Taiwan: Packing

There aren’t many people that enjoy packing – especially enjoy the challenge of packing light and efficiently.  I do.  I really enjoy planning out exactly what to bring like it’s a game or puzzle to find the perfect amount of clothing where I don’t have too much but I don’t feel like I have too little.

We went to Taiwan for one week.  It was summer, so it was hot and humid.  REALLY humid.  I draw out my outfit options.  It looks like this: FullSizeRender

I don’t know why I do this, but I do.  I like to visualize what I’m bringing.  I have multiple sketches because I go through a lot of options.

The whole point for my packing is that I only bring what I need and nothing else.  I hate having a lot of stuff.  If my hands aren’t free – I’m annoyed.  Therefore I like one backpack and that’s it.  So how do I do this?  I bring items that can be used in multiple outfits and I can re-use items.


Shirts: 2 t-shirts, 2 tanks, 2 cami/undershirts

Bottoms: 1 pair of shorts, 1 skirt

1 Dress

Bathing suit, pajama shorts (sleep in tank)

3 pairs of shoes (usually this would be too many.  I try to stick to two: tennies and sandals.)

hat, belt, sunglasses, purse for during the day

How did it go: I have to admit that this wasn’t my best packing work.  I think the humidity was a big reason.  The material of my dress was a horrible choice – it was a polyester, synthetic material that sweat showed through instantly.  I tried to wear it one of the first days and had to go back and change.  I lost one of my entire outfits that I planned to wear at least twice and out to dinner.  That left me with only two bottoms that I had to wear for 6 days.  Thankfully I was able to wash my shorts in the sink with some shampoo.  IMG_0493IMG_0717

If you have never packed for a trip with only one bag – try it.  You’ll never go back.

My next packing challenge is our upcoming winter trips to Hong Kong and Japan.  We’ll be doing one week in both countries – and I want to once again bring my one backpack at only 32L.


7 months

We’ve been back in Korea and in Seoul for 7 months now and we’ve been really bad at keeping this blog updated.  We’re sorry for not keeping in touch very much and here are some reasons why: 1. we are both in grad school and working full time, and 2. life in Korea is becoming exactly that: plain old life.  It doesn’t seem like we do as many “special” or “exciting” things that need sharing on the blog.

It is time for an update though!  School life is interesting.  This past week we lost 30 students at our school.  Yep. You read that correctly.  Due to some leadership changes at our school, many parents have pulled their children out.  My ESL class has gone from 12 students to 2.  Some teachers lost all their students and currently have 0 students in their classroom.  Teachers have been promised that our jobs and pay is guaranteed and safe, but some teachers are still worried and on edge.

Apart from our jobs, life in Korea is going well.  Albino just finished his second semester of Korean class at a local university.  I have joined a taekwondo class & love it!  It’s an escape from all things school-related.  I was starting to feel like all I did was teach or study.  I’m loving it and the teachers are very patient with us.   481317_10152436260555547_7231119537772896279_n

Here are few pictures and things we’ve been up to:


Fall arrived.. and is quickly turning into winter.


We had book character day at school. It was chaotic and tiring but tons of fun and worth the hours of painting posters and blowing up balloons.


3rd and 4th grade went on a field trip to a palace and fortress on the coldest day yet of the season. Despite the weather, the kids and teachers had a great day outside of school.


Book Character “photo booth”


Albino as a Bible Character – some students called him Noah, some called him Moses.

–We went to Taiwan in August and haven’t posted about it – OOPS!  That post is coming soon.  I promise.


My Classroom

I have 2 classrooms at this school.  One where I spend my mornings teaching an independent education plan (IEP) and the other where I teach my ESL lessons.  In the afternoons I focus on teaching phonics and reading in order for them to reach their academic grade level.

To be able to have an entire classroom to myself that is dedicated to English instruction is a dream.  Since it’s teaching children, I got to create and decorate which always makes me happy.

Here is the room when I first walked in (with only 2 desks!):photo 1

Here is a picture from the same spot now: photo 2

The back corner is a reading nook:

photo 4

The front of the classroom:

photo 3

And my favorite wall: I teach three different levels & they write new words they are able to read on the posters.  They also use the chart a LOT to put words and sentences together.  We use this side of the class everyday! photo 5

So, that’s it!  I am happy that it’s mostly put together and classes are going well.

Even though my dream is to someday work at the university level, there is a part of elementary ed that I love, love, love.  Those university students don’t appreciate my posters and decorations as much as the little ones 🙂

Sketching through Taiwan

We went to Taiwan in August & I bought a little sketchbook right before going.  I had a goal of filling the pages with sketches wherever we stopped and had a minute.  I started off strong.  I drew and painted about 4 sketches in the first 2 days and then the days turned busier and hotter.  Our first two days in Wulai were really relaxing and slower paced.  It allowed a lot more time to sit back and sketch.  I ended up only doing one sketch in Taipei.  I think it was mostly due to the weather: either super hot or pouring rain.

I’m not especially proud of my sketches because I don’t have a lot of experience with landscapes, but I am excited to be getting back into the hobby of sketching again.  frameShareFile

On our last night in Taipei we went to the Red House.  It’s an old historical building and I didn’t expect to really be able to go inside or see much.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Inside of the building there were one-of-a-kind artist boutiques and shops.  I found a pen/paintbrush holder that I couldn’t pass up for about $10, especially because it was so unique and hand made and hand painted.  frameShareFile 2

I didn’t get to fill up my sketch book with a ton of sketches, but I did enjoy finding rubber stamps at every tourist destination around Taiwan.  I filled my sketch book with those instead:frameShareFile 3

Another post about our trip and where we went is coming soon, as well as an update about what’s been going on with us in Korea the past month 🙂

Materials:  I used Winsor & Newton WaterColour Sketchers’ Pocket Box and Faber-Castell PITT Artist pens.

A little bit of nothing much

We’ve been here for 3 months already!  We have started summer camp and haven’t been up to much other than that.  Albino was leading a camp about “World Celebrations” and taught about different cultures.  He led the Haka dance from New Zealand, made a piñata, and had an archery tournament for Mongolia.   We even got to go to a museum about the Congo.  I’ve been teaching the kindergarten English, math and art classes.  My favorite part has been creating art projects based on story books.   Below are a few pictures of our students over the past few weeks:

IMG_0279 IMG_0286 IMG_0291 IMG_0310 IMG_0334 IMG_0356 IMG_0371 IMG_0384

We are settling into our lives, jobs, and apartment here.  I’m super excited because we just ordered a sofa and a rug.  I can’t wait for it to be delivered from the store.  Our apartment is slowly starting to feel more homey and put together.

My big task for summer is planning an ESL program curriculum for a few levels, an IEP curriculum and setting up 2 classrooms 🙂 Good thing I like making things and being crafty!

Updates on our apartment, some possible travel, and Seoul adventures will be coming in the next few weeks! Thanks for all your prayer and support!

Changdeokgung by Moonlight

This past week I was asked by a coworker & friend if I wanted to go with her to a moonlight tour of one of the palaces in Seoul.  It was a special tour for foreigners at night with a musical performance.  It was beautiful.  The palace name is Changdeokgung and it’s popular for it’s “secret garden”.  IMG_0165IMG_0186 IMG_0193 IMG_0196IMG_0224

I personally loved the windows in all the rooms…IMG_0208 IMG_0204 IMG_0202

It was a stormy and rainy night!  We were getting rained on and there was thunder and lightning during the tour.  While taking a picture of the moon, I got this lighting strike…IMG_0222

The musical performance included traditional Korean music, instruments and dances.  IMG_0246This video has 2 short segments from the performance: 


Wandering through Taean

This past weekend Albino and I ventured to the city of Taean and Taeanhaean National Park on the west sea.  We got bus tickets and did zero-planning.  Usually places in Korea are pretty easy to get around and we thought this beach town would be similar to Sokcho (small and walkable).  It was an adventure:

Day 1:

We took the bus from Yatap bus terminal in Seoul. It was supposed to take 2 hours and it took 4 (it was a holiday weekend).  Got to the bus terminal and realized nothing was in walking distance.  Looked at the giant map in the bus terminal and decided to get a bus that went south to the national park and the ocean.  The only issue is that the main road is not near the ocean so we had to walk about 30 mins to the beach.  It was through rice fields and homes and it was really nice to be in peace without the tons of Seoul people.  IMG_0119

Once we got to the ocean we realized it was… muddy & crabs were visibly crawling all over.  Tons of Korean families were camping along the coast and had pals and shovels ready to dig for crabs. This was cool, but also not what we were expecting.  We thought we could get to the beach, buy a couple drinks and sit and relax.  But this was not a sitting beach.  IMG_0127

We walked up the coast for a good hour looking at shells, fish, crawling crabs and even a star fish! IMG_0140 IMG_0142

We got to a camp ground up the coast and saw a taxi and ran for it.  We asked him to take us to a port where we thought we could get a ferry.  We got to said port and it was not what we thought.  I don’t even have any pictures because it was not picture worthy. With no taxis or bus in any close direction, we decided to grab a beer and sit. IMG_0131

We then started to walk.  We at least knew the general direction we wanted to go and continued to walk.  We walked through the back roads of Korea… on the side of the roads, farms, and rice fields for about an hour.  By some miracle we heard a honk behind us and it was a taxi!  We asked the driver to take us back to Taean and to a motel.  “What motel?” he asked… “any motel”.

Day 2:

We got to the bus terminal and got tickets to Mollipo Beach.  It’s supposed to be the better beach with sand (not mud).  It was a 20 minute ride & yes.. it was much nicer!IMG_0137

We walked along the sand and water and then stopped for some lunch.  Then we sat on the beach for a while and enjoyed our last hour.  We got back to the terminal and got on our bus to Seoul.  IMG_0150 IMG_0159

We had a pretty good time considering we spent most of our time on buses and walking.  But the weather was great and wasn’t too humid yet.  We enjoyed having a night away and seeing the west coast for the first time.


Getting there and around:  Bus tickets from Yatap: 11,000 won each.  Buses started at 8 am and the next was at noon. Bus tickets around Taean were 2,000 won each.  Buses to Mollipo beach were once an hour.  You need to buy tickets to beaches around Taean from inside the terminal.  Going to Taean is great if you are camping.  If you don’t have a car – stick around Mollipo Beach.  It seems like the other beaches and areas are not walker friendly.