Falling in Love With Seoul

 

It’s been an interesting few days here in Seoul. First trying to navigate through the city with Kakao Maps, learning how to ride their subway, and just experiencing large crowds. It was a bit of an adjustment but we’re figuring it out.

People are so nice though. We’ve been getting really nice service from restaurant owners, convenient store workers, and our hotel cleaning lady. It’s definitely not what we expected, which is why we have grown to love it in Seoul.

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Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef And A Helicopter Tour

I’m so glad our friend convinced us to visit the Great Barrier reef.  When I told her of our plans to visit Sydney, Australia, she somehow got the idea in my head to see the reef.  I’m so glad we did because it’s a memory I’ll never forget!

There’s a bunch of tour companies to choose from, and we chose the one that included a helicopter tour, which was a package deal we found on Ozexperience.com.  The boat ride was a rough 45 minutes to the first snorkeling sight and lots of people weren’t prepared for it.  Should you decide to snorkel the great barrier reef, I suggest taking motion sickness pills so you don’t puke on the boat.  As for me, I was fortunate enough to make it through but only because I popped 2 Dramamine pills before leaving shore.

The idea of snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef may sound romantic, but it’s definitely not easy to do.  I mean we did it, but the waters can be somewhat choppy and did annoy my ears.  Let’s just say it’s not like snorkeling the calm waters of Hawaii or at least Shark’s Cove anyway.

There’s also things that you should look out for like sting rays or jellyfish.  We didn’t wear wetsuits, but if you want to take extra precautions when you visit during stinger season, they offer wetsuits for coverage.

So with the boat we chose, we had 2 opportunities to snorkel at different locations.  We snorkeled the first time, got out of the water, forgot our towels, ate lunch, and decided to just dry off instead of going back for a second snorkel.  We only had a 30 minute window after lunch before our helicopter tour so we both didn’t want to miss our chance, and because we didn’t want to be wet and cold on the ride, we just decided to skip the second snorkel all together.

So things to remember:

  1. Dramamine
  2. A towel
  3. Extra clothes to change into.
  4. Don’t bring anything expensive.  There are no lockers.
  5. There’s options other than snorkeling like going on their glass bottom boat.  I kind of wish we did the glass bottom boat, but there just wasn’t enough time.

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When We Went to Chicago

Chicago is a beautiful city.  We had the opportunity to visit in 2012 when our friends got married in Omaha, Nebraska.  And since we were in the mid-west, we made it a point to see downtown Chicago.  We purchased the CityPass because it gained us entry into the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck, Willis Tower, and the Art Institute of Chicago.  It was definitely a packed itinerary with a visit to Millennium Park, Lincoln Park Zoo, and gorging ourselves on deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s.  It was a fun trip and we could definitely visit Chicago again.

Below are some of my favorite pictures from our trip.  Hope you enjoy!

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View from the Shedd Aquarium balcony overlooking the city
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Sue inside the Field Museum
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Looking down from the Willis Tower
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Cloud Gate in Millennium Park
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Buckingham Fountain

Universal Studios in Hollywood

Our trip to Universal Studios was actually fun.  It was my first time ever going, and the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter park was the thing that got me to visit.  I can’t say I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, but I can say I did read all 7 books and watched all 7 movies.  So in a way, I am a fan but not unlike others who go above and beyond that.

The Harry Potter park is probably my favorite part of Universal Studios.  As a fan and also one who appreciates architecture, I loved walking through Hogsmeade and the castle.  The spaces are well thought out and creatively designed that it’s worth a trip despite the crowds.

Below are just a few photos I took at the park.  Hope you enjoy and find inspiration to go!

Trip duration: 2 day park pass (Aug 2016)

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Waterworld show
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Universal’s animal actors show
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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

A Trip to Big Island, Hawaii – A Family Trip

If I were to describe Big Island, I would say it’s like the country of Hawaii.  Although it has Kona, the more commercialized part of the island, Big Island is fairly natural.  If you’re on the Hilo side, there’s the Puna rain forest and then there’s the Volcano National Park that’s actively flowing with lava.

Would I recommend a trip to Big Island? Absolutely and especially for those living on the west coast, it’s a bargain when flying with Alaska Airlines, Southwest, or even Hawaiian Airlines.  For domestic travels, I use Alaska Airlines to take advantage of their frequent flyer points and yearly companion fare offerings.  But that’s just my preference.  It’s okay to use a different airline.

Below are a few pictures taken from our trip back in 2017.  We didn’t explore too much since we were with family, but we still managed to do a few things on our own.

Trip duration: 5 nights, 6 days (April 2017)

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View from the Luau at Voyagers of the Pacific
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Voyagers of the Pacific Luau
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Hawaii Volcano National Park
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Hawaii Volcano National Park
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Kahauale’a
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Kalapana – Where the lava enters the sea
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Kalapana – Where the lava goes to the sea
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Kona at the Sheraton
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Kona at the Sheraton
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Kona at the Sheraton

Sydney, Australia – A Travel Must

It took 17 hours getting here from the San Francisco Bay Area.  Our first stop was Auckland, New Zealand and then a short flight over to Sydney.  Although it was a long travel day, it was worth the trip to be in the land down under.  Below are just a few pictures of our time there, and if there is a time to go, I’d say when they host Vivid Sydney.  The light shows are amazing!

Trip duration: 7 nights, 8 days (end of May 2017)

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The Opera House in the early morning
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Harbor tour overlooking the Sydney Harbor Bridge
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Bird Cages on Angel Place
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Along Darling Harbor
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Taronga Zoo along Sydney harbor
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Vivid Sydney

Bucket List Worthy: Yellowstone National Park

If I were to visit Yellowstone again, I’d stay at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton Park.  We so happened to have stopped by for a restroom break, and also decided to have lunch at the Blue Heron Lounge.  Not only was the food really good, but the view of Grand Teton in the background was so romantic.  The proximity to Yellowstone and Jackson Hole is also a plus.  There’s less driving and more time for activities.  On our first visit, we stayed in Idaho Falls and the drive was close to 2 hours each direction.  It was definitely not the best use of our time since we had 2 days to explore each park.

For getting to Yellowstone, I’d fly into Salt Lake City for cheaper airfare and then head on up in a rental car.  The drive takes about 4.5 hours, which isn’t too bad considering the sightseeing you’ll be doing.  However, if driving is not your thing and you’re willing to pay a little bit more, there’s always flying into the Yellowstone airport.

Yellowstone is definitely one of the national parks to visit and very bucket list worthy.  With Grand Teton right next door, it’s a two in one park visit.

Some helpful tips:

  1. Even in June, the temperature hovers around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  I definitely recommend packing a lightweight down.
  2. Yellowstone gets busy around lunch time so avoid the cafes and/or restaurants because getting service will take awhile.  Prepare snacks and have lunch at an odd hour to avoid the lunch rush.  Other than the Blue Heron Lounge in Grand Teton, the rest of the park food was cafeteria quality.
  3. There are restaurants just outside of the Yellowstone west entrance, and they also get crowded.  We tried having dinner there, but the wait was too long.
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Jackson Hole, Wy circa June 2016
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Buffalo in the park

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A winding river
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A panoramic view with Old Faithful to the right
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Geyser

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