Same Same – LiveLearnVenture: a new Blogging Buddy

Through the wonders of social media I just stumbled across a fellow blogger and couldn’t help but think of the South East Asian phrase “same same!”  Check out Natasha & Nick’s adventures teaching in the south of South Korea and traveling just like me!

http://www.LiveLearnVenture.com

 

LiveLearnVenture

Vietnam – a land of new friends and amazing adventures

The last month in Vietnam has been full of adventure, intrigue and amazing new friends.  Sitting in the cab to the airport I realized I had already made a list for my eventual return to this foreign land.  There’s so much I want to do again and even more places I simply ran out of time for.

The cities of Vietnam are a mysterious place where bikes, buses and old ladies selling fruit fight for right of way on the highway.  At any moment someone might come running across the divider or perhaps a family of 4 packed onto one bike will swerve around your cab.  A country of wonder and excitement where the most dangerous part of your day could be playing Frogger to cross the street.  Then again there’s always trekking through the tropical jungles or swimming with the jellyfish.  Oh and how about those poisonous hornets bigger than your finger or snakes even the jungle guides freak out about?  Needless to say it’s been a blast and I stayed (mostly) safe but I’m genuinely excited to be back in Seoul!

Walking out of the hostel for the last time I stuck to my standard farewells, spouting “until next time” with hugs and handshakes.  It’s a wide world full of crazy people and things but the human element makes everything smaller.  Small enough that I can’t help but think.  No scratch that.  I hope and believe that some of our paths will cross again.  Even if this fleeting moment we all shared is the last time our fates cross it has certainly been worthwhile.

Deepak Chopra Son Doong Meme

Climbing into The Garden of Edam, Son Doong’s 2nd jungle filled doline.

Thank you to all my new friends, dance partners, drinking buddies and fellow explorers.  Meeting other international travelers is as much of the fun as the excursions themselves.   I hope my impact on your adventure was as profound as the joy that sharing (and sometimes oversharing) this trip with you brought me!

Stay tuned as I sort through nearly 3000 photos and bring my month-long adventure back to life for you to enjoy!

Korea Burn ’14 – Part 2

Korea Burn was a wild, hippie-filled, peace love and tons of new friends filled weekend!  Its been a few weeks since and bumping into other “burners” around Seoul has been such an uplifting experience.  Enjoy my second set of photos; this picks up after Part with post dodgeball dancing as I handed out the rest of my fortunes and had to pause on the beach and write more.  Korea Burn '14-74 Korea Burn '14-75

They were sooo excited!

They were sooo excited!

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this guy made a robot costume out of cardboard!

this guy made a robot costume out of cardboard!

moar pajeon!

moar pajeon!

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Warren's big flip of his 300th pajeon!

Warren’s big flip of his 300th pajeon!

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Hi!

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oh HI!

ran out of fortunes to give away

Not paying attention cause I ran out of fortunes to give away

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why hello

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we're having fun!

we’re having fun!

rawr

rawr

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Lovely ladies of SHG!

meow

meow

"Paint a frog on my back!" - Jin

“Paint a frog on my back!” – Jin

getting painted

getting painted

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"I want you to paint fire on my back!" - Me

“I want you to paint fire on my back!” – Me

This artist was giving away silkscreen t-shirts!

This artist was giving away silkscreen t-shirts!

Bubbles!

Bubbles!

Korea Burn '14-73!

 

Hiking Seoraksan’s Spring Valley with Seoul Hiking Group

In late Spring I headed back to Seoraksan National Park with Seoul Hiking Group.  My first hike took me on a 5 hour hike up Ulsanbawi before riding the cable car to another peak.  My last trip with Seoul Hiking brought me to the awesomely adventurous Dinosaur Ridge and this one would feature Daecheongbong (Korea’s 3rd highest peak) and the lush valley below Dinosaur Ridge.

Seoraksan Valley-1

Seoraksan Valley-2 Seoraksan Valley-3

We begun at 3am with an incredibly steep incline up Daecheongbong.  Staircases followed rocks and yet more staircases as our legs begged us to stop.  We squeezed a few breaks in and just after sunrise arrived at Daecheongbong’s 1708m peak!  While there we took a lengthy break for some breakfast and photo ops.

Seoraksan Valley-4

Contemplating our ascent up Daecheongbong’s 1708m climb



Seoraksan Valley-5Seoraksan Valley-6

Today’s journey through Seorakssan would be much more leisurely than my last daring climb of Dinosaur Ridge.  An hour after climbing down the other side of Daecheongbong we stopped for another nap at the ranger station.

 

At the top of Daecheongbong in Seoraksan National Park

At the top of Daecheongbong in Seoraksan National Park

View from the top of Daecheongbong in Seoraksan National Park

View from the top of Daecheongbong in Seoraksan National Park

At the top of Daecheongbong in Seoraksan National Park

At the top of Daecheongbong in Seoraksan National Park

At the top of Daecheongbong in Seoraksan National Park

At the top of Daecheongbong in Seoraksan National Park

The next leg was identical to my trek towards Dinosaur Ridge; a gradual downhill with Ulsanbawi, Dino Ridge and the gorgeous East Sea flanking the panoramic view.  After a long lunch we left the next ranger station in search of Seoraksan’s valley.  We were told there would be a marvelous flowing crystal clear river intertwined with pools and waterfalls.

Seoraksan

Seoraksan

View of Dinosaur Ridge from Daechongbong

View of Dinosaur Ridge from Daechongbong

Seoraksan Valley-22

The verdant lining of our path framed each pool; the deeper ones taking on a magnificent blue hue that created Seoraksan’s natural necklace.   Sapphires pools set in copper or silver rocks surrounded by emerald leaves.

Seoraksan Valley-9 Seoraksan Valley-10 Seoraksan Valley-11 Seoraksan Valley-12

On our way down what better way to enjoy than napping in Spring’s afternoon sun.  Another hour passed and each time my hiking buddies rotated through Seoul Hiking Group’s finest rookies and veterans.

Seoraksan Valley-13 Seoraksan Valley-14 Seoraksan Valley-15

Refreshed from our nap the next thing on our mind was how sweaty the day had made us.  That grueling climb coupled with a beating sun made us begin the search for a cool pool to splash about in.  Luckily the path was lined with potential ponds and it wasn’t long before we picked the perfect one.  I jumped in with my hiking pants knowing they could use a cleaning and I could swap to my shorts after I finished.

Seoraksan Valley-23 Seoraksan Valley-24 Seoraksan Valley-25

 

Moon rising over Seoraksan ridgeline

Moon rising over Seoraksan ridgeline

The last leg of our hike grew steeper downhill before coming to the base of the river.  Finally we met up with the rest of Seoul Hiking Group and joined in celebrating the nature-filled day with Dongdongju (a rice/corn fermented drink) and some pajeon.  After our quick meal we settled in at our pension just north of Sokcho for an beach bonfire!

Seoraksan Valley-16 Seoraksan Valley-17 Seoraksan Valley-18 Seoraksan Valley-19

Check back soon for the rest of the excursion through Sokcho including a one of my first practical Korean usage at the fish market!

Playing with fireworks!

Playing with fireworks!

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Korea Burn ’14 – Part 1

Korea Burn was my first Burning Man festival.  In fact it was my first hippie festival of any kind and it was phenomenal!   It was a weekend full of free-spirited art and emotion as people bonded through music and dance.  Body paint and unique sculptures were just accents to the costumes flaunted everywhere.

One of the key components to Burning Man is a distinct lack of currency.  Many people bring gifts ranging from handmade bracelets to food, booze or even t-shirts.  Others developed games with prizes and challenges that had us all laughing and loving each other.  I brought my camera and a notepad that I filled with fortunes; anyone who’s photo I took I gave a personalized fortune.

Enjoy the first half of the photos!  Part 2 will be out shortly…

Early morning Ashley

Early morning Ashley

Korea Burn '14-2 Korea Burn '14-3 Korea Burn '14-4 Korea Burn '14-7

Napping after an early swim

Napping after an early swim

Tent City!

Tent City!

Natasha Rocking it!

Natasha Rocking it!

Kady!

Kady’s ready to get her groove on!

Natasha Warren & I were stopped by another photographer

Natasha Warren & I were stopped by another photographer

Korea Burn '14-12 Korea Burn '14-13 Korea Burn '14-15

The first of many games

The first of many games

Korea Burn '14-16

I got orange, red & yellow "hair chalk"

I got orange, red & yellow “hair chalk”

Korea Burn '14-18

Wow! Much Art!

Wow! Much Art!

Korea Burn '14-20

The "men" that will later be burned!

The “men” that will later be burned!

Korea Burn '14-25

The Sangria was delicious!

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beach trampolines!

beach trampolines!

Mr. & Mrs. America!  Happy July 4th!

Mr. & Mrs. America! Happy July 4th!

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Free hotdogs if you pose for a mugshot!

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Refs napping before what would be an intense dodgeball tournament

Refs napping before what would be an intense dodgeball tournament

Happy July 4th!

Happy July 4th!

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There were so many people grilling & giving away food & drink!

There were so many people grilling & giving away food & drink!

Korea Burn '14-30

Martin!

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Our Dodgeball Team!

Our Dodgeball Team!

Korea Burn '14-57 Korea Burn '14-56 Korea Burn '14-55 Korea Burn '14-54 Korea Burn '14-53 Korea Burn '14-52 Korea Burn '14-51 Korea Burn '14-50 Korea Burn '14-49 Korea Burn '14-47 Korea Burn '14-48 Korea Burn '14-46 Korea Burn '14-65 Korea Burn '14-64 Korea Burn '14-63 Korea Burn '14-62 Korea Burn '14-66