Seoul. I.

“As I am writing this, I am 38,000 feet in the air. We just crossed the International date line and are half way to our destination,Seoul, South Korea, with 3009 miles to go. That’s another 6 hours of sitting in my little aisle seat rotating my seat position and bending my knees every 30 minutes.
Usually I like to write about my journey on paper in my notebook. But the entire plane is dark and everyone is watching their movies or sleeping. Plus my light above is too far up.”

My sad attempt to write on the plane. Instead I ended up watching a Korean movie called Miss Granny (staring Shim Eun-kyung) and drinking way too much coffee. It was a good movie but I was misled to believe it was a comedy and I ended up trying not to cry at the end of the movie and scare the Chinese guy sitting next to me. But all in all it was a cute movie. And I ended up drinking too much coffee because Becki and I thought if I stayed awake on the plane I would be ready to go to sleep once I checked into my guesthouse.And voila! I would have no jet lag and I would immediately be adjusted to Korea time. WRONG, after 24 hours of being awake and sitting on the Seoul Metropolitan train with my friend Anne, I could imagine how strung out and tired I probably looked to everyone on the train coming back from work. And all I could think of was how long this train ride is going to be and “Amber! Do not face plant into your backpack because you will end up sleeping on this train for the next 10 hours.”

Other than the severe jet lag I’ve been trying to overcome and adjust to the time schedule. Coffee and dumplings have become my best friend. This past weekend was a fast blur of 12 hour days exploring Seoul (no joke, there is SO much to do) with my buddies from my ASU days, SeungJin and Anne. Also, they introduced me to so much good Korean food and of course, makgeoli which is a fermented rice wine different than Soju which is too strong and intense for me. Friday, we went to a cute Spanish restaurant and had Tapas and sangria (when I told SeungJin the next day she confusingly said “Tapas?! but you’re in Korea!” just like when I mentioned a restaurant called “Vatos Tacos” in the international district. She responded “Amber! We are in Korea, we need to get you some Korean food!” She was very persistent, but she was right she ordered the most amazing Korean food that cured my jet lag. We then preceded to hike what is translated as South Mountain and looked down at Seoul in its entirety.

The city feels as busy and big as it looks. Yesterday was my first day by myself exploring. I figured out the train system. And I was very confident about ordering Korean food. I was slightly wrong. First of all, at lunch yesterday the woman didn’t speak any English and she asked what I could barely make out was if I was Chinese or part Korean. I just shook my head shyly and just said “American.” I knew she was asking where I was REALLY from but I guess there’s no easy way to say I am a Navajo/ Native American girl from America. So we just quizzically looked at each other and ordered what I thought was chicken.

It looked like chicken on the menu. When she came out with the food, turns out it was a plate full of octopus. I was tired and hungry,so I sat there and ate it. I’ve had octopus in Sushi before. But I’ve never had an entire plate dedicated to the cephalopod mollusc. It didn’t really have a taste to it and the texture wasn’t too bad. But I’ve never ate something with so much confusion however it was fulfilling and I was off to trinket shop which was my Monday.

Today is museum and art gallery day. I can’t wait to nerd out on Korean history and art. Maybe today will be another 12 hour day. Just kidding.

Usually, my blog posts cover a week but since there is so much I will be doing in South Korea for the next week and a half. It will probably be 3 posts to cover everything. In the meantime here are some pics from the past few days I’ve been here.

♥Taken By Trees- Pacific Blue♥

Photos courtesy of SeungJin Shin

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Gyeongbokgung palace: the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty and where kings were crowned.

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King Sejong Museum: introduced/created Hangeul. Which is like the alphabet to English speakers.

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Jogyesa Buddhist Temple in Seoul

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Jogyesa Temple during their Chrysanthemum Flower Festival

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This lunch

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SeungJin and I at the Hangeul Museum in Seoul

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Anne and I

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The dinner that cured my jetlag

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In a Hanbok; a traditional Korean dress Korean women wear during traditional festivals or events.

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Seattle. Vancouver.

Oh Seattle. There have been two cities in the United States that I have always dreamed of visiting. And I visited one of them last week. With Seattle, I had the romantic notion of the 90’s grunge era in my head (YES, I am guilty of imagining Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley walking down possibly the same street as I in the U district). And I only have to thank grunge, riot grrrl and most of the bands that came out of the northwest in the 90’s for my wonderful teenage angst phase in high school. Sometimes I wonder if the music from that time and place caress my wounds or did it add to the salt that contributed to my teenage depression and identity crisis growing up? hmmm I would have to say both BUT if I could go back to being 16 I wouldn’t change a thing. As I would not change a thing about my Seattle trip. It reminded me a lot of Northern England; very gloomy, cloudy and the colors around me were very monotone. It was nice to catch up and see my college roommate Becki and explore Seattle together. We had a running joke about our two day trip to Vancouver and how Vancouver was like the successful older sibling to Seattle. And Seattle was the sibling that went to art school and is still trying to figure out what to do with its life. I guess I can relate to Seattle in that sense ::elbow nudge:: Anywho here are some pics from my Seattle/ Vancouver escapade.

♥Mad Season- River of Deceit♥

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View of Seattle from the Space Needle

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Becki and I at the Mox and getting ready to get crazy and play some Pit

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At Sundance Cinema Seattle. My favorite theatre now because they have this movie poster hanging in their women’s bathroom. Do not start with my love for Matti Pellonpää.

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I’m the troll hiding behind the troll.

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Stanley Park Walks

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Gorgeous Totem Poles in Stanley Park (Vancouver)

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This momma racoon was not happy

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Space Needle at night

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On top of the Space Needle

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Night view of Seattle

Portland. Week 2.

What can I say about my last week in Portland? It mainly consisted of Melanie and I were working on our zine project and and took breaks in between by going to Sauvie Island (going to the Pumpkin Patch and through a corn maze), continuing my Twin Peaks Marathon and walking through Portland’s last heat wave before the leaves started to change. It is officially fall. My favorite time of the year, so I must say I was a bit sad to leave Portland not only because I had to say bye to my best friend but because the streets were so beautifully covered with their gold leaves. Although Portland may not be my favorite city in the world it has been the happiest I have been in quite awhile. To hang out with Melanie everyday and work on our Zine was not only fun but therapeutic and exactly what I needed. And most importantly we finished! Hopefully we will have details soon as to how to acquire it. Most times we were apprehensive about this goal upon finishing. Once we did, we looked at each other bewildered and 5 minutes later I was hugging Melanie bye on her front porch and I was off to Seattle. But here are a few pictures from this past week.

♥Hope Sandoval and the warm inventions- Suzanne♥

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Nakai Dine’e for life!

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Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch

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I literally stared at this pumpkin for 20 minutes debating if I should buy it. I sadly decided not to but I took a pic of it.

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Lost in the corn maze

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Scarecrow.

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One of the great props that I slept next to for a week and half in an awesome Portland studio downtown. Thanks to Bradley and his wonderful studio/art props 😛

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Portland morning view from Chinatown

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Did we or did we not? That is the question. (Note: We didn’t, it was too cold on the island but not for others if you get my drift)

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Cute. Melanie and Bradley.

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Waiting in line for Voodoo Doughnuts.

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Cut and Pasted with love ❤ (Cover of our zine) “Empower yoself before you wreck yoself: Native American Feminist Musings. Vol. 1”

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One of Melanie’s pieces entitled “Romance me at Wounded Knee.”

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One of my pieces “Urban Indian Guilt.”

Portland. Week 1 ish.

I can’t believe it has been 3 years since I’ve been on a plane.

Last Monday when I flew into Portland, it was dark and calm. To see the glittering world below me was breathtaking and surreal (I’m one of those people that could stare out of the window of a plane, train or bus for 5 hours). I then thought to myself “I’m finally doing what I want for the first time in 3 years!” This week although not as fast pace has went by really fast, mostly because I’m still getting accustomed to living out of two bags for the next 3 or 4 months.

Portland was my first stop and first priority because of Ms. Melanie aka one of my favorite people on this planet, therefore it had to be one of my first stops upon exploring this planet. So far, it has been interesting, mostly consisting of figuring out what to eat and finishing our zine (which has been mostly us figuring out how work a printer we got for free that is probably 15 years old). But it was free, so…. five days later, some tricky printer downloads and the world’s heaviest Shakespeare book ever, some duck tape and some expired ink, we got the printer running. Also I finally started watching Twin Peaks and reading Eat, Pray, Love 😛 (yes). I love this whole having time on my hands thing.

But here’s some picks from the past week which include a first stop to Powell’s of course, one of Mel’s favorite stores the Peculiarium (think if Ed Wood were to open a store or how his bedroom would probably look) a hike up Wind Mountain which was pretty nice and entertaining (got to see Mountain St. Helens from one side of the Mountain and Mt. Adams on the other) also we made it to the Japanese Gardens.

♥Julie Ruin- Tania♥

They’re all self published. Word. My 2nd favorite place in Portland. Powell’s Bookstore. Books galore.

Portland Japanese Gardens

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Portland Zen Gardens

My best friend is brown and listens to hip hop and she likes scary Alien Autopsy photo booths, Sasquatch and conspiracy theories . Yii.

Scared of aliens since my brother’s “unsolved mysteries,” aliens phase in the 90’s. So I was trying to be strong.

Lovecraft

Native Homegrrlz 😀

Hiking Wind Mountain.The Beginning of the Trail of doom aka Steep Hill Central aka the hiking level is pretty light aka buckets of sweat aka Catch your breath Mountain

Ya know just two Navajo girls hiking a Mountain.The top was so worth it. To see the Columbia River, Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams from the Top. I think I might have a crush on you, Pacific Northwest.

M-Dizzle

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A fellow hiker who found his zen and had an endless abundance of hilarious one liners. Too many to list.

The Walk back down…

Shonto.

Although, I technically left yesterday for the Pacific Northwest, I feel as though my journey started when I went to Shonto to visit my Grandma. Therefore, I thought I would share some photos of my visit to where my mother, grandmother and great grandmother are from. Just a little insight as to who I am and where my maternal family comes from.

♥ Bruce Springsteen: I’m on fire ♥

remember who you are

Shonto Canyons

Shonto Canyons- Pictures courtesy of April Saylor

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Cow Springs en route to Shonto. An abandoned gas station where I used to buy orange push up pops from when I was younger.

Cow Springs en route to Shonto. An abandoned gas station where I used to buy orange push up pops from when I was younger.

Introduction

Whenever I contemplate the idea of starting a blog, I get embarrassed. I become bashful of the thought of putting my life out there and having strangers (although I love that wonderful breed that are strange people) seeing moments of my life and journey that may or may not be life changing. Although, I can be an open book with those close to my heart, it can be unsettling to put my life out there. However, right now I am starting something new. Yesterday I officially left for my trip of who knows or what lays ahead of me. I know there will be friends, rain, beaches, anxiety (good and bad), good food, laughter and I’m pretty sure LOTS of moments of me nerding out over the dumbest things. But what I crave and miss in my life is the latter. With this journey/trip/experience/existential crisis (you can call it what you want), I want to go back to just being a goofy girl finding happiness and pleasures in the smallest things. Whether it be staring out the window of an airplane looking out at the vast, amber light horizon or waking up and being excited about what I see out the window regardless if it’s a rainy day.

Most people have been asking why am I doing this. To put it in the simplest terms it is this. What do I want to achieve through this backpacking experience? A Cultural/Spiritual experience.

Where am I going?

The Pacific Northwest (Portland and Seattle), Seoul, South Korea and Southeast Asia.

Why am I writing/starting this blog?

I have 3 main reasons why I am starting this blog;

1.To calm my mom down

2.To share with other Navajo/Native American girls out there that yes, our world in the Southwest is important but it is important to explore other cultures and to travel the world.

3.Have something documented for my myself and family to look back upon when I finally become a real adult with you know, responsibilities and stuff.

♥ Elliott Smith: Rose Parade ♥

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