Soul, Korea

Busan / Chuncheon / Sokcho / Seoul, South Korea

October 22 – November 1, 2014

In my travels, seeing the beauty of the world was a given. The beauty of humanity? That was the cherry on top. In my first trip to Korea, I experienced no lack in genuine hospitality. Kindness was most disarming when least expected, and it was my most precious take-away. At the departure lounge for my return flight, I posted my gratitude on Facebook:

A friend said I conquered Korea, but it was Korea that conquered me. Coming from a K-hood, I thought the country was just a bigger version. Indeed, my Korean experience was bigger – in memorable firsts (1st fall colors, 1st summit climb, 1st studio recording, haha) & in K-style hospitality & kindness from friends & strangers alike. Language barrier be damned, we connected in more profound ways than words. That’s what travel is: both visitor & visited connecting in this shared space. To realize that the world is for sharing.

Clockwise: With Wowie and Her Home-Cooked Brekky, My Travel Mates Cindy and Melds, Wowie and Our Pasalubong Mug, and With Sis. Loreta @ Busan

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Tricycle Tour Through GenSan

General Santos City, the Philippines

March 29, 2014

There could never be a more intimate place for family bonding than in the cramped cab of a tricycle. We were shoehorned with our knees knocking together inside the four-seater, and we were not even tall people. The motorized tricycle was considered a poor man’s taxi. Poverty aside, we did not have much choice. In General Santos City, taxis were hard to come by, and the taxi driver we eventually got kept asking us for directions. So off we went on our day-long DIY GenSan tour on a trike.

Tricycle Tour @ General Santos City

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The Real Jurassic Park

Nami Island, Chuncheon, South Korea

October 26, 2014

Gamsa hamnida to Winter Sonata. If not for this Korean soap, Nami Island would have slipped under my radar. The show was wildly popular in the early noughties that even its dreamy island setting shot to fame. Although I never caught an episode, the island would become a non-negotiable item in the itinerary of my first SoKor trip more than a decade later.

Walking the Street of Gold @ Nami Island, South Korea

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Around the Universe in Two Hours

Kathmandu, Nepal

February 24, 2013

A pair of eyes was steadily following us as we circled Kathmandu’s largest stupa: Boudhanath Temple, the holiest shrine for Tibetan Buddhists outside their country. There was nowhere to hide from the unblinking gaze on our clockwise promenade along the circumferential alley. Even at lunch in a nearby restaurant, the steady stare pierced through the window overlooking the stupa. Those Buddha eyes were all-seeing as they were ever-present.

Somebody’s Watching You @ Boudhanath Temple, Kathmandu

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Seorak So Rocks

Sokcho, Gangwon Province, South Korea

October 27, 2014

Atop a tower of boulders, I staked my lofty spot with outstretched arms and a euphoric holler like a rock star, shades and chutzpah in place. But who was I fooling? There was only one rock star in the house, and that was Seoraksan, its rocky apex piercing the infinite blue of the sky. I didn’t have the cheek to believe I had conquered a mountain. Mountaineering never figured in the agenda for this day trip, or my life. I didn’t climb Seoraksan because it was there, but because I was there.

Seorak Rocks! @ Seoraksan National Park

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Twilight Zone, Tarlac

San Jose, Tarlac, the Philippines

May 2, 2014

The Twilight Zone that is Tarlac,” went a friend’s Facebook comment. No explanations needed, the landlocked dust bowl of Luzon was known for its long stretches of farmland and nothing else. On a road trip with my homies, the province did feel like the middle of nowhere. Asked about our whereabouts, my friend Danson told it like it was: “I dunno.”

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