Tuesday, November 24, 2009

English Teacher

I'm still in Korea. Now I'm teaching English for 2 weeks. It's a way to make a few $$$ (quite a few actually :)) and to stay here longer. My job is very easy but it's alright, relaxing and enjoyable. I'm teaching M/W/F from 230-800 and for half of that time I just read because there are not enough students to teach (at least this is how my first 2 days have been). My main goal in teaching is just to have the kids speak. People study English here starting at 6 or 7 years old and still so many people don't speak a word of English. I think it's because the schools focus too much on grammar and writing but the students never hear the language or speak it.

So I'm still having a great time here. I continue to eat good food, meet great people, and have partied quite a bit recently.
They have a drink here called Soju that I guess can be called 'Korean Vodka'. It's usually not as strong as vodka. And it tastes better than vodka in my opinion, but still it's not good by itself. But that's why they have 'somec'. Somec is a mixture of beer and soju. The Korean beer is pretty weak and taste isn't amazing (either that or I've been spoiled by Matt and Steve's homebrews in Philly), but when you mix the soju and the beer it actually tastes better than either one individually and is pretty strong. Actually it can be a bit dangerous haha. Soju can really surprise you after a couple of bottles. Before you know it you're as drunk as ________. But it does lead to some good fun.

Last week I bought my plane ticket to leave Korea. I don't really want to leave, but I guess I have to at some point. The good thing is I'm going to more awesome places. On Dec 9 I'm going to China for 8 days. And from there I fly to Uzbekistan ohhhhh yeahhhh.

and btw, my first album of pics that I put a while ago on facebook is at: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2192840&id=10506799&l=1fb4a425af

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Hello, it's been a while but I'm writing again. Let's see... since I wrote last time I've been to Belgium, Amsterdam, London, Milan and in a small city in a valley in the Alps. Then I was back in Philly for less than 2 weeks which consisted of quite a bit of work, more drinking and seeing some of you guys. Now for the past 2 weeks I've been in South Korea!

I love it here! So far I've been to a few cities and have been couchsurfing the entire time until today. I was trying to go to an island today but by the time I got to the place I'm at now the ferries had stopped running. Now I'm in a motel for the night and will go tomorrow. Actually It's good that I got stuck here because I can just sit and relax for a night.

So what's so great about Korea..... first of all, people here are sooo nice. From the second I arrived at the airport everyone has been really helpful. Just about any person on the street will let me use their cellphone, when I wasn't sure where to go some people have walked me to the place I was looking for even if it was 10 minutes out of their way and I've been invited out a few times by random people. One night I was walking home and an older man said hello to me and then took me for some food and drinks. The day after that, 2 ladies in their forties bought me some coffee as we tried communicating with their little bit of English and my non-existent Korean. That evening a younger couple asked me to take their picture and then they took me out for dinner, drove me around the city a bit and we got some ice cream. The next night I went out with some CSers and I know some people were buying me drinks mainly because I had almost all the money I went out with the next morning. And last night... I really don't remember much and neither does anyone else.
Also the food is really good here. I've tried a bunch of new dishes but don't know all of the names. And there's a spa culture here that's really different from anything in the US. It's interesting, a bit strange at first but you get used to it. But I'll explain it another time or you can google it if you really want to know now. There's lots of places to go hiking here, lots of temples and other places to go sightseeing and the Korean girls are really pretty.
Hmmm what else,

Most of the couchsurfers here are English teachers from the US and Canada (I want to come back and do that for a year or two). And for the most part, the teachers here are living it up. Even with no special qualifications, we can get paid more for teaching English than what a Korean would make at a job after university. And on top of that, housing and insurance are provided for the teachers so there's a huge cost that's gone.

Alright, now I'm going to go sleep so see you later

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Last weeks in Israel... Leaving on Monday

So this is my last blog from Israel because I'm leaving here on Monday night. I'll be going to a few cities in Europe in the next 2 weeks so it should be pretty sweet.

Yesterday was the start of Rosh Hashanah which is the Jewish New Year. So that means that from yesterday evening until tomorrow evening there are no buses running. To get around I guess you can either walk, have a car, know someone with a car, hitchhike or take taxis or microbuses (although they only run from major cities). But most people spend the holiday by getting together with their family and eating a really big meal. After our dinner yesterday, I went and met my cousin and some of her friends for a bunch of drinks to celebrate the new year and it was goood fun.

In the last few weeks, I've traveled a bit more. I spent 5 days in Jerusalem where I found some places that sell mate... of course I bought some and have finally been drinking it again, my bombilla has been waiting to get used. Then, I couchsurfed in a kibbutz that's next to the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret). Almost everyone in the kibbutz is from Argentina although I only met a couple of them. oooh, and I got to milk goats, it was so sweet!! Well I didn't milk them directly, we put on these tubes and the suction from them would get the milk out of the goats. Either way it was still awesome.

And our host there took us to 'The Hidden Lake' which has only been around for a few years. It's there because people were digging in a quarry, and they hit one spot where some water came out. Then it kept coming out till there was a mini-lake. So then they had to stop digging and now it's a really nice place to go swimming (although too many people there on Saturdays). I've also wandered a bit more around Tel Aviv and had some amazing Hummus (I argue that this place is the best hummus in Israel, but everyone has their own, it's like arguing who has the best philly cheesesteak). I also ate Sabich. The 'ch' in that is pronounced like the spitting sound from your throat that many people can't do. Sabich is delicious. It was eggplant, egg, salad, tehina, and some other stuff all in a pita, much better than falafel I think.

Another crazy thing about this summer is that I haven't seen a drop of rain since I got here and it's still pretty hot most places here. It's been really nice... well for me, I think this country wouldn't mind if it rained more seeing as how they don't have so much water

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Traveling up North

Been traveling around since I finished working on the farm. Nothing crazy or exciting, just having a really good time. and I put up some more pictures (link is in a previous post).

I went to Nahariya with the other girl that was working on the farm. There we stayed with a girl from couchsurfing and her parents, and like most CSers they were very nice. Nahariya is pretty small so we went to Rosh Hanikra to see some really cool caves and to the old city in Akko which had many things to see and really good hummus. We also got some hummus in a small town after seeing the caves in Rosh Hanikra. Hummus mmmm if only you knew how good it is. And one night in Nahariya there was a free concert. The music wasn't great, but there was some very good people watching there.

From there we went really north to a kibbutz called Kfar Blum. We stayed with a girl, Ayla, that I had met about a month ago when I was hitchhiking. She had given me and another girl a ride and her phone number in case we'd be back up north. It was a nice little kibbutz, and in her backyard was the Jordan River, not bad eh? So we went hiking/being carried by the current down the river. The first day doing it we found some tubes which helped us along. The second time I went by myself and there were no tubes. But both times I had a machete to cut any crap that might be in the way (ok so the first day I didn't really need it, but it's pretty going down the river with a machete. but when I went back it ended up being really useful). Also, at some point there's a hammack hanging in one of the trees that sorta grew across the river instead of up. So we chilled in that for a while. Ayla also took me to a few other kibbutzim that were nearby, each one has its own special little place. One night there was a really good show at a pub by a group called J Viewz.

Next was Haifa. Stayed with a family friend, went into the city a couple of nights with them and also went hiking on my last day there. The hiking was awesome, it's really cool how you have the city then a few miles away quite a few good trails going through the mountains and then not too long in the car and you can be in the desert. ooh and the beach is closeby too.

Just 3 more weeks and I leave Israel and onto adventures in other places

Friday, August 21, 2009

The farm on the Moshav...

So it's been interesting on the farm that I worked on this past week, but I left yesterday because it was enough at this place for me. I got to the farm through WWOOF, a website where you can work on an organic farm in many countries in exchange for a place to sleep and food, etc...

The place I worked at was on a small moshav in the northern negev (desert) right next to Gaza. One lady lives there and runs the place and occasionally has volunteers coming to work. She is trying to make the farm self-sustainable and economically friendly. Another volunteer and I slept outside in a tent (not really a tent, but almost). We showered in an outdoor shower where we would fill up a bucket with water and shower by pouring the water on us (saves even more water then a 'green' showerhead) and went to the bathroom in a transportable composting toilet. Everytime the hole for the toilet fills up she moves it to another spot and grows a tree in the previous one. There was also a solar oven that could be improved, but it was enough to get food or drinks pretty hot. Also, everything in her house gets reused. For example, all of the water coming out of her kitchen sink fell into a big compost pile/tree/garden along with all the vegetable and fruit peels. The water from the washer goes to water a tree... you get the idea, anything that can be reused is reused.

During the week we spent some time weeding the field. There were tons of weeds, I don't think anyone had worked the field for a looonng time. We also made a water catch system so that she can collect the water from the roof when it rains. Pretty much we attached some piping to the gutter and through a filter it falls into a barrel so that it can be used to water the plants when there's no rain. Israel has a problem of not having enough water. And we converted a spot in front of her house from a big pile of weeds into a good-looking and fertile raised garden bed so she can grow some more vegetables. One of the days we also helped another older lady in the moshav with some work that she wasn't able to do herself.

A lot of what we ate during the week was from her yard. Herbs for tea and vegetables and fruit for eating. There was a Passion Fruit vine growing on her house so everyday I was able to eat lots of passion fruit... mmmm it was sooo good. Also, I learned quite a bit about permaculture and plants and lots of other stuff. But for certain reasons I didn't want to stay there any longer. So, in a couple of days I'm going to go travel in the north again, hopefully couchsurfing in small places in the middle of nowhere where it's really nice.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I've posted many pics. Israel Pics and Pics from Egypt and Jordan.

The past week's been good. I've been to Ein Gedi Reserve, where we hiked around a bit, went swimming in the small pools being fed by waterfalls and saw some animals. Afterwards we went floating in the Dead Sea.... very cool feeling and relaxing also. But careful because any cuts you have will burrnnn, actually it's not that bad.

Also went to a few other places. One night we went to an Irish pub and had a couple Leffe Browns, mmmm it was good. It's funny how all over the world, Irish pubs are almost the same. Not that it's a bad thing, Irish pubs are always good fun! And another cool thing was in Abu Gosh we went to see a church but while we were waiting, so were a bunch of soldiers. But they were waiting to have a tour with one of the monks and they took us in with them. The monk seemed like a really nice and funny guy but I didn't understand most of what he said because it was in Hebrew.

I was supposed to start work yesterday on a farm in the south, but it's been delayed so I'll start Sunday. And a couple more things, the falafel and the schwarma are amazing here. Also have you ever had freshly made hummus? wow... it's insanely delicious. I haven't cooked for so long but I could go for something really spicy. Most food here isn't spicy, I guess Israelis can't handle it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Petra, Amman, and back to Israel

Hello again.

Much has happened since the last post. We spent another day in Dahab just relaxing on the beach, in the house, and hanging out with Maya's camels (they have 2 camels). The next morning it was time to cross to Jordan by ferry. What I originally thought would be just a few hours took the entire day. In short, all of the tourists were lied to so that we could pay more money for the 'fast ferry' and we waited many many hours until actually getting on the ferry and crossing over to Aqaba, Jordan. The 'slow ferry' would have got us there much earlier I think. But it wasn't that bad because we met many other travelers that were waiting with us and it's always fun exchanging stories with other people.

We took a taxi with a spanish couple from Aqaba to Wadi Musa (next to Petra) where we then got a taxi to our host's house. Our host here, also from couchsurfing, was a 20 year old girl named Ameera who was part of a bedoin family (name: Abushadi). We were nicely welcomed in their home with some bedoin tea and some really good food and just talked to the dad for a while.

So, 20 some years ago, all the bedoins in Petra actually used to live in the caves in Petra, born and raised there and working with tourists. But then the government kicked most of them out of the caves and built all of them small homes on the top of a hill in a place now known as Bedoin Village, this is where we were staying. The homes were no longer small. Our host dad said that most of the bedoins knocked down the homes and built bigger and nicer ones. This would explain the huuge house that we were staying in with flatscreen TVs and a nice car (not what you would expect when you hear 'Bedoin'). Either way, our host was born in a cave along with many others here... pretty sweeet

The next morning the dad took us to the entrance to Petra to get tickets. It seems like he knew everyone here because everyone he walked by shook his hand and ssaid something then Abushadi. We got the tickets and I realized I need a hat. I went to buy one from one of those people that sell all kinds of tourists stuff on the street but the guy gave me the hat for free and said 'no price for you, Abushadi good friend of mine'. I thanked him a few times and we went in the park.
It's tough to describe Petra but it is amazing! Walking through Petra, we went in many of the caves and other places made by the Nabatean people many years ago. I could spend weeks just hiking around this place. There's the normal walkthrough through the site but there are also many other paths to take and places to see than just that. In one place, Aushrine bought some jewelry from a bedoin. By the time she was done choosing, one of the bedoins invited us to sit and have some tea. We hung out while they got some water, started a small fire and made the tea. Afterwards 2 of the guys, Sammy and Promise (who still live in the caves), started to take us to a nice place where there was some fresh springwater and small stream and not one other person around. They made some more tea, found a bushel of grapes and we hung out and walked a little around the mountain. It was getting late so we started to head back to Bedoin Village. As soon as we got to Bedoin Village, a million people seemed excited to see us (probably because tourists are usually never there just walking around) and sat us down to have some tea. I think that these Bedoins really love their tea. After a cup we went back to the house and ate and relaxed a bit. Later we went to the bedoin wedding. They celebrate for 3 nights when someone gets married. All the guys are together dancing, drinking tea, and on the 3rd night eating. The women are separate and from what Aushrine told me, they just sit and don't do much. But the guys are all having lots of fun. I danced for a bit, or at least tried to. But what a day... walking through Petra, chillin' with some cavemen and then going to a bedoin wedding.

The next day we also went into Petra to see more places and at night went to the last night of celebration for the wedding where everyone eats. There were many tables with all the guys sitting around them and they brought out plates the size of each table. Each plate had a goat head in the middle, with the meat, rice and some other stuff around it. Everyone around the table ate with their hands and then the leftovers went to the women and children.. I was lucky to be a guy.

We spent 2 days in Amman with a really cool host, KK, from couchsurfing. It's a big city with a few cool things to see. The second night we hung out with my friend that was living there. I met her at Drexel because she studied english for a couple months there. It was fun, she drove us to some different places and we met some of her family and friends.

After Amman, time to go back to Israel. Between the Jordanian and Israeli sides in the border crossing and then getting back to where we were staying in Israel, it was another entire day event. The israelis are strict with letting people in. It makes sense, they have to be careful with safety and whatever other reasons they have to not let people through. But I recommend having a line for Israeli citizens because then I could've saved many hours.

Now back in Israel, I've spent a day in Tel Aviv where I met up with a friend from freshmen year and I started to plan some future travels. I found a cheap ticket from London to Milan so will be stopping there on my way back to the states. Also realized that I have no empty pages on my passport so I went to the US embassy to have more pages added. I'll travel for the next few days and then going to spend one or two weeks working on a farm through WWOOF. Also there's many pictures waiting to be uploaded but I'll do it when I have some more time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

First post... Finally

Hello hello,
So a few people told me to start a blog of my travels and I said that I would quite a few weeks ago. Well I finally did it.
As it's kind of a late start, I can't describe everything from the past month because it would take too long to write. So I'll try do it in short...

I graduated from Drexel University on June 13th and am going to start working with the Peace Corps in February somewhere in Latin America. That's a long time to wait so I decided that traveling around would make the time much more enjoyable. I started with 2 weeks in Europe. In Belgium I visited Brussels, Leuven, Liege, Gent, and Bruges and then I also spent some time in Paris. Some of my pics from these cities are CLICK HERE . In Belgium and Paris I spent some time with friends from Ecuador (IAESTE!!!) and with some friends from couchsurfing that stayed at our house during the past year.

All of these cities were really nice and the entire time it was 30-35 degrees and sunny. Belgium is really small so it's easy to travel around by train. I'm not the best at describing some things, but the architecture is medieval and I haven't seen anything like it in my past travels. Also what everyone says is true, the beer and chocolate are amazing! But watch out, even though the beer is tasty it's pretty strong too... They speak many languages here also. As I went from city to city, I heard French, Flemish, English and some Spanish (although most people here don't speak spanish).

In the past, I never wanted to goto Paris (even though I spent one night there before because Air France was on strike) but the week in Paris was really nice. My french is crap, but I learned a few lines while there, and spoke Spanish more than English. The city is huge with so many great places to see. Most of the time I slept on a small mattress under a desk in an architecture studio, but also spent 2 nights on the floor in another friend's house. Everyone I met was really nice and I'll probably come back to spend more time here in the future.

After Europe, I took a plane that left me in Tel Aviv, Israel. The first week I spent in Israel was mostly with my family. I hadn't seen some of them for many many years so it's good catching up. I also met some cousins that weren't alive the last time I was here. My family lives in Hod Hasharon, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Qiryat Ono so the first week was spent between those cities. So far I've just seen a bit of Jerusalem, but it's a nice city. My grandparents took me to the old city for the day and we walked around there. In Tel Aviv, my uncle and I went through all the city on bikes. I hadn't biked for a while but it's good being on wheels again. It seems that all of Israel is really hot, and some cities very humid also but hopefully I get used to it soon. oooh I forgot, I also met up with some couchsurfers in the first week and went out with them and met up with a friend that I know from Colombia. It's really cool seeing all these people again that I've met from past travels/couchsurfing.

Finally I started to travel after the first week. I met up with a girl from Lithuania, Aushrine (also from CS), and we CSed at someone's house in Yodfat, a small moshav that's kind of in the north. It was really nice there. We had a great host and most of the people in Yodfat are pretty interesting, it's hard to describe how people are there so you should go see for yourself. We made a daytrip to goto Banias park which is in the very north of Israel. To get there we had to hitchhike about 100km. It was my first time hitchhiking and all I can say is that it's addicting! It's fun, you save some money from buses, and can meet many people. Banias was nice too. We walked along the river until we came to the waterfall at the end. On the way there Aushrine lost her sandal in the river and ripped her pants... I guess that's why there's so many signs that say 'Do NOT enter the water'. Luckily my pants were ok and I still have both my shoes. On the way back we also hitchhiked. Another good thing about hitchhiking is that some people spoke almost no English so I got to practice my Hebrew. That's another part of my plan for this summer is to learn Hebrew. I'm not taking classes because it's a bit expensive and I don't study as much as I would like because I'm traveling. Even though I'm still learning a bit and understanding more than I can say, I'll have to come back here in the future to properly learn the language.

Right now I'm in Egypt. Last Tuesday, Aushrine and I hitchhiked from Petach Tikva, just north of Tel Aviv, all the way to Eilat which is right next to the Taba Border Crossing to Egypt. It took a looonngg time but we made it to Eilat by the night and we also learned that the desert is really hot. Thankfully we had lots of water, some food, and the cars that picked us up were air conditioned. When we crossed the border the next morning we waited for a while before heading to Cairo. The sign said there was a bus at 12:30, but after asking the guy at the bus station he said that it's the maybe bus... and this day maybe meant no. We eventually took a microbus, or a big van, to Cairo. In the microbus was some egyptians, a guy from barcelona, a guy from Rome, Aushrine and I and no air conditioning. Before I thought that Israel was hot, but Egypt is much hotter! we drove for hours through the desert in this van full of people with no air. And the window had to be closed because the air coming in was so hot that it felt like it was burning me. It was quite an experience. I slept through a few hours of the ride while flying through the desert and listening to Egyptian or Arab music (I wouldn't know the difference, but it's good music whatever it was).
Eventually we arrived in Cairo and our host from CS, Ahmed, took us to the CS apartment. An entire apartment just for people traveling through Cairo.... sweet! Ahmed spent the next few days showing us around Cairo. Him and the other people we met are all very kind and the time there was really good. He took us to the pyramids, Citadel, Egyptian Museum and some other places in his Audi S3 which was quite comfortable. Cairo is a HUGE city! I think 24 million people.
We were supposed to spend a night in Alexandria and Ahmed drove there with us. I don't know what happened but our host there wouldn't pick up her phone or return any messages so that night we ended up going back to Cairo. Alexandria is a nice city, we saw a museum and walked around the city a bit. All of us had only slept 2 hours the night before so we were very tired. There's very few tourists there which is good.

Now we're in the Sinai in a city called Dahab. Our host here, Maya, is very nice. She's from Slovenia but her dad is from Egypt and she came here I think about a year ago and married a Bedouin man. We're staying in their house but getting to learn some about the Bedouin culture also. Yesterday we went snorkeling and swimming on the beach. Saw some fish and some coral and at the same time got a bit burnt. SPF 15 sunscreen doesn't do anything for you here... At night we went to a Bedouin area in the mountains close to here and layed down while some people played music and there were a million stars in the sky. I think we'll spend another day here and then go to Jordan.

So for now that's all. Actually I wrote a lot more than I thought I would so maybe you're not reading anymore because it was too long. Future posts won't be so long so don't worry. But whoever is reading, hope you're doing well