Traveling to Mongolia? 5 Things You Need to Know - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Traveling to Mongolia? 5 Things You Need to Know

Mongolia is a country which might surprise you. If you’re planning to take a holiday there in the coming weeks or months, here are five things you’ll need to know about the Asian nation before you travel.

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Photo: Scott Joseph, Travelstache, The Mongol Rally

1. The Language

A lot of people wrongfully believe people in Mongolia speak Chinese as a first language – a myth perhaps perpetuated by a confusion which leads many to believe it’s a province of China and not a sovereign nation.

Things aren’t helped by the fact there actually is a province in China called “Inner Mongolia”. Easy to see why people were finding themselves in a fuddle.

The language itself is ironically closer to Arabic than Chinese, so you certainly won’t be able to get by even if you’re an expert at Mandarin.

2. Mongolians can make do with very little

We’ve become a touch spoiled as a global society, with it all too easy to forget just how far we’ve come in a relatively short space of time.

While you’re more than likely used to basic amenities which you take for granted, a trip to Mongolia will highlight just how fortunate you actually are.

A particular example of this comes in the form of the lack of roads you’ll find laid out across the country. Instead of tarmacked streets, you’ll instead find dirt roadways which make getting about something of a challenge.

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Photo: Scott Joseph, Travelstache, The Mongol Rally

3. The real excitement isn’t in the big cities

It’s oft the case when travelling to foreign shores that the most popular points of interest come located in some major city. In the case of Mongolia, the exact opposite is in fact true.

Ulaan Baator is the only habitation of any significance in the country, but it’s extremely unimpressive and smog-laden.

The actual treat for holidaymakers comes in the form of the natural scenery and picturesque views which you’ll find strewn across the rest of the nation.

4. History

Remember Genghis Khan? Well okay, you won’t “remember” him (he was long before any of our times), but you’ve probably heard of the tyrannical ruler who rampaged his way across Asia.

While most of the world cowered in fear at the might of the Mongol Empire, it’s perhaps unsurprising that in his native country the man is revered as something of a legendary figure.

His methods may have been barbaric and at times even inhumane, but as the founding father of an entire nation it’s not hard to see why he’s held in such high regard.

Traveling to Mongolia? 5 Things You Need to Know - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Photo: Scott Joseph, Travelstache, The Mongol Rally

5. It’s blooming cold

Temperatures in Mongolia have been known to fall to as low as -40 degrees Celsius – yes, you read that correctly – so it’s sufficed to say you’ll need to be someone who has no issue with extreme conditions.

At times it’s quite literally too cold to even snow (which we didn’t even know was physically possible). Sufficed to say, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for your own “cold” conditions after a trip there.

Learnt something new and wondrous about Mongolia? We certainly hope so. Remember to bear these factors in mind when you take a trip there in the future.

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Getting Adjusted at Create Wellness Center

When I moved to Korea, I didn’t think I’d be doing so many things to help benefit myself. Truly. But I’ve gotten my teeth all fixed here, I’ve taken care of my skin in amazing ways, and I’ve now gone to the chiropractor!

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Just outside Itaewon station is the Create Wellness Center, a charming lovely therapy place where you can get yourself feeling better. They’ve been around for years and are a trusted member of the international community. Their staff speaks English and can help you get consultations, figure out what exactly you need, and of course book appointments and provide care.

Create Wellness offers a multitude of treatments from massage therapy to pilates to rehabilitative exercises for your sports people.

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A Muggle's Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

A Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade

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When you take the train from King’s Cross at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, you’ll end up in Hogsmeade, the perpetually snowy village at the base of Hogwarts.

If you’re at all familiar with the Harry Potter books and films, Hogsmeade will look just like you imagine. It’s fanciful and just a little askew. The roofs are pitched and chimneys whirling, and it’s buzzing with excitement. While mostly a gateway to Hogwarts and the rides and attractions there, Hogsmeade deserves some of your time. So don’t go running to The Forbidden Journey just yet!

A Muggle's Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

There’s plenty of magic on display here, from interactive window displays, to Hogwarts students prowling about.  There’s also The Dragon Challenge dueling roller coasters here in Hogsmeade. Themed after The Triwizard Tournament, two roller coasters flip and intertwine. It’s actually a re-purpose of the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, but sssshhh. No one told you that. The two coasters were renamed “Hungarian Horntail” and “Chinese Fireball” in homage to the First Task.

FUN FACT: Hogsmeade and Hogwarts were the first part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that was constructed. Diagon Alley came four years later.

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Korea to DC: Surprising Mom For Christmas

I’ve lived abroad for the vast majority of my adult life, and one thing I’ve always wanted to do was surprise my mom for Christmas one year. Well, this year was the year! After conspiring for months with my sister and getting our mom’s boyfriend in on the scheme, I managed to sneak home from Korea completely undetected.

Korea to DC: Surprising Mom for Christmas - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

The journey started with my heading to Incheon airport around 8PM. My flight was early in the morning and with no direct bus to the airport from where I live in the city, I would either need to take a taxi to where a bus was or walk there at god forsaken o’clock. So I decided to head to the airport the night before and just sleep on one of the many benches with all the other early morning travelers.

No one was on the train to the airport, so naturally I had one of those “I’m the only person on the traaaaaaaaaaain” moments. As someone who is used to chronicling all their travel in blogs and on social media, it was torturous not posting where I was or what I was doing. But I behaved, simply texting with my sister as I poked around the departure hall for food and snacks.

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Terracotta Army: The Real Army of the Dead

An army of the dead is a common theme in horror and adventure cinema. The Terracotta Army in China is the best example of a real life army of the dead and was created to protect the first Emperor of China in the afterlife.

This is why the Terracotta Army is a must-visit for fans of history and culture.

The Terracotta Army is located outside the city of Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi province and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Live Science reports that it is widely believed that there are around 8,000 terracotta warriors in the mausoleum, 2,000 of which have been excavated. The Terracotta Army is considered one of the world’s greatest archaeological finds.

Visitors to the site can see the warriors in three vaults that each contain an evacuation pit. In an article on what to expect at the museum by China Highlights, they state that pit one is the largest and most impressive. This is where the famous photos of the army are taken and the site informs that the spots to get the best view are in the corners of the vault. The second vault contains archers and chariots and the third vault contains a command post. After seeing the warriors visitors can go to the museum and see weapons found in the tombs as well as two bronze carriages that are the largest pieces of ancient bronze ever found.

According to History.com the Terracotta Army was created during the reign of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang (221-207CE). He created the 20-square-mile mausoleum in preparation for his death. Very little is known about the construction of the vast tomb except that it is believed that the Emperor chose the location due to it being rich in gold and jade. What makes the mausoleum so remarkable is that it became a hidden tomb and disappeared from record until it was discovered in 1974.

The story of how the Terracotta Army was rediscovered is almost so unbelievable that it could come from a film plot. In their account of the discovery, Swiss Info write that the tomb was discovered by a peasant called Yang Zhifa. The website recently interviewed Yang about his discovery.

“At first the digging went well. The second day we hit hard red earth, the third day, my shoe dug out the neck of a terracotta statue without a head, but the opening at the bottom was about the size of a bowl.”

Completely by accident Yang has just discovered one of humanity’s greatest creations. In the corner of pit one visitors can see the well where the discovery was made.

Since it was found, the Terracotta Army has been used by Hollywood several times. One famous example was its use as the backdrop of a fight scene in Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life. Speaking of that fight scene in their review of the film, Variety wittily noted that it was “one scene in which the tomb raider appears to demolish more antiquities than she could ever hope to uncover.” The Tomb Raider franchise has had a revival in recent years after the game was rebooted in 2013. The rebooted series has been a huge success and will be adapted into a new film starring Alicia Vikander in 2018.

Lara Croft is one of the world’s most famous digital characters and the popularity of the Tomb Raider franchise has expanded to other formats. One such example is through online gaming site Spin Genie who continue the franchise in their own version of the Tomb Raider game. Like the film and video game the online game encourages players to be a tomb raider in search of rewards. While the Terracotta Army is unlikely to feature in the next film, it is almost certain that another famous historic site or artifact will.

The Terracotta Army is  one of the modern wonders of the world and should not be missed if you are planning a trip to China.

Have you been? Let me know in the comments below!

A Muggle's Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

A Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: London & King’s Cross

There are a few things in the world that can match the impact of Harry Potter. Let’s be real here. Real nerdy. Harry Potter transformed the imaginations of an entire generation and beyond.

So when Alston and I were doing our Orlando tour of Disney Adventures and decided to include Universal, I couldn’t deny that what I was most looking forward to was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I was going to be a witch! I’d see Hogwarts! Roller coasters! Everything was going to be amazing.

I’ll be super frank here and say that I didn’t love J.K. Rowling’s writing all the time. I had issues with her style and some of the choices she made (wait, Dumbledore is gay? Why didn’t you include that in the story so LGBTQ readers could have an amazing hero that was just like them? Why announce it only after everything is done? Argh… don’t get me started), but one thing I desperately loved was the world she crafted. She really did bring magic to life.

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The Universal Studios park in Orlando (there’s also a Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Los Angeles and Osaka) is like a fairy tale come true for many of the Harry Potter generation. You get to live and breath the whimsical world of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, walk in the shadow of Hogwarts, and drink Butterbeer and eat Puking Pasties.

But wait… I’m getting ahead of myself. You need to get there first!

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Between the Sheets: Hotel Maui Dongdaemun - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Between the Sheets: Hotel Maui Dongdaemun

Sometimes life gets to be too much. Whether it’s work or social circles or just the day-to-day grind that is slowly making you mad, once in awhile you simply need to get away from it all. But maybe you don’t want to go far, maybe you just need a mini break in the city where you call home. I was in need of one of those, majorly, I had just quit my job here in Seoul, and my mind was going beserk trying ot think of everything I needed to do; I needed somewhere quiet and cozy to just cancel out the world.

So when I was invited to spend a few days at Hotel Maui, I lept at the chance. It was exactly what I needed.

Between the Sheets: Hotel Maui Dongdaemun hotel review - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Located in the quiet blue collared working neighborhood of Dongdaemun, Hotel Maui is a surprising budget oasis if you need to get away from the crowds of one of the busiest cities on earth. It’s nestled between Dongmyo and Sinseol-dong subway stations not far from the lovely Cheonggyecheon Stream, a perfect place to be if you want to be towards the center of the city but also away from the madness.

Hotel Maui has only just had its grand opening, and it’s clear that the owner and staff want to make the place as welcoming as possible. I was greeted by the owner herself when I came in, a bit wet from the rain and looking more or less bedraggled. She immediately let me know where everything was, what was in the area, and invited me to a pajeon and makgeolli party the hotel was having that evening.

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Mogo: A Vegetarian Meal Service in Seoul - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Mogo: A Vegetarian Meal Kit Service in Seoul!

I haven’t griped too much about the difficulties of being a veggie in South Korea, because I feel like it’d be kind of obnoxious of me to do so. Korea’s diet is heavily meat based. It’s in their cultural makeup here as well as a huge part of their social world. Of course it’s going to be difficult.

So while I may complain about surprise SPAM and cheese every now and again, I try not to let it get me down. However, whenever a new vegan or vegetarian heavy restaurant opens I get super excited. So least to say, when I saw there was a new vegetarian meal kit service in Seoul… I may have flipped out.

Introducing Mogo!

Mogo: A Vegetarian Meal Service in Seoul - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Ranging from W7,500 – 9,500, these meal kits can feed 2-3 people and are chock full of protein, nutrients, and deliciousness! Right now there’s only four kits to choose from, but they all look super tasty! You can grab spaghetti with quinoa, bulgogi lentils, Korean pancakes, and Texas style chili. Everything is vegetarian and I believe these four are also all vegan!

The team behind Mogo is incredibly helpful in answering all questions and are really looking for feedback, so make sure you go and try out one today: the shipping is free is you get three or more!

I got to try out the Cincinatti Spaghetti and the Bulgogi Lentils are waiting for me patiently. Everything about the packaging is adorable and convenient.

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Musical Theater in Korea - Dorian Gray: A New Musical - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Musical Theater in Korea: Dorian Gray (Starring Kim Junsu and Park Eun Tae)

Living in a foreign country has its host of difficulties, especially when you don’t know the language. However, I truly believe that music is international and you don’t necessarily need to comprehend every individual word to understand the feeling or meaning behind a song.

That’s why I wasn’t too worried when I traveled out to the Seongnam Arts Center to see a new musical that had been produced back in September. It was Dorian Gray. I knew the story, so figured I would be able to follow the plot well enough. Though since the show the script has been translated into English by the amazing Jenny Han. You can download it HERE. Mostly I was looking forward to how the story would be translated into a musical, listen to some pretty voices, and of course to see my favorite singer Kim Junsu in the starring role (who I went to see in my first KPOP concert back in June).

This post will contain plot spoilers for The Picture of Dorian Gray and also the musical version. The story is over 100 years old but well… just saying.

Musical Theater in Korea - Dorian Gray: A New Musical - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

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Haunted Disney World - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Haunted Disney World

So it’s not only Disneyland in California that’s haunted… Disney World has quite the fair share of ghostly occurrences itself! What, with five parks, there is a treasure trove of creepy stories, scary specters, and heebie jeebies abound! Tis the season for a good ghost story or two, so here’s a handful from our time at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

You may notice some of the rides here are ALSO haunted at Disneyland… I wonder why that is… MWAHAHAHHAA. It’s time for another edition of Disney Adventures!

Haunted Disney World - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

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