A good many people seem to be lamenting 2016 as a year of political disaster, war, and robbing us of a great many famous celebrities. There have been music videos, late night talk shows, memes, and more Facebook statuses than you can count expressing the horrors of last year. By the end of the year, I was feeling so bombarded by all the negativity, that I found myself actually having to take breaks from being online. We stopped writing as much and we found ourselves curled up on the couch watching movies or reading late at night, putting off blog posts and social media updates.
This past week, I found myself looking through old photos from 9 years ago, back when Ryan and I first started dating. Buried deep on our hard drive, these photos hadn’t seen the light of day in years. I was surprised at some of the moments I had actually forgotten about, and it really saddened me. After, I went through each year of our time together, gathering photos from the most memorable times spent together and making small collages of each year.
2008, 2011, 2015
You see, I think that as a whole, we have a habit of forgetting all the good things that have come our way. We focus on the bad and overlook the things that make life gratifying and fulfilling. 2016 may have been a disheartening one, but I can’t stand entering 2017 without some feeling of hope and gratitude. So, here’s a look back at what 2016 held for us, as well as some of the collages I made of years past.
Here’s to 2017!
Osaka and Kyoto
We kicked off January 2016 with a trip to Osaka and Kyoto in Japan! This is our second trip back since Japan is only an hour flight away from Korea. Highlights of the trip included the Wizarding World of Harry Potter where I cried 5 different times out of sheer joy, Fushimi Inari shrine, walking around in sudden snow fall through famous old temples, and wandering around the charming streets of Kyoto.
After a short week back at school in February for graduation, our vacation started again. This time, we headed stateside for our first trip back in two years! Our trip was just short of three weeks and we spent the entire time with family and friends and of course, eating all the American food we could stomach, before inevitably dying a little inside from too much of a good thing. Our only regret was enjoying our time a little too much and not taking more photos.
Before the heat of the summer set in, we managed to score a free templestay program right in our little town of Yeosu with our friends! Templestays are definitely a must for any Korea Bucket List, and we were super excited to finally get a chance to try it out. Though we were not exactly huge fans of waking up at 3:45 in the morning, the rest of the experience was enlightening, pun indeed intended, and incredibly relaxing.
One Last Trip With Friends
2016 also had plenty of goodbyes. Every year we say goodbye to amazing friends that have grown to be like a second family to us. It’s hard, to say the least. One of our favorite moments of summer was our trip to Andong where we toured the famous village and stayed over night in one of the hanok houses. Our friends, Scott and Megan went from online blogging friends, to real life buddies in no time at all. Our last trip with them filming and collaborating was certainly a highlight of our year.
July was a special one as we celebrated five years of marriage and took a belated celebratory trip back to Taiwan! Though we only had a few short days, Taiwan never disappoints and we were again awed by the culture, people, beauty, and food. My personal favorite was our trip to the charming hillside of Jiufen, an old Japanese colony and mining town that the award winning animation movie, “Spirited Away,” was modeled after.
Jason and Andrea
We had to hurry back to Korea after Taiwan because Ryan’s brother, Jason and his wife, Andrea decided to come visit us in Korea! We traveled around as much of Korea as we could manage in their short time here, and had a ton of fun together. Hands down the best part? Visiting Bijindo Island off of Tongyeong. The bluest water I have ever seen in Korea and a great day relaxing on the beach with friends and family.
Halloween Hiking in Autumn
Fall in Korea certainly didn’t pass us by this year. We made it a point to meet it head on and get out and explore as much nature as we could on the weekends. Halloween weekend, however, was our favorite as we got together with friends, went camping, then dressed up for an amazing Halloween hike in Naejangsan National Park. Ryan was a GI-Joe, in case you can’t see him in the pictures properly. He just blends in so well.
Another Korea Bucket List item got checked off in 2016 as we were invited to join a “kimjang” (kimchi making) party with our friend, Sanha’s, family. Kimchi is a staple food in Korea and most people eat it for all three meals of the day. We aren’t quite that jazzed about it, but we do like it a lot. We made just a few whole heads of kimchied cabbages before we were kicked out for going too slow! Definitely check out our video over on our YouTube channel for more.
Finally, a very exciting opportunity opened up for us at the tail end of the year. We were contacted by Winterfriend, a ski tour company in Korea, and were asked to come visit the slopes of the future 2018 Winter Olympic Games as a sponsored trip. We got to check out the facilities, ski, and stay where the Olympic athletes will be setting up this time next year! Look forward to a post coming real soon about our trip!
So… farewell, 2016. I am looking forward to starting year 10 with Ryan by my side and rounding off our first decade together with one last year in Korea. We have a lot of hope and aspirations for the upcoming year, and we are excited for what the future holds.