Picture?

There’s an odd trend I’ve noticed while traveling through Asia. Asian tourists and locals frequently come up to me (and I’m sure other foreigners) and ask to take a picture with me. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the concept of wanting to take a picture with a complete stranger when the only words you’ve exchanged with them were “Picture?” Read more

Us Wanderers

Most of the people I meet abroad in Asia are in the same boat as me. Not many are traveling for a few weeks; they are traveling for months on end or teaching English. So many of these people, myself included, are in their twenties and haven’t committed to a career path yet. Exploration is more enticing, and quite honestly we don’t know what to do.

We’ve been told to do what we love, but because our economies at home are in the crapper, to take what we can get. So, do you sell out and take whatever job you can if you can’t get a job that pays you to do what you love? Do you move back in with your parents? Read more

Korean Thanksgiving and Our Second Trip to Sokcho

We are just finishing up our much appreciated five-day weekend for Chuseok aka Korean Thanksgiving. Chuseok is a holiday where families gather together, eat good food, honor their ancestors, and give thanks for the plentiful harvest. Gifts are exchanged on this holiday and the grocery stores are stocked with large gift set boxes of whatever you can imagine. One teacher recieved a gift set of shampoo. Eight bottles of shampoo is more of burden to me than a gift, but I’m guessing the idea is that you can share with friends. A very popular gift set is the spam and oil set. Yum. In case you don’t believe me I have some photographic evidence.

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My 6 Cardinal Rules for Living in the Tropics and Having to Coexist with Bugs

I started this post while I was living on Koh Tao last year. Today I dug it out of my computer and finished it. I left the intro alone even though I no longer live on Koh Tao.

I don’t like spiders. I know they are the good guys for the most part, but they are creepy. In my defense, I do have a somewhat legitimate reason to be wary of them, my house growing up was filled with spiders that used to bite me in my sleep. I guess it’s not just the bed bugs you’ve got to worry about. So this morning, when I was tying the bikini string around my neck and noticed a spider crawling on my top, I naturally freaked. I let out a pitiful squeal, hit my chest and sent the spider flying to the ground. I used to be a spider killer, but Dave has taught me otherwise, so in his honor I gently swept it outside to live with its spider friends in the outside world on Koh Tao in Thailand, where it belongs.

This entire scenario could have been avoided had I not broken Rule #1 of my six cardinal rules for living in the tropics and having to coexist with creepy crawlers. Read more

Inspiration

While flipping through summer vacation photos from our trip to Busan and Boseong, Dave pointed out a common theme in all of my pictures: wherever I go, I always come home with a significant amount of pictures of the intricate artwork I see at palaces and temples along the way. It’s surprising I hadn’t noticed this trend myself since I consciously take pictures of the details I like in hopes of using them for inspiration some day. Not sure what I will use them as inspiration for, but the colors and designs seem to speak to me.

Dave suggested I post some of my favorites, so here ya go! Below are pictures from temples and palaces in Korea, China and Tibet. Despite all my time in Thailand, I really didn’t manage to take very many temple pictures and the ones I did take don’t quite make the cut. I guess I’ll just have to go back! Read more

Green Tea Getaway

Our first hour in Boseong was more than a little confusing. We asked a taxi driver at the bus station to take us to Nok Cha Baht which is what we thought the name of our hotel was. Everything seemed fine until our taxi driver had already dropped us off and left. We walked with our large backpacks along a crowded tree lined path to a front gate where a woman was tearing ticket stubs for what looked to be a park entrance.

When we approached, I made the universal symbol for sleep and she shook her head. I showed her our map and said pension to which she said no and then proceeded to spend what felt like ten minutes looking for a map in English as we stood at the entrance looking like lost fools with our large packs. Not that a map would have helped us that much anyway. We were off the side of a highway in the countryside with heavy-ish backpacks and it was hot. I wasn’t about to walk around looking for our hotel. We walked back to the parking lot to find another cab. Read more

A Five Day Escape from Seoul

Photo taken by David Domagalksi in Boseong

Summer vacation was a mere seven days at the school where we teach. It was supposed to be nine days (a week wedged between two weekends), but our director decided to make it a few weekdays bookending one weekend. We were all already peeved about this fact and had resigned to them not changing it, when they came to us a month before vacation and asked us if they could go back to the original plan. They wanted to do a summer intensive program over vacation, as if the students don’t have enough on their plate already, but could only do it if it was a full week. Half of the foreign staff had already bought plane tickets months prior, so the school not only screwed the teachers and staff out of a nine day vacation, but also screwed themselves out of a potential money maker. Welcome to Korea.

Irritating politics aside, we considered many potential destinations before deciding to stay in Korea. Our first plan was Japan, but as we were thinking about buying plane tickets, the tsunami and earthquake hit and we decided it wasn’t the right time. We knew we needed to buy plane tickets months ahead of time and we weren’t ready to commit to expensive plane tickets to a country that was in the middle of some serious problems. Plus Dave grew up close to Chernobyl and we figured that the last thing he needed was to visit a country emitting serious radiation.

Then we thought about going to Malaysia or Singapore. We decided against traveling to either place for several reasons. I was afraid of going there, meeting other backpackers and coming down with a terrible case of wanderlust. That would make coming back to Korea too difficult. We also thought that it wasn’t worth spending the airfare to go there and back when we’d be in the area in the winter anyways. Why not just wait. Lastly, we realized we hadn’t traveled south at all and weren’t sure when else we’d be able to do it. What a shame it would be to leave a country we’d been living in for a year having not seen much of it at all.

So, we decided on two destinations: Busan and Boseong. Read more

Mixed-up Gorilla Sign

I am in the process of preparing my post on our very short but fantastic summer vacation adventures. In the mean time, here’s an awesomely jumbled sign. This is from the restaurant named Gorilla on the corner of the street we stayed on in Busan. They spelled the name right on the big sign, but misspelled it on this little one. They also seem to have confused their primates. I will never grow tired of the silly English in Asia. It will always make me giggle.

Tibet Revisited

Dave and I recently went to Richard Gere’s photo exhibit entitled Pilgrim which showcased pictures from his time in Tibet. Walking through the gallery made me want to dash back home and flip through my pictures from Tibet. I didn’t take nearly as many photos in Tibet as the other people I was traveling with did because I have problems snapping pictures. I feel like it takes away from the moment, so I’m always looking to strike a balance between taking enough to remember things, but not too many that I become removed from what’s happening. I love the pictures I did manage to get while in Tibet though.

I wish I hadn’t had to join a tour group to travel through Tibet. Everything is so tightly controlled there. I didn’t walk away with a strong feel for the country other than sadness for what has happened. My guide was Tibetan and I learned a lot from him, but he was also a bit of a creeper, so I tried to keep as much distance as I could. We weren’t allowed to wander freely around, so I wasn’t able to have those magical encounters you usually have while exploring. The encounters we did have were with frowning Chinese soldiers at various checkpoints or in front of the Potala Palace. I wish I could have visited Tibet before there were so many restrictions placed on it. It was a breathtaking place to travel and I can only imagine how much more magical it must have been many years ago.

Seeing Richard Gere’s exhibit made me want to post some more of my pictures from Tibet. Some of these I’ve already posted previously, others I haven’t. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Read more