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Bangkok – The Grand Palace

Remember that time I went to Bangkok?

Yeah. It seems like it was centuries ago! I’ve been focusing so much on the beauty side of things that I totally forgot to share some more photos from our trip.

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is probably the #1 tourist site in the city. It was a million and a half degrees when we went, and they have a strict dress code which requires you to be pretty covered, so needless to say, I was a giant ball of sweat afterwards, but it was SO worth it. My photos don’t do the palace justice. It was so gold, so ornate, so beautiful.
temple10 temple4 temple5 temple1 temple11 temple18 temple17 temple16 sherylljohnny temple3 temple7 temple8 temple14 temple2 temples9 temple19 temple12 temple13Visiting the Grand Palace was definitely a highlight of my trip to Bangkok. I’d go back in a heartbeat!

Have you visited the Grand Palace? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

(PS I’m still tinkering with the blog layout so please excuse the mess!)

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Bangkok: Day One

Last week, Johnny and I went to Bangkok! It was a great time, and the city is definitely much more “metropolitan” than Ho Chi Minh City. To be honest, I actually prefer Ho Chi Minh City, and was actually really happy when we arrived back. Not to say that we didn’t have fun, but Bangkok is a very exhausting city. It’s huge and hot and …just a lot. Also, we dropped the ball a bit and didn’t plan as much as we normally do for trips, so we missed a lot of the things we really wanted to do (go see a Muay Thai fight, take a Muay Thai class, the floating markets, etc.). A lot of people told me Bangkok is a very polarizing city – lots of people love it, and lots of people aren’t that fond of it. I’m somewhere in the middle. I did LOVE the shopping though. Shopping in Bangkok is a million times better than here in Vietnam. Give me a city with tons of great shopping and I’m a happy girl.

The first afternoon we went to Siam Paragon for some shopping. I’m obsessed. Of course I hit up Sephora, Boots, and Watsons for all the beauty bits I’ve been missing here in Vietnam. The next day, we went down the river to Khao San Road, the backpacker street of all backpacker streets. We had some drinks, bought some novelty items, had drinks and people watched at some bars, and ate delicious roadside pad thai. It was pretty cool! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many harem pants in all my life.

And as always, here are a few of my favorite snapshots from our first day. Our second day, we went to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho and that’s when I was completely blown away. The temples in Thailand are gorgeous! Stay tuned!

fart siammall shirts patpongnightbazaar trafficbangkok sheryllsubway flowersbangkok river1 watarun monk khaosanroad tuktuk anklets padthai khaosanroad1 fruits

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Saigon Cooking Class

welcometosaigoncookingclass

I’ve now been in Vietnam for a whole month. I don’t understand time and how it seems to be flying by at warp speeds, but wow. Now that I’ve been here a month, I’ve hit that mark in expat life where I know my neighborhood, know where to find the most affordable groceries, I have my go-to nail salon, a gym membership, a pool membership, the works. But I’ve been a bit bored and restless lately. I know, I know, how could I possibly be bored when theres’s SO much more of Saigon for me to explore, but this whole job hunt thing has me sort of pre-occupied and a little uninspired. Frankly, I’ve been feeling a bit down. Even though I LOVE living here, I miss my friends. To be honest, I’ve been a bit lonely lately. It’s not as easy to make friends here as it is in Korea. Thankfully, I have Johnny, but I still miss my girls. But I can’t sit around in a funk, so I decided to do something about it and sign up for a cooking class at the Saigon Cooking Class by Hoa Tuc.

I found this particular class using the ol’ Google, and after I saw so many great reviews, coupled by the fact that the menu sounded absolutely divine, I knew I was in for a great time. It was just the thing I needed to get me out of my comfort zone and make me feel a little better.

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ingredients cookingclass2

I was extremely lucky in that the class I took only had 3 participants, so it was really intimate and I felt much more at ease. The maximum capacity is 14 people, and apparently the morning classes are the ones that are typically full. I opted for an afternoon class as I like my beauty sleep. The class was 3 hours long, and we made 3 dishes. With each dish, the chef explained to us all the ingredients, where they came from, how they are harvested, or little anecdotes about the food.  He was super personable, answered all of our questions, and made us laugh. He made the class even more enjoyable than it already was. Some of the ingredients were pre-chopped and pre-portioned, which allowed the chef more time to really explain techniques and ingredients to us.

First on the menu – mustard leaf rolls with crunchy vegetables and prawns with a kumquat sweet and sour dipping sauce. It was super simple to make, and the fresh, crunchy veggies mixed with the peppery mustard leaf and the dipping sauce were to die for. I’m not even the biggest seafood fan, but I really enjoyed the shrimp as well.

chef kumquat shrimpmustardleafrolls

Next on the menu were sticky rice fritters stuffed with pork and and carrots and soy sauce. First off, sticky rice is a bitch to work with. It’s delicious as hell though! The fritters are deep fried until they are a golden brown and crunchy on the outside, but the insides are still warm and chewy. YUM!

stickyricefritter fryingstickyricefritters finishedstickyfritters

And last, we made my favorite meal (yes, more than pho), fresh rice noodles with marinated BBQ pork and raw vegetables, or bun thit nuong, which literally means grilled meat on noodles. This is my favorite Vietnamese dish because it’s just so fresh and tasty. Plus, when it’s insanely hot, the last thing I want is pho. I want cold noodles with lots of crunchy veggies. It’s the main reason why I chose to do the class on this particular day because I wanted to learn how to make it on my own. And again, it’s incredibly easy. The pork is marinated in honey, lemongrass, garlic, shallots and black pepper, then grilled over charcoal. We just used a clay pot filled with charcoal to cook the meat, no fancy grill required. It was so easy! After slicing up all the veggies and herbs, you just stick the meat on top, drizzle your dressing on top, and BAM. Done!

ingredients1 bbqpork thirddish

After each dish, we got to sit down and taste them, and at the end, we were treated with a seasonal dessert, which was a passionfruit mousse. It was so incredible, I think I devoured it in about 3 bites.

Overall, the Saigon Cooking Class was a really wonderful experience, and just the thing I needed to make me feel a bit better. For only 39.50 USD, I’d say it was definitely an afternoon well spent. I learned so much, and after I left I felt like my creativity was starting to seep back. Food is always the answer!

For more information, you can visit the Saigon Cooking Class website here.

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My New Neighborhood – Phu My Hung

Hi Everyone!

It’s been almost a week that I’ve moved to Vietnam, and it weirdly feels like I’ve been out of Korea for ages now. I am so incredibly happy here. Ho Chi Minh City is freaking fantastic. The weather is gorgeous. It’s hot and humid, but it’s not the ridiculously stifling heat of Korea. The nights are particularly wonderful, with a great breezes and tons of outdoor cafes, wine bars, and restaurants to hang out in and people watch. Our apartment is freaking fantastic too! It’s actually Johnny and I’s first apartment together. We’ve always had roommates or lived separately. It feels so nice to have a place we can call our own (for now).

Johnny and I live in District 7 in Saigon, in an area called Phu My Hung. This area is a favorite for expats, as there are a lot of schools, restaurants, cafes, malls, bars, grocery stores, spas, massage parlors, nail salons, all within at least a 10 to 15 minute walking distance. This is particularly helpful for me, as I’m not even toying with the idea of riding my own motorbike (although I’ve rode with Johnny and it’s pretty fun/completely insane). Literally everything I could ever want or need is within walking distance. The food options are limitless, with options including Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, Chinese, Western, you name it. It’s such a stark difference for me because for 2 years I lived in areas where my dining options were pretty limited. It’s like a whole new world for me! And the area is so gorgeous, featuring really wide tree lined streets and gorgeous villas that look like they belong in Beverly Hills…swoon. Apparently each little neighborhood in Phu My Hung was assigned to a different designer, so every little area has it’s own flavor. And there isn’t nearly as much traffic here as in other districts like D1…where I swear that I was going to get murdered by a giant crowd of people on motorbikes.

And everything is just SO CHEAP. No one was exaggerating the costs here. There’s a fresh fruit juice stand on my corner that has juice for basically a dollar. I got a world class pedicure (with ADORABLE nail art) for about 12 dollars. I even got a facial randomly the other night for about 15 dollars. And I don’t even want to get started on the food. THE FOOD. Sigh. It’s amazing. So cheap, so delicious. I think I’m officially addicted to pho.

I’m giving myself a 2 week vacation to just sort of relax after my time in Korea, to learn my new neighborhood, to polish my resumes and media kit, and work on my pitches for freelance work. I’m so much more productive here. I don’t know if it’s the endless sunshine, the great weather, or the fact that I’m eating so many fruits and veggies now, but I just feel great. I’ve been waking up early (without an alarm!), making myself breakfast, and working on my blog/writing work until the afternoon. After that, Johnny and I usually go and have lunch, walk around, then hang out and grab a drink somewhere before coming home and relaxing, where I usually end up doing more blog work.

All in all, I was a bit worried that I was making a wrong decision by leaving Korea, but I can say with 940534985% certainty that I made the right decision. I just feel like there’s been this huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Once I start going to the gym, and hopefully doing yoga, I’m going to be unstoppable!

Before I go, I wanted to show you all some photos of my new neighborhood. I hope you like them!

bytheriverside villaphumyhung phumyhungsunset phumyhungmotorbike icedvietnamesecoffee wrapandroll palmtree hugehousephumyhung housephumyhung riverside motorbikesapartment worldbeerbar nomakeup sunsetemptystreets iheartspa pho apartmentbuilding lotteriasaigon motorbikestrafficlight treelinedstreets beverlyhillsorphumyhung

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Seoul Snapshots

I now have three weeks left in Korea. EEEEEK. I’m sort of freaking out, especially since I haven’t started packing. This weekend is going to be dedicated to cleaning out my closet, and going through my beauty stash for the 3rd time (I’m really attached to my beauty stuff okay), and actually start putting stuff into my suitcases. Shit is getting real!

In an effort to try and get as much time in Seoul as I can, I’ve been spending my weekends exploring areas I never get to go to, mostly because they are SO far away. Last weekend was Johnny’s last in Seoul, and we went wandering around Insadong, Gyeongbokgung Palace and Hyewha theatre district. We’d both never been to Hyewha and now I’m kicking myself that we didn’t go earlier. It’s such a cool area, dotted with tons of little independent theatres, coffee shops, restaurants, and bars.

I just wanted to share a bit of the shots I took while we were out. I hope you enjoy! Have an awesome weekend!

temple colorfullanterns palaceguards gyeongbukpalace guardsupclose kingsejong hyewha ticketbooththeatre hyewha2 hyewharestaurant hyewha7 signs hyewha4 hyewha3 abikocurry bar ticketbooth motorbike

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