Friday, September 30, 2011


I'm in Georgia! Not much to say yet, except death to American Airlines and I love Turkish Airlines. I'm starving and can't wait for dinner at 8:00. Getting my program provided cell phone tonight too... not that I'll be calling anyone quite yet!

I'll just leave you with a photo from JFK airport....

Kimchi Ramen from a Korean food stand in the food court. It was so surreal, everyone around me was speaking Korean including 95% percent of the customers. I wasn't sure what language to use, but the woman taking orders was totally fluent in English... I hate those awkward situations where you want to show off but you feel like a fool... And the woman thought it was very funny that I ordered this dish... I have a feeling not too many westerners order this one...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Endeavors

Well, today is my last full day in America. As usual I'm way behind on posts... I even have a few more left from Korea. I'm hoping that with my 24 hour flight to Georgia (2 four hour layovers... who scheduled that???) I might get some blogging/ writing done. If I don't have internet, I could at least write something and post it later. I'm half done with two Korea posts and I have photos posted for a third... and another one planned in my head. I'm still blogging for the Korea blog, so I'd like to get something... never mind all my readers that may not care about reading about my other strange adventures.

My plane leaves tomorrow at 10:40 am... that means at least I get some sleep this time. Flying American Eagle (American Airlines) to NYC then Turkish Airlines the rest of the way to Georgia, transferring in Istanbul. I'm really not looking forward to flying. Hopefully this time I won't have some guy making fun of my fears sitting next to me on the flight like when I was flying home from Spain. Then again, maybe that's better than the time I freaked out the woman next to me by gripping the arm rests for half the flight and screaming when the plane lost a little altitude... You'd think I'd be used to flying by now....

Strangely, I'm not nervous at all (yet) about this new adventure. All I can think about right now is getting everything ready and flying. It's hard to worry about the situation in Georgia since I have no idea where I'll be placed. All I know is that when I arrive, I'll be in an orientation for 1 week studying Georgian, and learning about teaching methodology and who knows what else. Then I'll find out where I'm placed. Could be in the city, could be on a farm. It's hard to pack when you have no idea what the condtions are going to be. I could be using a squat toilet in an outhouse for 3 months... or I could be living in a modern apartment. I could be on top of a mountian in the snow, or I could be by the beach on the Black Sea.

Actually, I'm amazingly calm about this. People keep asking me where I'm going to be, and I keep telling them I have no idea. Apparently that would be a deal breaker for most people. But, I'm looking at this as an adventure, not a permanent move like with Korea, and therefore I am willing to accept whatever comes my way (I say this now...). It will probably do me good to use an outhouse. Millions of people around the world don't have access to things like indoor plumbing. It's time I join the crowd... at least for a little while. :-)

Anyhoo, next time you hear from me, it will probably be from Georgia, or at least en route. Look forward to more Korea posts and lots and lots about Georgia!

Update: I got a new look to go along with a new country... it's going to take some getting used to..  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Packing for Georgia

Packing to go to a new place is always so difficult.. hard to guess how the weather will be, hard to guess what will stick out like a sore thumb amongst the locals... I have been in e-mail contact with someone who lived there for a while and asked what I needed to bring. Of course, she said it all depended on where you are living, mountain vs. valley, city vs. country..... too bad you don't know where you'll be placed until you get there. Kind of like SMOE but on on a countrywide scale. it doesn't bother me too much not knowing. I'll only be there for less than 3 months... whatever it is, I think I can deal with it for 3 months... I hope. But, I would like to know what I should pack!

So, this is what I've packed so far:

3 sweatshirts
1 winter coat (not too thick, but with a hood and waterproof)
1 wool coat for fall
3 pairs of jeans (I'll wear one more on the plane, so I'll have 4 total)
2 pairs of dress pants (for work)
6 t-shirts/three quarter sleeved shirts (for fall)
8-9 shirts/sweaters (for winter)
1 set of long underwear (for unheated houses/classrooms in winter... lessons learned from Chile)
14 pairs of underwear
12 pairs of socks
1 pair of fuzzy socks (for cold houses)

One pair of dress shoes
One pair of flip flops

1 stick of deodorant
nail clippers
small bottle of lotion
1 bar of shampoo
1 small bar of soap

1 towel
4 facecloths (many people told me to bring baby wipes or wet naps to wash when I can't take a shower, but that seems very wasteful to me. I'm sure facecloths will be sufficient, and they are reusable)

And... a whole box of school supplies, mostly from my house which were left over from high school/college, plus some that the neighbors gave me that they picked up for dirt cheap when school supplies go on sale. From the sounds of it, the kids there will probably need them, if not the other teachers in my school.

Am I forgetting anything? I've still got 2 more days, I leave on Thursday!! :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

All About Hair

Ever since I decided I was going to Georgia last month I've been very concerned about one thing in particular. That is my hair. Why? Well, depending on where I end up living I could wind up only being able to take a shower once or twice a week. I may not even have warm water in my house. And this worries me, not because I'm concerned that I'm going to smell bad (besides, if no one else is taking a shower, who is really going to notice) but I'm very concerned about my hair. I'm not one of those girls who takes an hour every day to do my hair. I wash it, dry it and throw it up. But, my hair tends to be very greasy. Usually if I go longer than 24 hours with out washing... you can tell...
Now, I know it's not supposed to be healthy to wash your hair every day. Hairdressers and magazines always recommend only every 3 days or less if you can. It's not healthy to be pouring, basically, detergent on your hair every day. But, clearly my head is a shampoo addict and if I'm only going to be showering once a week, I decided this addiction my hair has needs to be stopped.

So, I just did a little google search, back after I got home from Spain and I found blog after blog spouting this "No-'Poo" fad. I hate the name because it sounds like something else, but 'poo stands for shampoo. There are a lot of people trying to go greener/ natural and cut out the use of commercial shampoos and conditioners. So, what to use? Baking soda and Apple Cider Vinegar. Yup, no joke. Apparently before dish detergent, people used to use baking soda to even wash dishes... so I guess it's not so far off. Cuts grease on pans and hair.

So, my theory: if I can get my hair off it's addiction to shampoo, I will be able to go longer without showering or washing my hair while in Georgia (and perhaps I can continue the hair washing trend once I leave as well if things are going well). So, Somewhere in mid-August I stopped shampooing my hair and I switched to, first, just baking soda. I mixed one table spoon of baking soda to one cup of water in an old shampoo bottle and just poured the mixture over my hair. The first thing I noticed was that there was no lather. It's like pouring water on your hair.. while in the shower. It was hard to believe it would do anything.

Making an herbal mixture: rosemary, nasturtium, marigold, chamomile etc.  

The first week I only used that baking soda mixture and nothing else. It didn't really seem to do a whole lot, my hair was always greasy, but that's what the blogs also said would happen. Your hair would revolt in protest to the lack of the shampoo and get super greasy. So, I kept trying and waiting. A week later I worked in an herbal rinse made of my own concoction of various herbs and flowers found in my garden. It didn't seem to help or hurt, but I'm still using that. Then about a week after that I started adding the apple cider vinegar to my hair (about 2 tablespoons to about a cup of water). I found that without the apple cider vinegar, after 2 weeks of just using the baking soda and the herbal stuff, my hair was much more stable and less greasy, but my hair was also very flat, stiff and always had just the slightest oily feel to it. The first day I added the apple cider vinegar to it it felt much more alive and soft to the touch, but since then, the apple cider has actually made it feel greasier and I've cut down a lot on using that.

Now, after a month, my hair is still not quite showing the results that the "no-poo" bloggers brag about. My hair nearly always needs to be kept in a bun because its flat and ugly and slightly greasy (to the touch, but is much less noticeable by others now).

My hair on a non-washed day a few weeks ago. Looks ok... but got to keep it in that bun..

Yesterday I got a hair cut. I planned on getting it really short so that there would be less hair that needed to be washed. I have very thick hair and I think part of the problem is that it's just hard for the baking soda mixture to reach every strand. But, the hair dresser was convinced that if she cut my hair any shorter than just above the shoulder that I would look ugly or something and so I have this cute but not nearly short enough cut now that's not really long enough to put up, but just long enough to be annoying. She shampooed it too, and today it feels so nice after being shampooed... so.. not greasy! I miss my old hair! Now, the experiment will be to see how long this hair can go without being washed again after getting a thorough cleaning yesterday. And to see how it looks since I can no longer put it up in a bun like before. This will be the real test.

 The new do- with an without a new hair band I bought that I hope will hide the grease later when needed...

Tibetan/ Himalayan Food: Himalaya Restaurant, Plattsburgh, NY

You know, I eat a lot of ethnic foods so it's hard to find something new for me to try nowadays. When I visited my friend in upstate New York, she told me she was bringing me to a Himalayan restaurant, so I expected something like Everest in Seoul; Nepalese food which is essentially the same as Indian cuisine. When I found out that they specialized in Tibetan and Bhutanese food (with just a few Nepalese options) I was immediately more curious about the place. I expected it to be much like the Nepalese food I'd had, but boy was I mistaken. We ordered four plates and shared everything so that we could get a good variety of dishes. We ordered three from their Tibetan selection and one from their Bhutanese selection.

Forgive me if I screw up some of the names of these dishes. I took a photo of the menu and I think I remember which one is which, but I could be off. Please correct me if so. Above, you can see the Phingsha. This is described as "Beef and potatoes sauteed with onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and slowly stewed in light rice vermicelli". The bread that comes along with it is called Drobuk which is a steamed flour dough bread.

The second dish here is Nhapta which is described as "Sliced pieces of meat sauteed with green peppers onions, tomato, ginger and garlic." Again, this is served with the steamed bread called Drobuk.

The last Tibetan dish we had was called Momo. "Coarsely chopped beef, onions, cilantro encased in flour dough and steamed." They claim that theirs is made the traditional way with coarse beef as opposed to other Tibetan restaurants in the US who serve it with ground beef. This is eaten by putting some of the cabbage on the side on the Momo and eating the two together.

This last dish came from the Bhutanese selection. It looks like curry, but in fact, it tastes nothing like the sort. It is called Emma Dasi and is described as "mildly sauteed peppers garnished with tomatoes, onions and fresh cheese." The disappointing part of this dish is that it does not contain the hot peppers which are usually added to Bhutanese food. The menu clearly explains that they do not include the hot peppers because they do not feel that we are able to eat spicy food, but if you call ahead, they can prepare it with spicy peppers if you desire. But, despite the lack of spice it was delicious. I expected a curry flavor to it, but there was none, just a very creamy, rich taste.

As this was my first time to try Tibetan food, I can't really make any judgements as to it's authenticity, but I can say that I loved what I had. I'm trying to find a Tibetan restaurant in the Boston area, and there are a few, but they all seem very overpriced and have mixed reviews. Himalaya Restaurant had everything a person can ask for. Great food, great prices, friendly staff and a great ambiance. The whole meal came to less than $50.00 for the four dishes, including tax. Portion sizes are very reasonable here. You go home feeling satisfied, but not stuffed and no need to take home leftovers. An oddity in a restaurant in America.

78 Margaret St
Plattsburgh, NY 12901

(518) 772-7034
Mon – Sat: 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
5:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stowe, Vermont

After much deliberation on where to take the boyfriend for a getaway while he was in the states, I finally decided upon Stowe, Vermont. It's a rather overpriced, touristy town, but that's probably because it is really beautiful up there.

Stowehof Inn

After much searching for an affordable place to stay, I found Stowehof Inn just outside of town. They have a "Thriftsaver" special that is $89.00 including tax and fees. That is about $30.00 cheaper than any other place I could find online in the area and so I went with them. And I was very happy with the choice. There were some complaints on Yelp and tripadvisor about the place having small rooms or the place looking too old and dated, but neither of these bothered me in the least. I loved the charm of the place and frankly, two people can only occupy so much space. Maybe living in Korea made me less attune to the size of rooms, it was plenty big enough for the two of us. Probably the same size as our bedroom in Seoul, but with a much prettier view out the window and a bathtub in the bathroom. I was also excited to see the pool and jacuzzi. Perhaps I made the mistake of going into the jacuzzi first, though, because after that I could not even get into the pool, it felt numbingly cold. Next time I'll remember to do pool first, then jacuzzi. But, who can complain about only getting to sit in the jacuzzi. And since we were there mid-week, there was no one around to bother us, we had the whole place to ourselves.

I didn't know that pancake eating etiquette was something that needed to be taught...

We planned to take the toll road up to the top and climb up to a peak of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest mountain, but when we got there, the road was closed (it was open later when we passed by though, maybe we were there too early?) and so we went over to Stowe Ski Resort and climbed a trail to the top of the ski hill. It was a good little hour and a half hike to the top on the switchback trail. The folks who took the gondola up to the top were very impressed that we walked it... I guess that says something about American ajummas and ajosshis. We didn't see anyone else hiking the whole time we were there. It wasn't a very hard hike up, though down we wanted to see what their black diamond trails were like and so we hiked down one. Probably not the wisest idea, especially less than two weeks after all the flooding in Vermont from hurricanes and then other storms. We slid down a few places because boy was it steep, but we survived and weren't even in tooo much pain the next day.

After that, the boyfriend wanted to make sure he didn't bring his golf clubs to America for nothing, so we found him a golf course to check out. He wanted to play on the nice course in Stowe at the resort, but they weren't open for some reason and so we found the only other course open to the public that we could find. It's called Blush Hill Country Club in Waterbury. It was a bit rinky-dink, but the people were very friendly and he played 18 holes for $20 or something. He was very excited on his last hole, he made his very first Eagle. He was jumping up and down and everyone around congratulated him.

After that, we ate dinner and played mini-golf (his first time ever). Turns out, while his swing may be millions of times better than mine on the golf course, my putting is pretty even with his. We were more or less tied throughout the game until he lost his ball in the dark on the last hole making me the winner of the game! Small victories...

The next morning, before heading to Burlington, we stopped in Waterbury again to check out some of the stores. First we went to Cabot's outlet store of sorts, and we tried samples of all their cheeses. That's a lot of cheese... there are a lot of flavors that don't make it on to normal supermarket shelves. Like Habanero Cheese and Tomato and Basil Cheese and Chipotle.

After we were full on cheese, we checked out Lake Champlain Chocolate's store next door, but they (fortunately) had only one sample to offer. From there, what goes better with cheese and chocolate, but wine? We did a wine tasting down the road next door to the Cider Mill for $1 each and tried 5 or 6 different wines.

Overall, we had a lovely time in Stowe, our only complaint was the prices of meals in the area. Eating in Burlington... or anywhere else in Vermont is much cheaper!

Adventures in Boston

The Boyfriend arrived last Friday and so for our first full day together, Saturday, we took the day to explore the city.

First was lunch in Chinatown which perhaps seems odd, as I should be introducing American food to him, but both of our favorite cuisines are anything Asian, so we checked out one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants and got ourselves some pho and crispy noodles.

From there we walked through the Boston Commons and the Public Gardens and made our way through Beacon Hill, where Boston’s famed red brick district which everyone had told him he needed to check out. It was a little underwhelming for him, though, seeing as how most houses in Korea are also made of brick. He didn’t see what the big deal was…

From there we walked down to the Charles River and checked out the boat dock. We decided that Sunday we would rent a kayak and go out on the river, but when we returned the next day, ready to get out on the water, it turned out that the boathouse was closed for a 9/11 event nearby. We were quite disappointed.

Anyway, after checking out the boat dock we walked back to Fanuil Hall and walked through Haymarket, Boston’s outdoor vegetable and fruit market. He was so astounded by the cheap prices of some fruit that we bough seven oranges for $1.00 just because we could.

From there we walked through the North End, Boston’s Italian district, and found ourselves at Old North Church, the church made famous in the poem The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. That whole part about one if by land and two if by sea refers to the signal lit from the church tower as a signal warning of the British troops advances, one light if they advanced by land and two if they took boats across the Charles River.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What's Next?

So, perhaps some of my readers are wondering what on earth I'm doing, if I'm returning to Korea or if I'm just going to spend the rest of my life just kicking around 미국 bored and gaining weight from sitting in front of a computer and eating out way too often. Well, I finally have an official plan. I may have alluded to it long ago, but I have had so many disappointments in the past year I've been waiting until I got the official acceptance letter before I made the news public.

I have been accepted to the program called "Teach and Learn Georgia", a volunteer teaching program in the Republic of Georgia. I will be teaching there from approximately September 30th until December 23rd, basically one semester. It's a program that places English teachers (from any nationality as long as they are fluent in English) in local schools in Georgia. Not only are you expected to teach, but you are also expected to integrate into the community. Teachers are placed in Georgian homes with host families to encourage them to learn the language and the culture. I'm sure it helps the English of the hosts as well.

The program is pretty excellent, for a volunteer program. "Volunteers" receive round trip airfare,  health insurance and a stipend of 500 GEL ($300 by today's exchange rate). 100 GEL of that is paid to the host family, leaving you with 400 GEL ($240) for living expenses. The stipend sounds very low, perhaps, but it is much higher than a typical local person's salary, and therefore should be plenty to get by on even with some local travel in the region. And the thing that attracted me was the fact that you didn't have to sign a year contract. I'm already itching to go back to Korea, but I think I need a little change of pace for a while. Three months is perfect I think, though who knows how I'll feel once I get there...

I think most people couldn't find Georgia on a map if they tried, so I'll give you a little help. It's south of Russia and north of Turkey and Armenia. Perhaps you heard about them because there was a war there in 2008 with Russia. One region has essentially broken away from the country and Russia supported their succession waging a 5 day battle with Georgia. Things seem to have settled down for the most part in the country and they are now trying to quickly improve the economy to encourage more tourists to visit. From the sounds of it, a lot of corruption that once existed has been stamped out and the country is developing. Oh, and apparently some people claim that it is the birthplace of wine, which is certainly another incentive to check this place out.

(It's the dark brown one on the left hand side)

I'm really excited for something new and COMPLETELY different from anywhere else I've ever been, but I'm really sad too that I'm delaying my return to Korea. The boyfriend was here all week and we had a great time in Boston and Vermont. It makes me sad that I will not see him now for over 3 months. I'm hoping to return to Korea early January (if anyone knows of any awesome non-kindy jobs in central Seoul starting around then, please hook me up!) so fear not, my loyal followers, I'm not done with my Korean adventures. I hope that you continue to read as I explore a new part of the world. Maybe I'll even inspire one or two of you to make a trip to Georgia yourselves.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Crane's Beach and the Town of Essex

My first week back from Spain, we took a trip to Crane's Beach in Ipswich, MA. We spent a few hours on the beach, then headed into Essex to explore a little.

We stopped by this farm on the way out and checked out their lovely shop. They made their own wines, and they didn't just have the typical, but any flavor wine you can imagine: Red Currant, Rhubarb, Strawberry, Peach, Blueberry. We bought a blueberry wine and a dandelion wine.

You never know what you're going to see at these farm stands... just as we were leaving, these turkeys came running out of no where!

We got lunch at Farnham's Famous Clams. We had to get a platter of fried clam bellies! Don't they look delicious? And then we ate them outside in front of these salt marshes (photo above)

Essex, well, the entire North Shore I'd say, is famous for their antique shops. As we had some time to kill, we couldn't help but stop at a few. My mom likes stopping because she can see all the things we have in our house and how much they are being sold for, and I like them because they make nice photo ops.

Printing Press Blocks

Old stuff


Raggedy Ann and Andy

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Punjab Cafe: Quincy, MA

Papadum and Samosa

I went to Punjab Cafe last Friday after reading good reviews on Yelp about the place.  I immediately spotted their "Special Dinner for Two" option and jumped on it. A four course meal for only $16 a peice is nothing to sneeze at!
Heer Ranjha (Dinner for Two) ..................... ..................
Choice of soup or vegetable samosa, papadum, choice of two vegetable curries, rice, two nans, raita and gulab jamun or kheer.

Malai Kofta

 Samosas were delicious, papadum was to be expected. Raita also very nice, though I never know the correct way of eating the stuff.... As for the curries, the malai kofta was delicious as always, but the chana masala was a bit lacking in the flavor department. We got the galub jamun for desert. I'd never had this before and so I'm not really sure what to say about this one. Neither of us were a big fan of this, a little sweet, but not quite sweet enough I think.

Chana Masala



gulab jamun

Punjab Cafe
653 Southern Artery,
Quincy, MA 02169,
Tel/Fax: (617) 472-4860 or 4889

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

China Pearl: Dim Sum in Boston

Usually when I go to eat dim sum in Boston, I go to Hei La Moon, but when I told my friend they served chicken feet she got some cold feet of her own about going to try dim sum there. I had gotten recommendations to go to China Pearl from some of my non-Asian friends for dim sum. I wasn't sure if that meant it was going to be less authentic, but I thought I'd give it a try. I was very pleased to find out that, while I didn't see any chicken feet, this place was still very authentic. (Just to explain my criteria for authenticity, since I am no dim sum expert, there was a waiting line at the door and we were among the very few non-Asians here. Seems to be a huge hit with the folks in Chinatown for weekend brunch.)

I felt that the options here were much more varied then Hei La Moon (despite the lack of chicken feet on the particular day that I went). They had a huge variety of dumplings! 

I loved this pork dish, but my friend did not. Actually, it is very reminiscent of something I'd eat at an American style Chinese restaurant, but I loved the fact that it was served cold, which seemed to be the main deterrent against this dish for my friend. It reminded me of when I was in Nanjing and got some Chinese style roast beef served cold... also a big deterrent for the boyfriend as well. I guess people don't like cold meat. I, on the other hand, love it! 

This one was a bit luke warm and I don't think it was supposed to be. But, despite this, it was still fine (again, not being hot doesn't bother me) but it would have been better if we had gotten it hot off the frier.

But the best part of the meal was the steamed buns. I have searched everywhere for steamed buns since I was in Hong Kong (yea yea, I know the convenience stores serve them in Korea, but for some reason I'm kinda weirded out by anything cooked by a convenience store). These things were no where in sight at Hei La Moon, and unfortunately these babies came by just as we were finishing our meal and were feeling stuffed, but I had missed them so much I had to grab them. And oh were they good!

Overall I think I actually liked China Pearl better than Hei La Moon, although I think everyone should go there once for the experience. I found that nearly every dumpling at Hei La Moon had shrimp in it, where as here, though they had a lot of shrimp filled dumplings, they also had a lot of other options as well. I also saw some amazing tofu that I wanted to try, but there was just too much, it was impossible to get everything. Prices here were decent I'd say. We got these four dishes plus several others and the bill came to $27.00 for the two of us. Not bad I think! Anyone out there have an idea how to tip in these places? I feel like whatever I left on the table probably didn't go to the ladies walking around with the food carts.

Bunker Hill Monument

This monument is a tribute to the Battle of Bunker Hill, where the famous phrase "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" was popularized due to the colonist's lack of ammunition. Unfortunately, this battle's name is a bit of a misnomer as Bunker Hill is actually the next hill over. The battle mostly played out where the monument is located, on Breed's Hill. This is one of Boston's most famous landmarks located on the Freedom Trail in Charlestown across the Charles River from downtown Boston.

I was very excited to learn that the monument and adjacent museum is free to the public (though donations are accepted). The monument is 294 steps to the top observation area, so make sure you're in good shape. There's no room for stopping as the stairwell is exactly big enough for two people across, one going up, and one going down. And near the top, as the building tapers, two people passing do need to squish a little bit to the side. Claustrophobics beware!

Finally we reached the top and were rewarded with a beautiful view of Boston.

When we came down, we were lucky enough to catch a musket firing demonstration. I'm always a sucker for anyone dressed up in traditional dress, even in my own country! (It's a little known fact that I used to be one of those people who dressed up like colonial people or frontier people in those recreation villages. Yes, that was my dream job until probably high school)

After that, we took a walk through some backstreets of Charlestown and found ourselves at the U.S.S Constitution or as we Bostonians lovingly refer to as "Old Iron Sides" alluding to battles during the war of 1812 when cannon balls were said to bounce off her hulls. The admission prices nowadays to get onto the ship are a bit steep, but you can still see her from the outside in the Navy Yard.