Tag Archives: Adventure

From Ice in Antarctica to Shale in Texas (Kim – Geologist)

I’m really happy to have my friend, Kim featured on the blog today – you will probably recognize her from our trip to Vietnam because we had a great time with her and her husband – we also really enjoyed living with them in Korea and were sad to see them leave. Well, not only is she our travel companion, she’s also quite the geologist. She’s another wonderful example of someone who has studied science and had some really cool opportunities…in fact, she’s probably my favorite geologist! I’ll go ahead and let her introduce herself…

I am Kim Fangman, a 26 year old geologist who recently married an engineer.  We have a small white poodle named “Penny.”I grew up in Houston, Texas and went to college at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. There, I double majored in Geology and Economics. After graduation I came back to Houston and received a master’s degree in Geology from the University of Houston.

Me in ice

I am now a geologist with Marathon Oil. I work in the Eagle Ford Operations team. The Eagle Ford is an unconventional shale play in south central Texas. I help “steer” lateral wells, and tell the rig where to drill down in the Earth. It is sort of like a video game. I receive new data every couple of hours, which I model in software. I then decide if we need to go up or down, left or right, to tap the best rock for producing oil and gas.

As a side note, I think masters programs in science are one of the best kept secrets. Many masters programs for geology will give you a full ride to attend the school, and a small stipend, if you are a teaching assistant (TA) for undergraduate classes. I was fortunate enough to be in one of these programs, and TAing really enhanced my experience beyond paying for school. Having to teach and clearly explain the basics of geology really solidified the knowledge and I am sure it will help me in the future. Most jobs in geology do require a master’s degree, which takes around 2 years to complete.

Why did you become a geologist?

I definitely did not go to college expecting to become a geologist. I viewed geologists as “mountain men,” very rugged like Pierce Brosnan in Dante’s Peak. I am not the most outdoorsy person; I was in a ballet company throughout school.

But, I was in the liberal arts school at Vanderbilt, which required everyone to take an intro science course freshman year. I, like many students, assumed Geology would be the easiest, so I took it. It did not turn out to be easy, but it just seemed really interesting to me and I was good at it.

I found out I have a knack for really understanding things spatially, visualizing in 3D, and am good at maps (which is important, because a professional geologist’s product really is just different types of maps). Geology was more fun for me than economics. I fell into the perfect fit, which is why I really recommend keeping an open mind in college and taking a variety of courses. I became more open to camping and hiking along the way, too!


What projects have you done while studying or working as a geologist?

While in school I primarily worked on two research projects. The first used video footage of the ocean floor taken by divers below sea ice around Antarctica. I mapped the ocean floor and identified and counted the various critters I saw. There were mainly scallops, eels, worms, sea cucumbers, and star fish. I really enjoyed the project because I was helping to explore part of the world that had never been seen or studied.

My master’s thesis research was also on Antarctica. I took sediment samples in front of glaciers and analyzed them to see when the glaciers retreated, and how fast.


Have you had the chance to travel anywhere? If so, where and why?

Geologists get to travel, and to many exciting places! It is sort of integral to the job. I went to Antarctica for 3 months during my masters program. I was on an ice breaker that went right up to glaciers and allowed me to catch sediment samples for my research. I was close enough to touch penguins, whales, and seals! I also traveled around Chile on the trip.


With my undergraduate classes I hiked around the Appalachians, and went to conferences in San Francisco and Portland to present my findings. With Marathon I get to go on a one week training course each year in a different location to learn about the geology of that area. I am going to the beach in South Carolina this year. Some of my friends at work are going to Spain and France!

What have you enjoyed most about being a geologist?

I have enjoyed the travel opportunities, and the people I work with. I have coworkers that are passionate about what they do, and who are very friendly, caring people. It makes work something I look forward to. I think part of the reason for my pleasant work environment is geologists aren’t trapped behind a desk every day. We get out into the field, visit a rig, and really feel like we are part of the action and making decisions.

Group Picture at Eagleford Shales

Any advice to aspiring women interested in a career in science?

Don’t shy away from science or engineering because you don’t think it fits with your persona. Just like I didn’t have to be Pierce Brosnan to be a geologist, you don’t have to be a character from the Big Bang Theory to be an engineer or have a PHD. If you enjoy a subject, have a knack for math and science, just go for it!

Halong Bay Cruise Fun: Days 2 & 3

After a great first day, we woke up the next day ready to go to the Fishing Village in the morning. We got in a boat where a Vietnamese woman took us around the village – they also gave us the fantastic hats to wear the whole time which made it even more awesome. Our guide told us that some of the children that grow up here don’t see land until they are teenagers and go into town for things with their parents. It was pretty incredible that they have a fully functioning society that has never set foot on land – it seems so foreign to me but they probably think I’m a bit crazy for not being a strong swimmer…we all have our own perspective.

Halong Bay Fishing Village

The scenery in this area was particularly beautiful and the people were full of smiles!

Fishing Village All Smiles

We got back for some more food, a quick nap and then we headed over to an area for some more sea kayaking. This spot was even more beautiful than the first.


Look closely…those tiny specs are sea kayakers – shows you just how grand the scenery is here!

What made this trip incredibly cool was that we went kayaking through some caves and in some cases had to lay down in the canoe to paddle because the cave ceiling was just above the water. The guide took us through the caves and into this really cool little alcove that was only accessible through the caves – it was awesome! I’ve always wanted to do that so it was certainly a wonderful experience.

Sea Kayaking through Caves HLB

Afterwards, we took turns jumping off the boat into the water – it was so much fun…couldn’t have been in a more beautiful place!

Jumping off the boat in HLB

One of our favorite parts of the cruise was getting to know some of the people working there. On our last night, as the sun was setting, we took advantage of happy hour at the bar and played bar games with the bartenders.

Sunset in HLB

They gave us some bar challenges to solve using cups and cards – the guys loved these and Ryan solved one of them, earning himself a free beer! I couldn’t have been more proud.

HLB Bar Games Collage

The bar tender also told us that he could read minds – Kim was skeptical at first but he chose her card so we weren’t so sure what to think after that.

Kim's Mind Being Read

Left: Our guide reading Kim’s mind; Right: Kim’s reaction when he picked the right card

On our last day, we explored the Surprise Cave. It was full of tourists but it was certainly an interesting stop and had a neat view of Halong Bay upon exiting the cave.

Surprise Cave

And so ended our amazing cruise in Halong Bay. We said goodbye to the crew and headed back for a bit more time in Hanoi. If you’re thinking about vacating in Southeast Asia, be sure to put Halong Bay on your list of places to visit…we found it to be both relaxing and fun and wish we could go back and do it all again!

Our new friends made the cruise even better and stumped us with a few bar challenges!
Our new friends made the cruise even better and made sure this experience was one we would always remember! 

Kickin’ Off 2014

We have recently gotten back from our big trip to kick off the New Year! We spent New Year’s in Sydney and then 10 days in New Zealand having all kinds of fun adventures. I’m still getting settled back into work and everything but I will be updating the blog with all kinds of fun stories of our travels, so get ready! For now, here are a couple of teaser photos to peak your interest…

We made friends with a koala in Australia!

We made friends with a koala in Australia!

And here are a couple of our pictures from sky diving…it was awesome!

Erin Skydive Pic 1

Ryan Skydive Pic 1

Happy New Year! I think 2014 is going to be a great one!

Ridiculous World Traveler (Kristen – Drilling Engineer)

Continuing with the introduction of some of my engineering friends, I am pleased to introduce Kristen. You are going to LOVE her travel photos – she has been all over the world and is always up for trying something new. I met her while living here in Korea – it was always so nice to have another girl around the yard and she was nice enough to teach me a little something about drilling which was great.  She’s had some pretty unique work assignments in Russia working on drilling rigs and certainly takes advantage of the opportunities she’s had to be in different parts of the world. Prepare to be amazed…

First off, introduce yourself: 

My name is Kristen Eason. I was born and raised in Louisiana and I graduated from Louisiana State University in Chemical Engineering. Immediately upon graduation, I started my career as a drilling engineer. I began a rotating assignment (3 weeks on, 3 weeks off) to Far East Russia working on a drilling rig. This was quite the change for someone who had never lived north of Interstate 10 before. I decided to take advantage of my earned days off, and I could travel anywhere I wanted in the world. I visited every continent besides Africa and Antarctica within 1 year of graduating college. I was also given free Russian lessons since I was assigned in Russia, and after a few months I could read and write Russian and hold my own in a basic conversation.

Kristen in Russia

Taken on a drilling rig in Sakhalin Island, Russia. This was in December 2011, so it was nearly -30 degrees outside.

After rotating for nearly a year, I was offered a live-in assignment in South Korea. I gladly accepted, picked up and moved my life to Asia. I had never even been to South Korea so I had no idea what to expect. I quickly learned that Koreans have an incredible culture and are some of the nicest, honest people you’ll ever meet. Living in Korea is safer than living in most US cities. It’s is centrally located to many fantastic countries, so I constantly took weekend trips abroad – Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, China – anywhere there was a direct flight from my city. I also was given Korean lessons, and learned to read and write Korean (although speaking is much tougher). Much less expected, I met the man of my dreams and got engaged after spending a year in Korea together where we were both on foreign assignments.

My fiancé and I in the fabrication yard where we worked in Korea

My fiancé and I in the fabrication yard where we worked in Korea

After spending 1 year in Korea, I was offered a live-in assignment in Far East Russia. I accepted and moved up to the tundra. It’s not quite Siberia, although that’s what my mother tells all her friends. I currently still live in Russia working as a drilling engineer. It’s that time of year where I can build a snowman whenever I want and go skiing on the slopes 5 minutes from my office after work in the evening. It will soon be my first white Christmas!

Soaking up the first snow of the year….on October 1.

Soaking up the first snow of the year….on October 1.

Why did you become an engineer?

I love trying to figure out how things work. It can be anything – cars, trains, planes, and rig equipment! I enjoy problem solving and I am good at math, so engineering was the right fit for me. It’s also, in my opinion, one of the best degrees you can earn after 4 years that doesn’t require additional schooling. After I heard that I could finish school forever in just 4 years, I said sign me up!

What countries have you visited while studying or working as an engineer?

Oh boy, well I’ll go in chronological order since that’s easiest to remember. I went on a 6-week backpacking trip across Europe after graduating. I visited Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Germany, and Greece. Staying in hostels with people from all different cultures and backgrounds was amazing. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but it’s something I’d recommend anyone to try once. Traveling on a budget is what allowed me to do most of the adventures that I took while backpacking. After that I began my rotating job where I visited Thailand, Japan, Australia, Italy (again), Austria and Costa Rica within 9 months of one another. Once I moved to South Korea, I visited China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan (new cities) and obviously South Korea. I now live in Russia in a rather isolated location so I don’t get out much, but I’m always planning my next vacation abroad!

This was my hostel in Venice. Very typical of hostels across Europe – 4 bunk beds, zero privacy and a bathroom shared with 25 other people. You’d be surprised how well you can train yourself to sleep with this many people around.

This was my hostel in Venice. Very typical of hostels across Europe – 4 bunk beds, zero privacy and a bathroom shared with 25 other people. You’d be surprised how well you can train yourself to sleep with this many people around.

In addition to that, I made a personal wish to visit every Disneyland around the world. So far I have hit Disneyland in Florida, California, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. Only Paris is remaining (Florida is definitely the best and biggest one)!

My fiancé and I at the entrance to Disneyland Hong Kong

My fiancé and I at the entrance to Disneyland Hong Kong

How were you able to make the most of your time in places that you were sent for work?

I’m a big believer in learning the local language. If you are spending at least a day or 2 in another country I think you should learn to say hello and most importantly, thank you. Following this rule I’ve learned these words in about 10 languages, which is pretty neat. I take advantage of my work locations by learning as much as I can about the local language. You learn a language fastest when you are living in it. In most countries, they are much nicer to you if you attempt to speak the language rather than if you automatically address them in English and expect them to understand. After all, you are the visitor in their country.

Being located in Korea it was easy to hop countries on the weekends. My fiancé and I were in a different country nearly every weekend. If it was a direct flight, we took it! My travels have allowed me to meet people in so many countries. I do my best to get to know someone in each country, and now I have friends to guide me when I come back or to give travel suggestions for their country. It’s always better when you have a local opinion. They tend to know places that aren’t necessarily tourist attractions. I encourage anyone and everyone to travel as much as possible. Seeing and understanding different cultures gives you a completely new perspective of the world. Never miss an opportunity to go somewhere, no matter where it might be. Every city I have visited has taught me something new and interesting. Hopefully my story inspires people to go out and do great things! Engineering has been the ticket to see the world, not just for me but for so many others I know.

Bungee jumping in Thailand with my fiance. It was right at this moment that I was regretting my decision, but it was still a blast.

Bungee jumping in Thailand with my fiance. It was right at this moment that I was
regretting my decision, but it was still a blast.

What is the most interesting story you’ve had while traveling?

I managed to get myself and a friend past 5 security checkpoints to stand in front of the Sydney Opera House on New Years Eve 2011 after it had been closed off for almost 12 hours. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Australia, being in Sydney is equivalent to being in New York City for New Years, and being in front of the Opera House is like standing front and center in Times Square and watching the ball drop as the clock strikes midnight. It’s a big deal and I wanted in – we were told it was really hard to get in unless you camped out the night before or got there early in the morning. There were 5 checkpoints to get to the front of the Opera House – I got us through all of them and have the picture to prove it. When the fireworks went off of Sydney Harbor Bridge at midnight, we had the most envied seat in all of Australia. We had done the impossible, and in a timeframe of only 30 minutes on Sydney’s busiest, most “secure” night of the year. It was my greatest New Years experience to date. And suffice to say, our friends from Sydney did not believe we made it until we showed them pictures!

Standing in Sydney Harbor on New Years Eve. Sydney Harbor Bridge is behind me, and the Opera House is to my left.

Standing in Sydney Harbor on New Years Eve. Sydney Harbor Bridge is behind me, and the Opera House is to my left.

Climbing Sydney Harbor Bridge on New Years Day 2012

Climbing Sydney Harbor Bridge on New Years Day 2012

What is something that you’ve done that you never thought you would?

When I began traveling, I decided that I wouldn’t turn down foods because they were weird, and I definitely wanted to try the specialty of each country I went to. This led me to eating cured (rotten) shark in Iceland, bugs (not sure what kind) in Thailand, and a whole raw fish (bones and all) in Japan. While I won’t try those again, it also led me to some great things. I now have unrealistic expectations for sushi around the world because I’ve eaten such amazing sushi in Japan too many times. I started eating fried eggs on my burgers (Australia) and mayonnaise on my French fries (the Netherlands). A Belgian waffle will never be as good as it was in Brussels. I had no idea what goulash was until I walked into a pub in Prague and asked for the house special. Experiencing the foods of the world has been incredible, and this is coming from the girl that grew up refusing to eat nothing but bread and butter. One thing I can say is that although it seems dirty, street food in any city typically surpasses anything you can buy in a restaurant. People who have been operating those little carts for years make the food and they know what’s good!

Belgian waffles in the streets of Brussels

Belgian waffles in the streets of Brussels

Other crazy adventures include playing with tigers in Thailand, whitewater rafting in Costa Rica, hang gliding in Switzerland, skydiving in Slovenia and diving on the Great Barrier Reef. When in Iceland, I got to go ice diving in between the Nordic tectonic plates; you could see where the massive rocks had split apart beneath the water!

My fiancé and I playing with a Bengal tiger in Thailand

My fiancé and I playing with a Bengal tiger in Thailand

Whitewater rafting in Costa Rica

Whitewater rafting in Costa Rica

One of the stupidest things I’ve done was going extreme canyoning in Switzerland; it’s basically risking your life for a period of 3 hours while jumping off of 40ft cliffs and trying to avoid boulders in the water below.

Canyoning in Switzerland

I consider myself extremely lucky to have had these experiences. I couldn’t have done them had I not been given the job opportunity I have that locates me in different areas of the world. If there’s one thing I learned, is ALWAYS buy the pictures/video/whatever they are trying to sell you after an adventure. You will be glad you did later.

Paragliding over the Austrian Alps

Paragliding over the Austrian Alps

Thanks for reading! Gracias, grazie, merci, mgoi, xie xie, komsamida, harigato, spaseba, danke, dikeh, ka poon ka, hvala :)

Found Nemo on the Great Barrier Reef!

Halong Bay Cruise: Day 1

3 days and 2 nights in Halong Bay – let the amazing cruise begin! As soon as we got on the boat, they gave us cocktails and served up a beautiful lunch! The food was to die for every day which made me so happy – we love Vietnamese food!

Cruise Food & Drinks

We were in heaven – the scenery around us was just breathtaking!

Halong Bay

In the afternoon, they anchored the boat and took us out sea kayaking to a private beach which was a blast! We felt like we were living in a dream – it was awesome!

Sea Kayaking in Halong Bay

That night, we had a cooking class and they taught us how to make spring rolls! They also gave us some Vietnamese liquor that they had left in a coconut for 1 – 2 months. It was incredible!

Spring Roll Cooking Class

At the very end of the night, we tried our hand at squid fishing. I don’t think any squid were interested in what we were offering so we gave it our best try but unfortunately did not snag any.

Squid Fishing

We were anchored in a quiet little area for the night…this was a neat sight to have from our balcony as our first day ended.

Halong Bay at Night

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