We are excited to have a guest blog post from Marie Webb, an expat teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. Marie is chronicling her adventures on her blog, Gone Seoul Searching. Thanks, Marie for giving us a glimpse into your daily life!
When I moved to Seoul in August of 2010, I never could have imagined how hard it would be to balance my abnormal work schedule while experiencing everything Korea has to offer. My biggest worry upon moving here was having work be a means to an end, instead of an ends to a mean. Yes, I’m a starving college graduate that needs to pay off mountains of student loans, but on the other hand I’m in search of the fun and excitement that comes along with traveling in a new country. After 8 months I still find it all a bit unnerving, but when taking a look at my average day, I do manage to fit in a lot of fun, food and culture. So take a glimpse into my life in Seoul and learn more about what this city has to offer to over 13,277 Americans living and working here each year.
9 AM- I wake in my studio apartment in Jongno, the oldest and most central part of downtown Seoul. Usually the non-stop construction and children’s music from the elementary school outside my window wake me before my alarm clock. For breakfast I usually make an omelet, or pour a bowl of Cheerios. My fresh Tillamook cheddar cheese is a luxury for Seoulites as we have 4 Costco’s to satisfy our need for comforting American brand name foods.
9:30 AM- Instead of heading to the dreary gym located in the basement, I spend 20 minutes walking up a hill to a nearby mountain to go hiking. These days I am a bit weary of my gym because of a run in with a couple in the stretching room that I like to nickname "office-tel lust." I could take a small bus for only 7 minutes up the hill, but I enjoy peering into the local shops while walking.
"Jogyesa Temple, pictured above, is set inside the heart of downtown Seoul, South Korea. Although the center of Korean Zen Buddhism resides within its walls, Jogyesa lacks natural Buddhist scenery surrounded by mountains or seas. Instead the temple is bounded by Seoul’s modern skyscrapers, yet the peaceful atmosphere and convenient location is what draws many locals and tourists alike.
The U.S. State Department published an updated Travel Alert for Japan, lifting the voluntary authorized departure status instituted on March 16, 2011. This allowed the dependents of U.S. government employees to return to Japan as of April 15, 2011. You can read the updated Travel Alert at travel.state.gov.
Experts from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, and scientists on the ground in Japan assessed the situation and concluded that the health and safety risks to those in areas outside of the 50-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are very low and don’t pose a significant risk. Even in the event of an unforeseen disruption at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, dangerous exposure to those beyond the 50 mile evacuation zone is highly unlikely. The situation at the power plant is radically different today than it was in March. Currently, there are ongoing cooling efforts and planning is in place to control radioactive contamination and to lessen future dangers. The State Department continues to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid travel within the 50-mile radius of the Fukushima plant.
According to our partners in Japan, as well as a few of our clients who recently took trips despite the situation, things are returning to normal in the major cities, as evidenced in our recent blog on Sakura in Tokyo. Our clients who recently traveled to Japan in the beginning of April claimed "things are back to business-as-usual in Tokyo", as they experienced no delays in ground or subway transportation. They went on to say they are very glad they did not cancel their trip. The major cities in Japan, such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Mt. Fuji, Hiroshima, and most other popular destinations, are safe and welcoming tourists. These regions remain unharmed, as they received no disruption to infrastructure, and Tokyo is no longer experiencing blackouts.
The Tanzania government has made plans to build a commercial highway across the Serengeti National Park that will connect the area around Lake Victoria with eastern Tanzania. This project threatens to destroy The Serengeti National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most incredible wildlife sites in the world. The annual wildebeest migration is one of the greatest wildlife shows on Earth. Nearly 2 million wildebeests and zebras are accompanied by gazelles, lions, and hyenas, among other animals as the herds go on a 500 km round trip from the southern Serengeti to the northern edge of the Masai Mara in Kenya. The Serengeti Highway will have a huge negative impact on the park's ecosystem, cause a decline in the tourism industry of Tanzania, and would result in a terrible loss for the nation.
Vietnam appeals to a wide range of travelers with seemingly limitless options including cruises along Halong Bay, bustling cities like Ho Chi Minh, beautiful beaches, and hill villages. Soak up the culture of Vietnam by exploring some of the off the beaten path locations. Our partner in Vietnam is locally owned and operated, with a focus on sustainable travel and creating a more authentic experience for travelers. The focus on cultural immersion includes treks and excursions to remote areas involving local communities, supporting local economies and observing local customs.
Off the Beaten Track in Halong Bay
Discover the beauty of Halong Bay away from the crowds on a traditional junk. You will go off the beaten track in Halong Bay and take a private wooden junk with its own docking area and cruise through the quieter areas of the bay to Bai Tu enjoying the scenery of floating villages, limestone peaks and hidden caves. The private junk has a maximum capacity of eight people, ensuring you will have an unforgettable cruise along Halong Bay. You will stop along the way to swim at private beaches, kayak the less visited caves, and visit a fishing village.