December 31, 2013

A Traveler's Alphabet: F to I

As promised:

A Traveler's Alphabet Continued

F for Festivals

It's never hard to find a reason to celebrate! Plus participating in local festivals always helps to make me feel a part of new surroundings.

Photo courtesy of Jenna S.
Mask Festival, Andong, South Korea (2010)

Lanterns for Buddha's Birthday, Cheonggyecheon, Seoul, South Korea (2010)

Different types of offerings, Bali, Indonesia (2011)

Sandcastle Festival, Haeundae Beach, Busan, South Korea (2010)

 Lunar New Year (year of the Rabbit), Penang, Malaysia (2011)

And when I find myself away from home during holidays, new traditions are made--

Christmas celebrations with friends and co-workers, Nampodong, Busan, South Korea (2010)

G for Green

It truly is a green world. Flipping through pictures, I find that green continually catches my eye--

Tea plantations, the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia (2011)

A tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), on the border of North and South Korea (2010)

Large areas of the DMZ remain untouched and have become akin to a nature preserve- with sightings of tigers and other endangered wildlife being reported. Yet it is a collection of juxtapositions, illustrated by the fact that this beautiful region has remained so due to barbed wire fences, land mines, and guard towers

Green hillside gardens at a monastery (monks wear bright orange robes) at the edge of the Mekong River,
Luang Prabang, Laos (2011)

Photo courtesy of Ahnna P.
Green moss on ancient carvings, Angkor Wat Temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia (2011)

Photo courtesy of Annie M.
Gardens at Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) Zen Temple, Kyoto, Japan (2010)

Rice paddies, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia (2011) 

And everything green grows to serious sizes in the moist Costa Rican climate--

Heidi and I with sombrilla de pobre (poor man's umbrella) at Volcán Poás, Costa Rica (2013)

Dana hiking a lush path at Tierras Enamoradas (Lands in Love) Resort, San Ramón, Costa Rica (2013) 

H for Hot Springs

I've written about how soaking at jjimjilbangs (public bathhouses) became a favorite part of my weekly routine while living in South Korea. Since then, I seek out local hot springs wherever I am able.

Indoor and outdoor pools in the foothills of the Andes at Termas Cachuete, Mendoza, Argentina (2012)

Photo courtesy of Sarah M.
Huge family friendly pools fed by Arenal Volcano at Termales los Laureles, La Fortuna, Costa Rica (2013)

The secluded Termales del Bosque, on the road to Aguas Zarcas, Costa Rica (2013)

Mural on a hostel wall, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia (2011)

Holy sulfur water hot spring Air Panas Banjar, near Lovina, Bali, Indonesia (2011)

I for Islands 

Some are too small to walk on, others are entire countries. Either way, there is something that draws me to places that can't be reached by roads...

 Oryukdo, off the coast of Busan, South Korea (2010)

At high tide there are five rock islands, but at low tide, a sixth is exposed. This is why it is called Five-Six Island (In Sino-Korean, o (#5) + yuk (#6) + do (island)

Cable car and hike for views, Geoje-do, South Korea (2011)

Geoje Island is rich with Korean history, including the story of how Admiral Yi Sun-sin defeated the whole of the Japanese navy with 13 turtle boats

Photos courtesy of Ahnna P.
 Heading by boat to our basic accommodations on Koh Thonsáy (Rabbit Island), Kep, Cambodia (2011)

Cliff faces at Taejongdae Park, Yeongdo, Busan, South Korea

 Views of Teakettle Island, Taejongdae Park, Yeongdo, Busan, South Korea (2010)

Sanur Beach, Bali, Indonesia (2011)

The Republic of Indonesia is an archipelago comprised of over 17,500 islands! (I managed to see parts of two...)  

First views of Jejudo, (Korea's largest island) South Korea (2010)

 Sanbangsan, views of Jejudo, South Korea (2010)

Seongsan Ilchulbong, the coast of Jejudo, South Korea (2010)

More to come! Up next: letters J to M

Happy New Year & Love From,


December 19, 2013

A Traveler's Alphabet: A to E

Every time I leave to travel or live abroad I promise friends and family two things: that I will take more pictures and write more posts. But, inevitably, people and places go by faster than I can record them. In our current culture of social media overload, I'm ever searching for the balance between capturing memories for the future and experiencing the world as it happens right in front of me. But, as the end of the year approaches and I find myself settled in one place for a little while, I've been taking time to look through old photographs and remember. As usual, my teacher's brain searches to pick out patterns-- and, like any language teacher, I usually begin with the alphabet. 

A Traveler's Alphabet

A for Animals

Some I had seen in the past, others I encountered for the very first time. Several I sought out, but most I happened upon by being in right place at the right moment

Photos courtesy of Annie M.
 Sika Deer, Nara, Japan (2010)

These deer are considered sacred and wander freely, including in and out of the temples in this historic city.

Sacred Monkey Forest, Bali, Indonesia (2011)

Photos courtesy of Jenna S.
Holding a horned beetle and scorpion at a Butterfly House, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia (2011)

Iguana Cafe, roadside stop in Alajuela, Costa Rica (2013)

Two-toed sloth (and baby on her tummy), backyard of Centro Espiral Mana school
 El Invu Penas Blancas, Costa Rica (2013)

I couldn't get a clear shot from the ground, so this photo was taken from an opposite branch after climbing the tree...

B for Buses

From spending an entire day on overnight sleeper buses to 5 crowded minutes on the local public transport, buses have been my go-to way to see the world.  

"King of Bus," 13 hours on a tourist bus from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, Laos (2011) 

Local bus in Kyoto, Japan (2010)

We learned that passengers enter the bus from the rear door and pay as they are exiting the bus in the front. 

Ahnna and our backpacks squeezed onto a local open-air bus in Phuket, Thailand (2011)

In some places, locals buy tickets to sit in the aisles between the seats, or in cases of overcrowding, men might ride on the roof

My cousin Jen and me on our infamous double-decker sleeper bus. A16 hour overnight ride to from
 Buenos Aires to Mendoza, Argentina (2012)

C for Coffee

Sweet, caffeinated elixir-- from instant packets to freshly roasted, I've sipped it in many forms. In several places I visited, coffee is crucial to a country's exports and economic stability.

Local coffee shop in Busan, South Korea (2010) 

"Starbucks Coffee" in hangul (Korean characters), Insa-dong Street, Seoul, South Korea (2010)

Coconut iced coffee, juice bar, Vientiane, Laos (2011)

It was at this juice bar on a side street in Laos's capital city that I ran into a girl I went to high school with back in Athens, Ohio. Small, small world.

Coffee picking, Los Santos, Costa Rica (2013)

Berries being unloaded by the truckload and weighed

Beans drying before roasting

Coffee roasting, factory tour at Cafe Buen Dia, Los Santos, Costa Rica (2013)

 Roasting coffee and coffee service, Bali, Indonesia (2011)

Here we had a small taste of 'kopi luwak,' a very expensive coffee made from coffee berries that have been eaten and"exited" from civets- a kind of wild weasel/cat. Supposedly, the process of going through digestion makes the beans inside more flavorful.

D for Dancing

Anywhere, anytime.

Our teenage host sister teaching Heidi, Ragan, and me how to dance to One Direction on the Wii,
Ciudad Quesada, Costa Rica (2013)

A group of teachers taking a break from coursework to teach one another dance steps, 
Centro Espiral Mana, Costa Rica, (2013)

Street art, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2012)

Jen practices with the instructor during a Tango lesson, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2012)

A lesson on direction words using the Cha-Cha Slide

5th graders putting their learning into practice, Cha-Cha Slide, Busan, South Korea (2010)

Cultural performance, fan dance and 'pungmul nori' (the 'spinning hat') dance, Seoul, South Korea (2010)

E for Elephants

In Southeast Asia, a reminder of these amazing animals is everywhere

Elephant statue, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple, Chiang Mai, Thailand (2011)

Elephant Terrace, Angkor Wat Temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia (2011)

 Yet, very little can prepare one for interacting with elephants face-to-face. In Chiang Mai, Thailand, my friend Ahnna and I had the chance to visit Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary for elephants who have been injured or displaced. Some elephants were hurt by landmines, or abandoned by the tourism industry, others abused while used as labor for logging. Our donation went to the food and care of the elephants, and the chance to simply interact with them as they went about their day.

Ahnna feeding elephant Mae Geaw at lunchtime

When the elephants went to the river to bathe, we helped out by throwing buckets of water over their backs, as they sprayed themselves (and us!) with their trunks

Ahnna stands with an older lady as she expresses happiness after her bath

Wet smooch! Some of the friendlier elephants gave big kisses in exchange for their afternoon treats

All elephant photos are courtesy of Ahnna P.
Baby elephant Fah Mai, ready for her dinner

Up next: an alphabet continued, letters F to I

Love from,