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I’M OFFICIALLY 27 – HERE’S EVERYTHING I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH THIS YEAR

If you couldn’t already tell from the title.. IT’S MY BIRTHDAY TODAY!

This year, I’m surprisingly less excited to celebrate. I know, who am I anymore?! And I can’t pin-point a reason why I’m feeling subdued today. Perhaps I’m still jet-lagged from my recent trip back home to Canada and reaction time has been delayed. Or, it’s because I’ve discovered more than one grey hair on my head and it feels like my youth has officially ended. Mmmk but serious question, if I pluck a grey hair out, do more grow in? Or, is that a myth? Please advise.

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ANYWAY! I came into the world 27 years ago (holy shit I’m almost 30!), and if you remember from last year, here were the goals I wanted to achieve at 26. Let’s see how I did:

1. Write a book.

This didn’t happen because it’s still not the time. As much as I want to sit down and commit to my writing, I’m constantly sidetracked with other projects. One day I will write a goddamn book but (again..) this wasn’t the year. SOON!

2. Go to my 5th continent.

HECK YEAH! New Zealand and Australia were my latest travel expeditions, and they were sweet as. I already want to go back.

3. Create a morning routine.

I wouldn’t call it a routine, but I wake up a lot earlier than I used to so, I’m counting it.

4. Create a budget.

I’ve been doing my best to save but it’s been a little difficult, especially because I’ve been traveling a bunch. I do the best I can and am conscious of where my money goes, but sometimes I crave a $6 latte okay! LET ME LIVE MY LIFE! I’m not perfect with finances but I DID reach my goal (barely.. but I did it!). You’ll see why I’m trying to save once you read the new goals below.

5. Raise $1,000 for The Malala Fund to secure girls’ right to a minimum of 12 years of quality education.

I raised $386 for The Malala Fund, and even though I didn’t reach $1,000 mark (it was quite ambitious..), I’m thankful for everyone who took the time to donate. Seriously, thank you. #FreedomForAllGirls means educating girls and women to be strong, independent, and opinionated. To feed your brain with useful knowledge, check out The Global Goals new video they created for International Day of the Girl, which was on October 11, featuring the song “Freedom” by Queen B.

In March, I will be leaving South Korea (can you believe it’s almost been two years?!) and returning back home to Canada (or elsewhere, we’ll see where the wind blows).

Below are the goals I will strive to achieve during my 27th year of life:

1. Start a career in a creative field.

2. Purchase property.

3. Go to my 6th continent.

4. Commence secret project (Mwhaha! Sorry, you’ll know in time, I promise!).

5. Donate blood.

Most of these are lofty goals, but when I leave South Korea I’m ready to create a whole new life in an entirely different environment. Buuuuut, in the meantime, cheers to another year of learning from mistakes, working hard, and being a goal-achieving-bad-ass-bitch-who-will-never-be-too-old-to-eat-peanut-butter-with-her-fingers-out-of-the-jar.

Below is a photo from this morning featuring my co-teachers and I. They were waiting for me to arrive so they could surprise me with a cake, but I rolled in late with a $6 latte in hand. Heh heh.

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As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog posts and for all the sweet birthday wishes. My heart feels warm and fuzzy.

Love you all long time.

xo

Jessica

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

My stay on Magnetic Island was definitely a high-energy adventure but as a city girl (always have been, always will be), I missed the vibe of bright lights and bustling streets. For my final couple days in Australia, I made my way to the capital of New South Wales and one of Australia’s largest cities: SYDNEY!

I regrettably stayed at a hostel called Kings Cross Backpackers. I should have done my research before booking.. rookie mistake. I was unaware that I was staying in the heart of the red light district. Oy vey. Honestly, it wasn’ t the WORST hostel in the world but there were, at times, young 20-somethings recklessly running around the hallways with bottles of vodka in hand, shouting gibberish at the tops of their lungs. I definitely should have spent the extra money on a hotel or Airbnb. Awell, you live and you learn.

On my first morning in the city I woke up extra early, mostly because I wanted to spend as little time at the hostel as possible. First order of business was to make my way to the iconic Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jorn Oberg Utzon. Did you know that Utzon was inspired to create the UNESCO World Heritage site by peeling an orange? Now you know.

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I never took public transit or a taxi while in Sydney, I walked EVERYWHERE because the best way to see every nook and cranny a new city has to offer, is by foot. On my all-day walking treks I browsed every Kmart I came across, ran into Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and ate a whole lot of Greek salad and hummus. Eating out in Australia can be quite pricey so whenever I passed a grocery store I stocked up on some food favs to snack on throughout the day. I was also running low on my budget, it was the tail end of the trip afterall!

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On my last day in Sydney I walked from Kings Cross to Bondi Beach, which was a 12 km round-trip expedition. My feet were blistered, bleeding, swollen but.. I had places to get to! When I arrived at Bondi, I was surprised to see surfers doing their thang in the middle of Australian winter, but it made for good entertainment as I ate my grocery-store quality macaroni salad.

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Australia has been sweet as! It has been an unforgettable adventure and there’s no doubt in my mind that I will definitely be back one day. Mostly because I want to hug a dozen more koalas and raid every K-mart I missed.

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Want to see my Sydney adventures in 60 seconds? Check out my latest Get Up & Go Girl video below!

MAGNETIC ISLAND, AUSTRALIA

Another day, another down un-dah adventure. After spending a weekend swimming above the Great Barrier Reef (WHAT A DREAM!), I waved goodbye to Whitsunday Island and took a Greyhound bus for three hours to Townsville. I got there relatively late and didn’t know how to get into my hostel (it was locked..) so I did a lot of standing around, avoiding drunk young 20-somethings until a security guard saw me outside with my luggage. When I got into my room at Rambutan I wanted to take a quick shower and immediately made my way to the washroom. I opened the door and saw a RED cockroach run across the tiles. ‘Guess I’m not showering tonight’ I thought, and calmly closed the shower door and slid straight into bed.

The next morning I got out of my cockroach infested room (oh ‘Straya!) and hopped on a ferry to the magnificent Magnetic Island! There’s a 99.9% chance if you’re not from Australia, you’ve never heard of this mountainous, magical place. It’s right off the shore from Townsville and essentially one giant national park, with wallabies and echidnas running astray.

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My friend Delainha (whom I met in London, England!) works at Bungalow Bay, a hostel and koala park on the island. She was generous enough to let me stay at her place for the four days, three nights I spent on Maggie.

The first morning I woke up early to enjoy an avocado toast and smoothie at The Early Bird. It was a tad pricey (I think the total was around $20?), but a nice treat to kick-off my island adventure.

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The beaches on Maggie were unbelievable and there’s plenty to choose from such as Picnic Bay, Nelly Bay, Horseshoe Bay, and my favourite.. RADICAL BAY! Think coconuts, warm waters, soft sand, and even a rustic piano along the shoreline because, why not?

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The Forts Walk was a 4km hike I did with a couple new friends and it was one of my favourite activities on the island. Not only because it lead to WWII forts and breathtaking views, but simply because I saw my first WILD koala! Doing WILD koala things! Aka, sleeping. BUT LOOK AT HOW CUTE!

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On my last day on Maggie, Delainha recommended I go horseback riding at Horseshoe Bay Ranch, and was told to bring a bathing suit. “Why are we going into the water?” I giggled to her. “UMM, YES!” She responded excitedly. I’ve galloped on a horse a couple times in my life but never have I SWAM WITH ONE!

The next morning I was assigned a horse named Crikey, who was sweet but TBH, was half asleep the entire trek. After an hour of trotting through bushland, the instructors unsaddled our horses and we rode bareback into the ocean. We were told to hold onto the horses mane to stay on and we splashed our way until the water was waist deep on us – it was a wild experience!

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OH YES! IT’S VLOG TIME! Delainha and I rent motorbikes (and have an unfortunate accident), I witness the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen, and make-out with a blue tonged lizard. You know, the usual. ENJOY!

BAD DAY? READ THESE FAKE TWEETS FROM CHANCE THE RAPPER

Did you know you can be an expert at creating fake Twitter accounts? AND make money from it? This is the world we live in.

These tweets from Chance The Rapper aren’t actually from the American singer, but a 17-year old high school senior from Minnesota named Danny Diaz. Lucky for Diaz, Chance (the real one!) approves these messages.

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Even though these affirmations didn’t come from Chance himself, I still appreciate the simple messages of positivity and thought you could use them in your life too.

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WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS, AUSTRALIA

Fresh off a plane from New Zealand, my friend Vanessa and I left the chill air of Christchurch and was slapped straight in the face with sun, warmth, and humidity of the Whitsunday Islands of Australia. I’ve never loved a slap in the face more in my entire life.

We took a shuttle from the PPP airport to our Airbnb (never stayed at an Airbnb before? Click HERE for a sweet discount) and our host suggested to hurry up and catch the sunset on Airlie Beach. We made it right one time and it was S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G!

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A grocery store was a short distance walk away from the beach so Vanessa and I picked up a few breakfast and lunch supplies since the land down un-dah has a high price tag on eating out, especially in this tourist town.

Early the next morning Vanessa and I departed on a Great Barrier Reef Adventure with Cruise Whitsundays! We took a catamaran from Port of Airlie for three hours to a pontoon where snorkeling gear was provided. We explored the various reefs, giant clams, and tropical sea creatures. Some were even as big as me!

There was a point in the day where everyone left the water to eat lunch, which was provided and super delicious. I stayed in to swim around on my own and to my luck, spotted a turtle! Chip (his name, apparently) swam gracefully, up and down the crystal clear waters. I, on the other hand, was not so elegant in my attempt to capture him on camera. I did the best I could.

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The reefs themselves are not as vibrant in colour as you imagine, blame global warming for the bleaching. It was eye-opening to see first hand how our world is changing, and sometimes it’s not for the better. There are talks that the reef could revive itself, but there’s only a small percentage. We need the reef to sustain, not only tourism $$$ for Australia 😉 but marine life rely on it for shelter and nutrients.

What can we do to help?

Keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, duh!

  • Walk or bike instead of driving.
  • Plant a tree, or two.
  • Call your local politicians and remind them how important it is to support climate change.

Our adventure at the Great Barrier Reef was informative as it was fun, and when Vanessa and I got back to Airlie Beach, we passed right out.

The next day we craved some R&R and took a half-day cruise to Whitehaven Beach. The waters were various shades of turquoise and sand was made of white silica (aka, soft AF).

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Whitehaven Beach was hands down the most picturesque beach I’ve ever left my footprints on. It has even been named Queensland’s Most Beautiful Beach, no arguments there.IMG_8113

Whitsunday Islands = A serious dream come true. It has always been a goal of mine to swim above the Great Barrier Reef, and I was lucky enough to have the best tour guide, Chip the turtle. 😉 Want to see all the underwater action? I captured it all for ya! Check out my latest vlog below!

SUMMER LIST 2017 | ACCOMPLISHED GOALS

This morning I looked at the date in my calendar: August 31st. It’s Thursday, which means I have soccer after work, gotta visit the bank at some point, and then.. it registered. I lowered my head in shame and muttered “ah shit” beneath my breath.

Today is the deadline for accomplishing my summer goals and I’m going to be totally honest, I forget ALL about them. To be fair, I did say last year that I needed to step it up, and I ended up being too ambitious, if that’s a thing. Awell. Life goes on. Read below for my accomplishments and weak ass excuses for this years summer goals.

JESSICA’S SUMMER GOALS 2017!

1. Visit Namhae Island and go to the German Village.

I went on my own (because, lack of friends) but ended up meeting spectacular people along the way. That day turned out to be one of the best I’ve had in South Korea!

2. Attend Ultra in Seoul.

Another event I went to, all by myself (should really look into how to make more friends..) but yet again I met up with wonderful people and danced the night away.

3. Witness the Firework Festival in Pohang.

I don’t even know where Pohang is, TBH.

4. Travel to New Zealand and Australia.

YES YES YES! I have more videos to be published on this trip but until then, you can read about my Christchurch, New Zealand adventure by clicking, HERE!

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5. Register for the Chunchon 10k marathon.

I’m all registered, but I don’t know anything about how to get there, where I’ll stay, or how to pick up my race packet. Stay tuned, I guess.

6. Spend an entire day bike riding.

YAY, I ACTUALLY DID THIS ONE! It wasn’t for an entire day, more like an afternoon. Counting it. Read all about it by clicking HERE!

7. Book trip to Cambodia for birthday in October.

WHAT? THIS WAS SOMETHING I WANTED TO DO? See, I don’t even remember. No, this is not happening because change of plans, I’m going back to Canada! It’s only for a week, but I’ll be back on Canadian soil in exactly 30 days and I tear up every time I think about it.

8. Read a new book each month.

I Am That Girl – Alexis Jones
Shoe Dog – Phil Knight
True North – Kathryn Lasky
Beartown – Fredrik Backman

9. Grow Get Up & Go Girl to 500 subscribers on YouTube.

Not gonna give up!

10. Be able to do the splits.

LOL! *eye roll*

Honestly, 6 out of 10 isn’t the worst. It’s not the best, but if this were school I technically passed so.. eat it. Summer 2017, you were adventurous, challenging, and humid as hell but I wouldn’t change a thing. 안녕히 계세요!

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND

Thoughts in your head right now: WTF? Christchurch? Where is that? Why would you go there? Why did you not go to Aukland or Queenstown? Why Christchurch? 

Honestly, I never would have travelled to New Zealand in the first place if it weren’t for my friend Vanessa, who has been living there for nearly two years! Initially, my summer vacation plan was to solely visit Australia but I made a last minute decision to take the scenic route and catch-up with her while I was on that side of the world. Thus, the reason for my visit to the largest city in the South Island.

Coming from South Korea, where temperatures reached up to 35 degrees with humidity, it was actually quite nice to feel the cooler, winter weather of Christchurch. After arriving from a 10-hour flight from Shanghai, where I had three seats to myself on the plane (ay yoo!), I took a quick shower and was ready to explore the city.

My first stop was the Christchurch Art Gallery, which was easy to spot with the 46-metre neon artwork outside the building saying, “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT” created by the late artist, Neil Graham.

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At the art gallery I appreciated work from artists such as Len Lye, Bridget Riley, and Matisse. Admission was free and every day at 2PM there is a 45-minute tour of the gallery (also free!), which I highly recommend. There were only two of us on the tour so it was intimate and incredibly informative. It was here I learned about Māori, the original settlers of New Zealand. There were beautiful paintings and historic figures and facts about the Māori people, and I learned it is also an official language of the country, along with English and New Zealand sign language.

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After being cultured at the gallery I went on a short walk to New Regent Street, a charming little area in Christchurch where you can rest at a cafe or browse around the handful of cute boutiques.

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On New Regent Street I had my first flat white, which originated in New Zealand, but I’m sure Australians would have a different story. Heh heh. A flat white, if you don’t know, is an espresso-based caffeinated beverage and I learned the hard way that there’s no such thing as “a regular coffee” in New Zealand. As a Canadian, saying you’d like a “double-double” just won’t pass here. You either have to say you want a flat white or a long black, perhaps even an affogato. Everyone here is a coffee snob, and I’m kind of ok with that.

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For breakfast the next morning Vanessa recommended I go to Uncommon Cafe, which has, in her opinion, the most Insta-worthy food. She wasn’t wrong. I got the buttermilk hotcake with all the fixings (watermelon, grapes, pineapple, dried raspberries, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, etc) and of course, I had to get another flat white (double shot!). The hotcake was hearty and delicious, not to mention a colourful masterpiece.

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After breakfast I took a stroll to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Canterbury Museum. I don’t know about you, but when I go to a new city, I love walking.. EVERYWHERE! Despite developing blisters on my feet, I rarely ever want to take public transportation because the best views, cafes, food, and shopping come from the smaller boutiques you wouldn’t know about if you didn’t take your time to explore by foot. IMG_7899

If you’re familiar with Christchurch, you know the city was destroyed by an earthquake that was 6.3 on the Ricther Scale on February 22, 2011. The entire city fell in a matter of 10 seconds and took the lives of 185 people. There is an unofficial memorial outside St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church called 185 Empty Chairs to remember those who have died in the disaster.

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The proceeding day, I woke up in excitement to go on my first ever wine-o filled adventure! I didn’t know much about wine, other than I like red more than white.. and that’s all the knowledge I had, sadly. I went on the half-day Waipara Wine Trail Tour, and oh my gosh it was so much fun!

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We stopped at beautiful wineries such as Pegasus BayWaipara Hills, Torlesse Wines and Waipara Springs. New Zealand is ideal for making wine because of its warm, dry climate and the tour was not shy when it came to pouring endless amounts of sauvignon blanc, pinot noirs, and rosé. We also had an incredible lunch filled with fruits, meats, homemade bread, and cheeses. I could eat that kind of stuff for dinner every single day.

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Christchurch was a wonderful surprise, and I would love to go back to New Zealand one day! I have Vanessa to thank for all her awesome food and shopping recommendations, as well as hosting me for the four days and three nights I spent in Christchurch. She’s a kind, creative, bubbly individual and I’m lucky to have friends like her who live around the world.

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OH YES! VLOG TIME! See Christchurch in all its glory, and watch me develop a love for Squiggles. What are Squiggles? WATCH THE VLOG BELOW TO FIND OUT! Sorry about the all-caps, just really passionate about all things Squiggle.

LIFE IN KOREA Q&A (SUMMER PASTA MUKBANG)

Hey friends!

Grab some food, and maybe some yummy sangria, and eat lunch with me!

In my latest video I answer your questions and give sub-par advice on summer fashion staples, negative feedback, life goals, etc etc etc.

Also.

I LEAVE FOR NEW ZEALAND AND AUSTRALIA IN ONE WEEK! AHH! CAN’T WAIT TO CUDDLE WIF ALL DA KOALA BEARSSS!

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BOSEONG GREEN TEA FIELDS

TGIF!!!

Hello all. I’m currently at work, desk warming.

Desk warming – expectations: Me sitting in front of the computer, working hard, planning activities and gathering reading materials for summer camp, which commences Monday.

I’m finished planning summer camp, so..

Desk warming – reality: Me scrolling through Instagram, eating snacks, and researching how long it would take to travel to each country, in case of a mid-life crisis. If you’re wondering, if you spend 5 days in each of the 196 countries, and assuming it would take a day to travel to each of them, it would (apparently) take 3 years, 2 months, and 3 weeks.

And probably a bajillion dollars.

Anyway, I haven’t made a life update blog post in awhile and quite frankly, it’s Friday and I’m feeling lazy. So, I will show you pictures of what I’ve been up to and explain them all in a Haiku.

*ahem*

On top of a roof.
Bridge lifts up at 2 P.M.
Decent view, I guess.

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What are these trees called?
They’re pretty and I like them.
Want to take one home.

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I love wine and cheese.
Especially on a date.
He took this picture.

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This is Dadaepo.
My favorite beach in Busan.
Go for the sunsets.

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Boseong green tea fields.
I frolicked with no shame here.
Lost my umbrella.

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It was so humid.
Green tea ice cream was the fix.
Prefer mint chocolate

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This pic is grainy.
Sorry for bad quality.
I like my outfit

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French fries on the side.
With extra sauce because, duh.
Ketchup and mayo.

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New vlog is now live.
Sorry it’s been awhile.
I hope you like it.

Have an awesome weekend everyone! 🙂

 

THE CURE FOR LONELINESS

Hello all!

I’ve been M.I.A for nearly a month. Perhaps it’s because the summer season arrived and my body was like, “give the internet a rest for a bit.”

Whether the humidity has gotten to me or not, I haven’t been feeling motivated, and understanding how I felt and what I could do to help myself was (and still is) a rocky road. So, I unplugged. Looking back, I think that was the right thing to do. Sometimes we need time to nurture our bodies and take care of our souls, and we can’t authentically do that with an audience watching.

When I knew the funk was lingering a little too long, I forced myself to grab my camera and express how I was feeling though my latest video on Get Up & Go Girl. It’s a different style than what I usually do but I hope you like it.

THE KOREAN BEAUTY SECRET FOR DEWY SKIN

Korean women are notorious for having perfectly radiant skin. Are they hiding a cupboard full of holy grail beauty products? Good genes? Vitamins? Diet? As a skincare fanatic, I needed to know how to achieve their level of luminosity.

If you have dry skin, like myself, you know how hard it is to make your skin (in the words of Bad Gal RiRi) shine bright like a diamond. In my latest video on Get Up & Go Girl I think I’ve nailed the solution for supple, envy-inducing skin. If you’ve never heard of Neogen, they’re a Korean skincare company making waves in the beauty industry and their latest launch, Code 9 Gold Black Caviar Essence & Gold Tox Tightening Pack Kit ($48) is the glimmering golden ticket for the natural glow-from-within.

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Want to know the power of this essence? Benefits of gold flakes (I know, so bougie)? How to properly apply the product? Check it all out in the video below!

TOP 5 ICE CREAMS FOUND AT KOREAN CONVENIENCE STORES

After I go out for dinner, there’s a likely chance I’ll be making a B-line toward the nearest CU or 7/11 for a frozen sugar fix. In South Korea, ice cream is found at every corner shop and typically under ₩2,000. Options are bountiful, from exotic red bean to addicting classics of chocolate and vanilla. To give you the inside scoop (no pun intended), I’ve rounded my top five South Korean convenience store confectionery treats.

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1. Papico

I’m a chocolate fanatic, and this one perfectly satisfies my sweet tooth. Take the squishy bottle out of the wrapper and warm it up in your hands to easily eat while on the go. Also, my students can’t get enough of this stuff and I can always catch them devouring it at lunchtime.

RATING: 8/10

2. Big Beads Ice – Peach & Kiwi

If you’ve ever had Dippin’ Dots, this is essentially the same thing but the dots are bigger, and tastier. The refreshing circle shaped treats melt in your mouth and flavours of peach and kiwi are the perfect tang for your taste buds.

RATING: 9/10

3. Vanilla Milkshake

If you appreciate a McDonald’s vanilla soft serve, then you’ll LOVE this milkshake. I’m not a huge vanilla ice cream person, but this is a classic. Similar to Papico, you warm the packaging with your hands and drink the milkshake through the top. It’s a good option if you’re looking for a no-mess kind of dessert.

RATING: 8/10

4. Melona Ice Bar

Melona is by far my favourite of the bunch. If you’re a fan of honeydew melon, then beware because once you start you’ll constantly crave the taste of this ice bar. It’s creamy, sweet, and the perfect after-dinner palette cleanser.

RATING: 10/10

5. Bungeo-ppang

This fish-shaped pastry contains red bean and pastry cream in the middle. It’s a common street food in South Korea, but you can also pick it up at your local convenience store. It’s not my go-to, but if I want to try something different, this one is a good one to grab.

RATING: 7/10

This post was created for EPIK e-Press.

BIKE RIDING THROUGH SAMNAK RIVERSIDE

‘Tis the season of getting outside and enjoying the heat, and what better way to ring in the sweet summertime than going for a riverside bike ride. My friend Jake and I made our way to Samnak Ecological Park in Busan and rented a bike for ₩3,000 each. We had to give the rental place a piece of ID, which was returned once we gave back the bikes. I read online that foreigners can rent these bikes for free, but turns out it wasn’t true. No biggie though, ONWARDS WE WENT FOR OUR RIVERSIDE ADVENTURE!

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We had one hour to ride around the area, which is the largest of the four parks located along the Nakdonggang River.

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We rode pass a plethora of soccer and baseball fields, camp grounds, and even an inline skating rink. The boys in the picture below enthusiastically said hello as I was passing by and couldn’t help but snap a photo, they were just so darn cute!

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Peddling along the riverside, I forgot I was still in a city. The leisurely ride was a great escape from the regular bustle and filled with scenic marshes, tall grasslands, willow trees, wildflowers, and all types of birds flying up and around us.

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The only complaint is that a one hour rental wasn’t long enough. The park is ginormous, and you could easily ride around for an entire afternoon.

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After the hour was up we broke quite a sweat, and an appetite. Jake asked what I was in the mood for and my immediate answer was mul naengmyeon (물냉면). It’s a refreshing South Korean summer dish served cold and made with radish water, meat, noodles, veggies, and a red spicy sauce.

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We also ordered a platter of homemade mandu (만두), which I crave constantly no matter the season.

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This post was created for EPIK e-Press.