12 Ways to Deal with Holiday Homesickness When You’re Abroad

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First, let me say that this post is loaded with privilege. Not everyone has a good relationship with family, or positive holiday experiences, and on top of that has the ability to be overseas missing them. I’m very grateful for my family and for the opportunities I’ve had to travel long-term. Also, it’s a very Christmas-oriented post, but feel free to replace the C-word with your holiday or non-denominational celebration of choice!

        Whether you’re working on the other side of the world without the means to go home for a visit, or choosing to take advantage of days off to travel, it can be tough to be away from home for the holidays. Here are some ways to ease the ho-ho-homesickness:

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Getting Naked with Strangers: Navigating the Korean Jjimjilbang

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One of the best ways to relax in Korea is to strip down and spend a day at the jjimjilbang, or public bathhouse/spa. If you’ve never been before, it can be a little overwhelming to figure it out. Namely: when should you be naked and when should you not be? (Coincidentally also one of life’s greatest questions.) Here are some guidelines for your first time.

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4 Reasons Why Japan is an Introverted Traveller’s Paradise

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Mt. Misen, Miyajima

I’m a major introvert. I like meeting new people and hanging out with friends, but need a good dose of alone time afterwards to curl up in the fetal position re-energize. When travelling solo, I will almost always choose to spend time touring around on my own, rather than with a “new friend” (i.e. person I just met who I have to make small talk with).

When I visited Japan, I was feeling particularly introverted. I hadn’t travelled across the Pacific to get there; I’d come over on an hour-long flight from Seoul, where I was living at the time. I really just wanted to see all the cool things during the day, and read or Skype my then-girlfriend in the evenings. I was a little worried about whether I would be missing out, but it turns out Japan is a great destination for solo-travelling introverts!

Here are 4 reasons why Japan might appeal to other solitary souls: Read More

Must Eats Korea (Part 1): Korean Meats

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Whenever someone asks me how I enjoyed living in South Korea, I will inevitably start talking about the food.

e.g.: “Oh you lived in Korea?! Did you get homesick? What was it like??”

        ” Nah, Skype’s pretty great and the food was amazing!

No matter what the question is, food is always the answer. Why?

  • The consistent balance of flavour: salty, slightly sweet, and reliably spicy.
  • The value: meals are cheap, filling, and come with enough side dishes to leave you questioning how much you actually ordered.
  • The diversity: if, like me, you come from a city without a large Korean population, your knowledge of Korean cuisine may be limited. There is so much to it. So much diversity in cooking techniques, regional variation in flavours (not everything is salty/sweet/spicy), and multiple influences on the way food is shared and prepared.

Ok, enough preamble. Here’s Part One of the Korean food series: Korean Meats.

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Australian Working Holiday: Orange Picking 101

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One morning in rural South Australia, I arrived at a vineyard for my grape-picking job, shortly after the sun had risen. The mist was still suspended above the vines, and the air was cool. As I approached, I squealed as I noticed three kangaroos nearby, hopping away through the rows of grapes.

Sound romantic? I thought so too, at first! Not only is following the Australian harvest trail and picking produce a great way to save money fairly quickly, it allows you to extend your stay for another year, if you’re on a Working Holiday Visa.

pHowever, it’s not all kangaroos in vineyards. (That only happened once!) Harvest work is tough; you have to be prepared to work for long periods of time without a day off, to work quickly if you want to earn a decent wage, and to accept that you will probably come face to face with some not-so-cute Australian wildlife.

Still think you might be up for harvest work? Read on to learn about a day in the life of an orange picker. Read More

September

This has been a great month! I moved across the country to beautiful Victoria, British Columbia to start a master’s program, celebrated my 29th birthday, and I finally started this blog (something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time). If you missed them, check out my posts on a hutong courtyard B&B in Beijing, the minivan Read More

Cool Places to Stay: Beijing – Mao’er Hutong Courtyard House B&B

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What & Where? Mao’er Hutong Courtyard House B&B, Beijing; check it out on a map

What makes it wonderful?

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Mao’er has only four rooms (it’s nice and quiet!!), and they’re laid out around a courtyard. The staff is incredibly warm and friendly, and they’re happy to help out with anything you need. Read More

The Road to El Nido*

roadtoelnidoI was sure that we were going to hit the chicken. Unaware of the comedic value of what were certainly its last moments of life, it was crossing the road in front of the minivan. As we got closer, the Filipino driver’s face remained calm, but his continuous honking became increasingly urgent, as if to say, “C’mon, you stupid bird, I’m rooting for you! Now MOVE IT!” I closed my eyes, reluctant to witness a violent end to the classic riddle. But there was no bump. This was the road to El Nido, and the driver had, once again, proven that he was a magician.

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Number 2: The Crappiest Places in East Asia

modern toiletTo set the tone of this blog, it seems appropriate that the second post, or – dare I say it – number 2, should highlight some attractions related to toilets and excrement. After all, those subjects form the building blocks of great punchlines (for toddlers) and are highly fascinating (to plumbers and also toddlers). Sadly, my adult life* has been mostly devoid of bathroom-related entertainment. That is, it had been, until I moved to East Asia. Read More

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