Monthly Archives: May 2015

Brb, Going to Europe

An old dream is being dusted off so it shines again. Traveling is always a welcome prospect.  It is a privilege that helps widen the horizons of perspective. The novelty of a break in routine appeals to me the most, especially when checking my Tripcase updates.
image It took over a year of coordinating to be able to see my brother for 2 whole weeks. I would trade 20 of these trips without a thought if I could choose to have him in LA instead. But, hey, you gotta take whatever chocolate’s in the box or what have you. Still, its going to be a test spending time with each other since we both prefer to independently lead. I mean I get that I need to respect and support the man but when he gets a little full of himself it’s my job to knock the bugger down a few pegs, ya noe?

The Expense
High season London round trip ticket, airfare between Euro countries, rooming, and money to walk around takes about 3K.

My philosophy in finance is stay out of debt or else everything falls apart. I’d rather not deal with back payments and have never used credit cards. Since I had no savings to begin with, I picked up a few shifts to save up ahead of time.

Past self – these last 3 months of overtime better be worth it, you hear me!

The Packing
image What is overboard?

I’m seriously glad for the existence of toothbrush covers.

And also the internet for its answers on packing efficiently.

Last but not least, what to expect when it comes to bringing/spending/withdrawing money.

The World Traveler
Props to my brother who was very considerate whilst planning flights, lodgings and sites. We determined that we would spend a few days in Paris, from there to Venice, and finally a week tour of England. I only had to take care of picking up some French and Italian phrases out of consideration for the natives and advantage points (merci, Travel Linguistics on YouTube!). A benefit I’m not keen on admitting is that I feel better traveling with him around. Because safety. And having him carry all my stuff.

The Sights List
Freestylin, unscripted, off schedule.
Seeing the main landmarks is nice but dealing with the crowds not so much. I’m one of those hipsters who think little of famous attractions (tourist traps) in favor of authentic experiences. More curious what it’s like in a Euro church/ post office/ salon/grocery store/movie theater. Since my brother’s in the jolly former group, we will have a mix of both it seems.

The Advice
Friends: Find pubs, eat crepes, bring snacks.
Parents: You’ll get kidnapped into a prostitute ring but you’ll probably become a maid because that’s what happens to the plain ones.
Coworker: Dress fancy otherwise they’ll look down on Americans.
Cousin: Don’t sit in your room watching tv all day, go see what’s out there.
Strangers: Getting lost might be a good thing.

The Potential Problems
1. My biggest challenge would be the amount of walking, because I’m decidedly inactive every day where I can drive anyplace I wish. I dread injury as my friend fractured her foot a few months ago in France.

2. Another obstacle is dining, which was the hindrance that dampened my enthusiasm for ever going on this kind of trip.  I figured gluten free fare would be an unfamilar concept in Europe but much to my surprise and delight they are quite prevalent. I found Gluten Free Worldwide which details places to eat by country. Happy food dance!

3. Time zone differences will be tough to battle. My departure from LAX is 5:45pm PST so by UK zone it’ll be almost 2am when I take off. I figure I should catch some zzz’s if I can to fast forward the 10 hour flight.

It’s been a stressful process getting to this point and being naturally negative am sure my first trip to Europe will be a headache in several ways. Even so I look forward to spending some quantity time with the sibling.

All right, got sorted at LAX…let’s go!

10 Boss Korean Snacks

Many remember their childhood fondly. Times were simpler, neighborhoods safer, and tv less smutty. Nothing brings us back like comfort food, though. I had a ton of Bagel Bites, Milano cookies, and those little strips of beef jerky they sell at schools but you can’t find them available anywhere and it is a sorrowful affair altogether. But these good eats from my cultural background have a special place in my heart:

Dried squid/ seaweed
Similar to: jerky/ kale chips
The robust flavor and chewy goodness is too addicting. I remember mom toasting these on the stove. The seaweed she would brush with oil and sprinkle salt on before cutting the sheets into rectangles.


Charms Sour Candy Balls
Similar to: lollipops without the stick
For some reason I associate these only with Korean markets. They have a slight fruity tartness, not exactly sour which suits me fine.

Shrimp chips
Similar to: fries but in cracker form with seafood flavor
A go-to any time of year, get your own bag.

Choco pie
Similar to: moon pies
No camping trip is complete without these!!!

Similar to: peach yogurt
Drink it as is or freeze it and peel off the thin plastic casing to enjoy. In Korea they deliver it to your door every morning, like the milkman here! Oh wait….

Onion Rings
Similar to: Funyuns
Light and smooth sweet onion flavor that’s fun to loop together.

Similar to: chocolate covered pretzels
In the summer we stuck them in ice water so they wouldn’t melt.

Chu Chu Bars (Japanese brand featured in photo)
Similar to: Otter Pops
Break it off and share with your bestie!

Raw ramen from the bag
Similar to: nothing; there is no comparison
Preservatives and chemicals galore, the picture of self destructive pleasure.
Instructions to ruin your health

Sadly, half of these are full of gluten so they are out of my reach in this lifetime. But there are plenty of other snacks around to to discover. So don’t be afraid to explore and pig out on all the yummy goodness out there, friends!

Profile: Staff Sgt Jin


A few words about this man who I admire. He is open to seeing and trying new things. He loves watching movies, especially action films and likes to quote them off hand. Throughout his life he tries his best to be chill and make the most of every day. It is encouraging to see someone who is strong and not complain because like most of my family he is no nonsense and takes everything as it is given, knowing that it could be a lot worse.

He was born in 1987 a younger sibling in the shadow of an angry abusive father. He had a stuttering problem which required help from a speech pathologist to overcome. He was always sweet and quiet with others but he was extremely talkative with myself or my mom. He grew up like other 90’s kids – interested in riding bikes, Legos, getting pwned by me in Mario Kart 64 (eat shell, Yoshi!). Most of the time we were left alone after school while our parents worked. We were close but constantly fought and competed with each other. It seemed like it always would be us against the world until we moved out at 18.

When he graduated high school he took my parents’ advice, as he had always done, and enlisted in the Air Force. He had to deal with being made fun of and with hazing – which is the norm if you’re a short skinny minority. Being isolated and independent must have been horrible and extremely tiring but he endured and is successful in his field of airplane mechanics. He adapted to military structure, filled his schedule with working out and made a lot of good friends along the way (going on adventures I’m happier knowing nothing about). For the first time he was free to make his own choices and finally found some role models he could respect and learn from. Every holiday he would enjoy himself by taking off to an exotic country, some of them being Hungary, Greece, Spain, Japan, and France. His time as an airman was demanding but he matured with his experiences in a way he never would staying around home.

Although today’s technology provides instant communication for constant contact, we’re still disconnected by distance and time zones.  I look forward to the years ahead when you are free from service and able to get married (so I can sing a bad rendition of Don’t Want to Miss a Thing), then see you settle down with kids to become the kind of father you never had. I wish I knew and appreciated the time we had together more because I could not and do not want to imagine growing up without you.  I’m glad we are on each other’s side even though we disagree about many things.  I am thankful for your guy’s perspective and insight on matters.  Life did not turn out the way we expect or want, many times there were disappointments but we always move forward.

Every year, every week, every day we are learning and changing into someone new, a stranger to the self we leave in the past. I recall vividly the young gentle boy who was afraid of the waves when we went to the beach many years ago, but I have to accept that he has transformed into an experienced deep sea fisher, a well-traveled leader who has many responsibilities.

I can’t fully express my love and admiration for you but here’s a song that shows a little of what I feel; even though we say goodbye often we know it’s not forever:

I salute you brother, can’t wait to see you this summer in UK!