Getting An Illegal Tattoo in Korea

The first thing to know about getting a tattoo in Korea is that it’s most likely illegal.

How’s that for an opening line? See, tattooing is only legal in Korea if the tattoo artist is a licensed doctor, as they’re the only ones allowed to legally handle needles of any kind. Now, there are PLENTY of tattooists in Korea. Some are legit doctors who decided to use their medical degree for tattooing (hey, we all make choices), but the vast majority are not. They’re tattoo artists. And they’re illegal.

But no one really cares all that much.

Sometimes the police may crack down on it, and many artists will even take your phone away from you when you arrive so you can’t take photos of them, their studio, or anything that may lead the police to them. But more often than not, it’s one of the many things that’s swept under the rug here in Korea. That’s not to say these artist operate wholly out in the open (some do, fearlessly because of connections, be it with KPOP idols or Japan’s Yakuza). Many of the “tattoo parlors” in Korea are hidden away. They’re in basements, behind fake walls, in seemingly abandoned buildings, or part of clubs or bars.

Getting there is just the beginning of the adventure.

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A Muggle's Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: How To Dress Like a Wizard (& Witch!)

A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Magical Shopping! How To Dress Like a Wizard (& Witch!)

Throughout the whole Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter series, we’ve received a number of comments on our outfits. Alston and I tend to dress up in some fashion whenever we go to parks, be it as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, BB8 & R2D2 a la 1920s, or a very casual Minnie Mouse and White Rabbit (it was REALLY hot in Shanghai). It adds an extra layer of fun to an already delightful experience. So when we were going to Universal and Alston found out I didn’t have wizarding robes, he put that very first on our list to rectify. After all, how could you not go to Hogwarts and not be dressed as a wizard??

Basically, this shall be a quick buying guide for all of those looking to get the most out of your magical experience at Universal’s two Harry Potter parks!

A Muggle's Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: How To Dress Like a Wizard (& Witch!)

The first thing you need to figure out though, before you buy ANYTHING, is what house are you in? For those not so much in the know (or want a refresher… or are just as nerdy as we are let’s be real…) there are four houses at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Each one has specific characteristics like bravery (Gryffindor), cleverness (Ravenclaw), kindness (Hufflepuff), and cunning (Slytherin), and you’ll find people are very particular about what House they’re in. Fans even go so far as to categorize other characters (like Sherlock Holmes for example) and debate over which house they’d be in. Ravenclaw or Slytherin? We’ll let you fight it out.

It’s serious stuff, okay?

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221B Sherlock Cafe in Seoul - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Sherlock in Seoul: 221B Cafe

In Korea there are a plethora of themed cafes to choose from, be it a phone decorating one or a sheep one or an airplane based one. But there was one cafe hidden away in Gangnam that was a MUST destination for us here at The Nerdventurists.

The Sherlock cafe.

221B Sherlock Cafe in Seoul - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

You see, Sora and Kristina (your faithful narrator here) met because of the BBC show that stars (starred? The series might be done?) Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as John Watson. It brought the Victorian heroes into the modern day in an explosive fashion. It’s a MUST watch. You can check out the Series 1 trailer below.

Anywho… least to say, when I first heard there was a Sherlock themed cafe in Seoul, I freaked out. It was one of my first stops when I moved here to Korea and it’s been a favorite ever since.

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A Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogwarts and The Forbidden Journey

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. And when you wander through Hogsmeade you’ll end up at the base of Hogwarts Castle.

The main attraction over on the Islands of Adventure half of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando.

A Muggle's Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogwarts and The Forbidden Journey - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

Not only is it a school for witches and wizards, but it’s also home to The Forbidden Journey, a robocoaster that has you spirited away to the land of magic and go on a journey in and around the legendary Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books and films. it’s hard to ignore the giant towers and behemoth that is Hogwarts looming over everything. Even though Hogsmeade is wonderful, everyone immediately wants to go rush to Hogwarts, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s been replicated in a beautiful fashion. The stone work, intricacies in the detailing, and overall atmosphere add to the glee that is the entire park. If you’ve ever gotten goosebumps reading the books or seeing the movies, seeing the castle in real life is definitely an exciting experience, awakening the inner child.

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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

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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!

waiting-room

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

mugglesguide_hogsmeade_1

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.

wizardselfie

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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