Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category

The New Year

Posted by quirksalight on January 1, 2011

Looking back on 2010, it’s been a crazy ride. A year of massive changes in all aspects of my life, from work, dating, friends, and location, roller-coastering is a mild way of describing it.

January: Move to NYC, received and accepted my invitation to the 152nd A-100 class.

February: Prep for starting, snowmaggedon of DC, met some interesting folk in NYC

March: Meet up with friends in NY for the last time in a while, learned to snowboard properly; Move back to DC for A-100!

April: Complete A-100, first post is Seoul, Korea.

May: POL/ECON training

June: Pack out, good-byes to friends and family; arrive in Seoul on June 24.

July: 2+2, get to meet Secretary Clinton,

August: Another year older…

September: Chuseok, Typhoons and Conferences

October: Bangkok!

November: G-20, Yeonpyong Island, Marine Ball, St. Andrews Ball, Thanksgiving feast for 25

December: Eating across Asia with friends; Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore; military exercises off the western coast of South Korea. Holidays with friends old and new; ringing in the New Year with new friends, very grateful for the year that had just wrapped up.


Posted in 152nd, adventure, ancedotes, musings, vacation, work | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

HK: I think I ate too much

Posted by quirksalight on December 13, 2010

Jen’s uncle took us to a seafood restaurant in the New Territories. It was AWESOME. I ate things that I have no idea what they are, but only that they were delicious. The seafood is freshly caught and in holding pens outside the restaurant. These were extremely large specimens… and you choose your dinner to be cooked in whatever way you please. It’s a good thing that we spent 6 hours earlier in the day walking around on Hong Kong Island.
I’m going to let the pictures do all the talking. 🙂 Definately on my top 10 meals ever.

Posted in adventure, amusing, Food, fun, Hong Kong, travel, vacation | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Peak and other delights:

Posted by quirksalight on December 13, 2010

The rest of our group made it to HK and we were now a merry band of 4 Penn alumnae running around HK. Excellent.

Staying in Kowloon, we hit the local shops, the malls, and markets for interesting finds. Personally, I found some sunglasses, a bottle of Miss Dior perfume (which I hadn’t been able to find for a while), comfy/dressy shoes, and a jade necklace. The necklace was a part of a collective bargaining session at the Jade Market in Yau Ma Tei, with Laura taking the lead for our goods. Nice market, but definitely a place where you need to be able to bargain and knowing the language will do you a lot of good. Next, as one of our main agenda items for the trip was eating, we hit up a Buddhist vegetarian dim sum place. Hmm… the artificial meat in the dimsum was a little strange… but the veggie bits, such as the tofu skins, excellent!

Tea at the Landmark Mandarian Oriental – running late because turns out you can’t just get a taxi on the street to get you from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, but have to call one for that purpose. Easy enough at any hotel, but to those who didn’t know this tidbit of info, quite frustrating, especially when you’ve got reservations.

Next, we split up and the three of us, Kim, Jen and I, headed up to Victoria Peak, just after sunset. Even though it’s not high tourist season, the tram line was LONG. And a crush to push our way into the tram – I seriously had to hip check a guy out of my way who tried to jump ahead of me.

But the view was totally worth it. With the wind whipping through our hair, we stood on top, watching the glittering skylines of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon spread before us, and the ferries moving across Hong Kong Harbour like balls of light floating across the water.

Recommended by our guidebooks and several friends, we first hit up Dragon-I for drinks and apps. Turns out that there is a Happy hour special of 2-1 drinks from 3-9pm. Just don’t get the one with Benedictine liquor – horrid… tastes like cough syrup…. unless you like that sort of thing…. Otherwise, it’s a great deal for drinks in that area.
Met up with an AFP photographer who I met at the G20 in Seoul the past month. He and his colleague joined us at Classified, a wine and cheese bar in the Soho/ Lan Kwai Fong area of Central HK. It was good to meet up with him, though his colleague wasn’t feeling well and went home shortly after arriving.

Posted in adventure, amusing, Food, friends, fun, Hong Kong, outdoors, travel, vacation | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Korean in HK

Posted by quirksalight on December 10, 2010

For me, a big part of traveling is absorbing cultural information and history, so I tend to hit the museums. Also, I really like museums; I think it may have had something to do with growing up with easy access to the Smithsonian.

Jen and I started the museums at the Hong Kong History museum, after a dim sum brunch. When we got there, we got the week-long, all-museum access pass (which is an AMAZING deal, $30 HK for 7 museums).

We get stamped in, and of course, the usual random chitchat with the ticket attendant about where we’re coming from, etc. Upon finding out that I was from Korea, she told me that my English was really good for a Korean, to which I answered that I was an American.

Finding out that I was bilingual in English and Korean, the ticket attendant asked if I could tell her how to say a couple phrases in Korean for the tourists that come by. She was pretty happy and excited that I could, and so I helped her with the translation and pronunciation in English for “Opens at 1 o’clock” and “How many tickets”.

Pretty neat. And later, when we needed to get back to an exhibit, she called the other museum guard to let us in. 🙂

Posted in adventure, ancedotes, history, Hong Kong, Korean, museums, travel, vacation | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Hong Kong!

Posted by quirksalight on December 9, 2010

I’m skipping blogging on the Korea part because Jen’s got that one covered. 🙂
As you can see, the goal of our trip to Korea and HK is to hang out with old friends, but to have a gastronomical adventure in Asia. hee hee…

But today was one of adjustment… got up at 5am to catch the flight to HK, and had to take a nap because I was so tired. Pretty sure I overpacked, but meh… not exactly sure what is needed. But mainly, we were walking around in Kowloon and getting a scope of the place. I noticed that it appears to be more crowded on the streets than in Seoul…. but I’ll have to take stock of that in the coming days. A data point of one isn’t really telling much, no?

Posted in adventure, ancedotes, commentary, fun, Korea, travel, vacation | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by quirksalight on December 9, 2010

I’m taking my first official vacation this month – with friends visiting from the US to explore Korea, then to Hong Kong, then to Singapore and back to Seoul in later December.

I remember that I was surprised seeing Seoul eligible for an R&R (which I haven’t taken for this trip), but it’s been a rather intense couple of months. I love my job, but decompression time is definitely necessary.

Posted in adventure, ancedotes, travel, vacation | Leave a Comment »

20-20 can be painfully clear

Posted by quirksalight on December 6, 2008

A couple months ago, I wrote about South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation commission on the investigation into the wartime (and post Korean-war) atrocities by the US backed S. Korean government. (“Sometimes you just have to force yourself to read it“)

More news is continuously coming to light about the sheer scope of what happened, and the role that the US and S Korean governments played in it. Keeping in mind, that this was also the height of the “Red Scare” and McCarthyism in the US,

On my vacation to Jeju Island, I went to the Jeju 4.3 Peace Memorial. I had thought that I had a decent grasp of Korean history, especially for a “gyo-po” (Korean foreigner), but I had never heard of an event on 4.3 that would be significant enough to warrant a memorial.

It turns out, Jeju Island had a brutal military crackdown against members of the communist party of Korea in the 1950s. However, like a lot of the political crackdowns and killings on the Korea mainland, many of those who died were tainted by associated; the families and friends of those accused. Tens of thousands were killed or died due to exposure and starvation when they fled to the countryside.

The memorial was full of declassified documents from that era, and everyone knew, but ignored it.

I left the museum, a little sad, and just sat for a while, contemplating.

Posted in adventure, ancedotes, death, history, Korea, Korean, Nerdity, Politics, Social commentary, travel, US history, vacation, world news | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

MLK weekend and the Catskills

Posted by quirksalight on February 2, 2008

After living in NY for a couple of years, I never had the chance to explore the Catskills or Adirondacks until AFTER I moved out of the state. 😛
Pictures here

This past Martin Luther King (MLK) weekend, a bunch of friends from college and I went up to Kinkykill (that’s the name of the house and lands) for the weekend. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in close to a year, so it was a great to see everyone, especially since I found out that I’m leaving the US for a year.
9 people, 4 cars, 3 dogs, and a whole mess of food. It was supposed to snow all weekend, so perfect for winter sports of all kinds. Skiing, snowboarding, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding were on on the “to do” list. Unfortunately, the forecasted snow never arrived, so the nordic skiing and snowshoeing got canceled, as there wasn’t enough snow on the ground. But there was plenty enough for the cars to get stuck halfway up the long driveway to the house. Out of the 4 cars, only the SUV made it to the house. And good thing; it would have sucked to haul the luggage, gear, and food up from the field where the cars were left at near midnight on Friday night.
Heated by two wood burning stoves, it was a cozy place partway up a mountain.

Saturday, we mainly stayed around the house. Most of us were up until 3am, so it was a late morning, and brunch was a great frittata, made by Jess. It was a beautiful day, as seen here:
View from the house
We took advantage of it by sledding down the hill, down the driveway, falling into ditches and through bushes.
Checking out Woodstock, dinner at the house, games and s’mores rounded out the night.
Sunday, two of us had to leave early after brunch. 😦 Five of us went tubing and proceeded to make the most of our two hour ticket in a rather biting wind. Great fun, but OMG, I was very glad to thaw out after. Dinner at the gypsy wolf cantina, and then chasing down a radio station to hear what happened in the Giants v. Cowboys playoff game, as the restaurant kicked us out with less than two minutes left in the game!!!
Monday – wrapping up, closing up the house, and more than a spot of car trouble. Stuck cars, blown engines, dead batteries… ay-ya-ya…

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, friends, fun, holidays, Nature, New York, outdoors, Penn, vacation | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Montreal Jazz Festival – aka, the second week

Posted by quirksalight on July 16, 2007

The title is slightly misleading… I didn’t spend ALL my time at the Festival, just nearly every evening and night. I visited the Jardin botanique de Montréal (Montreal Botanical Garden), and the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. The former was so huge, that we couldn’t see it all in one go… and that’s after walking around for four hours! Also walked up Mont Royal to get great great views of the entire city in multiple directions.
I did take a LONG bike trip along the length of the Lachine Canal, up the St. Lawrence westward, then back to Old Montreal by edge of the St. Lawrence River, passing the rapids.
Lachine Canal Map
Picture taken on canal map posted along the trail.

The path I rode is in red, though I went off of this map, and the park circled in green is the Parc des Rapides, where I walked about and saw this:

For the Festival, here’s some of the artists that really caught my eye (and ear!)

Carlinho Browne (Brazil) – Great dance music, though people were complaining that he wasn’t playing his older (aka, favorites) music
Nomadic Massive – Montreal funk…
Son de la Frontera – Spanish guitar and flamenco….
Ojos de Brujo (Spain) – Amazing live show!!!!
J’tadi – gypsy style… very upbeat
Shakura S’Aida (Toronto) – Powerful, yet cheeky, blues singer
Manu Chao – It was great music, but what amazed me was how enthralled the audience of thousands were of him
Seun Kuti – AFROFUNK!
Emily King (US) – young guitarist from Brooklyn with great vocals
God Made us Funky (Toronto) – interesting… great, amusing music with a lot of sampling
DJ Dolores
Nomo (Ann Arbor, MI) – one of the few instrumental groups that I saw/heard, but very good brass and sax playing
Wax Poetic (US) – avant-garde… not sure if I like them, but it was an interesting show

Posted in biking, Canada, Carlinho Brown, Emily King, God Made Me Funky, J'tadi, Jazz, Manu Chao, Mont Royal, Montreal, Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal Jazz Festival, Music, nightlife, Nomadic Massive, Nomo, Ojos de Brujo, outdoors, Seun Kuti, Shakura S'Aida, vacation, Wax Poetic | Leave a Comment »

Montreal bound!!!

Posted by quirksalight on June 24, 2007

I leave Sunday morning for a two week trip to Montreal. Originally, it was supposed to be one-week, for a scientific conference (my last major conference as a grad student for the forseeable future) there. Interestingly enough, the conference overlaps with the Montreal Jazz Festival, so I decided to extend my trip a couple days. A couple days became an extra 8 days upon learning that some friends of mine will also be attending.
Most definitely psyched! I haven’t had a long vacation in a while, and the total music immersion is something I’m very much looking forward to.
I’m staying at the Montreal hostel, the run by Hosteling International. The place has great reviews from individuals and other independent guide books, and it looks like the place is well-run, has bar crawls (woo hoo!) twice a week, and has gotten rave reviews.
I plan on renting a bike to see the city before the Jazz fest, as Montreal is supposed to be a very bike friendly city. I’ll fill in details time to time but I doubt I’ll be posting much while there.

Posted in amusing, Beer, biking, Humor, Jazz, liquor, Montreal, Music, nightlife, Otherlife/grad school, restaurants, Science, sleep, travel, vacation, yarn | 3 Comments »