… Okay, I haven’t actually scoured the world for amazing aquariums. But I’d heard rumors that Osaka Aquarium was a pretty rock star aquarium .
And you know… it was! (more…)
… Okay, I haven’t actually scoured the world for amazing aquariums. But I’d heard rumors that Osaka Aquarium was a pretty rock star aquarium .
And you know… it was! (more…)
Happy Mother’s Day to Moms around the world!
I hope you took the opportunity to do something for your mom.
By the time this is posted, this will have been a day late.
Nothing new. My mom knows how it goes and loves me all the same. She hasn’t disowned me yet, although I’m sure there have been times it’s crossed her mind to leave me on a (more…)
It was coming up on my second day in Kyoto and I was in a quandry. What would I do?
I was contemplating visiting Osaka Aquarium. I wanted the most affordable sightseeing itinerary and most efficient use of my day, as I’d have to return to Kyoto in time to catch the night bus to leave.
When you think of robots, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind?
For me, it’s movies like Blade Runner, Terminator and 2001: Space Odyssey, where robots turn frighteningly evil and eventually, take over the world. Scary, right?
Another part of me thinks of fantasy Lego-set bots like Transformers or cute, quirky mechanized toys like Wall-E or R2-D2 from Star Wars.
Fukuoka City was once a city divided by a river. Hakata was a port town for merchants, while Fukuoka was a castle town for samurai. Time fused the two together and although Fukuoka is the official name, Hakata is the name, most Japanese know it as.
Today, as the biggest city in the Kyushuu territory, Fukuoka bridges Japan with Seoul and Shanghai as a port city and is now home to many IT companies. Areas like Gion and Tenjin hold small streets and alleys you can explore to get a feeling of the local lifestyle. Meanwhile, Fukuoka at night emanates a beautiful neon glow.
There’s no doubt, Hawaii has a love affair with Spam. Growing up, our kitchen was always stocked with cans of it, as were my friends and their families.
Fish and chips, hush puppies, maccoroni and cheese?… Those never flew in Hawaii. Instead, we have Spam.
Do you have a penchant for attracting certain situations or people when you travel? Travel can bring unusual patterns, synchronicity and personal discoveries. The fact we’re often far from home, just makes them more prominent. For instance, I’m a film set magnet. In the U.S., I have a knack for stumbling upon film sets… frequently [...]
As a solo traveler, I admire solo travelers, who commit to bravery when going alone.
I still have my moments of fearing traveling alone and getting lost or stranded in some place foreign. And yet, …
Traveling to Korea and want to keep in touch with friends or have a backup phone? Rent a phone. Firstly, Korea is a CDMA based network and most foreign phones won’t work here. If you’re able to use your phone, but are
Growing up on a small island in the Pacific Ocean, I’ve only known family camping trips at the beach.
I was in Tokyo’s Harajuku area. It was Sunday afternoon and I had just missed seeing the pageant of cosplayers (aka costume play) near the park bridge, so my next chance was on the popular side street of Takeshita.
Ever wondered what you’d look like with anime baby doll eyes or if you had airbrushed and flawless cover girl skin?
When I was living in Korea, I’d pass by joints crammed with photo booths, filled with young girls in their teens to twenties. I used to wonder… what was the attraction to those booths.
When you’re living in Korea, you’re always trying to get the gist of the culture. Thus, there are times you’ll want to write in the country language for your Facebook status, to impress your Asian friends or maybe, you just want take your language studies to another level. Unfortunately, I don’t have a Korean or [...]
I was in a restaurant in Korea Town with a girlfriend and before our meal could even arrive, the waiter brought out a handful of side dishes. What was this generosity? My friend explained to me that they it was common to Korean culture, that a meal came with side dishes (or 반찬 banchan) and they were free. Wait. Rewind.
As early as 1850, Macau has been favored as “Monte Carlo of the Orient”. As the only destination in China to legalize gambling, Macau gains it’s revenue through gambling dollars made mostly off of visitors from China and Hong Kong.
As a female solo traveler, I’m constantly thinking of ways to protect my valuables and to not show that I have them.
This is because I have to be my own Superman and “tourist carrying a DSLR camera” usually equates big money for depressed economies and desperate folk.
How do I protect my valuables when I travel?
I don’t wear money belts….
There’s a rural beauty to Asia that I’m continually drawn to.
Whether it’s tribal villages that you can visit through treks in the mountain, one-room boat houses on river, floating river markets or night markets with curious food snacks and crafts, … visiting other lifestyles can feel like stepping into a medieval fairytale.
Hong Kong is made up of islands and one of the must-see islands is Lantau Island, the home of the Giant Buddha and Tai-O Fishing Village.
As it happened, the one week I was in Hong Kong, was the one week they had bad weather… a lot of rain, clouds and low visibility.
When life and travel seasons aren’t optimum, there’s no sense crying over what you can’t change. Instead, it’s time to put on the soggy galoshes, go with the flow and make the most of it. So I didn’t let a little bad weather spoil my sightseeing.
How much sightseeing can you squeeze into six days in Hong Kong?
Probably more than you think and Hong Kong has enough sights to keep you busy.
When I booked my flight to Hong Kong, I knew little of what to expect.
I only knew three things … it was a modern city, it would likely have Chinese cuisine and most importantly to me for winging a trip, it didn’t require a visa for entrance.
I never suspected it would be one of those few countries that would floor me.
What was so jaw-dropping about it?
Traveling to multiple countries? Changing climates? Looking for ways to put your luggage on a diet? Versatile and convertible fashion accessories can go a long way, when you’re on the road and the constant go.
There’s been headlines in the news about women encountering danger abroad. In Delhi last December, a nation was awakened when a local physiognamy intern accidentally boarded a private bus with a friend and was raped by six men. Even more recently, the body of 33-year old Sarai Sierra was found in Turkey after she had gone missing for two weeks.
It’s made the public and media becry – Is it safe for women to travel alone?
I have a fascination with Buddhist monks.
India and Southeast Asia are rife with them.
Maybe it’s the shaved heads, robes, spiritual aspiration and ascetic lifestyle. Whether they’re wearing a Tibetan crimson or Theravada orange and brown, whenever I see a monk, my eyes zero in with intent focus as if they’re human puzzle pieces, walking on a waft of incense.
Since I’ve completed almost of month of travel, with having had only two days to prepare before hitting the road, it’s time to assess my shining highs and my rock-bottom lows.
What did I learn from this crash course in winging a last-minute trip?
Quite simply, I learned how to survive it.
So now I’m going to give you some “insider tips”, so that you that can survive it better than me.
In my last post about survival trips, I told you the things I did well. But obviously, everything wasn’t smooth-sailing. If you’re pulling a last minute trip with multiple desitinations, you’re bound to have flaws… big ones. So while I aced most of my trip, there are a couple of things that I failed big [...]
Are you a newbie to using squat toilets? Traveling a country, where there’s non-western toilets? Going hiking in the woods, where the toilet is the great wide open? Well, here’s a helpful aide for my squeamish squatters…
Well, I did it!
I went on my last-minute travel break and I survived it.
It was heaven.
… And stress.
A few months at most… I’ll go back home just long enough to find another job to get me back to Korea.” That’s what I told myself. Returning to the U.S. was the furthest thing from my plan.
My Hindu astrologer in Dharamsala quoted a year. I had difficulty believing him. A year later,… the stars were right.
So when the Korean computer repair shop couldn’t revive my Mac Airbook this past month, I didn’t know what to do with it. But now that it was deemed waste, I didn’t feel like packing dead weight onward to other countries. Maybe it was time to do what I do, whenever my traveling gets weighed down with too many souvenirs? Time to mail it home.
Here are 7 tips to Starting Over:
• Find a job… any job.
It doesn’t matter what your major or career was before you left.
Returning to the U.S. after two years abroad was the bravest move I could make.
It also occasionally has felt like the stupidest.
There’s only one fear which plagues the backseat of every gap year | long-term traveler| expat’s insecurity…
How did it feel being back in the U.S.? I’m going to be honest. It kinda blew.
We love to hate them and yet, we continually do them.
After I wrote Can hype kill famous landmarks… like Angkor Wat?, more famous sites erupted to memory, like a serial killer’s growing body count.
Angkor Wat wasn’t the first site to bite the dust. Nope, there’d been others before it.
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of public transportation, when I travel. Buses particularly. Until now, the notion of traveling in India by public bus used to intimidate me. Every time I’d see a bus parked at a stop, it looked like a rudimentary tin cans on wheels, packed tight and spilling over with people.
Almost a year ago, I’d traveled to India. It was my second visit, but my first time exploring it through yoga.
At the time, I wrote some light posts from a travel perspective, giving readers a brief peek into what it was like staying at a yoga ashram and getting my yoga teacher’s certification at a school there.
Why would you like Cambodia? Well, aside from being one of the best budget destinations in Southeast Asia, here’s some things you might want to know about.
When I stepped foot onto Angkor Wat Archeological Park and stared at the crumbles of time, I thought one thing~
This is it?
If there’s one feeling a foreigner dreads, is that their money might get accidentally locked in Korea, while they’re thousands of miles away; and this is not a distant possibility. Your last salary pay and security pension is usually deposited into your account a month or so, ‘after’ you leave the country!
If you’re a Westerner, sometimes the last thing you want to have to use is an Asian squat toilet.
…Unless the squat toilet is actually cleaner.
Street wise. Been-there and done-that. Old hat.
After traveling in Asia over the course of a year, there were two things I felt I had become proficient at: haggling and avoiding scams.
By the time I got to Cambodia, after having visiting much of Southeast Asia, I found there really wasn’t many Fear Factor Foods I haven’t seen.
‘Same Same’… but not too different.
In fact, the prize Fear Factor foods of Khmer folk seemed to share its neighbors’ palettes.
Here’s a few interesting foods as well as, a couple of players I haven’t yet seen…
At the Teddy Bear Museum on Jeju Island, the teddy bears do more than just sit in glass cases in wait of love. These teddies make art history, play out war enactments, they impersonate famous stars, such as Elvis and Marilyn, they depict Korean history and even act out scenes from popular movies, like Titanic.
So, I’ve promised some of you the inside tip on the best jjimjilbang in Seoul… After the disappointment of Seoul’s much hyped Dragon Hill Spa, I was reluctant to return for another night of overnight non-thrill on a hard wood floor. Fortunately, a friend offered me an alternative suggestion…
At Hawaii Five-0 studios in downtown Honolulu, I play my lines to the casting director in an bare room. It’s one scene and I’m an assistant to boss, who’s a murder suspect (Spoiler alert! …and murderer). I’m being questioned. The casting director has me perform it several times, adding different direction.
The water was flooding panic into my goggles and stinging my eyes. I blew out sharply to clear out my mask. We were pulling ourselves down by the anchor rope, descending to the ocean floor. I was at the head of the group and the second in line. Going back up was not an option…
There’s a secret to Morocco and I’m convinced it speaks through its spices! From scented oils, city-wide prayer calls and intricate Arabic/Berber craft work designs to maze-like streets bustling with the traffic of crowded souks and taxi-ing donkeys,..
In Bangkok, all roads may not lead to Rome, but you’ll have many ways to get there.
One of my favorite things about Bangkok is its transportation. Skytrain, city bus, taxi, motorbike taxi, ferry boat,… each presents a unique way for getting around the city, while also presenting angles of Bangkok life.
o you’re on the road and your luggage is loaded with spanking new travel gear. Now is the time to see if what you bought really works! Will you revise your load if it doesn’t work the way you imagined? One of the items I least care to pack is a towel.
At the heart of Northern Laos sits Luang Prabang. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the small city blends old European colonial architecture with a Lao urban structure and has a little bit of everything. So with all there is to see, what should you actually do?
When I took the overnight train into Laos, that was the start of my adventure with Laos transportation. Getting around in Laos isn’t hard but it can occasionally be interesting. Check your expectations at the door and go along with the fun.
Before I moved to Korea, I couldn’t imagine how much the today-me would want to congratulate myself for getting an Apple iPod Touch. Flash forward to a year abroad and nine countries later and I believe, it’s the only hand-held choice for a traveler.
Living in Korea, it often feels like you’ll never see a fat Korean (…okay, they are exceptions; but it’s rare)! Obesity is not a chronic problem in Korea as it is in the west. One big theory is how healthy Koreans are when it comes to what they eat. Koreans do however, occasionally like their meals served simple, cheap and pali! pali (fast)!
If anyone thinks tromping through India will be like traveling any other country, think again. Here are some things I found useful on my trip. Here are 5 Travel Must-Haves for India:
What does the idea of “a solo woman traveling in India” surface for you?
When I met Chiaki, we were both, waiting for the local bus to our yoga ashram. A Japanese waif of gentle yogic smiles, she challenged my notions about what it is to be a solo female traveler in India. Chiaki didn’t boast the extensive list of a world traveler nor was she avoiding the challenges of navigating the local terrain in the way a native would; yet, she was tackling India solo doing it in calm stride.
How the hell was she doing it?
At 6 AM. the morning fog was lifting off the lake. Devotional music poured joyously over the loudspeaker of a neighboring temple and echoed eerily, as fly-by birds bore life to the serene setting. Sitting in silence I felt the sun spreading it’s rays across my body with an exquisite orange and gold. I inhaled….OM.
In India, purchasing bottled water doesn’t always ensure safety.
When I entered a guesthouse cafe in Hampi it was filled with fellow travelers. Food-wise, I felt a little safe. I walked past an employee sitting off to the side, with a line of empty water bottles and what did I see?… He was filling the bottles with tap water and recapping them!
For a weekend traveler living in Korea, Seoul makes my blood race. Sometimes there’s an ongoing list of things of events taking place or sometimes, I just have to create my own ways of having fun.
Well deciding to teach English abroad can feel like ordering a mail order bride. You’ve got a description and a list of hopeful expectations; yet you can’t see what you’ve got until the day arrives. How will you know what you asked for will be what you wanted? Honestly, sometimes even when you’ve crossed over to seeing your prize, things can still seem a bit veiled; but at least you’ve tackled the biggest hurdle… making it happen!
Recently friends and readers have asked me about my experiences in the ESL classroom and how they can teach English abroad too. I’ve decided to make it a three part series. This is general Q&A I’ve gotten.
Jeju Island is touted as the Korean Hawaii (and the honeymooning capital of Korea) and being a Hawaii native, I’d say it’s in the running realm of consideration. A tropical climate, beaches, inactive volcanoes and a little bit of a laid back way (compared to mainland Korea), Jeju presents the island way…Korean style.
Last day in Hanoi. While I’m ready to leave Vietnam and the insufferable monsoon heat, I’m not ready to return to Korea. Noooo…
Today I need to move hotels. I emailed various hotels to check on availability, last night. Vietnam being the way it is, none of them returned an answer, so this [More...] morning I went hotel shopping on foot. I stopped by Veronica’s hostel to see if she arrived safely; lo and behold,…
Day #9: After my Sapa trek, I decided to book another tour with Sinh Tourist– a day trip to Halong Bay. Price tag? $19. Vietnam may not have the friendliest service-oriented people, but they sure have the most affable budget tours!
Ass time. The one major drag about Vietnam is the constant
For the female solo traveler, Vietnam shouldn’t be an intimidating or scary country to travel. Commuting between main cities is easy and cheap via public transportation. And if it’s an attraction, you can bet there’s a budget tour for it, as tour operators are everywhere, vying for your business and ready to assist your travel needs.
As a traveler trekking all around on foot, there are times you get to feeling like a bit of a rag doll Cinderella. If you’re like me and possess backpacker-explorer mentality, you’re on your tootsies from sunrise to midnight. Your feet probably wears some serious Grrr and looks like it to!
So last week, I did something very un-Korean…I told my co-teacher, in a very truthful and direct manner about my reasons for resenting her. It was inevitable. I was pointed at the tip and I knew I had nothing to lose. Nothing at all- Money, love, friendship, job, a city, a country..? When you have nothing to lose, you have nothing to fear. Nada. Nietz. Zip. A perfect time to gamble for “change” with the odds in your favor.
So you live in a new country, you’ve got a new job, you’re working out the variables of navigating new food, new work relationships, cultural and communication barriers… so why are you depressed? Welcome to culture shock. Nothing you do can prepare you for what you think you will or won’t experience when you move abroad.
There are two fears to my becoming a first time female solo traveler. Unless I find a way to deal with these saboteurs, my solo travel plans are still-born and I will not clear my hurdle.
Pros to Solo Travel: As terrifying and dangerous as it is to be “a first time solo female traveler” traveling India, there are also a great lessons I’m experiencing.