we gave him our Skype-usernames, because we said we 'didn't have facebook'. (Of course we didn't give him our real Skype usernames, but something like 'hotgermangirl20').

Ironic enough, a couple weeks later I found an iPhone on the ground while clubbing with Julie and Krista in Mackay. After thinking, whether this was karma or a test, I decided to hand it to security and forever think about that decision.

6. Adventures in New Zealand

Some of the coolest things I've EVER done was the skydive in Abel Tasman and my swim with wild dolphins in Kaikoura. I won't elaborate on these, because everyone is probably already sick of hearing of people's skydives and adventures, but in case you aren't, there's a video of my skydive on my facebook.

7. Picking up Helge from McCarran airport

I hadn't seen my boyfriend in almost 9 months, when I picked him up from the airport in Las Vegas on December 21st. It was just a surreal, magical moment. I love you!

8. Gaining 10 pounds in Vegas

Gaining weight is shit, but gaining it because you eat at a different restaurant every single day is amazing. After having ate a loooot of pasta and cheap tomato sauce during my time in Oz and NZ, I was relieved to arrive at my aunt's place in Las Vegas. She spoiled me by letting me use her car all the time,  feeding me, taking me to hotels, casinos and concerts, and so on! I'm so grateful to have such a loving family.

 Something else I NEED to mention are my cousin Hye-Youn's wings. She makes the world's best chicken wings and I'm not even exaggerating. She could probably open up a business with those wings.

9. Seeing the Mulligans again after almost 3 years

As most of you may already know, I was an exchange student in Arizona for a year during 2011/2012 and was lucky to be staying with Toni, Mark, Tara, and Collin. During summer 2013 Collin and Allie travelled through Europe and stopped by Germany, meeting my family and seeing my favorite spots in our region. For Christmas 2014, Helge (my boyfriend) and I were invited to spend the holidays with the Mulligans in Tempe, Arizona, which is when I finally got to see everyone again after 2,5 years. Will visit again soon!!!

10. Meeting Lucas

In Thailand, one of our first stops, we started talking to a guy in front of the travelshop 'Lomprayah' in Bangkok. He had a ukulele and spoke German with his friends, and since we hadn't met many Germans in Bangkok (and thought that guys with ukuleles must be fun), we started chatting to him and his friends. We were all waiting for a bus to pick us up and take us to 'Chumporn', a port in the South of the country, where a catamaran would take us to the island 'Koh Tao'. Thus, we had a little over half an hour to chat with the guys, and eventually realized that they were living in Wiesbaden, which is pretty close to where we are from in Germany, and the city that I used to work in.
When Julie mentioned her hometown 'Nastätten', the ukulele-guy Lucas said that he used to live in a town called 'Holzhausen', right next to Julie's hometown. Funny enough, the village of Holzhausen (population of 1,000) is where I am from. As we excitedly continued chatting about our childhoods in Holzhausen, our minds were blown when we later found out that my brother Wayne and I had been at Lucas' 5th birthday party when we were little. Lucas knew that there still existed a picture of him and Wayne ('that little Korean boy'), so he e-mailed his father to scan it and send it to him. We exchanged our facebook names, and I received a picture a couple days later. Ironically, there's a globe in it.

This just goes to show how small this world actually is.

Dienstag, 20. Januar 2015

Any traveller will relate to this blogpost

Travel Stories by Ratchel Miller

"I have fallen in love with the ocean many times over. I think of the ocean in Croatia and the crystal clear blue waters, the time spent swimming with two good friends on our first adventure together. The salt drying on our skin and hair, like a layer of armor, shielding us from the bad in the world and making us invincible as we explored a strange and foreign land"

It makes me want to go back to living out of a backpack so badly.

Mittwoch, 14. Januar 2015

Reykjavik, Iceland

11.01.2015 - 14.01.2015
Officially my very last stop before going back to Germany on the morning of the 14th. WEEEEIRD!

Reykjavik wasn't anything like I expected it to be. Sure, it was cold, though not as cold as NYC. But I thought it would be a little bigger. I guess I should have known, due to Iceland's total population (of the whole country!) being only a bit over 320,000. That's less than the population of any major city in Germany. 
And Reykjavik, the capitol, inhabits about one third of Iceland's people. Yeah, it's tiny!

I think the city itself does have its charm with all the cute little cafes and Scandinavian design shops, but it is just so extremely expensive that it wasn't too enjoyable for me here. Another aspect I just wasn't lucky with, was my Couchsurfing host, who was blasting 90's techno music 24/7 whilst playing WoW and constantly smoking in the living room, where I was sleeping. Not only that, but the whole apartment was just a dirty mess, and the only cute thing about it was his cat. If it wasn't for my laziness and me only being there at night anyway, I would have definitely moved to a hostel.

Aaaanyway, I spent my days either chilling at the Blue Lagoon or sitting at cafes composing blog posts, since I was done sightseeing after two hours.

Here are some of my few shots of Iceland.

Reykjavik city.

The kitty.

Blue Lagoon. A great spot to relax, but all in all a bit overpriced, just like everything in Iceland. The entry alone was about 35€, and I spent an extra 15€ for the rental of a robe, plus 20€ for food/drinks, and about 25€ for the transport to the Lagoon and back.

Once this blog post is posted, I will already be back home in Germany. Crazyyyyy.


07.01.2015 - 10.01.2015

New York City. Center of the universe.
I haven't been in this city in 9 years, thus I could not remember too much of it and felt like I definitely needed to freshen up my memories.
During my short stay here in NYC, Helen, a friend of my cousin's, let me stay with her in Fort Lee, which is New Jersey (not NY!), but still close enough to the city due to its proximity to the George Washington Bridge.

I guess the city awoke my intrinsic love for culture, since I couldn't help but stop by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art (FAVORITE!). Sadly, I do not have good quality pictures of the latter, due to it being a spontaneous visit, but I hope my iPhone selfies will do. Also, I feel like a lot of these pictures are pretty much self-explanatory. So don't mind my lack of headlines.

Central Park

It was freezing. -7 degrees Celsius. Seriously. It ended up being colder in NYC than in Iceland. 

The Met.

Times Square

9/11 Memorial

Empire State Building

Ice Rink at the Rockefeller Center.

Rene Magritte's The Empire Of Lights at the Museum of Modern Art

Frida Kahlo

My first selfie with a painting. Aw yeah. Not just any painting.

Dienstag, 13. Januar 2015

Christmas in Tempe

After two and a half (almost three) long years, I finally saw my second family again. For those of you who don't know, I've been staying with the Mulligans in Tempe, Arizona during my year abroad as an exchange student in 2011-2012. For Christmas 2014, they generously invited Helge and I over to join them in their Xmas celebrations.
It was so good seeing their faces again! If you're reading this: Thank you so much for having us over, for the Christmas presents, and for Toni's amazing meals!

(I stole this picture off of Collin's facebook.)

Getting sentimental driving by MdN high school.

Gammage Theater in downtown Tempe

Mill Ave!!

Soooo good seeing all your beautiful faces again! I miss you!!!

Las Vegas, Sedona, Grand Canyon

06.12.2014 - 06.01.2015

So this was it. I had officially taken a step back into 'normal' life. No more living out of a backpack, no more flip flops in bathrooms (aw yeah), no more unpacking and repacking every couple days. For now - I still had NYC and Iceland to conquer.
Don't get me wrong; I loved finally seeing my aunt, cousin, uncle, BUT it just felt weird to not have to worry about or organize anything anymore. Seeing it from a different angle, it was definitely luxury to be staying with my aunt, in my own bed, being able to use my aunt's car everyday. I can't express how thankful I am to have such a great family, who takes care of me and makes me feel welcome no matter what.

I did not take many pictures on my DSLR at all, thus I included a lot of iPhone pictures in this post. Don't mind the quality of some of the pictures that, by the way, I posted in no particular order.

If I were to post all of my pictures I shot in Vegas, I'd mostly post pictures of food. Good food. That I had plenty of in Vegas. So here, have a couple pictures of food (and drinks).

A trip to Vegas (or anywhere in the SW of USA) would be incomplete without IN-N-OUT. It's honestly the food that I've been looking forward to the most during my whole trip.

Caesar's Palace

HIGHLIGHT. Having Helge back with me, since he visited me in Vegas for 10 days. This picture was taken at The Range in Vegas, where Vince took us shooting.

Maroon 5 concert at Mandalay Bay

NYE at Vince's and Kasia's place in Vegas.

Mandalay Bay

Auntie's favorite boy



The Grand Canyon

Hoover Dam

My favorite toddler. Little Quinnie, the cutest quarter Korean baby.

2014, 2012, 2009