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2013 – A Photo Essay, Part One

2013 has been a big year of changes for me. I switched schools, visited 3 new countries, was featured in 2 print publications and multiple online publications. I faced my fears with perfectionism. I stayed in a hotel that’s been on my dream list for years. I traveled to Tokyo, a place I’ve been dreaming of since I was a child.

There were times I definitely felt like I wasn’t growing this year, that I wasn’t accomplishing my goals or that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing…whatever the fuck that means. I’ve realized that all of that is bullshit. I have grown. I have learned. I have accomplished goals. Sure, I might not have posted 3 times a week like I wanted, met my 20 book reading goal, or learned how to code, but I grew in other ways. I learned to listen to myself, to my needs. I learned to say no. I learned to slow down and appreciate the little things in life, whether it be a new lipstick or a large mug of tea. I learned to not push myself, to be gentle with myself, to not beat myself up over the little things.

I may not be a superstar blogger/writer/photographer (yet), but I’m exactly where I need to be in my life at this moment. Following your passions sounds easy, but it’s not just this WOW BAM SNAP YOUR FINGERS and shit happens magic. This shit is hard work. It takes time. It takes dedication. It takes an awful lot out of you. And it’s a slow process. Learning to not beat myself up over the process has been my biggest accomplishment this year (this is tied with being featured in Flare Magazine).

So I say all of this to say thank you to everyone who reads, comments, sends me tweets, writes me e-mails, subscribes, etc. etc. to this blog of mine. You really don’t understand how much it means to me. You are all the ones that keep me motivated, keep me striving for greatness. I thank you all for your support over the last 3 years, and the next 3 to come.

And now, time for the photo essay. The photos are in chronological order, starting from January 2013. I had way too many photos to post so I’m going to split it into 2 different posts for your viewing pleasure. I tried to make sure I featured pictures and things I haven’t posted on the blog before. Hope you enjoy! Have a Happy New Year!!!
jan1 jan2

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Tokyo: Day 2

The afternoon of day 2 of our trip to Tokyo was spent watching the Sumo tournament, but after the sun set, we headed off to explore a bit more of the amazing city.

Our first stop was the gamer/manga/anime neighborhood of Akihabara. Whenever I think of Tokyo, this is the area I think of the most. Think bright lights, maid cafes, comic book stores, DVD rooms, arcades, and a dizzying array of colors. We also went to a 7 story sex shop that’s just as crazy as you’d imagine a 7 story sex shop in Tokyo would be.

After exploring Akihabara and seeing enough manga to last a lifetime, we went to Shinjuku, where we went bar hopping in one of the coolest places in the entire world (next post!)

711 firehydrant

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Tokyo: Day One

Tokyo is an amazing city. As soon as we stepped off the train, I knew that I was in love. Johnny and I didn’t even get to see a vast majority of the city, so I need to make plans to visit again before I leave this side of the world. The shopping is to die for, the fashion is amazing, the magazines are the things dreams are made of (which is why I bought 4 of them to bring home with me…), the food is great, the people are friendly, and the nightlife is so vibrant! I feel like you can never, ever get bored in Tokyo. As we walked around, I just kept muttering to myself, “this is so cool…everything is just SO cool!” I can’t wait to go back.

Our first day in Tokyo was a very, very busy one. I think we left our hotel at around 11am and we weren’t back until way past midnight. We went to Ginza, where we went to Sanrio World and bought expensive French chocolate, wandered around the random and cheap dollar (yen) stores, ate sushi at the most adorable conveyor belt restaurant in Shibuya, saw Shibuya Crossing and Shibuya 109 (where I lost my mind…omg it’s the most amazing shopping mall EVER), went to the Daiso store in Harajuku, and hung out in arcades, trying (and failing) to win adorable plush llamas.
ginza foodstand

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Pangyo Cafe Street

As you may have sort of guessed, I’ve hit my wall in Korea. I’m ready to go.

Not to say that I’m not currently enjoying myself, or that I don’t like Korea, because that’s not true, but it’s just definitely time to move on. I’m a true Sagittarius, I gotta roam! I’m at that point of my time in Korea where I’ve been here long enough that I’ve seen everything I want to see, I have my routine, my favorite restaurants to go to, my favorite bars. I’m a creature of habit, and when I find something I like, I tend to stick to it.

But now that it’s getting colder and the time keeps ticking, I find myself sort of freaking out that I’m leaving in 4 months. FOUR. EEK. I’ve been trying to get out more often, explore new areas and take more photos of my time here. I went on the DMZ Tour (so awesome, and a post is definitely coming soon), visited the Suwon Fortress, tried a few new restaurants in Seoul, and discovered my new go-to cafe area.

I heard about Pangyo cafe street from a few Tumblr bloggers and people on the Bundang group on Facebook, but no one could tell me how to get there. After months of putting it off, I just said fuck it, and decided to try and find it myself. So glad I did! If you’re in the Bundang area, the easiest way I can tell you to get there is to take the subway to Seohyeon station, and search for Craftworks Pangyo in your GPS. Just follow the walking directions! I think it took maybe 10 minutes, at the most 15. The walk was so pretty!

paintsplatterOn my way out of the door, I decided to snap this picture. This is the wall of a kindergarten right outside of my apartment. I’m assuming they let the little kids go wild with the paint. It’s so pretty, and definitely adds a nice touch of color to my otherwise drab neighborhood.

seohyeonview koreaapartments

I snapped these pictures on the walk to Pangyo cafe street. Early October is easily my favorite time of year in Korea. The weather is beautiful, and everything is still lush and green. I miss it already!

I found that Pangyo cafe street was not nearly as crowded as Jukjeon cafe street. Pangyo was quiet, peaceful, and much, much larger than Jukjeon. It seems like a lot of the spaces were unoccupied, so I’m sure that Pangyo will probably have a huge boom over the next few months. Pangyo cafe street covers everything that I love about the cafe scene in Korea: lots of tiny, independent cafes with their own spin on things. Adorable cafes will probably be the #2 thing I’ll miss about living in Korea (#1 is obviously Korean cosmetics…I’m already crying about how much I’ll have to ship home).

theoldstand stoveoncafe sohodesignandcoffee retronapie reflection pastelnpastel emptycafestreet coffeeandwaffle brunchboutique oryournewyears bikes

Even though I gotta save a majority of my money for my trip home (HELLO SEPHORA AND TARGET I’M DREAMING OF YOU!!!), I’m still carving out some days to enjoy myself. I’m having dinner with one of my close friends tomorrow, and on Saturday night I’m going to a meet-up party. What are you up to this weekend?