2016 Recap - Part 3 - Oxygen Tanks, Bojangles, and Green Tea Everything
Same Tinderfella, Different City
Remember Tokyo Tinderfella from my June recap? (If not, read all about him here). Well, a couple weeks later in July, I returned the local guide favor, and showed him around when he visited Seoul. Throughout my time in Korea, he’s the only friend who took me up on my offer to visit, (but he was only an hour flight away, I guess that had something to do with it). Since he’s been the only person to visit, he’s also been the only person to meet Beethoven class and to see me in “Miss Kirstie mode.” Tomato gave him the side eye the entire class, but softened up a bit when he gave her one of the origami frogs that he’d made for each student in the class.
All of the Korean teachers swooned and told Tinderfella how handsome he was, we explored the city, drank mimosas at the river, and hiked at Bukhansan National Park. Again, though we did not have a magic happily ever after moment, he has become a good friend, and I’m so glad to know him. It’s true that strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet. Tinderfella is now in Canada killin’ the Jameson game, and making me seriously reconsider my decision to stop working in marketing.
Christmas in July
Another July highlight was going to my favorite place. A year to the date from when I left, I flew back to home sweet home. Unfortunately, my journey there was not smooth sailing. In the middle of my flight from Tokyo to New Jersey, I was woken up feeling extremely light headed. I knew something was wrong because the flight tracker on the screen in front of me, which I knew should be blue, looked pink. I knew that if I was going to go get help, I needed to get up right then. I unbuckled my seatbelt and somehow made it to the back of the plane where the flight attendants were. They took one look at me and ran to my side. All I could say before my knees gave out was, “I don’t feel good.”
Over much of Canada, I was in the flight attendant's seat at the back of the plane, where I sat sucking oxygen from a tank like it was going out of style. When the color returned to my face, I went back to my seat where I was still watched closely for the remainder of the flight. Shout out to the flight attendants on that United flight. You all were awesome.
The whole experience was quite a strange time, and, to this day, makes me a little nervous on long flights by myself. Though the majority of my time at home was spent in numerous doctors’ officees, I’m still unsure why I have problems on long flights. I do know one thing – I’m SO glad that I woke up when I did and was able to get help before I blacked out or had another in-flight seizure. Nothing would have been worse than making an emergency landing in an unfamiliar city by myself. Hopefully these freak accidents are in the past and won’t happen again.
Aside from the doctors’ visits, the rest of my time at home was spent eating all of the foods I’d been missing (like salt and vinegar chips, Chick-fil-a, and Bojangles), buying things I didn’t need at Target, and hanging out with my dog and family on our couch in good ole’ Pleasant Garden, North Carolina.
My one night of going out was to a Money off Monday game for dollar beers at the grasshopper stadium… my old stomping grounds. I’d worked there for 5 years before leaving home, and, since I’d become legal drinking age, could count on one hand the number of games I’d attended as a fan and not an employee. A few friends and I over-indulged in beers, and then headed to Jake’s Billiards, our favorite dive bar.
My dad, understanding that I wanted to see family AND friends while I was home, offered to be my DD (bless him), and came to pick me up from Jakes when I was ready. I’d consumed one too many free shots… and also spat one out (sorry, Dev), so I honestly hadn’t been paying a bit of attention to my phone when my dad arrived. Instead of waiting on me to answer or return his calls, he came right on inside to find me. This, at any other age, would likely have left me MORTIFIED, but it actually had the opposite effect. I was SO excited to see him that I introduced him to all of my friends before he drove me home. (Thanks again, Dad – you da bomb).
Mom, you are also the bomb. Since I'd missed so many holidays (and delicious holiday meals), mom cooked Christmas dinner in July, and even pulled out the mini Christmas tree. She's so adorable. The day before I left, family and friends came over for a cookout and to say hello/see you later. It was so lovely to see everyone, and I'm so thankful to those people who made the trip. After everyone left, I packed up my bags, took a power-nap, and at 2am was on the way to Raleigh Durham International to begin the hellishly long journey back to Seoul. Leaving so soon was not fun, but I'm so lucky to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
Read more about why I decided to ditch my travel plans to go back home here.
By the time I’d finished time traveling from the States back to Korea, it was somehow already August. After living in a small, dark apartment that had a nice view of the building next door for over a year, I finally moved in to an apartment that got some natural light. What I didn’t know when I moved in was that the air-con was broken. It was unbearably hot for a few weeks, and my multiple floor fans did little to help.
Finally, on a Friday evening, after I’d been at work all day, maintenance came into my apartment to replace my air-con unit. I’d had a really long day and was ready to change into something comfortable and have some food, but that didn’t happen because I was told to “come back in an hour…” to my own apartment! Korea, man… Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they fixed it, but the timing, as with most things in this country, was highly illogical.
Though it was a low key month as far as international travels were concerned, I did manage to check plenty of sights and activities off of my Korea bucket list. I explored new parts of Seoul, completed an adventure ropes course, went zip-lining, visited wet lands down south, celebrated pajama day at school, finally went to the colorful and abstract Mr. Brainwash exhibit, and had another photoshoot with my friend Tim Van der Merwe (who is an absolutely fantastic guy and really talented behind the camera. If you’re in Seoul and need portrait work done, I’d highly recommend giving him a shout)!
One of my favorite places I went was the Green Tea fields in Boseong - home of green tea everything... Literally. I bathed in green tea at the spa, ate my weight in green tea ice cream, and learned how to pick and roast the leaves on a green tea farm. Of all these things, my favorite was playing with Nokcha, which means green tea in Korean. While we were learning about the farm, she ran right up and sat in my lap. Her two furry, four-legged friends also decided to use me as a puppy playground. Between the puppies, consumption of all things green tea, and getting to know the sweet old Korean couple who owned the farm, the trip to Boseong was perfect.