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Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.

Ever Evolving Primate: Travel, photography, food, cooking, and just about anything else.: December 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: IT'S OVER!!!

2011 was a great year. It was also a pretty tumultuous year, I mean, hell, we moved HALF WAY AROUND THE WORLD. While there's plenty to be thoughtful and write about for this year...and I'm sure I will...I think the best obligatory year end blog type for this year is a list. The top 11 awesome things that happened in 2011.

1. I got engaged to the most beautiful and awesome lady on the the solar system...the universe...and any parallel universes.

Right there, on that couch, in that lounge, at the Incheon International Airport. On the way to Bali. Perfect way to start an awesome vacay.

2. We went to Bali.

Bali is all at once the most beautiful and mysterious place that I've ever been, and I got to go with a really special lady right after a really special occasion. Not a lot of Americans go there because it's expensive and in a country that we fear for one reason or another, but I'm sure glad we did.

3. I've lived as an expat and worked in another country

I've always wanted to, now I've done it. And we're doing it again next year!

4. I spent a week in New York

Another thing I always wanted to do. It was a great week and a great way to see one of the coolest places in the homeland before moving off to Korea for a year (or two).

5. Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossom trees are one of the most iconic springtime images you can conjure up when you imagine what Asia might be like.

6. Seoul

It takes less than 2 hours by high speed rail to get to Seoul, and it's awesome every time we go. It's the 2nd largest metro area in the world, or something like that, and it's got a frenetic energy that keeps pumping. I'm happy to have been here in 2011.

7. Chicago

After our trip to New York, we stopped in Chicago to visit with some friends and see the sites. It was a great visit. It's always good to reconnect with good people, and it's also always great to visit a wonderful city with a lot to offer. Also...omg food.

8. Art, Art, Art

2011 has been the year of the art museum for us. We have visited: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute in Chicago, and the ARMA museum in Bali. We've seen more brush strokes in 2011 than I've seen in my entire life...and it's great.

9. Books, books, books

I've read a bunch of books in 2011. A good reason is the advent of the Kindle app for iPod Touch...I have a whole library with me every time I get on the books in English are a welcome respite from living in a world where you don't speak the language. I think my favorite of the year is the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

10. Mud

The Boryeong Mudfest was a fun, dirty time on the beach in July. Daecheon Beach is a surprisingly nice beach (honestly, when you think of Korea beaches aren't the first thing that come to mind, right?) and it was fun to get slathered with mud and act like a moron for a day.

11. The Ocean

The irrational anger I felt at the entire ocean after my diving career went from exciting to crap got swallowed up in somewhere in the Java Sea when Carolyn and I rolled over the edge of a tiny wooden boat. It was more beautiful than I ever imagined it would be, and it was so much fun to be underwater with my lady watching the reef drift by. I'm looking forward to diving on our next vacation to a tropical locale.

So those are what I can think of right now, as the coolest 11 things about 2011. I'm looking forward to 2012 and all the years that will follow. Things are good right now. 2009 was hard, 2010 was hard, but 2011 was really kind and nice. 

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat...

Ahh, the holidays are here! My favorite time of year. This year is a little different though, because we're halfway around the world from home and family and the grand mad dash holiday shopping experience. Now, everyone always talks about how horrible the whole holiday-mall-shopping-center-elbows-and-assholes experience is horrible, but you know what, I LOVE IT. The good news is that any shopping experience here in Korea turns into that very same rushed dash push and shove kind of experience, so there's nothing missing there. There's even a few department stores that have put out Christmas decorations. Holiday Shopping experience: Check.

The next thing is Christmas music. It's playing in the stores, and it's easy to log onto GrooveShark and listen to the sounds of the season when we're at home.

We found a 24" or so Christmas tree and decorated the heck out of it. It's all lit up with battery sucking Krypton bulbs and provides just enough of a miniature Christmas tree flair that we're happy and merry at home. We also got a couple strands of red and green lights and Carolyn found stockings downtown somewhere. The apartment here is looking more festive than our apartment in Florida did, for sure!

Our little $50 oven from Gmarket has been put to good use and Carolyn's been pumping out holiday baked goods all day today. This is one investment that paid big dividends. With a little resourcefulness we can make pretty much anything from home that we want now...perfect for the holidays.

Now, gifts. It's easy to buy gifts for family back home as we can find cool Korean things and whatnot, but neither of us really want that kind of stuff, so it's a little more difficult. Thanks be to the interwebs for making that an easy fix.

This may not be the most interesting post ever, but it feels a lot like Christmas around here and I thought it was worth a mention. Off to deal with a pot of chili Carolyn has simmering on the stove..

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanksgiving: the time for renewal and change

I'll start out this post by telling you about our awesome Thanksgiving holiday. We recently bought a small counter top oven with a rotisserie attachment. It's not quite big enough to fit a turkey in, but that doesn't matter too much as a turkey here in Korea costs an arm and a leg, and we had to work all day on Thanksgiving so we wouldn't have time to roast one anyway. We planned out a suitable menu of alternatives that we could quickly prepare after school, and when we got home turned on the little oven, roasted a chicken, made stuffing, mashed potatoes, and corn. It was ridiculously good. The whole house smelled like, well, Thanksgiving. Then we wrapped some fresh Gyeongsangbuk-do apples in homemade pastry, filled them with cinnamon, sugar, and butter, and baked them until we had a single-serving apple pie for each of us. It was a great reminder of how much we love home, and really got us pumped to visit the U.S. of  A. next month...because...

We're staying in Korea for another year. This brings a couple of changes along with it, but right now we feel like a job you have is a job you hold onto because it's just a little bit too scary at home. Carolyn is going to have to change schools for next year, but we're going to stick through it and hope for the best. We think that another year will leave us with enough savings to have a nice little wedding, a nice big honeymoon, and get settled and ready to start our new life together back in the U.S. We could certainly have less cool reasons to stay here in Korea for another year, and you know what, Korea isn't a bad place to be. Next year we're planning on getting to a few festivals that we missed this year, and another trip to somewhere warm and beach-y in Southeast Asia, along with shorter trips to Japan and China. After that we're probably going to want to make our next few trips in Europe and South America.

That's the news here. We're just up late on a Saturday night, watching TV shows we've found on the internet, and Carolyn is doing some handicrafts (she's got a skill...she could totally have a rockin etsy shop.)

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