Category Archives: Places

Apartment tour

Better late than never, right?  Five months after moving in, it’s time for a little apartment tour…and you’ll see just how “little” once you see the size of my apartment!  It’s about 30m², which is tiny, of course, but much bigger than the apartments that most (single) foreigners live in.  However, with my new position I decided to reward myself (and my cat) with something slightly more comfortable.  And I find that it’s the perfect size for us.




The spare room has been converted into a living room, dining room, and hobby room.

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kitchen01 the view from my bedroom: to the far left, obscured, are doors to the laundry and living rooms.  To the right is the bathroom.  On top of my refrigerator you can see my oven, microwave, and electric kettle.kitchen02 kitchen03Longtime readers will recognize the photo collage that I made last year for my Día de los Muertos altar.  That cabinet stores shoes.

kitchen04 The view from the door.  The phone is for my door intercom.  That brown thing hanging from the pipe by the ceiling is a St. Brigid’s cross; Shane bought it for me in Ireland and put it up there when he helped me move in.  I’m not religious or superstitious, but I like having it up there.

bathroomBetween the kitchen and the bedroom, the bathroom.  Like most apartments in South Korea, my bathroom is a wetroom.  When I shower, I do so right next to the toilet, there.  This bathroom is much smaller than most that I’ve seen, but everything had been remodeled right before I moved in, so it was worth it to me.



And, in the interest of honesty, my laundry room and junk room.  It’s actually much neater on the other side, but I have the clothes horse up and no one needs to see my underwear, haha!

I hope you enjoyed the apartment tour.  I’m always thinking up new ways to make it more comfortable, so please feel free to make suggestions.



종이정원 (Paper Garden ) | blooming art

This weekend I popped in on 종이정원 Paper Garden, located in the youth mall of Jeonju’s Nambu Market (전주-시, 남부 시장).  What makes Paper Garden cool?  Check it out for yourself.




Paper Garden uses “upcycling” to transform pretty, textured papers into clever pots for seeds!  To plant, simply lay the paper on a plate or another flat surface, dampen, and wait.

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Cards are about 4,000-5,000won each ($3.75-4.75).  

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If you want to learn more or plan a visit, check out Paper Garden on their Facebook page.

Ireland Day 5: Kylemore Abbey and Co. Limerick

Wednesday the 12th started out the right way: with a big Irish breakfast and a Kinder Egg.



These are still illegal in America.

We set out early and arrived at Kylemore Abbey just as it opened.  It was cold, rainy, and windy, and the day before we had heard that there was a storm in Limerick, but we felt refreshed and unhurried as we toured the Abbey.

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From the Abbey we made our way to the Gothic church.

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From there we were to drive on to the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle and Theme Park, and then, finally, to Shane’s parents’ house.  But the weather had other things in mind. We were a couple hours out when phone calls from his family started coming in; at this point the weather was rainy and windy, but not nasty, and we appreciated their concern but didn’t alter our course.  However, within the next hour the wind was whipping us around, semis (lorries) were tipped over on the streets, and we decided against the Burren and the Cliffs.  Bunratty, however, was right near to where Shane’s parents lived, and we had purchased tickets ahead of time, so we decided to drive on and see if we couldn’t get in.

We could not.

With this new knowledge, we sat in the parking lot and plotted.  We now had the entire day in Limerick, but the power was out, many roads were blocked by fallen trees, and there was no telling if the wind would pick up again.  We decided to head to pop in on the calfs and then head to his parents’ house.

I’ve not mentioned this before, but Shane’s parents are farmers, and they have some cattle.  Since learning this I’ve been eager to see some calfs (and to see Shane in a new light – who doesn’t like to learn new things about their partner?), and Shane had promised me a trip to the farm.  In my mind, I pictured a red barn, a white, wooden fence, rolling fields, and friendly, mooing cows.  I told Shane that I wanted a picture sitting in the fence, petting a cow.  He said, “The fence is electric.”

On to my rude awakening…

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The cows were in sheds to take shelter from the storm, and they did not want to be pet.  They were, however, very curious, and much bigger than I had imagined.  I was scared, but Shane was not – he walked through them like he had been doing it every day of his life, and I have to say that it was really cool to see him in wellies, shooing cows away.

In a separate shed were two young calves.

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Yuck!  (Just so my readers know, Shane’s parents tend the cattle at the least every morning and night – it was 4 or 5pm and his dad arrived as we left.)

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Maybe brothers?


The happiest moment.

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Later, Shane told me that the beauty of photography is that by cropping out the other calf from the shot, he made it look like I was ignoring the calf to my left.

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In another pen, a mother with her newborn:


Shane told me that I probably shouldn’t try to go in there to pet that calf. Sometimes it’s funny how little he thinks I know about animals!  Just because I didn’t grow up on a farm doesn’t mean that I have no sense, haha.


Got milk?

After this, Shane and I drove the few miles to his parents’ place.  The power was out, and it would remain out for several days – even through his brother’s wedding.  Despite this, it was an absolutely lovely time.  I didn’t take any pictures of the wedding, so the next post with pick up on the 15th, the day after the wedding.

Ireland Day 4: Queen Maeve’s Cairn, Croagh Patrick

Shane and I were a short drive from Queen Maeve’s Cairn, so on the morning of the 11th we got up early and drove over.

Queen Maeve’s Cairn (also called Knocknarea and Queen Maeve’s Grave, Tomb, or Resting Place) is basically a mound of rocks atop a hill, steeped in legend.  I had asked Shane to tell me about it before we arrived, but he told me to wait, and that he’d tell me on the way up.  So that’s how I’ll tell it.


Back in the days of legends, there lived a queen named Maeve.  Her kingdom was Connacht, and its rival was Ulster, where her husband was king.  Their kingdoms were equal in every way, except that the kingdom of Ulster had a massive prize bull.  Maeve could not let this stand.


So Meave set out to find a bull that would fight the Ulster bull.  She heard of a bull living in Cooley, who had been born to her herd but left because he would not be ruled by a woman.  So Maeve sent her men to rent the bull from his owner, but the deal fell through in the 11th hour and began a war.


The battles went on and on, and Maeve’s forces were repeatedly rebuffed by Ulster’s warrior, Cúchulainn, a young boy barely 17 years of age.   But in the end Maeve sent her warrior, Ferdiad, who was the best friend and foster brother of Cúchulainn.  Although they were brothers, both warriors were committed to their kingdoms, so they met on the battlefield with the knowledge that only one would survive.


Every day they would fight, wounding each other terribly.  And every night they would drink together and share medicine.  Both warriors had been trained by the same master, Scáthach, but she had given each of them a secret weapon that only they could use.  Cúchulainn’s weapon was the Gáe Bulg, the death spear.


On the third day, both warriors met and began to fight again.  Ferdiad soon had Cúchulainn at his mercy, and Cúchulainn knew that his death was near if he didn’t do something quickly.


So Cúchulainn called for his death spear, and it was floated down the water to him.  It was a curious spear, and would kill any person that it pierced by breaking into several pieces inside their body.  But no one could use it because no one could launch it.


But Cúchulainn knew how.


On that day, Cúchulainn placed the spear between his two toes and launched it at his brother.  It ran him through and killed him.  In the ruins of his childhood, Maeve achieved her victory yet: her army stole away the Cooley bull, and matched him against her husband’s bull, who was beaten.  Maeve, when she died, was laid to rest in a tomb on the hill Knocknarea.  She was buried so that she would be always facing Ulster.


“The wind has bundled up the clouds high over Knocknarea,
And thrown the thunder on the stones for all that Maeve can say.”

– William Bulter Yeats, Red Hanrahan’s Song About Ireland

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After leaving the Cairn, Shane and I made our way to Croagh Patrick.  But on the way we spotted these ruins and stopped for a peek.

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From there, we headed to Croagh Patrick.


The legend of Croagh Patrick is that, ages ago, St. Patrick was traveling Ireland and converting and blessing the people.  However, he soon became tired and had the idea that he could climb to the top of a mountain and bless all of Ireland at once, effectively converting everyone.  So this is what he did, and now, once a year, Catholics and interested persons make the trek up Croagh Patrick.  At the top of the mountain they say mass.  Many of these people climb barefooted.  Although Shane is not religious, he has climbed the mountain twice.  Luckily for me, today was not one of those days.

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This is as high as we went.

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Across the street from Croagh Patrick was a famine ship.

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Shane told me that this ship represents the people who died trying to immigrate to America.

From here Shane and I drove on through Connacht.

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That night we stayed at Oliver’s Seafood Bar, Bed and Breakfast in a little town called Cleggan.  We were quite a bit out in the wilderness, and driving through the country at night is a huge fear of mine.  It was emotionally exhausting for me to drive on roads with no lights, no houses, no reflectors, knowing that there could be sheep or a serial killer just feet away.  Luckily for me, Shane was incredible: supportive and empathetic, he helped me handle my anxiety about the countryside.  Nevertheless, that night I came back to our B&B and fell asleep at 8:30 and slept 11 hours.  And it’s a good thing, since the next day we’d be driving for hours, fighting a status red storm, before finally arriving at his parents’ house.

Ireland Day 3: Glenveagh and Sligo

On the morning of the 10th, the bad weather broke, or we drove out of it.  It was early afternoon when we arrived at Glenveagh National Park, and the rain had mostly stopped.  We caught a shuttle to Glenveagh Castle and settled in for a tour of the house and gardens.


What man wouldn’t want a dressing room like this?

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Glenveagh Castle can only be accessed by guided tour, which was €5.  The shuttle to the Castle and gardens is usually €2-3, but I don’t recall that they charged us for this; possibly because it was the off-season, early morning, and raining.  The tour itself was very basic, and the guide didn’t seem eager or engaged with the subject (this bothered Shane more than it did me).   Half of the rooms we were directed to and told that we could tour at our leisure, without commentary from the guide.  There was also a video for viewing, but we skipped it and headed to the gardens.

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From touring the house and gardens, we decided to walk back to the carpark instead of taking the shuttle.  It was only a couple of miles, but we took our time walking.  Now, I’m a city girl through and through, but I have to say that one of the things that I most enjoy about dating Shane is being taken out of my element and out of my comfort zone.  And there is something affirming about being outside together, just walking, surrounded by nature.  During our first year together, in Korea, we walked everywhere, and it wasn’t just good for our bodies: it was great for our relationship.  No distractions, just the two of us, walking and talking and being genuinely entertained by each other.

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From there we drove on to Sligo, where we were staying that night.

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My driving’s not that bad!

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Finally, after night had fallen, we arrived in Sligo.  We were staying at a Best Western, but it was very difficult to find (it was listed under a different name).  But when we found it, we were pleased with the room and ended up eating at the restaurant.


The food was bar food: bland pasta for me and a ham and veg plate for Shane.  I thought his was good but he thought it had too much gravy.  Sligo is a very pretty town, but it was basically closed down by 8pm, when we arrived.  So keep this in mind if you want dinner or entertainment there.


By the Yeats statue

Shane and I walked around Sligo that night.  It was a very walkable town, cute, but it was empty and I felt unsafe.  I’m sure that it’s great during the day, but I recommend to travelers that you decide exactly what you want to do in Sligo and plan your trip accordingly.



Ireland in panorama

My favorite panoramas from the past month.  Click to enlarge.


Giant’s Causeway


A view of Glenveagh National Park

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Croagh Patrick.


Somewhere in Connacht.


Start of the Ring of Kerry


A groto on Valentia Island.


Staigue Fort


Conor Pass


The view from Valentia.


Killarney National Park


Torc waterfall.


Killarney National Park.


Killarney National Park.


Children’s quarters in Muckross House.


A fort in Kerry.






A field near Shane’s house in Kildimo.


St. Brigid’s well.


Detroit City: Belle Isle

Belle Isle is an island on the Detroit river. The park itself was designed by the same man who designed Central Park, and when I was growing up, Belle Isle was the place to be!  There was a conservatory, an aquarium, a race track, a playground, a zoo, a beach, and much more.  These days, however, Belle Isle is a shell of itself.   There have been many efforts to “save” Belle Isle, and in November of last year it was leased to the state of Michigan.  All I can say is that time will tell.

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