This edition of Between the Sheets will be a little different. The majority of the time when I travel it’s by using hostels and the occasional budget hotel. This is typically because I am generally destitute and the fact I see my accommodations as a place I simply sleep; I don’t intend to hang around and so why would I waste money on amenities? Well, sometimes you need a staycation and a random hostel won’t cut it. So if you’re looking for comfort and luxury in Seoul… you should head to The Sheraton Grande Walkerhill.
“People DIED on this ride!”
It’s a phrase I would say to the camera over and over again on our Disney Adventures. Apparently I’m rather macabre because death at Disney, ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ fascinates me.
And just to start this off, this is meant in no way to be disrespectful of the people who have died at Disney. RIP.
Did you know you can’t actually be declared dead on Disney grounds? Okay,that’s not wholly true, it’s more of an urban legend… but the fact such a legend exists is a testament to the almost cultish life that Disney embodies. As with many places of note in the world, there are always rumors of hauntings, ghosts wandering the corridors, and weird happenings. Disneyland in Anaheim, California is no exception.
So next on our Disney Adventures, Alston and I explored a bit of haunted Disneyland. If you’re easily spooked… you’re in good company.
It’s coming up on two months in Korea. It feels like two years and at the same time only two weeks. Moving to a new country, especially one that speaks a different language, is a stressful time. Even visiting a country where you can’t read or write the language can be a nightmare. That’s why I really wanted to dedicate myself to learning as much Korean as I can. So I’ve partnered up with the amazing folks at Talk To Me In Korea to do so!
I cannot stress enough the importance of learning Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, before coming to Korea. It has been a lifesaver; not only will you be able to actually read everything you see, but you’ll be able to sound out words, making learning them a lot easier.
Sounds of Seoul is a series for Curly In Korea where I’ll be making short soundscapes of locations around the capital. First up is Bongeunsa Temple, a Buddhist temple in the heart of Gangnam; a surprising oasis of calm.
Please feel free to listen to the soundscape as you read.
When I was invited to go check out some off track horse racing betting facilities that had just opened up, my mind sort of froze. I had never been to a horse race before, I had never bet on anything other than the clunky slot machines at a resort’s casino; I had no idea what it even entailed. So as I joined other Korean expat bloggers at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill one cloudy afternoon, I had literally no idea what to expect. Tucked away in the mountains just a stone’s throw from Jamsil, the hotel was immediately beautiful and lush and any pre-conception of grimy betting rooms with grumpy old men in stained t-shirts shouting at the television were immediately wiped away.
This was nice.
So something magical happened: I went to my first KPOP concert here in Korea.
It was loud, bright, full of flashing lights, screaming fangirls, and one very charming and goofy singer with a killer voice and the ability to out dance all his back-up dancers. Yeah, I went and saw XIA aka Kim Junsu (김준수).
When I mentioned I had never been to the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California, Alston was so aghast that Disney Adventures was born. From just that statement, that hole in my childhood (or really, life in general), a grand adventure began.
Disneyland actually comprises of two individual parks: Disneyland and California Adventure. While the first, opened in 1955, is the original happiest place on earth and a legend in its own right, the latter was completely new to me. Likewise, it’s rather new to the world, having only been opened in 2001.
It’s sort of like a Six Flags in that it’s much more of the roller coaster and boardwalk sort of park rather than the theme park aesthetic of Disney. It’s still Disneyfied, sure, but it was miles away from Fantastyland or Adventureland. It’s all old Americana with carnival rides, cotton candy, and a giant Ferris wheel that terrified me (and I refused to go on because why would anyone want to be stick in a tiny metal box that SWINGS as well as goes around in a giant circle at a snail’s pace??)
California Adventure is actually entirely dedicated to California, but after the initial idea failed to really kick off, Disney added a lot more ‘Disney’ rides and built the ginormous (and awesome) Cars Land. While still not nearly as popular as Disneyland, it’s now more visited than when it initially opened. It was a nice break from the crowds anyhow.
But enough of that! You want to learn how to conquer Disneyland and California Adventure in only 24 hours! Well, you can’t, the park isn’t open 24 hours (it’s just catchy for a title), but we did spend 16.5 hours between the two parks and THIS is how we did it and got on all the big rides!
I have been in South Korea for a grand total of five days thus far. So far I have broken every blood vessel in my shoulders hauling my luggage around, combated jet lag, had a health check where I got a bunch of suction cups put on my boobs, and taught my first theater classes to varying degrees of success and dismal failure.
Least to say, it’s been a whirlwind.
It’s officially less than a week until I move to South Korea. I haven’t even begun packing, and despite genuinely being excited for this new chapter in my life, I wonder why it is I’ve put off actually preparing for it.
Maybe it’s because I’m older now and I’ve really thought hard about this decision? My other moves were sort of no-brainers, I didn’t really need to think about them because it was post-college and I was young and dewy eyed. This time I really had to think if I wanted to try and make it work in the US or head to Asia again to chance it and see if that would be a better opportunity. It’s been awhile since I was in a classroom setting (wherein I was teaching anyway), so part of me is nervous about my abilities, but I also know I do well when I rise to a challenge. I think I just like freaking myself out. Masochist, remember?
And I think that’s a good thing. Travel can be scary. It’s daunting and the unknown is just that, it’s unknown. Despite having been to South Korea a few times now, and having spent a few weeks there, I know living in a place is very different from just visiting.
I’m waiting at baggage claim at LAX, snuggled up in an oversized hoodie and having a hell of a time people watching. I’ve never been to Los Angeles before and already just the selection of inhabitants roaming through the terminal have fascinated me more than anything else. You’ve got all sorts here: the wannabe Rasta white dude, the airbrushed twenty-something with her girlfriends laughing about something they just saw on her phone, a few exquisite specimens that are definitely models or else goddesses walking on earth, some guy wearing three hats, the suits who look as thrilled about their next upcoming meeting as my puppies do when it’s time for a bath, and of course the weary travelers who are more interested in getting back into bed.
I’m more of the latter as I strongly debate whether or not the party coming to meet me will be able to find me curled up on this slightly wobbly bench. I opt not to in the end for sanitary reasons, but also because I blend in with the rest of the unkempt regular travelers who just flew across the country at 6AM. While my hair may be large and a frizzy ginger beacon, that’s all that sets me apart. Very much unlike the person I’m about to meet.
I know finding Alston isn’t going to be hard once he gets to baggage claim. He stands out. For as much as many LAers make themselves look nice (as for as equal many as do not give a shit), there’s making yourself look presentable when traveling, and then there’s dressing up… and then there’s Alston Stephanus.