Monthly Archives: June 2013

Biguem-do Island

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On June 21st we visited an island with small villages, salt and rice fields, filled with not a lot of people, but so much beauty. The most magical little “heart shaped” beach. Biguem-do Island was about an hour and a half from the Mokpo ferry terminal by boat. Rumor has it that Bigeum-do ranks in at #7 out of 827 for largest size in the Shinan Islands. There are buses, but few and far between…especially compared to the bus system in Yeosu.

After arriving we hopped on a bus AND then a taxi. Winding through fields and cliffs we finally drove up to what looked like a deserted beach. As we walked out to the beach- the fog/mist was incredible. It was moving through the valley that was carved out into a beach. I felt like we were in a dream. Tom went for a swim, but it wasn’t quite warm enough for me to dive in 🙂

Alyssa, Pat, and Jessie have two great Korean friends Minsul and Chang Suk who came a bit later to the island, and picked us up at the beach! Minsul’s family has a home in Biguemo-do, and invited us to stay the night there. Hanging with them made me realize how important it is to develop friendships with Koreans- you really get to see Korea in the most amazing way. We stayed in “popeye village” known for spinach grown there. Great food, amazing company, and time to unwind on the island was the perfect weekend get away. Secluded, quaint, and quiet best describe Biguemo-do. It would be tough to visit without a vehicle as we saw very few people the entire time we were there. The nature is gorgeous, and I loved that the beach wasn’t packed with tourists.

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Walking out into the mist.

Walking out into the mist.

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View from the beach looking back towards land

View from the beach looking back towards land

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More beach beauty...

More beach beauty…

Time to head up, up, up to the scenic look out point. (Photo credit- Minsul)

Time to head up, up, up to the scenic look out point. (Photo credit- Minsul)

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Can you see the heart?

Can you see the heart?

Drivin through the fields...

Drivin through the fields…

Famous for the salt fields

Famous for the salt fields

Almost to Minsul's home

Minsul’s family home is straight ahead in the picture

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Made it.

Made it.

Rice fields. So peaceful.

Rice fields. So peaceful.

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BBQ

BBQ

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Tom finally getting to FISH!

Tom finally getting to FISH!

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T &e

Ferry home. Beautiful views.

Ferry back to Mokpo. Beautiful views.

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Suncheon Garden Expo

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Almost a month ago already I took a little field trip with my students to the Suncheon Garden Expo. Korea has TONS of festivals in the Spring/Summer amd Tom and I haven’t been as good as we would like about visiting the festivals- we have been so busy exploring that we forget to check the event calendar. So, when I found out I was going with my school I was pumped! It counts as a festival, right?! I wish I could have updated earlier, but better late than never! Suncheon is a city about 40 min away from where we live in Yeosu. We have been there quite a few times for bus connections en route to other destinations, but haven’t explored it yet! It was a quick hop, skip, and jump away from my school, and it was fun to explore the Expo! We had a cloudy day about 70 degrees outside. Perfect day to spend outside. The expo runs until October. It would be fun to go back with Tom to explore, but we haven’t decided yet! SO much to see and do still.

To sum it all up the festival basically is little gardens that represent different parts of the world.

Here we go!

Here we go!

Kindergarten kiddos!

Kindergarten kiddos!

Netherlands!

Netherlands!

4th graders :)

4th graders 🙂

me

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Peace Garden

Peace Garden

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Kids artwork

Kids artwork

English teacher and Chinese teacher :) Korean, English, AND Chinese class for elementary kids at my school!

English teacher and Chinese teacher 🙂 Korean, English, AND Chinese class for elementary kids at my school!

I am in LONDON! :)

I am in LONDON! 🙂

Picnic time

Picnic time

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Wishes!!! :)

Wishes!!! 🙂 You write your wish on a piece of wood and tie it on.

Dream Bridge- Students draw/write their wishes and they were displayed on a long bridge!

Dream Bridge- Students draw/write their wishes and they were displayed on a long bridge!

I am living the DREAM!

I am living the DREAM!

Pieces of our life…

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Looking through pictures on my phone I am realizing that I have TONS of pictures that are like little pieces of the puzzle to our life in Yeosu, Korea. They are all so special to me, because put together they represent our daily life here in Korea. I decided that I should add the pictures to our blog that make up our every day life here. So often (me included) we over look the beautiful little snap shots of just a “normal” day. It is all apart of the big puzzle.

This is our life as of lately.

Love the flowers in full bloom!

Love the flowers in full bloom!

Care packages from our family= so much love.

Care packages from our family= so much love.

Monsters on my wall created by 3rd graders after teaching them my dad's favorite book "Where the Wild Things are"

Monsters on my wall created by 3rd graders after reading them my dad’s favorite book “Where the Wild Things Are”

My littlest "monsters"

My littlest “monsters”

Fireworks on every beach we have camped at!!! Koreans love their fireworks (and so do WE!)

Fireworks on every beach we have camped at!!! Koreans love their fireworks (and so do WE!)

We  have spent 4 weekends so far CAMPING!

We have spent 4 weekends so far CAMPING 🙂

I adore the open air markets.

I adore the open air markets.

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My walk to the bus stop after teaching at my "Friday School"

My walk to the bus stop after teaching at my “Friday School”

Tom's new hiking backpack- name TBD

Tom’s new hiking backpack- name TBD

Fresh fruit right off the tree in Jeju. Tasted like a cross between and orange and a grapefruit.

Fresh fruit right off the tree in Jeju. Tasted like a cross between and orange and a grapefruit.

We FOUND CHEESE!!!

We FOUND CHEESE!!!

Tea from South Africa, Wine from Chile, and Korean BBQ for dinner. Love it!

Tea from South Africa, Wine from Chile, and Korean BBQ for dinner. Love it!

My view EVERY SINGLE day walking to the bus stop after school. It will never ever get old.

My view EVERY SINGLE day walking to the bus stop after school. It will never ever get old.

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Lights on a bus to visit friends in Mokpo. ;) Normal.

Lights on a bus to visit friends in Mokpo. 😉 Normal.

I am one happy teacher :)

I am one happy teacher 🙂

Sometimes we forgot to take a moment to appreciate the little pieces that make the big picture SO beautiful!!!

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” Lao-tzu

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It’s really quite easy.

If you have been following my blogs you probably know how much Tom and I adore Korea. I recieve messages and comments literally daily with people commenting on how we are making this possible, telling us they are jealous, and asking how they can do it too.So, I’ve decided that I would dedicate a blog post to tell you just how EASY it really is, that anyone can do it (including you!), and tell you a few reasons why I love our life so much.

Let me start at the beginning. During my 5th grade year my dad joined the Air Force. Which meant we moved from the midwest United States to England. For 3 years my family extensively traveled Europe. When we moved back to the states it was to California. During the middle of my sophmore year of high school we moved to the small town of Marshfield, Wisconsin. I didn’t know it then, but I believe the years as an Air Force kid sparked a desire within me to see the world. After high school I had dreams of going to school in California, but felt limited because of out of state college expenses. I choose University of Wisconsin La Crosse, and decided to pursue teaching. After about a year of college I grew extremely restless. I studied abroad in the Fiji Islands for 6 months, and had an extremely hard time coming back to Wisconsin to finish my college years. I wanted to see the WORLD! I’m sure glad that I stayed in Wisconsin or I probably wouldn’t be married to my partner in crime today. For those of you who don’t know Tom he is a true midwest  all American boy at heart.  When we started dating again I didn’t care about my dreams to see the world any longer, because without him I didn’t want to travel the world anyway. When we got married I figured we would be in the U.S for the rest of our lives…

and then he surprised me!

I don’t think it happened over night. We would have long talks about seeing the world, and what life meant to us. We prayed a lot about where God wanted us to be. Slowly, I think he just began to see how big the world really is…On facebook, I would see pictures of our friends from college who had moved abroad…and I would share with Tom. I think deep down we both were seeking adventure, and needed change. Let me break it down for you in the most transparent way that I can:

* We are currently both English Teacher’s in South Korea. Stress is low, and most importantly each day is FUN!

* We moved to Korea 2 1/2 months ago.

* We sold lots of our stuff or donated it. It was extremely liberating.

* We will be able to travel extensively!! First up? Malaysia.

* We will pay off ALL of my college debt by living here…and it’s $35,000 dollars. On top of this we can SAVE  money!

* Most importantly. Both Tom and I agree that this is the BEST decision we have ever made. Living in Korea not only is spectacular, but because of this opportunity we will be enabled to volunteer/travel for an extended period of time after we leave South Korea.

So why don’t more people do it? Well, I don’t know. If I had to take a guess though I would say this:

1.Fear of leaving comfort-  They have security back home. They have built a life. Leaving comfort is scary. Taking the jump is the hardest part. What about responsibilites? Kids. Jobs. House. I want to tell you we have met people who live in South Korea from the U.S or Canada, and they have kids! We have met people who have just graduated college to those who are past retirement age…and I am not kidding. We have met those who are married, in relationships, and those who are single. They have shown me that it can be done with a family! I have no idea what our future will bring- but leaving comfort was such a blessing to us!

2. The unknown Is it safe over there? What do you do with all your belongings? How do you know you will get paid? These are just a few of the questions we have been asked. I’ll keep my anwsers simple. YES. It is safe. I feel more safe here in Korea than I did back home. There is a very low rate of violence crimes. When all that jazz was happening with North Korea- It was just ridiculous if you ask me. All media sensation. I felt ZERO threat! Our belongings- we sold them or donated. Some stuff that we couldn’t part with we are storing in a very small storage unit, and Tom’s parents were so kind to store our wooden bedroom furniture. How do we know we will get paid? We work for the government in public schools. So, there is no worry or concern about recieving payment. It’s easy.

3.Finances- Many people have debt bogging them down. Especially newly graduated students, not to mention bills, car payments, house payments etc. We didn’t own a home so that part was easy (but we have met people who do still have a house back in the states!) We sold a car. We kept a car in storage. So how are we able to pay off debt, save, AND travel? Well, the schools provide us housing. They reimburse us for our flights out here, and back when we are finished. We get paid once a month. Our landlord pays for water, internet, and cable. I get $100 a month for “commuting-to-work.” Our expenses here include food, $150 a month for our two iphone bills, and any money that we spend on travel…which leaves us a lot of flexibility to save, pay off debt, and travel.

There are many recruiting companies out there to recruit English teacher’s to teach abroad. We went with Canadian Connection, because they came highly recommended to us by our friends. It was completely free on our end, and all we had to do to get started was apply! Tom and I are both really happy we went with Canadian Connection. I hope through my post I was able to show you that it CAN BE DONE…if you really want to make it happen. This life we are living is too good to not be shared! I understand that living abroad is not for everyone, but for those who are intrigued/curious  I wanted to show one way that it can be done.

The journey begins with a single step.

Each of our jouney’s look different, and I think that is what makes life so special.

I want to know… what does your journey look like right now?

The view from our journey...

(photo credit to Orman’s)The view from our journey…

oedaldo

Sailing & Jangdeung beach

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“But time, it is like charm. You never have as much as you think.”
Khaled Hosseini – And the Mountains Echoed

The weeks are continuing to fly by, and the weekends seem to go even faster. The weekend of June 15th was spent sailing in Yeosu, and then lounging on a beach about an hour away (by city bus) to relax and camp. IT is absolutely gorgeous there, and was our second time visiting this beach. Our first time (a few weeks ago) we decided to head out to Jangdeung beach to explore, and since we had spent the weekend camping by the time we got there our phones had died so we were unable to take pictures. I am so glad we decided to go back to camp, because it is easily one of my favorite beaches in Korea so far. Secluded in the countryside, quiet, and stunningly beautiful we decided to pack our bags on Saturday spend the day/night on the beach. It was such a peaceful weekend. So wonderful to explore the area that we live in! We had been traveling every weekend so it was incredibly relaxing, and laid back to stay in Yeosu.

Saturday morning- We got invited to jump on board a morning sail cruise around Yeosu with elementary kids who were sailing! We were really excited, and it turned out to be a gorgeous morning on the Tall ship!

All aboard :)

All aboard 🙂

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My love

My love

gorgeous view from the boat looking out

gorgeous view from the boat looking out

Tom found a buddy!

Tom found a buddy!

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Happiness.

Happiness.

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Beautiful tall ship

Beautiful tall ship

We headed back to our apartment to gather our gear, and headed to Jangdeung beach! One of my favorite discoveries we have made.

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My hubby and a gorgeous beach= perfect!

My hubby and a gorgeous beach= perfect!

perfect.

perfect.

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Beach time

Beach time. Breaking my rule of no self portraits, but I am too happy to care !

Sunset as we ate bbq. Perfect ending to a beautiful day.

Sunset as we ate bbq. Perfect ending to a beautiful day.

Some of the best adventures are right in your own backyard. I keep finding myself wishing for more time. More peaceful moments with people I love. More sunsets, more beaches, more mountains to climb.  What adventures have you gone on in the past week? I want to know! Was it planting flowers, a walk, a bike ride, or reading a new book? Fill me in. I love new adventures.

Teaching

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You know those days or weeks when it just seems like you aren’t living up to your expectations for yourself as a teacher? Or maybe it is a day/week that you feel like you aren’t meeting the exact needs of your students.

If you are a teacher. You know exactly what I mean.

And then…

Something small (like this) makes it all worth it.

Bullying- A teacher’s point of view.

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Bullying.

It happens every single day. It happens in all sorts of schools. It happens all over the world. I’m a teacher, and I’d like to tell you that we too feel helpless. My experience comes from being an English teacher in a foreign school. There is a major barrier… it’s the language. BUT bullying still happens. It happens in school AND out. How do we fix it? How do we stop it? It’s serious, and it’s real. It’s happening, and kids are hurting.

I recently watched the documentary Bully with my husband on Netflix. It made my heart hurt. I felt like angry parents were giving blame to principals and teacher’s. I guess what I want to say is that there are teachers out there who do care, who love their students, and want the VERY best for them. There are teachers out there who STAND UP to bullying. Who do everything they can to stop it protect the kids, and to end bullying in their classroom. I don’t know the universal solution to end bullying. I wish I had the answers. This world we live in is full of sin, but I am here to say that I believe something needs to be done.

The day before watching the documentary I had an incident in my classroom where I witnessed bullying. First let me preface this story with the fact that I love teaching. I love teaching English in Korea. I love my schools…and I hope what I saw was the first/last time I ever have to see that again.

We are working on a project… I look over, and one of my kids is in a choke hold from another student. I run over and tried to pull them apart , but dang those 12 year olds are STRONG…and bigger than me in size. I have never yelled at my kids, but in a panic I screamed “NO” “LET GO!”- Side note. Discipline is difficult with a language barrier. My stomach was in knots. Why was he choking this other boy? What happened? To me it didn’t matter what was said or what happened violence is NEVER okay. I looked at the boy who used violence (trying to remain calm), and sternly said “THAT IS NEVER OK IN MY CLASSROOM. DO NOT EVER TOUCH HIM OR ANYONE EVER AGAIN. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” At this point my Korean co teacher ran over, and intervened. I explained to her what happened in English. She was already disciplining them. Both boys were in trouble. I told her that the boy who used violence should be punished. NOT both. It didn’t matter what I said. She told me that they were both in trouble, because they were fighting.I ran to the bathroom, and just cried. I just felt so helpless.

After having time to process all of it. I looked back on my experience as a teacher working at a very low income preschool. The kids who hurt others had been hurt their whole life by their own parents. They were damaged, bruised, and broken. Hurting was all they knew. Hurting others was “normal” life to them. Hurting was their survival. I love teaching. I love kids. Man,  it isn’t always easy though. See what I wrote here awhile back about being a teacher. I tell you my story, because I wonder if you have ideas on how to end bullying in the classroom. Or if you have had any experiences with bullying in the classroom?

How do we change bullying in our world? Is it more love? Is it punishment? Is it both?

Please tell me your opinion…

Together we can be the change.

Wishes...

Wishes…

Our Secrets to Successful Exploration!

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Our Secrets to Successful Exploration!

Our secrets to successful exploration- in a nutshell. 

 1.     Make a list, but be flexible.

We made a general list of things we wanted to do while in Jeju Island, South Korea.  With a last minute trip to Jeju we didn’t really have time to make a solid “plan” or create an agenda…but because of this spontaneous trip… I am a TRUE believer in not making concrete plans. Ok, so I get it. You are a planner. Sometimes you just need to plan, but there are certainly plenty of opportunities for trips without solid plans or in the very least ways to make your travel plans less “rigid.” The unexpected trips, the unplanned-spontaneous-flybytheseatofyourpants trips are (I believe) the ones that turn out to be the best adventures and let me tell you why:

       You don’t get disappointed- If you don’t have a set plan and agenda how can you miss a train, plane, or a bus? That’s right. You can’t.

       Freedom- Freedom to do as you please and when you please. Your schedule is wide open. If you feel like a relaxing day at the beach then grab your shades n’ sunscreen. If you feel like climbing a mountain…ONWARD! Freedom in your schedule, freedom in your days.

       Flexibility- Rain or Shine baby- Seize that day! ? What’s that? It’s storming? Perfect. It doesn’t matter because you don’t have plans anyway. You are more willing to seize the day regardless of the weather, because disappointment doesn’t exist when you don’t have a set schedule or a place to be.

It's raining...but NOT on this parade! Completely in the moment of windy gusts  and lovely rain! One of my favorite all time pictures.

It’s raining…but NOT on this parade! Completely in the moment of windy gusts and lovely rain! One of my favorite all time pictures.- Jusangjeolli Lava Cliffs.

:)

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We DID IT!

We DID IT! It’s a mountain climbin’ kinda day!

peak fever

Peak Fever

Puddles- Along Olle trail  Jeju coast.

Puddles- Along Olle trail Jeju coast.

Lava cliffs along the coast

Lava cliffs along the coast-Jusangjeolli Cliffs.

Manjuggal Caves

Manjuggal Caves- Lava Tubes

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2.     Take the road less traveled.

First off… I really dislike big chain resorts. Matter of fact…I really dislike big chain anything. I am a firm believer in supporting locally owned “ma and pa” stores if you will. By taking the less traveled path you have the opportunity to stumble upon the most amazing gems. We have discovered some of the most amazing beaches, guesthouses, and breathtaking sights from wandering off the “path.” I always make it a point to be a traveler…not a tourist. Big difference. Experiencing the culture, meeting new people, and discovery are all things that keep me choosing the road less traveled, and choosing it every single time.

 

Discovered this gem of a guesthouse at Hwasun beach.

Discovered this gem of a guesthouse at Hwasun beach.

Hwasun beach guesthouse. Little slice-a-heaven!

Hwasun beach guesthouse. Little slice-a-heaven!

Hwasun Beach. Secluded. Quiet. PERFECT!

Hwasun Beach. Secluded. Quiet. PERFECT!

Beautiful Shinyang beach- Jeju.

Beautiful Shinyang beach- Jeju.

Along the coast of Jeju. discovering gems along the walk.

Along the coast of Jeju. Discovering gems along the walk.

How can you decide to take a bus when you have miles and miles of gorgeous coastline?

How can you decide to take a bus when you have miles and miles of gorgeous coastline?

Stumbled upon the gorgeous falls.

Stumbled upon the gorgeous falls.

3.     Do something outside of your comfort zone.

Trying new food, hiking a mountain, or a trail for miles and miles knowing full well your know your legs will hurt for days after, wakin up at 4am for a sunrise hike-all things I did with my partner in crime this past weekend where I was outside of the comfort. Without getting outside of my comfort zone I would have never had the incredible weekend that I did. Cliché as it sounds…seriously believe that comfort is not always the place to be. Just when it seems like the road is all uphill…push through. I promise it’s worth it. I’ve got memories to prove it.

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summit of Mt. Halla

Summit of Mt. Halla- beautiful little lake

Olle trail- 20+ miles of walkin the coast of Jeju after the 9 hour day of hiking= SORE legs. Totally worth it? You bet.

Olle trail- 20+ miles of walkin the coast of Jeju after the 9 hour day of hiking= SORE legs. Totally worth it? You bet.

Authentic Korean BBQ-Hwasun guesthouse cooked for us.

Authentic Korean BBQ-Hwasun guesthouse cooked for us.

Just a walkin along the coast

Just a walkin along the coast-One side greens the other side ocean.

Sunrise Peak 4am

Sunrise Peak 4am

–I challenge you to get outside of what makes you comfortable. Take the risk.

Livin’ the dream…

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Livin’ the dream…

June 1st and 2nd are best described as what I would like to call a true adventure. Our friends Pat and Alyssa came to visit us in Yeosu. We had planned a weekend island hopping, and camping! I’d like to say though, that the best adventures are the most unplanned ones.

With the ferry times to some of the more popular islands around Yeosu not working out with our schedules…we thought we would try our luck with a ferry to a small island only 5 min away from the mainland. First going to the wrong ferry terminal used for day cruises we were instructed on the new ferry terminal we needed to get to. So on we went in a taxi! Onto the ferry and across the water just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the mainland.

Upon arrival we randomly got on what looked like a shuttle bus to a hotel. We were taken to a resort and told to camp in what I will call the backyard of the resort! Pat, Tom, Alyssa, and I were determined to find a beach, and camp on the ocean. Upon hearing there were no beaches on this island…back to the little slab of cement the ferry docks on to take it back to the mainland…typically I would call it a port, but slab of cement was exactly what it was. From the mainland we decided to go to a beach on Dolsan. Dolsan is an island that is connected by bridge to the mainland of Yeosu. Back in a taxi we went again this time with a plan, and a location in mind.

Arrive at beach #1 on Dolsan. It has a lovely marine life aquarium. ANDDDDDD a beautiful beach of…wait for it…. rocks! Not ideal for camping with tents. We begin searching for a beach with SAND. Began talking with the manager of the marine life aquarium, and long story short he had his co worker drive us about 20 minutes down, up, and around Dolsan to our final destination. Bangjukpo beach. Hotel California blared on the speakers while we all sang along as we zig zagged through the gorgeous countryside of Dolsan to the beach. I remember smiling so big that it hurt. Looking at Tom thinking “man, life is so good here…we are living the dream” and I know he thought just the same thing.

Watching baby goats frolic in the grass, collecting massive amounts of beautiful sea glass, a campfire, wonderful korean families with so much love to give, fireworks, relaxing on the beach, and simply enjoying the wonderful company of our friends…have all brought me extreme joy this past weekend.

We made it!!!

We made it!!!

My hubby!!

My hubby!!

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baby goats

baby goats

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Love the sunset...

Love the sunset…

:)

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Saturday's journey in red to Bangjukpo beach...Jangdeung beach journey in blue (Sunday)

Saturday’s journey in red to Bangjukpo beach…Jangdeung beach journey in blue (Sunday)

On Sunday Tom figured out how to take the city buses to the most beautiful little beach called Jangdeung beach. It was secluded, clean, and the mountains littered the backdrop. Our phones had both died so we have no pictures this time! That just means we need to visit again soon. It was about an hour trip… and I can’t believe the buses go out there. No town really. Just the fresh country air, sun, and the sand.

My heart continues to do leaps n’ bounds of joy. As every single day is a new adventure waiting to be discovered. We are just here in this little corner of the beautiful world…Livin’ the dream.