I can’t believe it’s already New Year’s Eve. I vividly remember sitting at the computer trying to throw one of these posts together last year; it seems impossible that 12 whole months have passed since then. This year has been nothing short of unreal. Though it had its ups and downs with adjustments to life abroad and traveling in Asia, we have seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and lived so many experiences, it’s hard to count them all. It will take me years to successfully organize and file away all the precious memories (the tangible kind – photos, videos, etc) from our journey, so a synopsis will have to do for now.
January brought us a new living situation. Moving was probably one of the most trying situations we have been in, but we managed to accept it and appreciate it for the better environment our new place offers. We survived any Korea-induced anger until month’s end and our very first trip to Tokyo and Nagano. Sushi, snow monkeys, and skiing galore created loads of winter memories with a group of J-Mar’s work friends.
We didn’t travel in February but I got crafty in the new place and started to make some friends around town. I explored the area a bit more and went to Korean tea class, learning some more about the culture here.
My BFFL Sara C. came to visit in March, and we had a blast together with our other high school friend Kayla. Seoul and the Philippines were on our itinerary, which was full of fish in the ocean as well as Dr. Fish in a tank! We managed to make the most of the rain and prayed (unsuccessfully) that our future vacations would have better weather.
A group of us headed to Kyoto and Osaka, Japan in April to check the cherry blossoms off of our bucket lists. It was a surprisingly chilly but beautiful weekend that had me drooling again for some gyoza.
We set our sights on Hong Kong for May. Another tough trip in terms of weather, it rained for 72 hours straight. Pretty much the whole trip. We still enjoyed the skyline and all the food up for grabs as well as the shopping. Oh yeah, and I had minor surgery back here in Korea.
June was a very big month for the Marasiaks! J-Mar had a milestone birthday, and we did all sorts of great activities, the pinnacle of which was paragliding off of Mt. Sinbul here in Korea. Mom came to visit as well and we hopped a plane to Bali for a week together, full of monkeys, beautiful views and sunshine (finally).
Another birthday was celebrated in July! A-Mar turned 26. We spent more time getting to know new friends who had recently moved over for the project, and enjoyed a fun American Fourth of July celebration on the beach, too! We embarrassed ourselves plenty at noraebang, too.
August was a “lazy” month. We stayed in Korea again, feeling more routine but settled all the same. At the end of the month, we jetted to Vietnam for our second anniversary, and the beach did not disappoint!
September kicked off a very busy autumn of travel, which slowed down my blogging considerably. We ate, drank and motorbiked our way through Vietnam, caught some speed in Singapore, and did a terrifying but gorgeous trek in Kuala Lumpur. Also, I started to realize I really like my mint capri pants. A preview of posts to come… I promise I wash my clothes.
With the weather cooling down in October, we got some friends together for a bit of hiking and camping – on the Great Wall of China! This hilarious group made it through perhaps the most jam-packed trip to date, without a shower for most of the trip. (Yes, we still like each other!) China may win the award for most, er, interesting country visited. More to come on that.
We also had some lovely family portraits taken here in Ulsan by our super-talented friend Dorette! I love the way they turned out! I promise to share more of her work.
Check out dots.i.am photography on Facebook!
Ah, November. Time to give thanks for home! There’s no place like the one where you are surrounded by friends and family. We overscheduled ourselves once again in a (super stressful) 10-day journey to the US, visiting two places in Ohio, as well as Chicago and Wisconsin! Despite J-Mar’s bad sinus infection, unusually cold weather and a stalled car, we were re-energized and feeling the love.
Finally, this month. J-Mar had some continued illness but there were plenty of “ups” too. We got a chance to be fancy (if there were sound effects on blogs, I’d play some Iggy Azalea) at the company holiday party, which was a blast. Then, we packed up for a much anticipated trip to Thailand with some close friends from Houston who flew all the way to Asia to hang out with us for a week and a half. We just returned from this awesome adventure, and we. are. exhausted.
In the midst of it all, we’ve been taking Korean lessons, learning the fine arts of patience and flexibility, hiking the local trails, and honing our knowledge of local produce availability. With work, J-Mar has been increasingly busy as his construction project comes together. I’ve been bugging him to write a blog post (yes, all year!) about his job, and hoping I can twist his arm enough in the next month or so. My job got really busy in the second half of the year with the Ebola outbreak. In other current events, all of the missing planes in Asia and the ever-present North Korea situation had some of our family worried, but we have survived all of it so far.
As for 2015, we’re working on some fun plans. More travel to come, and hopefully a few resolutions to achieve. For one, we’ve got to get some more exercise going in this household, mostly for the canines and those of us who work late hours. We’d like to amp up our volunteering efforts at the Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary, and I’d really like to get on top of my blog entries. We’ll be just as busy, and hopefully just as safe and (mostly) healthy, too. We’ll be celebrating tonight at the clubhouse’s “casino night” New Year’s Eve party.
Tonight, I’ll raise my glass of champagne in gratitude: for supportive and connected friends and family; for learning and growing alongside my lifemate; for having my precious pups along for the journey; for the realization that home is where you make it. I’ll raise my glass to the best year yet. Here’s looking at you, 2015.