Flagstaff’s Best Spot to Hike

I went home for a visit recently. While I was there I took a few majorly awesome trips. The best of them was the trip to Flagstaff. June is such a great time to go to Flagstaff because it’s so nice out. It’s 80 degrees and sunny nearly every day.



The Kachina Trail, surrounded by ferns and aspen trees




Of course, the reason I went to Flagstaff was for the hiking. The Katchina Trail, on the mountain just below Snowbowl Ski Resort, is one of my favorite places in Arizona.



Josh and Ashley in the trees



Myself, Jamie, Josh, and Ashley explored the forest a little slowly, due to all of us being a little short of breath at that elevation. 7,000 feet is nothing to mess with, and it’ll make you dizzy if you’re not used to it. I forgot just how much thinner the air is, since I’ve been living in Korea at sea level for 18 months.



Looking up into the aspen leaves




Another thing I forgot was the beautiful ferns and forests in Arizona. I tend to only tell people about the cactus, since that’s all the ask about or expect to hear. Yes, I come from a desert. However, it’s a short drive to much greener pastures. (Well, Josh thought 2 hours was a long drive- so perhaps it’s a matter of opinion.)



Josh contemplates a fern




I think the sound of the wind in the aspen trees is something everyone should hear. Josh had never heard it before, and wasn’t even sure which ones were the aspen trees. For the record, they’re the ones with the circle leaves.



A really great spot, in my humble opinion



Northern Arizona really is a great place to visit if you want to enjoy nature. There are ferns, like in many forests. However, unlike in most forests, there are very few bugs. I don’t know if it’s the dry air or what, but you just don’t get bitten by a lot of mosquitoes in Arizona. Since I’ve been away, I forgot how much I appreciated that.



Jamie in the trees



So if you feel like escaping to a really lovely place, let me recommend Flagstaff. And if you do go to Flagstaff, let me suggest that you head up to the Kachina Trail on the mountain. It’s a great hike, and a fairy easy trail. (It must be since we survived it.)



Me in the ferns

The Coolest Sand Castles Ever!

The Sand Festival at Haeundae Beach in Busan is apparently a very popular event. Book a hotel in advance if you plan to go, or prepare to sleep on the beach.

Banners for Sand Fest


I went to the Busan Sand Festival by accident. See, I was trying to take this awesome boy named Carey to see the Temple and the Aquarium and stuff. When I heard (after booking train tickets with KTX) that there was a sand festival that weekend, I thought it would be a small thing that might be neat to check out but wouldn’t affect our plans too much.



Once upon a time...



I am someone who can admit when I am wrong, and let me tell you, I was wrong! The Busan sand festival seems to be one of those things like Mudfest that every white person in Korea feels the need to do. Why? I don’t know. All I do know is that every pub that caters to white people had a line out the door and every hotel was full.



Carey somehow asleep after the sun was up.



Now when I saw every hotel was full, what I mean is I slept on the beach. There was literally nowhere else to sleep. Also, it’s not like I was the only one. There were all kinds of people camped out on the beach. Before you ask, yes, I did check all the hotels by the station, in other random neighborhoods, and inland from the beach. There were really no hotels in all of Busan. I can be sure, because some of the people crashed on the beach were Korean, and they didn’t find hotel rooms either.



Sword in the stone



So with that said, how was the sand festival? Well, a lot of foreign people who come to Korea just want to hang out with other foreigners while they are here. If you are one of those people, there is no better place for you than the sand festival. You would have had a blast.



Sand Lighthouse with real light



Also, if you really like sand castles or sand in general, sand fest is the place for you. I have never seen anything so elaborate made of sand. It was amazing! The theme in 2011 was Fairy Tales, and there were castles and princesses and dragons everywhere. It was really amazing.



Mermaid



Honestly, if you ever wanted to build and amazing sand castle or see someone else build an amazing sand castle, you need to attend the sand festival.



Shin Sae Gay shopping center in sand.



That said, it wasn’t really my scene. Carey hates sand, and I don’t like to hang out in places with a lot of other foreigners. It ruins my Korean experience. I was still impressed by the giant sand sculptures, but not as much as you might be.



Let down your golden hair...



Now of course, the sand festival was at Haeundae beach. That’s pretty much where all the cool stuff is.



Me at Haeundae Beach



I stand by my love and adoration of the Busan Aquarium, which has amazing exhibits filled with beautiful fish. (It’s under Haeundae Beach).



At the Busan Aquarium



I also highly recommend the barefoot path, behind the Westin Hotel. (On Haeundae beach).



Me on the barefoot path behind the Westin at Haeundae beach



If you do go to Busan, there are also casinos, and a really neat Russian town. There is a lot to see. There’s the only UN cemetery in the world as well, which is a somber but also heart-warming adventure. And there’s the fish market, which is pretty neat as long as you don’t’ go right after the Aquarium (seeing the fish alive and then seeing them dead was a little sad.) So by all means, go to Busan. It’s a great place. Just make sure that if you go for the sand festival, you book a room in advance and be prepared to wait a long time for a drink at any foreigner bar.



The only UN cemetery in the world, in Busan South Korea



Everland (the happiest place in Korea!)

In all of South Korea, is there any happier place than Everland? I think not.

Before I begin this entry, I should remind you all that I’m still in Suwon, South Korea. More about that (if you care) on the Bio page.


Everland Entrance



Now then, I am a pretty big fan of Disneyland. As a matter of fact, I’m about 5 years old on the inside; so I’m a pretty big fan of anything designed to appeal to kids. I guess you should bear that in mind when you read this, since the epic awesome that I’m about to describe might not be quite as amazing to a proper adult.



Me and tulips



First, Everland has rollercoasters! Who doesn’t like to be twirled around and terrifying angles and high speeds? T-Express, one of the coasters you can ride at Everalnd, is actually the largest wooden rollercoaster in the world. However, if you have small children or are afraid of that feeling in your stomach just after a rollercoaster reaches the top of a hill and just before it goes down, fear not! They have smaller and less frightening rides for you, too. It’s like Disneyland in that it’s a theme-park that has a little something for everyone.



T-Express




For example, maybe you love animals. In that case, you’ll want to take the safari ride and see the Lions and Tigers. They even have a Liger, which seems to be what happens when a Lion and a Tiger really love each other. I’m not a huge fan of such things, and was more entertained by the pretty birds. I love colorful stuff because, as I said before, I really am about 5 on the inside.



Pretty Birds




Evrland also has a positively amazing garden. It’s really big, and really beautiful. I highly recommend taking a stroll through it and enjoying whatever is in season. It just so happened that when I visited, that was tulips. However, if you go in the summer, I’m told the roses are breath-taking.



The gardens



It really doesn’t matter if you have kids or if you just go on your own. You’ll find something you love at Everland. Also, for you English-speakers, nearly everything is in both English and Korean, so you don’t have to worry about seeing neat animals and not being able to figure out what they are called.



Is one of these King Julian?



To get there from Suwon station, the nice ladies at the tourism office assured me that there are city buses which are cheap. I guess I could have done that, but I didn’t want to. So, I went down to the taxi stand and asked to be taken to Everland (in English). The cab driver knew right where to go and it wasn’t that expensive. I think I paid 25,000 Won, which I considered well worth it.



House in the little kid's area



Oh, and I should mention that the tickets to get into the park are about 35,000 Won. So, it’s cheaper than Disneyland, as well as being totally fantastic.



Overall shot