Camping in the Caribbean: Tayrona National Park

Camping in the Caribbean: Tayrona National Park

Taroko, Terelj, and Tayrona. Is it a coincidence that the last three national parks I’ve explored have started with the letter T? Tayrona, however, is located far from the others–outside of Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. A couple months ago, José and I embarked on a last minute trip to...
2013 in Photos: Goodbye Korea, Hello Colombia, and some stops in between

2013 in Photos: Goodbye Korea, Hello Colombia, and some stops in between

Maybe it’s the tropical climate, or maybe all the shuffling around, but it’s hard to believe that Christmas is in a few days and we’re nearing the end of 2013. Also, I just realized that I’ve been blogging for two years, and I have published 200 entries. Insane! I spent a...
#3, Collaging Colombia: feet in the sand at Salgar

#3, Collaging Colombia: feet in the sand at Salgar

 [magazine pieces on 3"x5" index card] Salgar, Puerto Colombia, Colombia. November 2013. We sat around a white, plastic umbrella table in front of the sea and buried our feet in the dark brown sand. Eating fried snapper, coconut rice and deep fried plantains, drinking Aguilas, and listening to Silvestre’s Vallenato...
30 shots of Mongolia: from Ulaanbaatar to Lake Kovsgol

30 shots of Mongolia: from Ulaanbaatar to Lake Kovsgol

I’ll remember Mongolia as the land of magnificent skies. During the day, the sky ranged from brilliant shades of cyan to Prussian blue, but after twilight, the Big Dipper pierced through a spattering of stars and the milky way lingered overhead. In addition to being culturally unique, Mongolia’s vast landscape...
Staying with nomadic Mongolian families: part III

Staying with nomadic Mongolian families: part III

Day 3: I arrived at the third family’s home, where I met my host mother and her two grown daughters. One of the daughters and I walked towards the forest to collect kindling for the wood stove. As I piled fallen branches into my arms, I remembered a moment during...
ㄱ through ㅎ: What I'll miss about Korea

ㄱ through ㅎ: What I’ll miss about Korea

It’s been awhile. My semester at GGU ended in June, so I packed my life into two bags and spent two weeks in Mongolia, living in yurts with nomadic families, drinking fermented mare milk, traveling by horse, and eating way too much goat meat. A few days ago, after a...
Secrets of Taroko

Secrets of Taroko

After a few days in Taichung, my Taiwanese friend Olivia and I traveled to Hualien, a naturally-preserved, remote beach town on Taiwan’s east coast. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and we spent a few days biking, walking along the beach and drinking beers on the rocks, while...
A broken air conditioner and an ajumma in charge

A broken air conditioner and an ajumma in charge

My middle-aged, ajumma Korean landlord has more energy than the girls who promote sales at beauty shops in Myeongdong, bouncing up and down in knee socks and repeatedly shouting the same phrase into a microphone for hours on end. She is never in my building, so she comes to my...
Notes from the covert world of Korean shamanism

Notes from the covert world of Korean shamanism

CELINE CROSSED HER LEGS and took a long drag of her cigarette. “The shaman told me my grandmother’s hometown. She pointed to it on a map,” she recounted in her thick French accent. “Later, the adoption agency gave me the exact same information.” A couple other exchange students and I...
When is travel photography inappropriate?

When is travel photography inappropriate?

“You’re crazy!” the taxi driver yelled at my friend Alex before muttering a long list of, what I assumed to be, Filipino curse words. We had just arrived at our guesthouse in Manila, and the taxi driver was demanding more money than was displayed on the meter. This was my...
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Monks Hitchhike and Nuns Use WhatsApp

Monks Hitchhike and Nuns Use WhatsApp

From the middle of the winding dirt road, we heard an engine roar in the distance. Bryan, the Canadian, and Sunnim, the Chinese monk from my Korean class, stopped in their tracks. “Was that the bus?” Bryan asked, with a wrinkle forming on his forehead. I sheepishly looked at Bryan, knowing it was my fault...
Living among the (domesticated) animals of La Boquilla

Living among the (domesticated) animals of La Boquilla

Along with the roosters, the birds wake me up every morning around 6:30 AM. When they begin to sing, I open my eyes to the soft morning glow sweeping through my bedroom window. They repeat the same short song for 20 or 30 minutes, their piercing chirps overpowering the steady hum of my fan. Then...
My Miró Breakfast

My Miró Breakfast

Today my breakfast looked like a Miró painting. There was a brown hot dog on the left side of the plate, two triangular pieces of Costeño cheese in the top center, and a fried ball of dough on the right. Food unintentionally inspired by 20th century art. I picked up the ball of fried dough...
Vulgarities

Vulgarities

“I’m not going to teach you those,” Jorge said. “But how can we know what the kids are saying if you don’t teach us?” I asked. We were in Spanish class, focusing on Costeño idioms, including the phrase decir vulgaridades. It didn’t take long to convince him; Jorge stood up, walked over to the whiteboard, and...
No light in the neighborhood

No light in the neighborhood

I walked to my house in complete darkness, like I was blindfolded, taking part in a Spanish class activity to practice giving directions. A la derecha, past the church. A la izquierda, at the next corner. Every few seconds a car passed by, and I momentarily noted the cracks in the sidewalk. Tipped-toeing with my arms out for...
#2, Collaging Thailand: turquoise waters

#2, Collaging Thailand: turquoise waters

[magazine pieces in 7.5"x10" sketchbook] Koh Samui, Thailand. August 2009. On the scooter, I tightened my arms around his waist. Our t-shirts were drenched in sweat. My eyes brightened upon the first glimpse of turquoise waters ahead. “Stop!” I yelled into his ear. We ran onto the beach, kicking off our shoes. I ripped off...
"Mul" on the floor

“Mul” on the floor

Some days, the words escape my mouth effortlessly. My accent lessens and the rr’s slide off my tongue in rhythm, like gliding across the dance floor in someone’s arms. Reir. Crear. Venir. Cerrar. Yesterday, my head spun and the sounds got caught in my throat. Uncomfortable, embarrassed and frustrated—I wanted to kiss the sounds and...
#1, Collaging Mongolia: a symbol of nomadism in Kharkhorin

#1, Collaging Mongolia: a symbol of nomadism in Kharkhorin

[magazine pieces in 7.5"x10" sketchbook] Kharkhorin, Mongolia. July 2013. Outside of Ulaanbataar, I walked in circles around an ovoo exactly three times. An ovoo is a Mongolian shamanistic cairn, often found on the top of mountains, consisting of piles of rocks scattered with horse skulls, empty bottles of vodka, and other symbolic items. They’re used as landmarks,...

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