Memories

As I get ready to leave Guam this year in August, I am feeling nostalgic about places I have lived and visited.

I have been so lucky so have had such cool adventures. I thought I would tell you about some of my favorites.

I grew up in Arizona. People think that it’s all desert, and some of it is. However, a lot of Arizona is also forest. It’s a very diverse state.

Jenifer DeLemont
Me with Oak Creek Canyon Behind Me

 

Jenifer DeLemont
On My Way to Graduation

 

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In Flagstaff with a fern

 

Jenifer DeLemont, JD DeLemont
At Havasu Falls inside The Grand Canyon

Then, there was South Korea. I loved it there so much! I got to experience seasons for the first time. I also got to teach cute kids and make lots of friends that I still keep in touch with.

I also learned to read and write Hangul, which is the Korean written language. My spoken Korean is not as good as my Spanish, but I did my best.

South Korea is an amazing country. If anyone is thinking of visiting: I recommend it!

Jenifer DeLemont, JD DeLemont
In Busan in front of the Aquarium

 

Jenifer DeLemont, JD DeLemont
At EverLand, and Amusement Park in South Korea
Jenifer DeLemont at The Folk Villiage
At the Folk Village in Suwon, South Korea
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At the Cherry Blossom Festival in Seoul

I also went to Japan and spent some time there. I really liked the Shinto cemeteries, which have clapping sticks to keep the dead company.

I went to a Cherry Blossom Festival, enjoyed the night life, had tea at a traditional tea house, and in general just enjoyed Tokyo. It was a beautiful place to visit, and I hope to go back some day.

Jenifer DeLemont
Uneo Park in Tokyo
Jenifer DeLemont in Japan
In front of a Pagoda in Japan
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In front of a stone lantern
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A Shinto Cemetery I visted

France was amazing as well. The food was so good! I know it’s a cliche to say that the food was the best part, but it really was impressive.

I went for Christmas, so I got to see Paris all decked out for the holiday. It was cold, but thankfully there was no snow. I get cold so easily since I am from the desert…

Jenifer DeLemont
Standing in front of the Eiffel Tower
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In front of Notre Dame
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Amazing Cheesecake in Paris
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In front of the Louvre

I also went to England to visit my cousin Stacy. It was really lovely.

Being an American, I guess I think of the U.K. as where most of our culture came from. It certainly has a certain amount of familiarity to it.

The British Museum was a lot of fun, and I tried my first fish and chips after! I also saw all the London Landmarks.

Jenifer DeLemont
Big Ben and the London Eye

 

Jenifer DeLemont in London
At the British Museum with my cousin Stacy

 

Jenifer DeLemont
Me with Big Ben

 

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In front of Westminster Abbey

As for Thailand, I always wanted to go there, because I worked at a Thai restaurant in High School and they made it sound so amazing. I have to say, after 20 years of wanting to see it, I was not disappointed! I got to meet elephants, swim in the ocean, and check out several temples.

I only spent a month backpacking around in Thailand, and it left barely long enough. Definitely plan a long trip if you go!

Jenifer DeLemont
On a waterfall hike outside Chang Mai
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An orchid stall at the flower market in Bangkok.
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On the island of Koh Samui.
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Meeting elephants!

Australia is fabulous! I really fell in love with the land and the people.

I went to visit my friends Melissa and Shari, but I had always wanted to see the country as well. I felt drawn to it because most of Australia is as dry as Arizona. They could also easily rival each other in terms of dangerous animals.

I highly recommend visiting Australia.

Jenifer DeLemont
The Blue Mountains

 

Jenifer DeLemont
Hiking in the Blue Mountains

 

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A blue grouper in the ocean in Sydney.

 

Jenifer DeLemont
Watson’s Bay in Sydney

 

Jenifer DeLemont
The opera house

 

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In the rain forest in Kuranda

 

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On the Great Barrier Reef

I lived in Oregon after South Korea and before Guam.

It is where my family still lives. My mom is in Gresham, which is right outside Portland. And, my aunt is in Hood River. We have our family reunions in Seaside.

I love the Pacific Northwest. Even though I didn’t grow up there, having my family live there makes it feel like home.

Jenifer DeLemont
At the Shakespeare Garden in Portland

 

Jenifer DeLemont
At the Japanese Gardens in Portland

 

Jenifer DeLemont
At the lava flats in Oregon

 

Jenifer DeLemont
At the Oregon Coast Aquarium

Guam has been fabulous.

At first it was a little hard to move to an island. Islands are so small, and it’s a challenge to find anything on island (food and clothes, for example.) Sometimes all the stores are just out of everything. And no one delivers to Guam!

However, I really came to love the reefs here and the whole underwater world. It’s been so much fun, and Rich has liked his job here on the USS Emory S. Land.

Jenifer DeLemont
Rich and I at Umatac Bay

 

Jenifer DeLemont
Just me scuba diving
Jenifer DeLemont
Hiking to waterfalls in the jungle

 

Jenifer DeLemont
A bite of dragon fruit, which grows here on Guam

 

Jenifer DeLemont
Tumon Bay where I live

And now we are off to Oahu. I have visited several times, since we need to go through Oahu to get anywhere from Guam. So far, I have really enjoyed it. I am terrified about buying a house there and finding a job. But, I know I’ll be able to do it.

Jenifer DeLemont
Me with a turtle in Oahu

 

Busan Sand Festival

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Every year there is a sand festival held in Busan, South Korea. The theme for the year I went was “Once Upon A Time,” and so most of the sand castles were based on fairy tales.

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I had no idea that sand art could be this detailed or beautiful. I mean, I built sandcastles at the beach when I was little just like everyone else.

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However, the sad little things I built were nothing compared to what I saw at the Sand Festival.

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I should warn you that Busan is short on accommodations, and the sand festival is a huge draw. Because of this, I would recommend making a hotel reservation well in advance if you want to go.

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Once there, you can rent a spot under a huge beach umbrella and even rent a cooler if you want. That way, you have somewhere to stretch out and enjoy the waves when you aren’t admiring the art.

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Like most things in Korea, be prepared for crowds. Of course, with crowds comes ice cream vendors and stands selling everything you could ever want, so in some ways that is a good thing.

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Buddha’s Birthday

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The biggest holiday in South Korea is Buddha’a Birthday.

It was very hard for me to adjust to different holidays. Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Easter passed without note. The 4th of July was just another day.

Living in a new culture means adjusting to new holidays.

As it turned out, Buddha’s birthday was my favorite.

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All the temples put up these beautiful lanterns, which are multi-colored. Of course the temples are beautiful on their own, but the addition of the lanterns adds a festive and colorful touch to already impressive surroundings.

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I went to Bonamsa Temple because they had a lantern-making class. Anyone could show up and make a set of lanterns to celebrate the occasion.

I put my lanterns together with some friends. This is me (below) with my friend Coleen Monroe, another teacher at Avalon.

We only meant to put together some lanterns and celebrate, but the Koreans pushed us into a line of people.

Jenifer DeLemont

We soon learned that the cluster of people we were moved towards were park of the parade through Seoul.

Although it wasn’t the plan, we ended up marching in the parade. And because Koreans love to see foreigners doing Korean things, the TV cameras followed us as we marched.

So, without intending to, I was in a surprise parade.

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Jeju Mini Land

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You should definitely stop by Jeju Mini Land if you visit the island. However, I have to recommend that you go early in the morning. We went in the afternoon, and the sun was murder.

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It’s fun to see little models of all the famous landmarks. I particularly enjoyed the Eiffel Tower, since I have been to the one in Paris and the one in Las Vegas.

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The one in Las Vegas is a third scale model of the one in Paris, and the one at Mini Land is barely as tall as me.

Jenifer DeLemont

There are all kinds of great landmarks, from The White House to Sydney Opera House. I won’t post all the pictures here, since I took about a million. But, here are some of them.

See how many you recognize!

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If you go, make sure to wear sunscreen.

Jenifer DeLemont

Also, we rented a car, but there were tour buses in the parking lot, so I am sure you could organize something with a tour coordinator.

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There are other Mini Land parks in other places.

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However, it’s not a long walk around the park. So if you are in Jeju you really should give it a look.

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It’s the second best thing there after Jeju Loveland.

Jenifer DeLemont

 

 

P.S. The peace sign in all the pictures is because it’s one of the “Korean Photo Poses.” They just do that. It’s called a “V for Victory” in Korea.

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Jeju Loveland (NSFW)

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Jeju Loveland is a sex-themed park in South Korea.

The photos that follow are arguably not safe for work, so keep that in mind before you scroll down.

Anyway, here is my visit to a sex-themed park in South Korea on the island of Jeju.

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I realize that western people might find that kind of thing shocking.

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In our culture, it’s not acceptable to display penises and naked people.

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However, it’s not uncomfortable in Asia.

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In fact, Loveland is a popular honeymoon destination.

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Before the Internet, it was a joke that couples would go to these kids of parks to learn about “how things are done.”

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Its an outdoor park, so make sure to bring sunscreen.

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Jeju can be really humid, so it’s best to go in the morning before the day heats up too much.

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Bring a group of people or just one other person, but don’t go alone because it’s all about taking pictures!

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In the pond in the center of the park, there is even a statue of a turtle couple… enjoying each other’s company. I thought that was a funny detail.

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Thankfully there is an ice cream shop in the back of the park. I highly recommend stopping in to get some to cool down. It’s a big park, and so there is a lot of walking.

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Definitely bring someone with a sense of humor though, because otherwise it could be awkward.

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Samcheok Penis Park

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My friend Jon and I decided to explore the wonderful world of Penis Parks in South Korea.

The phenomenon of the penis park is an old part of Asian culture. It’s traditional for couples to get married, and then go to a penis park as part of their honeymoon.

Of course, now I suppose they are more of a tourist attraction than anything.

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I don’t want to post too many explicit pictures, but basically, it’s a lot of statues of penises.

I realize that it might seem strange to a Westerner. But you have to remember, ever culture has a different set of taboos.

In South Korea and Asia in general, it’s just not as big of a deal to depict a penis. I suppose Europe has had similar times in their history.

Anyhow, the Samcheok Penis park isn’t very impressive. It’s small, and there isn’t much to it. I am told that Jeju Loveland is much better.

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Hwacheon Ice Festival

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If you are ever in South Korea for the second week of January, you should go to the Hwacheon Ice Festival. It’s a wonderful example of a lot of my favorite things about Korea.

First, it is full of all the best festival foods like Hoedeok (a pancake with cinnamon and sugar inside) and other things sold at stands and in food tents.

However, it’s also a festival devoted to ice fishing, so in addition to festival food, you can enjoy fresh fish.

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Bundle up, of course.

If you are going to be on the ice with a fishing pole for hours at a time, you don’t want to get cold. I was in layers upon layers and I still think I lost feeling in my feet after awhile, but that’s outside in January, isn’t it?

(Well, in snowy places in the Northern hemisphere, anyway.)

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I also really enjoy the racism. No one does racism quite like South Korea.

There is an area for Koreans, and then off towards the back is the “Foreigner Area.” I lived in Korea long enough that I was accustomed to be corralled into “special areas” for people who were not Korean.

It’s not like racism in the USA where you get worse things and it’s institutional and horrible.

You just get separate things.

Sometimes the separate things are nicer. For example in this case, the area was mostly deserted and so it was easier to catch fish than in the main part of the river where everyone else was.

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Also, Koreans like to see white people in ads.

So, once I caught a fish I was swarmed by photographers.

They want the ads for the festival to feature smiling white people because it makes the festival seem more popular.

So here is a picture of me having my picture taken by several professional photographers, to be used in promotional materials.

They don’t ask for permission, by the way. I have been on TV and in ads, and I never consented to it. I don’t have to because as a foreign person I don’t have the intellectual property rights to my face. That’s a perk of citizenship, (which foreign people can’t really get.)

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Anyway back to fish.

It’s a celebration of fish.

And it’s a festival so there are all sorts of fun things. There is a “polar bear swim” where men jump into the frozen lake and catch fish with their bare hands while in their underwear. I watched. It was amusing.

There is also a giant ice castle that they build every year and fill with interesting facts about fish (you can walk through a tunnel on the inside that is full of “Fish Facts.”)

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But obviously the very best part was the rides and games, because that is what makes a festival fun, right?

I enjoyed that they had several things that would be considered “too dangerous” back home, such as races in go carts along the ice, and taking an ATV across the ice.

Naturally, if something is dangerous and stupid, the American in me says to do it. And so I did.

Jenifer DeLemont, Ice Festival

I am still alive to tell the tale, and I highly recommend the ice festival if you happen to plan a trip to Korea in the winter. It’s a lot of fun.

Everland Resort and Amusement Park

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Everland is basically the Disneyland of South Korea. In my opinion, the best times to go are spring or fall.

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In spring, you can enjoy their beautiful rose garden, as well as huge planters full of every flower you can imagine all over the park.

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In fall, they decorate for Halloween and that is a sight to see!

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It’s located in the city of Suwon, where I loved from 2010 to 2013.

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I went several times because it’s a fantastic way to spend a day. Yes, there are roller coasters and other rides! There are games and prizes.

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However, there is also a zoo where you can see anything from bears and moneys to an actual Liger (the world’s largest cat.)

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For children, there is a fairy tale land with really wonderful buildings.

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There are both Korean and American fairy tales included.

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And in October, they really do a great job decorating the place as if it’s a Halloween theme park. South Korea may not celebrate Halloween like we do, but they certainly enjoy the decorations.

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Admission is around $50 US (you can get coupons from the tourism agency for 10% or 20% off) and it’s a short shuttle ride from Suwon Station.

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Make sure that is you go, you stay for the light parade at night.

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If you’re looking for a fun adventure for a day, I highly recommend it!

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Teaching in South Korea

Jenifer DeLemont, Avalon English

 

I moved to South Korea is 2010, in January. Being from Arizona, I really didn’t know how to handle winter. It was a challenge beyond what I had expected and required all new clothes. I had to learn about waterproof boots, long underwear, and insulated parkas.

The bigger challenge was learning to teach. I did get my International Teaching Certification through TEFL, but I didn’t have any classroom time under my belt except for some volunteer experience at The Thomas J Pappas School for the Homeless when I was in college.

I had to develop incentive programs to ensure maximum participation in class, and I had to figure out how to get the textbook material to come alive for the kids.

Jenifer DeLemont, Avalon English

 

Later on,  I even got the freedom to develop my own classes. The class I am most proud of was the D&D class. The kids love to play games where they acquire items. So, I was able to use Dungeon and Dragons to teach them new vocabulary while feeling like they were playing a game.

It was hard to adjust to the culture and the job, but I think that I was able to do this very well. That’s why I ended up being offered additional contracts after I completed the first one.

Jenifer DeLemont, Avalon English

I stayed for three years, and it was a really wonderful three years!

Here is a picture of our little Avalon family (above.)

Seoraksan National Park

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There is a place on the northeast coast of South Korea called Seoraksan National Park. It is one of the most beautiful and challenging places that I have ever hiked, and I hope you get the chance to go there some day.

I went with my friends Will and Ash. I only had a weekend, which is not enough to do the whole park. But, I did what I could.

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There are some easy activities, like taking the cable car up to the top of one of the peaks, or enjoying tea in one of the temples. We did do those things the first day, but we also did the really hard hike to the Ulsan Bawi mountain on the second day, and then climbed the 888 stairs to the top.

It was a very difficult hike, and it took us most of the second day.

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On the trail up to the stairs we came upon a temple, a place to refill out water bottles, and some quirky rock stacks.

The views along the trail are really amazing. I did it in October, which is really the best time of year. It’s cool, and the trees are starting to turn. I went about a week to early to see the best of the colors, but it was the only time I could make it.

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The picture above is of Dragon Ridge, which you can see from the Ulsan Bawi trail. However, that is a two-day hike and I didn’t have time for it.

Instead, I did the second-hardest hike in the park.

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We stopped halfway up to have a picnic lunch that we brought and play a little frizbie. Will is the kind of kid that likes frizbie. It’s not my thing, but I like to make my friends happy.

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Sure, there is a temple to stop at along the way. There are places to get water. It’s a great trail that is well, worn.

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However, the air is thin and it’s a long hike.

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However, if you get to the top, it’s an amazing feeling.

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Don’t go for just one day. The mountains make it very hard to predict what the weather will be like, and there is way too much to see in a day.

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Instead, go for a weekend, or even an entire week. It’s a huge park with far more trails than I was able to do, and you can easily spend a week just hiking around.

Here is me with the flag on top of the mountain. Such triumph!

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Camping is permitted, but I stayed in the nearby village of Sokcho and took the bus in each day. I didn’t have a tent and all the gear needed to camp since I moved to Korea in suitcases.

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No matter how long you go for, try to do one of the hard hikes. I didn’t have time for Dragon Ridge, but I am told it’s amazing as well. It’s really worth it for the views, which on a clear day extend all the way to the East Sea (or outside of Korea; the sea of Japan.)

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