My World Tour

Recently I made a list of all the places I would like to see in the next ten years. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be awesome if I could plan my own world-tour and do a trip across the globe on my way out of Asia (whenever that may be).  I decided to make my fictional world trip plan and thought I would share some of my top spots with you, with a little bit of why I chose the places I chose. Starting with Asia since that’s where I’d be leaving from, let’s get going!


~ Jeju island, Korea

Korea’s beautiful island that almost every expat in Korea wants to see before they leave. Tickets to fly there are only around $60 if it’s not peak season. I’m told 3-4 days on the island is enough to soak up the beauty, beaches, museums and food. I will be going there sometime this year, if things go according to plan.

Jeju island, Korea.

Jeju island, Korea.

~ Cambodia

Specifically Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world that has been around since the 9th century. It was once hindu and later became a place of buddhist worship. As of today, the temple grounds are being slowly destroyed by banyan trees, or strangler fig trees, as well as natural erosion in the earth. The temple may not be around forever so I need to get there and touch one of those monster trees. Watch a short clip on the strangler figs here.

~ Shanghai, China

Reading “Shanghai” by David Rotenberg made me want to see what old parts of Shanghai can still be seen. The book follows an integral group of people for over four generations,  telling the story of how they help to develop and protect their city through it’s many metamorphoses (thanks Dad for the book recommendation!).

The Chinese movie “Rouge” staring Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui also drew me towards Shanghai. The movie is about a woman who died in Shanghai in the ‘30s and returns as a ghost in the ‘80s to a Shanghai she no longer knows. Watch the movie trailer here.

~ Beijing, China

There is just so much history in Beijing, I feel the need to go there and touch the walls and smell the trees. Even if it’s only for 2 days, I feel drawn there. Also my friend Pam lives in Beijing and I hope to see her there too.

~ Northern Japan

I saw parts of the south but would like to continue exploring. 5 days was not enough.

Aomori, Northern Japan.

Aomori, Northern Japan.


~ Madrid and Barcelona, Spain

Like Japan, I got to see the south of Spain, but have heard beautiful things about the more northern cities. I spent just under 2 weeks in Spain and managed a few southern cities, Portugal and Morocco. There simply was not enough time.

Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona, Spain.

~ Portugal

Again. 4 days was not enough – I wasn’t finished!  The people in Portugal were so kind, they blew me away. I felt welcomed and safe in that country and truly cannot wait until I see those beautiful people and places again.

~ France

~ Norway

~ Sweden

Capital city of Oslo, Norway.

Capital city of Oslo, Norway.

All of these I want to see just because. Norway because my last name is said to have Norwegian heritage so I would like to explore my viking roots.

South America

~ Mexico

~ Ecuador

~ Guatemala

The streets of Quito, Ecuador.

The streets of Quito, Ecuador.

Beautiful Guatemala.

I have been drawn to South America for over 10 years now and am sad to say I haven’t made it over there, not even for a one-week vacation in Mexico. I tried to teach and live there many years ago but at the time, the conditions were not working in my favour and it was not recommended to go there alone (being a woman) to start the expat life. That dream is still with me though, so one day…


~ Seattle

The home of rock legends Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. I must pay homage to my left-handed guitar gods! Some people have Graceland…I have Seattle.

~ New York

I went to NY when I was around 9 years old and all I can remember is that my aunt lived on a street called Flushing, which I found hilarious at the time, and the fact that it looked just like the streets of Toronto. I would like a more vivid memory to replace those ones.

~ Chicago

Again. I went for only 48 hours but it felt like such a cool city be a part of. I would like to go back properly and not do a drive-by this time. There is so much to see and eat! Nom nom nom.

~ Arizona

This state was not brought to my attention until I met a pretty little lady named Morgan who lived and worked in Korea with me. She became my friend and told me many stories about her life in the desert. Since half of my family grew up in New Mexico, I’ve been to NM many times and the desert feels like a second home to me. I would love to explore what lies west of the New Mexico border. Morgan will be heading back to the U.S. soon so if she stays in AZ, I’d love to see here there too!

The legend. Mr. Jimi Hendrix.

The legend. Mr. Jimi Hendrix.




On this fantastical world trip as I head back to my own continent, there is much to see in my own backyard. I’ve already seen British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec, but it’s the east coast that calls me now.

~ Newfoundland

~ Prince Edward Island

~ Nova Scotia

~ New Brunswick


Capital city of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I went to New Brunswick when I was around 10 and like New York, my memories are small and fragmented. I remember soft grass that was the greenest of greens, damp, fresh air that smelled like the sea and the bluest sky I had ever seen. I would like to expand on that memory and make new ones.

P.E.I., Canada.

P.E.I., Canada.

The east coast is a beautiful part of my country that many of us often take for granted. We mid-western (city) folk sometimes tease the east coasters for living the simple life, still farming and fishing, living a bit closer to the earth than we do, and for their noticeable east coast accents. Truth be told, that part of Canada is absolutely breathtaking and holds many natural wonders as well as a look at the way Canada used to be. The people are solid, salt-of-the-earth people who would give you the shirt off their back and take you home for dinner. It is that side of Canada that I want to know better. It’s like having extended cousins who you know are awesome but you’ve never had the chance to meet. Well I’ll tell you now, when I get back home, there will be many trips out east for this wanderer.

That brings my fictional world tour plan to an end Dear Readers. Hope you enjoyed.

Korean Cooking Class

My friend Laura set us up with an awesome company called the Food and Culture Academy where we could learn to cook Korean cuisine in English. Our teacher, Ellie Hyewon Lee, is a professional food stylist with over 10 years of teaching and cooking experience. Her company is also a food consultant for Korean TV shows and dramas, so we were in good hands and eager to soak up some knowledge.

Here’s a look at the kitchen and our prep table:

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The class began with introductions, then straight to cooking. We started off by making haemul pajeon (해물파전) which means seafood pancake.


Once our haemul pajeon was mixed and ready, it was set aside as we began to prepare the makings of dalk galbi (닭갈비) which is a spicy, stirfried chicken dish. Galbi actually means the ribs of the chicken, which is how it used to be made but nowadays, people just dice up a deboned chicken to avoid the hassle of picking out the bones later. First we made the spicy red sauce which is the base of the recipe, then added the chicken and veggies and mixed it all in the sauce.

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After both dishes were ready for some heat, we turned around and went to the stoves. First cooking up our haemul pajeon like a big delicious pancake, then frying up the dalk galbi.


The pajeon.


The dalk galbi.


Finished product! Laura and I admire our work.

Once that was sorted, we took some photos like proud parents of our food babies, then mowed down on our creations.


Proud parents from left to right: friends Erin, Lucy, Laura, Chef Ellie, myself and Sarah.

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After lunch, if you like, you can try on some traditional Korean dresses, called hanboks, for 5,000 won (approx. $5) and take some photos in front of beautiful Korean scenery. Although there were no men with us, there are costumes for the men to wear as well.


Laura in royal palace attire and myself in everyday wear.


Sarah and I in everyday hanboks of the time.

For the ladies with bigger chests, they do have bigger sizes of hanboks to wear so don’t worry about being left out of the photo shoot. You may not get your choice of colour (I was dizzy from all that pink) but it was a cool experience and much cheaper than going to one of the traditional villages or specialty hanbok renting places. It was a great way to wrap up our afternoon of learning about traditional culture and culinary secrets.

For those in Korea who would like to check this out, the Food and Culture Academy is near Gyeoungbokgung station (line 3), exit 3 if you’re taking the subway. The academy is also near Gyeoungbokgung palace and the Korean president’s home, called the Blue House. The class runs from about 11am-1pm so there’s lots of time to enjoy the neignborhood once you’re done cooking. Aside from English and Korean, classes are also offered in Japanese so click here if you want to book a session.

My Apartment in Korea

Many people have asked about what it’s like to live in Korea. Some even ask if we have running water and proper grocery stores. The answer is yes to both, and I’ll throw in the fact that we have awesome floor heating, gas stoves, fridges, air-conditioners and beds. Although some expats teaching out here do get assigned to rural communities out in “the sticks,” Korea overall is indeed a first world country. All over Korea you can find McDonald’s, Burger King, the odd Taco Bell, Subway sandwich shops, Starbucks, a Costco here and there, not to mention Indian restaurants, Thai restaurants and amazing dollar stores from Japan called Daiso.

To paint a better picture of what an average town like mine is like, I’m preparing a two-part photo series on the life of an expat in Korea, outside of Seoul. I say outside of Seoul because I live in the neighboring province of Gyeonggi-do, so I’ll be taking photos of where I live. Plus there is lots of information available on Seoul as it’s the capital city, so why not spread some awareness on life outside the capital?

My humble town of Deokso is not cool or happening in any way, but it works for me and has everything I need. By “cool,” I mean, there is no nightlife, no local watering hole for foreigners to gather, even though there are five or six of us foreigners in this town. When we expats want to hang out, we usually meet for dinner at a number of restaurants available in Deokso or we jump on the subway as we do have a subway station too. In town, we have Korean restaurants a-plenty of course, but also a McDonalds, a Baskin Robbins, a Dunkin Doughnuts, a Thai restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, lots of fried chicken joints and countless cafes.

For nightlife, we tend to make our own. A few subway stops west of Deokso is a bigger city called Guri, where more of a foreign community exists. We often congregate there or somewhere in between all our little towns and do group dinners and drinks, sometimes wrapping up the night in a karaoke room, called “norae bangs,” where you can rent a room and sing your heart out with your friends. So even if your neighborhood is lacking in social activities, there is usually a community in a bigger, neighboring city that you can easily get to, so don’t worry if you’ve taken a job in a random town. As long as your town has a subway station, you’re not too much in the sticks and you’ll be fine. Unless of course, you’re looking for the rural experience, then by all means, go for it :)

Anyway, moving off the streets and back into the home, allow me to begin part 1 of the photo series by showcasing my humble rooftop apartment.

My rooftop patio and washing machine. No room for it inside. Fun in the winter!

My rooftop patio and washing machine. No room for it inside. Fun in the winter!

The view from my front door.

The view from my front door.

You can see my front door to the left. As you walk in, you are in the kitchen/livingroom.

You can see my front door to the left. As you walk in, you are in the kitchen.

Across from the kitchen, is the bathroom.

Across from the kitchen, is the bathroom.

You'll notice the showerhead just hanging with no confined walls. The whole bathroom is the shower!

You’ll notice the showerhead just hanging with no confined walls keep the water in. The whole bathroom is the shower!

With your back to the kitchen; the livingroom and entrance to the bedroom. Love those big windows!

With your back to the kitchen; the livingroom and entrance to the bedroom. Love those big windows!

With your back to the front door; the rest of the livingroom.

With your back to the front door; the rest of the livingroom.

The bedroom.

The bedroom.

Wonderfully tacky giant flower stickers. Apparently very popular 5-6 years ago. Some still exsist in stores, sadly. Only the sunflowers survived.

Wonderfully tacky giant flower stickers. Apparently very popular 5-6 years ago. Some still exsist in stores, sadly. Only the sunflowers survived my renovations.

This random act of cuteness had me cracking up. Who wants to wipe their butts with puppies?!? Really.

This random act of cuteness had me cracking up. Who wants to wipe their butts with puppies?!? Really.


The view from street level, as requested. It’s not too pretty!

This type of building they call a "villa." I'm up top on the fourth floor.

This type of building they call a “villa.” I’m up top on the fourth floor.

I’ll be joining another cooking class this weekend, so stay tuned for those results next week!