Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy Holidays From The Pursuit Of Excitement!

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After pausing a bit for the holiday season (and because … erm, I got busy in the writing department), I’m back to wish you all a joyous holiday season (what’s left of it anyway).

Coming up shortly in the new year will be a photographic re-telling of the year that was in 2013, a guest post on a major travel site coming very soon, and my first major project that I will be unveiling in the next month or so!

Very exciting stuff folks (which is kinda the point, considering the name of my site) so stay tuned: the new year should be interesting and fun … thanks for sticking with me so far!

What do you have planned for 2014?  Divulge your secret plans below … we won’t tell.  Promise.

A Late Spring Outing To Hoseo University In Asan District, South Korea

Cool street art in Baebang Korea

With my free time winding down to the end of yet another weekend, I wanted to do something with my time that was new and exciting, lest I feel that I wasted it.  Time to explore is at a premium when you’re a hagwon teacher in South Korea, so you need to use the time that you aren’t teaching, lesson planning, cooking, cleaning, and sleeping to the best uses possible.

As such, I decided to explore Hoseo, a university town at the end of a dead end road in a valley just south of my town, Baebang, as some colleagues of mine had said it was quite beautiful down that way.  To get there, a bus needed to be taken, which I hadn’t done in Korea yet, so I was a little bit intimidated, but not deterred 😛

Cool street art in Baebang Korea

To get to the bus stop I needed to wait at, though, I had to walk for about 10-15 minutes through my community, which was looking rather fine on this late spring day, as you can see from the murals in the pictures above.

Hoseo University, South Korea

After attempting to mime a conversation with a Korean ajumma (old woman) for about ten minutes, I was finally on the bus, and after getting scolded by the bus driver for unwittingly shortchanging him, I was at the end of the line, at Hoseo University.  Some sort of ceremony, was ongoing that day, maybe graduation day…?  The crowd seemed to be a bit thin for such a momentous occasion, though.

Grape Coconut drink in Korea

In search of some refreshment on this baking hot day, I opted to forego my usual Coke and get a drink that was truly Korean.  Have you ever had a grape coconut drink before?  Neither had I, but as weird as it was, I can happily report that it was quite enjoyable, and it quenched my thirst to boot!

Building at Hoseo University in South Korea

After wandering around the grounds of the university for awhile, searching for mountain trailheads, and generally trying to get a feel for Korean campus life, I headed back through the townsite to see what was on offer for the kids there.  As per most Korean entertainment districts, there were many restaurants, hofs (Korean pubs), and games rooms.  However, it was soon time to seek out the bus again, so I could return to town to begin my preparations again for the coming week (I so don’t miss Sunday evenings now that I’m working for myself now…!)

Farmer's field, Asan District, Korea

As I have mentioned before, no arable or buildable land is wasted in Korea.  There are always growing something on land that isn’t built upon, in a feverish and admirable attempt to be as food secure as possible (something that we in the West could learn from). On this plot that I happened upon on my way to the bus stop, we witness the starting point of the Korean obsession with kimchi, as rows of cabbage extend out almost as far as the eye can see.

Traffic safety mirror selfie, Baebang Korea

Overall, it was a rewarding day.  Even if you don’t know why exactly you’re going somewhere, exploring somewhere you haven’t been is ultimately rewarding in itself.  After all, it beats just randomly surfing the internet on a gorgeous Spring afternoon, with an ever-growing dread for the coming work week building with every passing second towards bedtime!

Ever explored an area for no reason, except for the fact that it was there? Tell us all about it below!

Infinity Pools Are Infinitely Cheap In Pai, Thailand

Infinity pool in Pai Thailand

When you look at things like infinity pools, it’s easy to assume that these things can be only can be enjoyed by the super-rich, who have the cash to burn at $300/night hotels.

But those are the rules of the developed world.  In Thailand, things are done just a little bit differently.

On the grounds of the Baan Krating Resort in Pai Thailand, there is an amazing infinity pool located just above the banks of the peaceful Pai River, with clear views out to the mountains that rise on the other side of the valley.  While it is definitely more affordable to enjoy a touch of luxury here than back in the West (room rates start at 1800 baht or $60 USD a night), the common people can also sample an afternoon beside this aqueous oasis for an entrance fee of (drum roll please) …

50 baht.  That’s about $1.65 USD for those of you doing the currency conversion at home.

To find this place:

Front of Baan Krating, Pai, Thailand

Rent a scooter in town if you don’t have one already, and follow the handy dandy map I constructed for you below (I love Microsoft Paint 🙂 )

Map to Infinity Pool in Pai Thailand

Have you ever been to Pai, Thailand?  Got secrets to share?  Divulge them to the travel community in the comments below!

A Walk Through The Forefield Of The Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, CanadaThe approach to the Saskatchewan Glacier at the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Lying almost on the border of Jasper and Banff National Parks alongside the highway that bears its name, the Columbia Icefields are the most visited attraction in Jasper National Park, and the second most trafficked destination in the Canadian Rockies, only bested by the more convenient Lake Louise.  Were it not for the distance involved in getting here, and the lack of a luxury hotel (though you can stay here in relatively basic but clean accommodations for upwards of $270/night in the high season and as little as $140/night in the low season), its visitation numbers might be higher.

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Here you have access to the land above the trees, where you can pick over rocky scree slopes that were once previously glaciated, and feel the bone-chilling glacial water that populates the outlet rivers and lakes formed by the nearby Saskatchewan Glacier.

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Walking along this relatively barren landscape, your mind shifts to the introspective aspects of its mission, evaluating one’s life to this point, and focusing on what one needs to do to advance to greater things in the future…

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Staring up at the ice that has accumulated over centuries and millennia of cold, snowy winters, one can’t help but be in awe of the chilled beauty that supplies that dry portions of the Canadian West with the water they need to survive from year to year, while providing them a legendary place to go and be at one with the wildness of nature.  All the more reasons to do what we can to reduce our impact on a warming climate to the lowest extent possible!

Ever been to the Columbia Icefield?  Have a humbling glacier in your backyard? Tell us about it in the comments below! 

More South Korean Om Nom Noms

Caffe Bene Korea

Throughout my time in South Korea, I tried many foods.  Today, we will highlight a few more things I ate during the course of my stay here.  Admittedly, some of them aren’t exactly exotic, but I feel they are at least somewhat relevant to those from the West heading to South Korea, either to teach or to travel.  Let’s start with a late night visit to Cafe Bene, for a little spot of dessert…

Honey Toast, Caffe Bene Korea

… okay, maybe a big spot of dessert!  This is Cafe Bene’s Honey Bread, a paleo dieters worst nightmare, as it is a carb bomb consisting of roughly 1018 calories of awesomeness.  The honey flavoured bread is complimented by lashings of caramel sauce, a liberal application of cinnamon, and a massive dollop of heavenly whipped cream.  I’ve also had this for breakfast a few times before … so wrong, yet so right! 🙂

Buffet, South Korea

One of the great aspects of my hagwon was once a month, we’d all go out for a buffet lunch together.  Now in South Korea, buffets are EXPENSIVE, they are not the bargain basement affair that they are back in Canada.  I was told that this particular restaurant cost roughly 30,000 ₩ ($27 USD) per head, and for the most part, the food fit the bill, as did the decor and surroundings.  The mandu (Korean dumplings in the bottom left corner of the plate) were delightful as always, the squash dish was sweet without being overwhelmingly so, the spring rolls (I had eaten the other one) were quite satisfying, and the breaded Chinese chicken in the top right was sinfully delicious.  Only the pizza was disappointing, but I had my expectations set lower on that count, so I wasn’t devastated.

Kimbap, South Korea

You might that this is a sushi roll, but in Korea, while it may look like sushi, it is called and is something completely different.  This is a kimbap roll, which is a roll of rice, carrots, radish, ham and cheese, wrapped up in a sheath of seaweed.  Other kimbaps will have different ingredients for the veggies and meats, but the constituent ingredients of rice with a seaweed covering remain consistent through the offerings of this quick Korean meal/snack.

Pizza Maru Korea

Unlike the buffet pizza displayed above, some businesses do manage to get pizza right in Korea.  One such homegrown establishment worth mentioning is Pizza Maru.  Baking their pizzas on a multigrain (MULTIGRAIN … IN KOREA?!) crust with a range of excellent toppings, and selling them at a steal of a price (8,000 ₩ or $7 USD for a 12-inch pie), you’ll be hard pressed to find better value for money in the country.  Domino’s does the best job of nailing Western style pan pizza in Korea, but they come at a higher price point (12,500 ₩, or $11 USD for 12 inches), so when you’re running short and payday is not due for a few more days, Pizza Maru is a sure bet!

Have some hot tips about food in Korea, native cuisine or foreign food?  Share them with us below!

Thai Food Markets: Your Source For Battered Chicken Feet

Thai Food Markets (like this one in Mae Hong Son) are home to plenty of interesting food

Back in 2010 on my first trip to Thailand, my good friend Katie introduced me to the cheap and abundant cheap meal source located in every Thai city, town, or village: the local/neighbourhood food market.  While modern supermarkets are spreading more and more with each passing year in Thailand, many Thais still pick up the ingredients they need to cook their meals at home at the local market every day.

Giving some chicken feet a try

For those who don’t want to cook or choose not to: there are also plentiful options for picking up a freshly cooked dish.  In the photo above, Katie, being the kind, supportive, horizon-expanding pal that she is, goaded me into trying a battered chicken foot.  It tasted like breading … and cartilage. 😛

What was the most bizarre thing that you have ever eaten?

Photo: A Park … In Korea?? With GRASS!?!

Park in Cheonan Korea

Throughout much of Korea, land is used to the maximum extent.  There are 50 million people living in a country that is smaller than the State of Ohio (or the island of Newfoundland, for my Canadian readers).

These people need a place to live, food to eat, and places to work.  Complicating things further is the fact that 70% of the land in South Korea is mountainous, severely limiting what can be built or grown there.

Parks as we know them in North America or Europe are very rare in South Korea for the reasons stated in the previous paragraph.

This makes the green space shown above that much more striking, as it contains an abundance of the parkland we take for granted back home.  Of course, this is South Korea, so signs of urbanity are never far behind.

The towers in the background is the new, dynamic Korea showing its much prettier face, a breath of fresh air from the commie block style apartments that litter just about every town and city in this country.

Cheonan is a rapidly growing area 1 and 1/2 hours drive south of Seoul, so the relatively underdeveloped land here made for an interesting experiment in cutting-edge architectural design, paired with green principles.

Not only is there a spacious park with easy walking distance of this mixed use tower, there are wind turbines and sports facilities on the other side of the hill, making this place the leading edge of a healthier way of life for people in Cheonan, and hopefully in the long run, for all people in South Korea.