“Bailey, What The Hell Are You Doing Over There?”

This is a great question, person who didn’t ask–let me suss it out for you. I finished up my 2 years at K.Hogwarts on May 31st, and ever since then, I’ve been fighting crime in Gotham in a non-form-fitting suit.

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I spent my first week of freedom cleaning out my apartment and lazing around eating popsicles in the relentless heat while delivering my previously acquired goods to their new owners and trying to not cry about separation anxiety with my yoga matt that I used exactly 4 times. I moved my 3 suitcases plus hanger-ons to my friend’s apartment, where I camped out until Monday morning, when I left for 10 days in Japan. More about Pokemon land in a later post, though.

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I returned from Japan a week ago, and, well…pretty much…not doing too much. I previously asked YMKCW to buy my school-paid-for flight home for July 1 to spend time with friends and travel and make out with boys and do a whirlwind Korea bucket list like finally visit the DMZ, eat patbingsu ((팥빙수, a shaved ice treat in summer) and stuff myself full of enough kimchi to last me a lifetime of healthy lady bits.

But thanks to MERS, Korea has kind of shut down…a lot. My co-workers at K.Hogwarts have had almost the entire month of June (and most of July) with very few or no students, giving them either paid desk time or unpaid free vacation time to travel the world. What a great time to have quit, huh? DMZ tours are currently cancelled, and the apartment at which I’m staying has no wifi. So…what do I do all day?

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I get my hair cut the shortest it’s been since second grade. I got gel nails. I put a purple streak in my hair. I changed my nose ring to a hoop. I got my eyebrows waxed. I meet friends for final coffee dates and batting cages and goodbye drinks at our favorite bars. I sneak up to Seoul for a night and do stand up comedy and don’t suck 100% at it. I powered through “Orange Is The New Black” season 3 in 2 days. I start watching “Game of Thrones,” since everyone won’t shut up about it. I unpack and repack my suitcases and eat foods that I won’t see again. I see Jurassic World alone in 4D. Because I’m a put together woman who can handle life alone.

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I take really long walks to nowhere. I journal. And cry. I cry a lot, guys. I’m crying in parks as couples walk by hand in hand. I’m crying as I walk everywhere. I’m crying in sunglasses at 8pm at night like an asshole, walking downtown. I’m crying sitting alone at Suseong Lake during a light show. I’m laughing, snot coming out my nose, as I rip a fist-sized hole in the butt of my leggings during said light show when I try to switch seats and don’t see the nail sticking out of the ground and thank the Lord I had a scarf around my neck to work into some bizarre, weirdo-style. Then I walked some more, listlessly. I cried on the metro on line 3 since I only got to ride it twice. I curl myself into a sweaty ball under the covers and do that ugly cry, where you sob uncontrollably, the kind of thing you hope no one ever sees but you so desperately want someone to hold you. Because I’m not a put together woman who can handle life alone.

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And I know I’m not actually alone. I know you guys are all around, whether in person here in Korea, or via the internet, or soon to be seen in America or even if I’ve never met you. It’s not my first time feeling these feelings–April 2013 was pretty much the same–about to leave Arkansas for the scary, K-pop fueled land of Korea and feeling my heart ripping wide open, showing all the pink and bleeding bits. And, as The Script has told us, “when a heart breaks it don’t break even” and they are not wrong.

I’m not sure what stage of grief I’m in, but I’m hurting guys. I remember standing in the bathroom on my Korean Air flight on May 25, 2013, one fist holding on desperately to my t shirt and the other shoved in my mouth, trying to hold back sobs as I realized that I didn’t know when (or if) I would see my family and friends again. And I have a sneaking suspicion that on July 1, 2015, I’ll be on a Delta flight to Seattle in the same position, mourning and trying not to frighten the flight attendants as my heart breaks again with Chewbacca-like sobs in a 2 foot bathroom.

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Should I have booked my flight for July 1? I don’t know. Thinking about how I could be home right now with my family is both exhilarating (family! hugs! home cooking!) and scary (not in Korea, not coming back for who knows how long, leaving people). Can’t change the flight now, and today is one week from departure date. 7 days left. I’m going to eat so much food that I’ll be peeing 고추장.

I know this isn’t probably the happy-go-lucky-crazy-fun-Bailey-story-time that you guys are used to, but I’ve never lied to you yet about emotional, painful stuff, and this is kind of where my heart is at. I’ll update later this week about Japan and the Pikachu good times so you’re not worried…too much.

My name is Alyssa Bailey, and I’m grieving. Send puppies.

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Baguio, Baby! Reincarnated Dogs and Questionable Meats

So, I’m as bad as a network season finale cliffhanger for that last post, am I right? “I’ll post tomorrow,” I said. It’s only been (counts on fingers)…it’s been more than “tomorrow.” My bad. I have excuses, but most of them are flimsy and since y’all all WHEN YOU GON’ UPDATE, sit your Bellatrix selves down for the rest of the #PhilippinesAdventure.

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You’ll recall that day 1 in the Philippines, was, to use the colloquial, a shit show. I was seriously looking into tickets back to Korea that night, but I didn’t want to face the peanut gallery of “WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST GO TO EL NIDO I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU I TOLD YOU” and since I am a dumb woman who repeatedly forgets that pride goeth before the shit falleth, I couldn’t have that.

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I asked my new AirBNB host, Nick, for some advice, and what I got was advice AND DINNER, y’all. At a place that was like “The Hangover,” pre-hangover.

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AND HE PAID. Yes, y’all. This dude definitely paid more for my dinner than I paid at his hotel. And it was crazy delicious. He (and his business partner) both recommended that since my first choice place of Sagada was supposed to be raining all week, I should try for Baguio, which was “just 5.5 hours away.”

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My main goal in this unplanned trip to the Philippines was to relax and unwind and just be around green things, which, in a nutshell, was what it was like in Jeju for me just 5 days before, and they assured me that Baguio was like that, and they had contacts there. So I folded myself in half in a tricycle, YES a trike, and went to the bus station. I then proceeded to think “don’t pee don’t pee don’t think about peeing you definitely don’t have to pee, you’ve never peed in your life” for the next 5.5 hours, which I am sure my sister the nurse would not be proud of.

Watching the scenery go by, I saw more and more green, making my heart excited. However, I’ve got to tell you guys that the ratio of Celine Dion songs I heard to hours I spent on that bus was just unreal. I was in love with the guy next to me by the time our ride was finished. Upon arriving to Baguio, I checked into my new AirBNB place and promptly got rained on. But the view, even in the rain, was magnificent.

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Originally, I’d just planned on staying 2-3 days in Baguio, and getting ideas for somewhere else. But, like all places, there were people that changed my mind. My new AirBNB place was hosted by Robert, who was convinced that his dog, Bruno, was reincarnated and could tell bad people (barking) from good people (no barking), and that since Bruno and I got along like gangbusters, I was a good egg. Just look at this fool, who clearly has superpowers.

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Robert fed me, answered questions, and let me just chill and be myself on his balcony for hours. I also met 4 girls who lived in the house–they are from neighboring provinces and are in Baguio for jobs/training/schooling for a temporary time, and they are awesome–they took me to night market, to bars, on walks, and got me to eat new foods, all while chatting and talking about life. They completely made my trip worth it.

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I ended up spending 5 days in Baguio–and I have to say, I never anticipated in my life being crammed into a Toyota 4 Runner taxi with 4 Filipino girls, eating corn kernels that were coated with macaroni cheese dust out of a plastic cup, and rocking out to “Gangster’s Paradise.” Sometimes when you just let the journey take to the weirdest places, it treats you to pretty wonderful experiences.

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Highlights in Baguio:

-The night market–at 11pm they close down one of the main streets in Baguio for a clothing, shoes, and trinkets free for all that is manic and wonderful and super cheap. You should all know that I really restrained myself in not buying you all vintage Nike tees. And then I ate some weird foods that I’m still not sure about.

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-Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary–aka one of the weirder things I did in Baguio and I…I’ll just show you some pictures. This is touted as a garden, and as I was here to see green things, it seemed logical…To start with, this is how this starts:

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YES. Am I right?! I  swear, if there was just a weed scent, this would be right at home in the Pacific Northwest. This place/garden has a “history of the world” theme, and it did not disappoint with the weirdness. There were dinosaur eggs, mini-caves, and even weirder religious motifs. I wished so bad that RoyGene had been there to livetweet it with me, because it was glorious. Also, there *were* beautiful flowers, but I was too lost in the hilarity of strange.

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-Mines View Park–WE DON’T NEED NO STINKING BADGES to look at a bunch of hills that once had mines that produced valuable stuff. Not the most exciting pit stop, but a cool view indeed.

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-The Mansion–aka where the President goes to get away from the oppressive heat of everywhere else in the Philippines. I know it looks like the gates to Arkham, but I swear this is the summer white house.

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I returned to Korea, a little wiser and with mostly healed cheesy thunder thighs, and missing the one guy who knows me inside and out: Bruno. I mean, seriously, look at this fluff basket. He knows what’s up.

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TL;DR: #PhilippinesAdventure

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So if you go to the Philippines, either 1) plan better then I did or 2) just go to El Nido already and you’ll probably love it. I don’t regret going on my journey of strange, as it’s made for some awesome and horrific stories but I could have saved a lot of hours and several inches of chewed of fingernails if I’d planned better. But the Filipino people made my trip a glorious bag of experiences and for that, I’m pretty damn grateful.

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Next post: How to end your job gracefully without crying, by Not Me, #JapanAdventure and OWLS. Yes, Anderson Cooper, OWLS.

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How Not To Start A Vacation: Philippines Style

You know how people are like, “don’t plan out your vacation! Just let it take you where it will and you’ll discover blah blah blah its the journey, not the destination?”

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Such crap. I mean, like, half crap. At least when it came to my Philippines trip.

*sidebar: this coffee shop I’m at right now has an amazing, killer iced Vanilla latte. Think Sonic cup ice and creamy, glorious vanilla tears of a mermaid–it’s great. However, I was like, YES, I would like a chocolate muffin with it and this muffin tastes (and has the texture of) ground up Cheerios boxes. Not Cheerios. The cardboard box that holds and smells faintly of Cheerios. Like, I wouldn’t feed this to chickens my worst enemies anyone. But I bought it so I am damn well gonna eat it. Stupid pride. Anyways…*

Philippines. I finished up my aforeblogged Jeju trip on Monday, May 18 (happy birthday, older bro! You’re 30! I should shut up now!) by flying back to Daegu in the morning, then showering and discovering I’d been attacked by what looked like angry gnomes…I had countless bug bites, scratches, scrapes, tiny sunburn on the tops of my feet (knew I’d missed somewhere…) and the cheesy maiming of my thunder thighs. Everything hurt in that shower. Did I really want to leave the country again for 6 days? I mean, sure, the $168 round trip flight from Seoul to Clark was too Dutch to pass up and I am an adult female woman person who has pride, power and is a badass mother who don’t take no crap off of nobody so HELL YES we are going to go and…have fun…and whatever. Also, it was my last week of vacation at K.Hogwarts, so I *had* to use it.

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Everyone who knew I was going to the Philippines was all “OH MY GOD EL NIDO EL NIDO PALAWAN (that’s it, right? I have a sneaking suspicious it might be Padawan but that could also be a Star Wars thing) YOU’LL LURVE THE BEACHES” and I’m all, “please look at my skin tone and tell me about how perfect I am for beaches and snorkeling, please.” No. I was going to the MOUNTAINS and having HIKING TIMES and FINDING MYSELF like that lady from Oprah…stuff.

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So I get to Seoul, get on the flight, and immediately, start to have a weird feeling about the trip. Not enough to break aviation law, but I did have a “which sickness gets me off of here without thousands in fines” thought and I will confess to thinking about throwing nuts at a steward but I did not because I am not a chaebol lady pre-apology. I shrugged it off and said to myself “IT WILL BE AN ADVENTURE,” confirm texted my AirBNB host about the car picking me up, and then departed from Korea.

I landed to…nothing. Wait, that’s not entirely correct. I landed, went through customs, whole shebang, got the stamp, got my bag searched, walked out the doors to…nothing. No sign for the car I had previously arranged. No person saying any version of my name, mangled or otherwise. Just looking at about 200 Filipino people looking at me as they were sitting, and waiting, for other people that were NOT me in the 84 degree heat at 11:22pm at night.

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I could not figure out what brand of cross-cultural muckup I had walked into here. I frantically tried to connect to the semi-shady free wifi spots at this tiny, useless airport (that $168 ticket price tag is starting to make sense, isn’t it?) to check my AirBNB app for something, anything from my host to discover why my already exhausted, possibly hungover, bug-bitten, sunburned, cheesy maimed ass was alone in a new country and up shit creek. To add insult to these various injuries, I was an IDIOT and forgot my foreign credit cards. I know. I blame it on the Jeju magic; I’d still been in Korea in Jeju, so I was able to use my Daegu bank cards and Korean ATMS (my Korean cards wouldn’t work here. I checked). I was now in a foreign country with just under $404 in Philippines pesos FOR THE ENTIRE 6 days.

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I used 400 ($9) of my precious pesos to buy a SIM card to contact the AirBNB host, since she’d given me her number to call her in the event of…anything. Nothing like hearing the message “this call cannot be completed as the receiver is either out of service or this number has been disconnected” to make your heart sink. I hadn’t eaten in almost 9 hours, and it was just past midnight and hot and dark and I was, to be frank, scared. Yeah, I was. I was alone, and knew no one in this country. I don’t want to lie to you guys. I wasn’t totally in panic mode, but I’ve seen “Taken” and I couldn’t go back into the main airport without a ticket (which I wouldn’t have for 6 more days) and I was rapidly approaching some unattractive tears. I had no credit card to get any more money, I had no sleep options (this airport is 15 minutes from anywhere), and I was feeling really dumb about the whole trip.

I frantically tried to book different places on AirBNB, since I could use my credit card number online to pay, but since it was past midnight, I couldn’t book for the night I was currently living (18th/19th), but rather the next night (19th/20th). I still hadn’t cried by this point, but this wasn’t a moment of pride for me. In desperation, I posted an SOS on Facebook, which prompted a text from my best friend saying “you know your mom is going to freak out, right?” Yeah, I did. But it felt like a legitimate post to throw up there since I was literally sitting against a wall in a strange airport in a strange land without any plan other than “don’t get kidnapped or robbed or sold into slavery.”

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At this point, a guy wearing an official-ish badge walked up to me and asked in a not-unkind way, “what are you doing?” By now, I’d been pacing around with a constipated look on my face for about 2 hours. It was just shy of 1am and as I blurted out my story, he said he knew of a close hotel. I informed him that I didn’t have much money, which probably was mostly sold by the fact that I only had a small backpack on and smelled like anxiety. He said his job was “taxi chief” and that he knew of a good, cheap place that was safe, including “guard have gun,” which, after living in Korea for so long…is kind of unsettling…but whatever. I’d already created a frightening backstory for a lot of the guys walking around the airport, so the word SAFE SAFE SAFE was circling my head like little Disney birds. He bundled me into a cab (500 pesos) and told me the hotel would probably be about 1200 pesos.

It is possible that in the dark of the cab, to the dulcet tones of 1980s Whitney, that I maybe shed a few tears of thanks and frustration but I hid it real real well under all the makeup I was not wearing. But you can’t prove that.

10 minutes later, upon arriving at a hotel that looked not unlike the motel/gas station from the movie “Cars,” I paid 1400 pesos (you win some, you lose some) and collapsed in twin bosoms of air conditioning and fast, fast wifi and actually, did, cry for about 30 solid seconds. I opened my messages to read replies and tips from friends from all over the world, plus family who was praying for me and a message from a college friend who hooked me up with names and numbers of her dad’s missions contacts in the Philippines. It was almost 2am in Angeles, and I was exhausted in every sense of the word. Despite the fact I was 88% sure there was a lipstick cam in the ceiling (it just had that vibe), I stripped down to my underwear and tried not to think about the sheets as I passed out.

I woke up 7 hours later to some emails from AirBNB customer service (awesome, awesome people) and messages from more people (yet, never ever heard from my original AirBNB host by email, messenger or phone). AirBNB hooked me up with some credits and helped me book a place that night. I spent the rest of the morning lazing about in the air conditioning and watching some form of an “Underworld” movie before deciding to check out and walk to my new place. But since this is getting long, I’ll save the rest of the story for tomorrow–including tips on how not to pee yourself on a 5.5 hour bus ride!

TL;DR First night in the Philippines:

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Unemployment Day 1: Let’s talk about Cheesy Thunder Thighs

It was with the happiest, Disney-villain gusto that I woke up at 9:24 this Monday morning to no alarm. No dulcet tones of BigBang’s “BaeBae” (it’s grown on me, guys), no “Cruella DeVil” 5-minutes-before-the-bus-leaves-get-yo’-ass-UP alarm, nothing. It’s like vacation BUT IT WILL LAST FOREVER or at least until August-ish. I hope. You know what time it is, y’all, it’s time to:

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I’m curled up in the mothership, enjoying a horse-sized iced vanilla latte after going to the bank and transferring money home LIKE AN ADULT (after staying in bed until 11:47am LIKE A CHILD), and I feel good. Sure, this latte cost as much as the cab ride over to this side of town but I’m happy with it.

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LOOK AT HER SEXY VANILLA CURRRRRVES.

It’s so strange to think that there’s nowhere I need to be. I have these 5 days to move stuff out of my apartment and into suitcases/friends’ caves before I leave for Japan for 10 days next Monday. I have no idea what I’m doing in Japan, which is a terrible/wonderful thing according to my Philippines vacation 2 weeks ago, wherein I landed at 11pm and my AirBNB host went COMPLETELY AWOL and I was stranded, sticking out like the tall, sweaty, uberwhite uberwomensch that I am.

But we’ll get to the Philippines in the next post. Right now, I need to back up and tell you about winning the field of dreams of Jeju while getting fantastically maimed.

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It was Thursday, May 16, and I had just landed in Jeju for my second “Jeju Furey Beach Volleyball Tournament,” where my team’s name was “William Shatner Face” (say it 3 times fast and you’ll get where our minds were at), where we sweat, sunburned, got bit by a host of radioactive spiders, and I got scalding cheese on my lady bits AND THAT WAS JUST THE FIRST NIGHT. Here’s a visual of what was dropped on me:

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You know like, when you get fajitas and it’s all steaming and they’re like, “do not touch this hot metal thing in the middle of the wood trough we brought you human piglets?” Yeah. Like that. Dancing front the table onto my uncovered, lily-white, Snow White-esque upper thighs and into the stuff of LEGENDS. If you’ve figured out the gist of our team name, just imagine the kind of jokes we made of THIS incident–which, by now, is past the “blistering fields of delicious, cheesy thigh pain” phase and into “Pink post-surgical scar where they hid the drug-filled condoms” phase, aka it’s definitely almost healed. Also, I artfully hid the burns in following picture because Photoshop.

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Friday was spent on the southern side of the island as I got my tourist self on and visited all 3 big waterfalls of Seogwipo and wrote a lot in a journal and had generally awesome solo white girl travel times while sipping on tea and meeting Mr. Darcy and then traveling on a bus full of 35 high school boys practicing their English on me “YOU LIKE DRAKE?!”

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I really loved these places, chock-full of tourists (like me) as they were. There’s just no bullshitting with a waterfall. It’s not a museum or a monument or something man-made. It’s powerful and peaceful at once. The color of the water here is just unreal. It feels like you ran into a Totoro tunnel and came out in a different world where your other worries and cares are gone. I could have sat for hours except rocks are not the most comfortable seats, y’know? But if you are lucky enough to get to Jeju, screw any other tourist spots (except maybe climbing Hallasan, which I have not done:( but heard is also naturally wonderful) and just get to these waterfalls and bathe in their serenity.

Saturday began volleyball times. I’d played with a different team last October and had only met one member of my new team, so you know I made a great first impression with le cheesy thighs of power and grace. We slowly warmed up on Saturday, getting to know each other’s positions and strengths and alcohol tolerances. I’m very proud to say that I drank an entire bottle of Hallasan soju (한라산 소주) in a scant 6 minutes and 43 seconds, beating everyone else on my team and establishing myself as alpha wolf of the drunk tank.

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After a restless, sleep-ish night, we went on to win our bracket/division and I promptly ran my championship exhausted ass into the ocean and waved at you guys…what, didn’t you hear me? from the sandy, gorgeous, alcohol-infused sands of Hamdeok Beach.

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It’s my second time going to this tournament, and both times, it was stupid fun. The typhoon of last October and the glorious weather of this round, the people who I recognized and those who remembered me as “Dan Quick’s friend,” it was all awesome. Thanks to the other members of the heroin centipede (really, you don’t want to know) and here’s to cheesy thunder thighs forever.

Bonus pics:

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*post ocean run WHY WAS THE TIDE OUT THE WATER WAS SO SO FAR AWAY model look*

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*Sunday morning 6:30am sunrise. Magical.*

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*Hamdeok Beach being a lovely little volcanic wench*

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*I might have had a slight little extreme sports crush on this Korean guy’s skills*

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Next time: Adventures of Ma’am in the Philippines!

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