from coogee to bondi

If there’s one thing you need to do in Sydney, it’s the coastal walk from Coogee beach to Bondi beach. The weather couldn’t have been any sunnier, and armed with sunblock, a towel, and water, we walked. Within the first few minutes of our walk, Jenni and I were taking out our cameras and iphones rapidly taking photos. After another 10 minute walk, we stopped to take more photos. Our friend and amazing Australian tour guide, Dave, joked that this walk might take a few more hours at this rate.

Along the walk, we passed numerous beaches that were equally breathtaking, all leading up to the infamous Bondi beach. A few hours later(we obviously made a lot of pit stops to take photos, breathe in the scenery, and swim), we finally saw the glorious blue hues of Bondi beach, filled with camera carrying tourists, endless surfers in the ocean, and just beautiful people.  We were here. We awed at the pools that edged along the ocean creating the illusion that it’s in the ocean. Apparently most of the beaches have these saltwater pools right next to the ocean and Bondi is one of the few pools where you have to pay to swim in it. The other ocean pools are free.

After a few hours enjoying the waves, sun and scenery at Bondi, Dave took us to a nearby look out point to enjoy the sunset. Not only are the beaches beautiful, but the sunsets were incredibly beautiful as well. Admiring the Sydney skyline with the Harbour bridge in the distance, I couldn’t help but be filled with awe and gratitude.

Stay tuned for more photos to come from #jandjsydney trip.  Can’t wait to share about all the glorious food and more amazingly scenic adventures.

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a leap of faith

slice of life 2014

“Please jump in with us Ms. Kim, ” the two girls from my class asked me. As the sun in Indonesia was getting hotter, I knew that getting into the water was unavoidable. From the dock, it didn’t look like it was too high up. The students were jumping from the low-dock into the water. We had cleared a mini-run way on the dock for them. In groups of 2 to 3 they were jumping off into the salty ocean water. The fearless students did 360s, back flops (by accident), splits in the air, and some held their nose.

I got onto the line with my two students next to me. It was finally our turn, and I stood in the middle, sandwiched with my fifth grade girls next to me. The teacher cued us to get ready and I started to run. As I quickly approached the edge of the dock, I looked down. My first mistake. The water looked way further down then the view from the side. As I felt an unexpected moment of panic my two students jumped in without hesitation. They were already in the water, and then I jumped right after. I felt like the coyote that chases after the roadrunner and then realizes mid air that it’s a long way down. As I hit the water, the fear increased as I felt the impact and went straight down and took in a good amount of water. I quickly pushed my way up to the surface and realized my jelly sandals I wore had both slipped off my feet.

“My sandals are gone!!!” I yelled out loud. My principal, who was wading in the water, supervising and swimming, came over quickly.

“Did you loose one of them?” He asked.

“I lost both of them. They slipped off. They are orange and only five dollars. It’s ok.” I replied. Then, he dove underneath the water and came up with 1 orange jelly. Then he dove back in and found the second one.  Emergency avoided. I now had both slippers in my hand as I waded in the water. My nose and throat stinging from the salty ocean water I consumed from my jump, I pulled my wet and heavier body up onto the ladders at the side of the dock.

“That was so much fun! Let’s jump again Ms. Kim, ” my students urged afterwards. I hesitantly got on line again, this time, a bit smarter and left my water shoes on the dock.

a weekend in telunas

A glimpse into our service learning trip to Telunas, Indonesia via ferry and longboat with fifty-five fifth graders. One week later, I still feel like I’m recovering from the trip, but it was all incredibly worth it. The students were teaching English in a small village there, and then afterwards we enjoyed some fun at the Telunas resort. More thoughts to come later, picture first! :)

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an unexpected encounter

slice of life 2014

I got off the elevator and headed towards my apartment. To my surprise, I saw the door wide open to the apartment next to mine. The door was never wide open, unlike the other neighbor down the hall that leaves their door open quite often. I could peer into the long hallway that led to their open living room and dining table. Right outside the open door, crouched next to their new rectangular white shoe rack outside their door, was the older auntie tidying the shoes.

My apartment door is literally right next to my neighbor’s at a ninety degree angle. I had my key in my right hand and as I walked up to my door, she greeted me with a hello. I said hi back and then proceeded to put my key into the lock.

“Happy new year,” she said quietly and I turned to face her. This was the first time I met my neighbor. It did seem a bit strange, that I never met my neighbors earlier. They had been living there for a little less than a year.  We literally live right next to each other, sharing walls, and a few steps from each other’s front door, but I never see them. I did like how they were a bit festive and put up decorations on their door for Chinese New Year and also for Christmas.

As I started talking to her she asked me where I was from. I guess she could tell from my accent that I wasn’t a local. Then, she had her daughter come over and we started to chat. I found out she was from Malaysia, and I also found out that her daughter enjoys kimchi (after I told her I was Korean). She hospitably told me to come over for tea anytime.

Maybe I’m just not neighborly enough to introduce myself to the neighbors in my hallway (only 3 other apartments on my floor), but I rarely see any of them. It’s funny because growing up on a suburban dead end street, I knew all of my neighbors. I knew their kids. I knew if they gave good Halloween candy. I would often babysit for them.

Yet, here in Singapore, I’ve found it harder to meet and know my neighbors in my apartment building. It’s probably partly my fault. Maybe the next holiday season I can bake them something? Or will they feel obliged to bring me something in return? Or maybe I can just wait and see if I can run into them more casually?

The slice of life challenge is hosted by The Two Writing Teachers. Join us in this month long blogging challenge!

 

spare time

I found myself with some spare time in between appointments on Saturday. So what does one do? Obviously walk around and take photos. I walked the same streets that I usually walk by, but this time, I paused at the different street corners. I took in all the sites that I’m normally walking too quickly in between to notice. As I started taking some photos, I took in the vibrant colors on buildings, the long window shutters, the tree shadows on buildings and the lush greens that invaded the tight city spaces.

I’m hoping that this month, through this slice of life challenge, I will take a moment to stop, breathe in my surroundings, and reflect on all that is around me through my words and photos. I might need to take more long walks with just my camera and myself. I might need to reflect on my classroom and job as a teacher. Or, I might need to just write and see what takes form.

Here are some photos from my walk by Duxton Hill, Singapore.

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The slice of life challenge is hosted by The Two Writing Teachers. Join us in this month long blogging challenge!

slice of life 2014

weekend are made for…

slice of life 2014

Weekends are made for wandering. Luckily, I have friends that are willing to explore with me. On Saturday, we battled the signature midday Singapore heat for some good photos and outdoor brunch by the marina at Keppel bay. I mean who doesn’t love sitting out in the sun, with the view of fancy yachts, pancakes with bacon, and good company?

Weekends are made for pressing the snooze button. I won’t lie, I do press the snooze button during the week as well. However, I feel less guilty about it during the weekend when you don’t need to be somewhere right away. This morning, I stayed in bed, and simply enjoyed the bliss.

Weekends are made for blogging. I admit it, I’ve been pretty bad with blogging this past year. I haven’t kept up with blogging for my two blogs. And up until an hour ago, I was seriously not sure if I should commit to the slice of life challenge (blogging everyday for the month of March) this month. I went through quite a few reasons to not participate, but I found myself in front of my laptop. After much contemplation, a glass of wine, house of cards playing in the background, and a lot of revisions, here’s my first slice for the month of March.

And of course, some photos from the photo walk! :) singapore15-0305singapore15-0291singapore15-0289singapore15-0295 singapore15-0306singapore15-0286singapore15-0308singapore15-0328singapore15-0330

the expat life: is it worth it?

After a few hours of marinating about 11 kilograms of meat for the Korean bbq we were planning for an unconventional Chinese New Year dinner with my friends, my fingers were getting numb and it was getting pretty late.  Some of the meat was still thawing in bowls, my kitchen counter was a mess (full of marinade) and my hands smelled like frozen meat which wasn’t pleasant. Sometimes, in those rare reflective moments, I wonder, is it worth it? Moving 15,323 miles from NY to a country you’ve never been to with no family, no friends, and no idea what may come. Yet, the decision to move seemed pretty simple to me at the time. Singapore was where I wanted to be and I had just gotten my dream job.

Even though, I was already overseas when I decided to move to Singapore, I can’t really count living in Seoul as getting the full expat experience. I had been to Seoul several times growing up, and I had a lot of extended family plus my younger brother living there as well. During holidays I had family members inviting me their homes, cousins I could meet up with, and the culture was very familiar to me. So moving to Singapore was more of the expat experience in one way, by being completely new to the country and not having the family ties.

Back to marinating loads of thawing meat in my kitchen and feeling a bit anxious about the bbq. Would there be enough food? Would the meat turn out well? Should I taste some of the meat beforehand? How would we keep the meat fresh while being outside for the bbq? Despite all the little questions in my head, I forged ahead and realized that some of the meat I wouldn’t be able to marinate today because it was still rock hard frozen and waiting for it to thaw past midnight did not seem like a logical choice. So I chose to sleep, and would marinate the rest of the remaining meat in the morning.

The next day, I kept seeing loads of people in Singapore uploading Chinese New Year family photos. It was quite a fun phenomenon on my facebook and instagram feed. Everyone with their families, in their new outfits (sometimes matching in red), looking rather cute and loving. I always feel like family photos can tell so much about a family, they way they pose, are dressed, and the expressions they have. I loved seeing a closer glimpse into the lives of my friends here. Later that day, at the Korean bbq dinner, I told my friend Petrina that we need to take our own CNY family photo. And she along with James (our photographer), made it happen. We took quite a few photos, funny, serious, and kind of normal.

As I looked at the photos of our mixed group of friends (expats from literally around the world and Singaporeans), enjoying Korean bbq, and acting silly in group photos, I was reminded of the family I have here. Yeah, we might not be your typical family, and we might keep growing rapidly, but I’ve learned to accept all of them, like real family.

And yes, it’s completely worth it.

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