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Friday, June 22, 2012

Cyber Grandpa

I frequently get emails that are sent to me accidentally. I've gotten lawn care estimates, invoices and invites to book clubs. I'd really like to know what the correct email address is for this other Heather Hayes so I can forward her all of the correspondences I receive on her behalf and find out if she gets emails for me too. (Pretty sure my PR professor was sending her daily emails every day for like a month in college...) In one possibly misdirected message, I was greeted as "Jennifer." The content did pertain to me, I think, and complemented me on this very blog. (Josh, if you're reading this, I mean no offense. I found it hilariously funny and if you, in fact, weren't referring to my blog, forward me a link to Jennifer's blog. I want to read it!)

When I get these emails I always politely reply to notify the sender of the mistake. It's the least I can do, right? Sometimes I get replies of thanks or apologies, sometimes nothing. Sometimes I get replies from everyone in the book club.

There is one sender, Grandpa, who just doesn't realize that since February 2011 (probably when he learned how to use a computer) he has been sending emails and pictures to someone other than his granddaughter. Take a look.

This was the first picture I received. I didn't reply.

8/28/2011 and 9/3/2011
Second set of photos. 

Reply: "Love the pictures of bones, dude, but you've been sending them to the wrong person the whole time."

Third set.

Reply: "You have the wrong email address. Please change it in your address book."

Fourth occurrence.

Reply: "You have the wrong email address in your contacts. Please change it. I'm not the Heather Hayes you are trying to contact."

4/7/2012 and 4/22/2012

Obviously Grandpa isn't the best photographer.

By the way, I still hadn't discovered that it was Grandpa sending me these pictures every so often. I found that out two days ago when I woke up to, "Grandpa has sent you an e-card." I immediately knew that it wasn't really for me because neither of my grandpas know how to operate a computer. (It was not a free e-card, by the way. Hopefully Grandpa got his money back.)

Here's a link to it!

If it doesn't work, that's too bad. But at the end, the message says, "Got you nice carh." No, c-a-r-h is not a typo on my behalf. Grandpa needs a grammar lesson from me. The e-card gave me the opportunity to reply, so I did. And this is Grandpa and I's further correspondence.

Me: Grandpa, that was a lovely e-card, but I just wanted to let you know that it was sent to the wrong email address. Please verify the correct one with the person you meant to send it to and change your address book accordingly. Thanks.

Grandpa: Send me the one you want I will change all my accounts.

Me: I don't know which email address you need. I'm not your granddaughter.

Grandpa: it was c/o of you my dear

Me: You still have the wrong email address. Please contact your granddaughter and ask her for the correct one.
Grandpa: so your kids have their own email accounts?

Me: Nooooooo.... I am a complete stranger to you. You don't know me. I don't even live in the United States. You are emailing the wrong Heather Hayes because you have the wrong email address. Talk to your Heather Hayes (by phone, not email!) and get the correct one! Do you understand?

I think he might have gotten the idea. So that may be it for emails from my Cyber Grandpa.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


The Jehovah's Witnesses have started a new tactic to convert me since I never answer my door when they ring the bell (even though I'm sure they can hear my TV, loud music or louder voice talking on Skype...). Their new game is called "corner the foreigner while she's eating."

I passed a few ladies on my way to my favorite little restaurant for dinner (well, broth soup and kimchi, hold the rice). Side note: I love this place because they allow me to customize practically all my orders which is rare in Korea. They know to fill my soup bowl, which I will refill myself, load my plate with kimchi, and usually 86 the rice.

One of the ladies came in soon after, but this time she had children with her. I'm sure her thinking was, "She's a foreigner, probably a teacher. She must be a sucker for cute Korean kids." She was right. I was engrossed in my book but did spare a few moments to make smiles with the wee ones.

Mid-meal, we accidentally make eye contact during my glance from my Kindle to my food. (I've learned the hard way that it's best not to try to use peripheral while eating and reading.) She took that opportunity to grin wildly and say, "Excuse me," as her invitation to sit next to me. She hands me a visibly dated brochure to read. Even though I'm 90 percent sure she's not a Christian trying to witness to me, I politely take a look and pretend to skim the words.

I guess she could tell I wasn't really reading it so she decided to take a more 2012 approach. I act like I'm less interested in the video she shows me (twice since she mistakenly hit a wrong button on her smart phone and started it over) than my food. I did actually read the English subtitles to the video, which were obviously translated by a self-taught Korean. They were talking about how God is a woman and then did a 180 and started a mini lesson on evolution? My soup was getting colder by the second so I, with as much politeness as I could possibly possess, kindly told her in Konglish that I'm Christian and have been since I was a baby, but her baby is really cute.

She was really nice about my decline and told me to enjoy my delicious meal (of broth and kimchi). I don't mind being cornered in a restaurant as much as my own apartment, but I also don't like cold soup. The lady was sure to leave her cell number just in case I changed my mind.

PS: My stomach is feeling much better! I only vomited once at work. ...That awkward moment when you sprint out of class towards the bathroom and all your students know that you're running to hurl... In any case, I considered the day a success.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Warning: This post will be very personal, probably to the point where you will know way more about me than you ever cared to. Also, don't read if you have a weak stomach.

A few things first:

One: I'm writing this only to show how hilarious my life is on a daily basis. I think everyone should know.

Two: I typically only share this kind of information with my mother and closest friends.

Three: I love the Google translate app.

I am a self-diagnosed hypochondriac. My Google history can account for that. A few days before I left for Thailand I was watching an episode of House on my Korean television (which had just resumed use because my remote control was lost in my apartment for about two months and the stupid TV can't be turned on without the clicker) and ironically the plot involved a couple who were both infected with a parasite they had contracted in Thailand. This probably falsified information was not helpful to my hypochondria. 

My stomach had had... "issues"... during the trip but they were pretty minor. Although I actually had a Charlotte moment (reference to the Sex in the City movie, but I won't share more than that). So on and off once I returned to Korea the... "issues"... continued. When Ashton told me that he was sick, I was convinced that we had both contracted a parasite. 

(I'm not proud of this.) I then typed into Google: "House episode Thailand parasite"

Not surprisingly, I had each and every symptom of this particular parasite and self-diagnosed myself. The was a statement that it can cause weight loss. I decided to allow the worm to remain inside my body for a while. (Movie reference to The Devil Wears Prada, "I'm one stomach flu away from my goal weight.)

After my symptoms seemed to disappear for a few days, the un-hypochondriac Heather decided to let go of my parasite diagnosis. I still joked with my friends and family about it, only half serious, but now it could be serious.

I'm drafting this post after only a few two-hour increments of sleep in the past 48 hours. My Kindle has a new home in my bathroom, next to the toilet. It gets moved to the medicine cabinet while I vomit. At first I chalked it up to be the fact that I consumed twelve hours worth of $10 drinks and fatty western food in Seoul over the weekend. When I was woken from a deep sleep to be sick after 24 hours of said sickness, I decided it may be more. Speaking with my mom and friends, we've together tried to come up with doctor-like diagnoses. Doctors in Korea never actually give me a diagnosis anyways so I have no need for them. 

Now is when this post gets gross and I share too much information.

I have no problem going to with with diarrhea. Some people have a complex where they can only poop at home. I'm not one of those people. I do, however, have issues with vomiting in places other than my own toilet when I'm sober. Since all night and morning I had to take turns while foreign matter expelled from every opening my body has, I called in sick to my business class. I didn't feel comfortable making the guys wait on me while I was busy in the bathroom.

Luckily today I only have to work a total of three hours so I'll go to work. To prepare myself to leave my apartment and not get sick on the streets of my neighborhood and/or my school, I decided to break down and get medicine from the pharmacy. This is how that conversation with the pharmacist went:

"Ahn-yang-ha-say-oh (Hello), ummmm, [point to stomach, make a sick face and imitate vomiting and diarrhea]. Ummm... Tay-guk (Thailand)... Gee-saeng-chung (parasite)? [imitate 'I don't know' hands]"

Pharmacist looks confused and says a bunch of stuff I don't understand. Then she said some things I do understand and my Korean translating ability decided she just confirmed that I went to Thailand, I might have a parasite and I need medicine for vomiting and diarrhea and did I go to the doctor yet.

"Byeong-won (hospital)? An-ay-yo (No). [Imitate taking a pill]"

Pharmacist brings me two boxes of medication and tells me to take two of each pill twice a day before meals. 

Who needs doctors when you have Google, Web MD and a translate app? And on a serious note, cross your fingers I either get better or lose like 15 pounds.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Warning: This is a long post. Hope you're not in a hurry!

Unfortunately writing from Korea, my heart years for Thailand. The rest of my trip in one word: Blissful. Ashton arrived late at night. I was sleeping but quickly woke up to greet him with an ice cold Chang beer. He laughed and told me I was crazy but still partook in the cold beverage. Who's crazy now?

The hotel, while kind of dirty and lacking amenities, was in a very convenient location to get to the airport the next morning. 

Don't lose your subway token!

On the way to the airport

Ready for take-off

Day 1

Alas, we made it to Phuket. A friendly couple from New Zealand sat near us in the minibus from the airport and gave us suggestions on what to do during our visit. They had already been to Phuket once on their trip and loved it enough to go back again. Despite the negative comments from the Brit, I knew I had made the right choice choosing Phuket. 

Upon arrival at our hotel, we were greeted with juice and a cold towel. Nestled in the mountainous jungle, Karon Cliff had everything we needed. Our room overlooked the beach, the staff was friendly and we got free breakfast every day! It was $20 a night well spent. I had only booked the hotel for one night but every day we requested to stay one more night. 

After settling in, we headed to the beach for the rest of the afternoon and found a quaint little place to enjoy a late lunch.

Ready to hit the beach

View from the hotel

Karon Beach

Beach bum


Day 2

The next day we were up early. Poor Ashton (even though he would never admit it) had jet lag, causing him to fall asleep early and thus wake up early. For those of you who know me, I am NOT a morning person, but on vacation it's alright. 

After breakfast we arranged for transportation into town to ride an elephant! That was one of two importation things on our list of stuff to do in Thailand. I had read and heard about elephant sanctuaries that treat the animals badly, but the place we went to was family owned and seemed to treat the elephants well. 

As soon as I stepped onto the deck, the majestic creature we would soon ride came up and greeted me with  her trunk. Fact: I don't know if our elephant was male or female. Fact: I named her Lucy in my head. 

Even though the ride wasn't bear-back and we didn't tromp through the jungle it was still amazing. I felt sorry for the elephant because I would have been sweating my butt off and out of breath had I tried to walk up that hill and here she had to do it with two people on her back and one on her head. She got to rest and eat a snack at the top of the hill while our guide snapped some photos in exchange for a tip. On the way back down, Lucy took a hefty dump. 

Lucy and her keeper

Our lovely Lucy

On the way up

View from the top

Photo: 30 baht

Is the baby elephant tall or man short?

Me and Lucy

Before heading back up the mountain we stopped at (my beloved) Family Mart to stock up on snacks and beverages for the rest of the day and night. The rest of the day was spent being bums on the beach and exploring the beach town. 

We had a quite enjoyable time people watching. We saw a topless woman; she must have been European. Being a silly American, I found it challenging not to stare and gawk. The gawking continued when we saw an old man, probably 100 years old, wearing a black thong. That's it. I tried really hard to take a picture but he kept turning around which defeated the purpose of the photo. Before I could summon the courage (Ashton refused to stand near him so I could pretend to take a picture of him, not the old man butt cheeks), he put on his Speedo and then the rest of his clothing and left. Sad day. 

After all that fun, it was time for food and beverages. Chang was nice and refreshing. We stopped for two or three along the way! (Side note: After being in Asia I can't fathom a place where you can't openly walk around with alcohol in your hand.) Plenty of sunscreen was a must on this blistering hot day. Real clothing was much less necessary.

Did I rub it all in?

Second elephant ride of the day!


Or chef at the 'German' restuaurant


Then it rained...

...but we waited it out.

Silly Thai boys burying their friend and building inappropriate body parts for him.

Sunset after a long day in the sun

I had to ruin at least one photo...

Day 3

This day was probably my favorite of the trip. The previous day we had arranged for a speed boat trip to the Phi Phi islands. I was especially excited about this because the islands have been the location for so many movies. Have you seen The Beach lately? Watch it. I was at a lot of those places! Maya Bay was one of the main shooting locations for The Beach but we couldn't go there because the waves were too big. Our van picked us up nice and early. We were late... oops! 

Let me just tell you, riding in a speed boat in the ocean is very different from a lake. The waves were much bitter than I had anticipated. The breathtaking scenery was well worth the bumpy ride. 

This smile means I have no clue how rough this ride will be.

It's not too rough now, but just wait!

Still holding on for dear life.

I don't remember anymore how many islands we visited. They all just run together. Each and every place was lovely. I'll try to recount.The first stop was Viking Cave. This place is home to Thai specialty, bird nest soup. No, we didn't try it.  On Close by was Monkey Beach! While I snapped photos, others on the boat fed the monkeys bread. Wouldn't you know, the smallest critter got the most food! On the other side of the island was a nice quiet cove for swimming. 

Viking Cave

Monkey Island


Our next stop was definitely one of the highlights of my day. We went to another island to do some snorkeling! I had never been before so it was simply majestic! Not that I'm mature by any means, but there are certain places that make me act like a five year old: Zoos and aquariums. I go nuts when I'm around animals or fish. Sometimes I get so excited that I pee my pants. Luckily, this time I wasn't even embarrassed when I wet my swimsuit! (I'm totally kidding by the way. I only pee my pants when I laugh or cough too hard.) 

Since I was in the water I couldn't be heard but I was squealing like a little girl the entire time. I was in my own little Heather world in the water, just slowly floating around, taking in all that I saw. I saw clown fish, parrot fish, angel fish, and a bunch of other fish that I'm ashamed to not know the names of. 


How do I look?

Ready. Set. GO!

Ashton and I made friends with a couple from South Africa who were on their honeymoon. The girl was not happy at all when they made us get back in the boat. I could have snorkeled for hours and hours! Pretty sure my next step will be diving. And getting a water-proof camera is a must!

After snorkeling our next island was just to enjoy. We drank some beers, took pictures and swam around a little. This particular beach was in the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio and the others swim however many meters to get to the island. (By the way, that movie is pure fiction when it comes to geography of the islands.)

Long Beach

Our final stop was at Krabi for lunch. It was a delicious Thai buffet. The ride there was particularly bumpy. So bumpy, in fact, the husband of the honeymooners got really sick and had to take a nap so he didn't hurl everywhere. After we ate and let the food settle, it was time to get back in the water! There was a nice area roped off for snorkeling. I was a child again. At one point I was trying to get Ashton's attention to take a look at a particular piece of coral and got a mouth full of sea water through my snorkel. Not cool. Luckily he was close by and came to my rescue. Next was a lot of coughing and up came that delicious Thai lunch. Apparently the fish thought it was delicious because I was soon getting nips at my legs. The moment was priceless and perhaps you had to be there. 

"Go away, Ashton. Don't look!" [BARF] "Don't come over here! Go away!" [BARF] "Ouch! They're biting me!"

The ride back to the marina was much more pleasant and we were both asleep early that night. 

Day 4

For our last full day in Phuket we decided to just explore more and take in as much of the beach and atmosphere as we could. We laid out on the beach for a while and then walked into town. After lunch and some shopping it was time to get massages! 

First, we got fish pedicures. The sensation was unlike anything I'd ever felt before. It kind of tickled? It was strange. Ashton wasn't a fan at first but finally started to relax towards the end. After that it was time for massages. I got the oil massage (naked!) while Ashton opted for the traditional Thai massage. We walked into the shop (which was much more legit than the place I went to in Bangkok. This place actually had real massage tables) and Ash was unusually apprehensive. I didn't know why until we left. During my massage my masseuse conversed with others in the shop. I was in and out of conscious bliss at the time but noticed afterwards that the voice was strangely low. I said to Ashton, " I think my masseuse was a lady boy." He confirmed and let me know that's why he had reservations about the whole thing. He thought that was going to be who massaged him. I was nakedly massaged by a lady boy. Now I can check that off my bucket list...

He's trying really hard to smile when all he wants to do is cringe!

Fish, feasting on my dead skin

After a delicious second lunch of curry and some more shopping we finally started to make our way back to the hotel. Every day we explored we walked further and further up the beach. This day we'd finally made it clear to the other side of the beach (about 5km). That's only 3.2 miles but it's seems so much longer when you're walking on the sand, with bags in tow, trying to battle the incoming tide. It probably took us two hours to walk back. It was nice to enjoy the setting sun on beautiful Karon Beach. 

Curry. Yum!

Karon Beach sunset

Day 5
This was a very sad day. It was time to leave our beloved Phuket. *sniff sniff*

Goodbye, Phuket :(

Ashton has a friend, Matt, who lives in Bangkok so he picked us up from the airport once we arrived. Funny story... They hadn't seen each other in a few years and we didn't know what kind of car he would be driving so we waited at the designated spot. A car pulled up and waved to us so we assumed, "That's Matt!" It wasn't. It was a random guy in a random car, trying to play taxi for naive tourists. 
We didn't have much time for Bangkok, as my flight left at 1 a.m. and it was already 7 p.m. Matt and his lovely girlfriend, Fon, took us out for a fabulous meal and drinks. A lot of drinks... Needless to say, I slept well on my flights back to Korea. 

Matt and Ashton

Lovely couple!


Tasty veggies, curry soup and the best chicken wings I've ever had!


I didn't want to leave Thailand or my wonderful travel buddy, but that's the way life goes. I need a job to financially support my travels. I'm already planning my next trip and if everything goes well, I'll be going back to Thailand again before I return home after Korea.