Browsing Category travel

Mui Ne

beach
This past weekend, Johnny and I took a little trip to Mui Ne. It’s the closest beach town to Ho Chi Minh City, and trust, we definitely needed the break. After work on Friday, we hopped on a bus, and in about 6 hours (was supposed to be 5 but traffic was crazy), we were in beach heaven. Mui Ne is also an extremely popular tourist spot for Russians, so in a few of my pictures you’ll see a lot of Russian written on the signs and stuff.

Per Lauren’s recommendation, we stayed at the Ananda Resort, which was AMAZING. We rented one of the beach bungalows, and from our door to the ocean was about a 30 second walk. Best of all, it was only $50 bucks a night! A light breakfast was also included, and the staff and service was phenomenal. If you go to Mui Ne, you definitely need to check them out.

We were only there 2 days, so we didn’t have much time to explore. We basically just ate and lounged around on the beach. Perfection. We both came back with tans and a little more pep in our step. Well….we did have one minor mishap. Our bus on the way back broke down, so for about 2 hours we were stuck in some roadside restaurant in the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t pleasant, but I’m thankful Johnny was with me to keep me sane.

And while I was there, I had the chance to pull out my trusty ol’ camera. I’ve really been neglecting taking photos here in Vietnam, and that’s gotta change. But for now, I have about 20 photos from our little weekend getaway. Hope you enjoy!

bus sunrise breakfast crocs rainandrussia beach foodmuine playinggames sheryllbeach seashells johnny stormybeach beachbungalow cosmeticsmuine store gangnamstyle beachchairs beeflunch fruitstandsleep ocean

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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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Ask Me Anything #2

dmzsheryll_effected

Hey everyone! I’m back with 3 new questions, that again, I really enjoyed answering. I’m gonna keep it a bit shorter this time…I hope.

Terri asks: I love reading about your time in Korea, and I’ve also been considering moving there to teach or work (I’m from Canada), but I haven’t had the guts to yet. What were some of the things you were really curious about before moving to Korea? What kinds of things did you have to do to prepare for the big move?

This may sound crazy to some people, but my number one curiosity about Korea was how people here were going to perceive me. As a black woman, you hear all sorts of crazy stories: about how people try to rub your skin color off of you, how students may call you a dirty monkey, or any of the other dozens of crazy things you read about on the internet. I knew I was going to work at a middle school, so I had really bad anxiety that the kids were going to be supreme assholes. They weren’t. And to this day, no one has tried to rub me, or called me dirty or a monkey (although I’ve had people try to touch my hair and I check them fast as hell). I was also worried about bleaching my skin with Korean skincare products but as you can see…that’s definitely not something to be concerned about.

I was also curious about the food. I wasn’t the most (and I’m not really) the most adventurous eater, and I’d heard stories about how awful the school lunches are. Due to some dietary issues, I actually bring my own lunch everyday, but overall, they aren’t that bad!

To prepare for my move, I made sure to watch a lot of k-pop videos. I knew that I’d be teaching middle school, and I wanted to be able to relate to them. I found out the popular groups, learned the member names, what their new songs and albums were. I also kept up a bit on Korean dramas (although I don’t watch them), and of course, I tried to learn Hangeul before I left.  Also, I’d never been one to use chopsticks, so I actually bought a few to practice. I’m a pro now!

I’ve had a few people ask about how I learned Hangeul, and a really great resource is this comic by Ryan Estrada. I’m a very visual learner, so having the word associations with the Korean symbols really, really helped. It’s a very simple alphabet to learn, and pretty much a necessity from the moment you get off the plane.

Jennifer asks: You told us that you didn’t really care about skin care before you came to Korea. Sooo, how did you get started with it? Did some ads catch your interest? Were the stores too cute to not walk into and buy random things? I want to hear the story behind your skin care obsession!

I was one of the lucky ones to never have acne as a teenager, but then I ended up cursed with adult onset acne. It was AWFUL. I used retin-a for a while, and it really helped, but as soon as I stopped using it, the acne would come back. I just never really thought about skincare…I usually used a lot of makeup to cover up the imperfections. I was so naive.

I remember the exact moment when I knew I was going to be obsessed with Korean cosmetics. It was maybe my first full week in Korea, and I went to Gangnam to meet with a friend I knew from high school. We went to COEX Mall, where, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pink and white store princess-y looking store, filled with adorable lip glosses and nail polishes. It was Etude House. I gasped and grabbed my friend who was walking in the opposite direction. I remember telling her, “what is this place?! We need to go inside NOW!” And once I went inside, it was all over. That day, I didn’t end up buying any skincare, but I bought a gel liner, mascara, and some lip glosses.

I fell in love with Korean skincare when I went into a local SkinFood. At that time, my skin was still pretty awful, so my first purchases were the Parsley and Mandarin Trouble Skin toner and emulsion and the Black Sugar Scrub. The difference in my skin happened pretty freaking fast…I saw changes within 2 weeks! I remember being pissed because I had just spent a ton of money on the Murad acne line from Sephora, thinking that I wouldn’t find any skincare here. From Skinfood, I moved to Innisfree and Etude, and then it just became a full blown obsession.

Ola asks: this question doesn’t really relate to Korea, but more general in terms of teaching. Could you please talk about Vietnam, and how you found your next gig? I’m at a crossroad also, but I don’t want to commit another year, & 6 months is ideal.

Johnny and I had always planned on going to SE Asia after we finished working in Korea. But what we didn’t expect is that we weren’t going to save as much as we had hoped in Korea, so we decided to teach just a little bit longer in a different country. We threw out all sorts of ideas: Thailand, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Turkey, Mexico…the list goes on. My requirements were somewhere warm, and somewhere cheap with lots of fruits and vegetables. A place where I could focus on the next part of my life and career. Johnny wanted to move somewhere with an MMA scene and an opportunity to maybe do some acting. We finally settled on Vietnam, as the ESL life is booming there. There are hundreds of English academies, kindergartens, private schools, and a huge demand for teachers. Unlike in Korea, in Vietnam you can work multiple jobs, and a lot of them don’t require contracts. It used to be a place where wandering backpackers could crash for a few months and save a bit of cash, but they’ve had a crackdown and are really focusing on hiring experienced teachers. From what I’ve heard, Vietnam is like what Korea used to be, great pay, and an abundance of jobs.

The cost of living is insanely low, so I’m hoping to only work part time, and focus the rest of my energy on the blog and other areas. I found this blog post by 2 Nomands, 1 Experience extremely helpful when it came down to exactly how much one can expect to earn and save in Vietnam.

As of now, I don’t have a job. According to friends who have previously lived there, it’s a million times easier to get a job once you are on the ground in Vietnam. So….wish me luck that I find something relatively fast! I have a TEFL certification and 2 years of experience, so I don’t think it will be too difficult…I hope. But I guess that’s what life is about! I’m living on the edge. I plan on blogging about the whole experience, so definitely stick around!

Thanks again for asking me these really awesome questions. I have so much fun answering them! The last edition will be next week, unless this is something you’d like to see semi-regularly. Let me know!

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Life Updates + I’m Moving?

koreastreet

It’s been a while since I’ve done a personal post, so I just wanted to update everyone on what’s going on in my life.

I have less than 2 months left in Korea. I can’t believe it. Winter sometimes feels like time is standing still, but nope. The days are steadily ticking by. I mentioned yesterday in my latest review post that I would be moving somewhere warm and humid….so……….

I’m moving to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, Vietnam!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so unbelievably excited. I know, it probably sounds completely random, but there was actually a lot of thought put into choosing Vietnam.

First things first, why am I leaving Korea? Well, as much as I love living here, I feel like my time has come to go. I’m restless. I want to see new places, experience new food, and live somewhere where there isn’t an endless fucking winter. I’m so tired of the snow and cold. Also, jobs just aren’t what they used to be when I moved here 2 years ago. Public school jobs are getting cut left and right. If I had decided to stay a third year in Korea, I wouldn’t have been able to renew at my current school because they cut the native English teacher out of the budget. I’ll never be about that hagwon life, so even if I wasn’t ready to leave Korea, I wouldn’t have had a choice, unless I wanted to work in the countryside…sooo…no.

Vietnam, from what I have read and what I have learned from other expats, has a thriving ESL scene, and jobs are plentiful. It’s also extremely cheap. Johnny and I plan on working for roughly 6 months (and maybe longer…who knows?), just to save up a little bit of extra money. To be completely honest with you, Korea isn’t nearly as inexpensive as I was led to believe, and I haven’t been able to save as much money as I could have. I don’t even live an extravagant lifestyle. I don’t go clubbing. I rarely drink in bars. I rarely go shopping (for clothes that is…cosmetics is another matter), but yea…it was a lot harder to save here than I expected. If you’re black and have to buy makeup, that’s expensive. Tampons, expensive. Razors, condoms, fresh fruit and veggies, meat, good wine, any sort of Western food, anything organic…all ridiculously expensive. Food is extremely important to me, and I enjoy cooking. I probably spend at least 30-40% of my income on groceries. It’s ridiculous how much fresh produce costs here. I’ll be SO SO SO happy to live in a place where fresh produce is not only in abundance, but is extremely cheap. Not only that, I’ve read that spa services like manicures and pedicures are insanely cheap in Vietnam. It’s the one luxury I miss living in Korea because a simple pedicure here can cost 50,000W/$45USD. NO MA’AM.

I can’t wait for all of the delicious food, and being able to travel around SE Asia for cheap. I’ve already been looking up ticket prices and it only costs like $138 RT to Singapore. Expect to see me in Singapore like…all the time. I LOVE it there.

Never in a million years did I think I’d be living halfway across the world, talking about how much groceries cost in Korea and how I’m just planning on moving to Vietnam. It’s sort of surreal. But I gotta live it up while I can. I don’t have any kids, and I don’t have any major obligations so why the fuck not? Life is too short, so I’m going to explore while I can.

I’ve made so many wonderful memories, and I can’t believe that I’m admitting this, but I’ll really miss eating kimchi. Korea has changed me for the better, and if it wasn’t for Korea and their wonderful, amazing skincare, I would still have shitty skin and probably using expensive stuff that doesn’t work. I’ll miss my co-workers and my students and my Korean “grandmother”, a woman who rides the bus with my every morning and always gives me candy and food. But the goodbye Korea post is for another day.

Do any of my readers live in Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon? Have any of you visited? Tell me everything! I want to know the best restaurants, spas, where the best shopping is…everything!

And don’t fret, I’m not going to stop reviewing Korean cosmetics. If anything, I’m taking this shit to the next level!

Thank you all for following me on this crazy ride of mine. It’s a hot mess at times, but you guys keep me going. xoxo

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See You Soon America

cheeseusa

Because nothing says USA like a giant display of cheese for $1.99.

I’m currently in the LAX International Terminal, really, really sad about having to leave and go back to Korea.

Not that I don’t like Korea, because I do, but being back in the US was just really awesome. Everything is cheap (seriously Korea isn’t cheap and everyone is lying to you but more on this later). I had an amazing time. I’m so happy I got to see my family, see my baby niece (who is the most adorable child ever!), eat great food, and of course, go shopping. If you want to check out a recap of all the stuff I did (and all the food I ate), check out my Instagram page.

I picked up some amazing beauty buys that I cannot wait to share with you, including some stuff I just picked up right before I went to the airport in Larchmont Village. I got the Malin+Goetz Mojito Lip Balm and the Ole Henriksen Truth To Go Wipes. I’ve sort of sworn off makeup wipes, but after reading so many amazing reviews about them, I decided to treat myself. I justified it because I needed a makeup remover for the flight. You just always gotta be prepared.

I’m secretly praying that this flight is hella empty and I end up with multiple seats to myself. I’ve been lucky twice now, the first time I went to Korea I ended up with a middle and window seat, and this last trip I ended up with an aisle and middle seat. This flight is 15 damn hours long and I don’t really know what the hell I’m going to do with myself for that long. Longest flight I’ve ever done has been 12 hours. The extra 3 hours just may put me over the edge. Jesus take the wheel.

I can’t wait until I can live in the US permanently. I love traveling; I’m obsessed with going to new places and being an expat but seriously there is nothing like home. Nothing. I know the US government is a shit show and it’s a hot ass mess but I can’t wait to live here again. I have a big, big dream in the pipeline, and it’s one of those things where I need to have a base in the US for it to get off of the ground.

Anyway, I board in 20 minutes so the next time you here from me I’ll be in Korea! Happy Lunar New Year!

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