Just a Taiwanese-American blogging about his travels outdoors and occasionally about his thoughts on life.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bangkok, Thailand p.2

Bangkok has been great.

This morning, I asked the guy who runs the hostel where I could get a good thai massage and he suggested a place down the street. For an hour, I only paid 3 dollars. Insane. I felt bad so I tipped the guy an additional 12 dollars. It just did not seem fair to get an hour of amazing massage for only 3 dollars. I can't even imagine how much the guy makes per hour.

For meals,  I am paying about 30 cents to a dollar, depending on how greedy I feel. I am now on a steady diet of meat and fruits.

The day before, I spent half the day walking around the city going from temple to temple. I began my trip by taking the canal boat up to the Golden Mound.



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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bangkok, Thailand p.1


At 200pm today, I landed in Bangkok Thailand.

The weather here is such a reversal of the weather in Japan and Korea. I cut my corduroys into shorts to adjust for the weather. Because I got in so late, I didn't have enough time to see any temples. Tomorrow, I will start early and try again.

In 3 days, i will fly north to Chiang Mai to hike in the jungle. If you don't hear back from me in a week. I may have died in the jungle.
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Haeundae, South Korea p.2

Busan has been amazing. So, so, amazing.

The other night, I met up with Jae, a guy I met on the couchsurfing website and we went to a few bars and a karoke. Kimchi, pork, and tofu with beer is the best. Almost every night in Korea has been meat and beer. It's no wonder Koreans are so big. Jae wanted to stay out til the typical 5am but I was dead tired that day from the hike and had to leave him. I think he was disappointed.

The following morning, I went with Grace to Yonggungsa Temple in Haeundae.


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Monday, January 27, 2014

Hiking Mt. Geumjeong, Busan, South Korea p.1

Today I went to hike Mt. Geumjeong. I started at Beomeosa Temple.



I hiked from the north gate all the way to the south gate.


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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hiking Bukhansan, Seoul, South Korea p.5

On Saturday (Jan 25) I went to hike Bukhansan outside of Seoul. To get there, I took the subway line to Gupabal and then one of the buses outside the station exit to the front entrance of the park. Getting to Bukhansan was sort of difficult because everything was in Korean. I had to ask someone at the bus station which bus to get on.



The day I decided to go hiking it was raining. It wasn't a heavy rain, merely a light drizzle. For some people, they hate the rain. For me, I love it. It made my hike more interesting.



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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hiking Namsan, Seoul, South Korea p.4


This morning around 10am I went to Namsan as well as visited Namsangol Hanok village.

I would say so far, this was the most interesting place I visited here in Seoul. Namsan is a small mountain located in the heart of the city and can easily be accessed by various subway lines. Namsan is not a very difficult hike at all. At the top of the mountain is the Seoul tower. At the base of the mountain is the village. Walking through the mountain with everything covered in snow was very relaxing.

Namsangol Hanok village is a collection of Korean traditional houses that have been restored to preserve the original atmosphere of the Joseon-era. It is a World Heritage Site. You can walk through the courtyard and look at the buildings and even play some games that the citizens played back then. The place was very nice, until the Chinese tourist came.

Almost everytime I encounter Chinese tourists, they are incredibly loud and obnoxious. It's as if they have no sense of their surroundings. I am not saying all Chinese tourists are terrible, that would be generalizing, however, almost all the Chinese tourists that I have met sure have been.

Later that night, I met up again with Sooyeon and her friends and we all went out for food and drinks. Once again, we went to a Korean BBQ and it was superb. Sooyeon's friends were all really nice and I had a good time with them. One of them could even speak some Chinese despite being Korean.


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Seoul, South Korea p.3

These days I've been hanging out a lot with the Australian guy I met when I first came to Korea. His name is Berringer.



On Thursday I went to the Gangnam area to grab lunch with my friend Haley. We did not do much. Most of the time was spent looking for a place to eat. It was still fun to hang out with a friend though. Lunch was chicken soup.

After lunch, I came back to the hostel, chatted a bit with some of the guests and guys working there, and then went out to get dinner with Berringer. We had korean BBQ. It was okay, definitely not as good as my second day with my other friend. The beer was cheap though, you have to love Cass.

Afterwards, we went to some social gathering for entrepreneurs that Bellinger was invited to. I met a Korean guy named Jae from my home town Campbell. He created this site, http://momolocal.com. It's supposed to be another type of Craigslist or something similar. I was not too impressed with the interface.
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

DMZ, Seoul, South Korea p.2

This morning I woke up at 730am and left for the DMZ zone. The ride by bus was an hour. The subway system here is not as good as Japan but still good nonetheless. Easy to get around.


At the DMZ zone, there are a lot of things you cannot take pictures of, so i do not have a lot of pictures to offer you guys. The most memorable thing I did there was travel down to the tunnel that the North Koreans had dug in an attempt to invade South Korea. The tunnel was impressive. Had the South not captured that North korean soldier who told them about the tunnels, the South Koreans would have been screwed I think. I almost want to even say I feel sorry for the North because of how much work they put in and how close they were haha. To this day, the South still do not know how many tunnels exists. The most recent one they found was in the 90s.



After the DMZ zone, I walked around the city center and visited Gyeongbok Palace. I was extremely underwhelmed by it all, and headed back to the hostel.





Dinner later that night was amazing however. My friend Hyewon took me to a korean bbq place and hands down it was the highlight of my stay in Korea thus far. The meat and kimchi were so incredibly delicious that I never wanted the plates of meat to stop coming. The plates did stop coming however and afterwards we just went to a bar and talked a bit. Hyewon currently works for Hyundai as a designer. I believe she said she designed purses.

I want to clean my clothes but the hostel I am at charges a lot for cleaning, about 10,000 won. But I have no more socks and all my clothes are kind of old. I am in a tough position.
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Seoul, South Korea p.1

On Tuesday, I flew into Seoul, Korea via Peach airlines. I got in around 2pm, walked around Incheon airport, and then headed towards my hostel.



Later that night I went out for dinner with an Austrailian guy from my hostel. If you travel, meeting Autralians becomes quite common and often, they are in their young 20s. I forgot his name but he's an electrical engineer that works for an investment company while still in school. For dinner, I had this cold noodle soup while my friend had spicy pork plate with rice. My noodles were alright but after awhile, the taste got old. That's not to say that the noodles were bad in quality, it was just not my type.

At night, the weather got really cold. I would say the cold weather was very comparable to Nagano. I think the temperature was around -8C. I have begun debating again whether or not to throw away some layers and buy a thicker jacket. Often, I find myself thinking about my puffy black jacket that I left at home.

After dinner, my 2218 sister Sooyeon surprised me by coming to visit me after work. When I called her earlier, she said my hostel was a bit far and that we could meet another day, but then she changed her mind and came right away to where I was. Upon meeting, all three of us then went to Probst bar down the street and Soo and I got caught up on what we've been doing the past few years. It was great to see Sooyeon after all these years.
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Hiking Koyasan, Osaka, Japan p.4

In the end, I decided to go hiking in Koyasan. By train, the trip only takes an hour.

Official website: http://eng.shukubo.net/

Great guide that I used when I was traveling: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4900.html

From Japan-GuideKoyasan is most conveniently accessed by Nankai Railways from Osaka's Namba or Shin-Imamiya Stations. Take the Nankai Koya Line from either station to the Gokurakubashi terminal station. A few limited express trains operate directly to Gokurakubashi (80 minutes, 1650 yen, five trains per day). Otherwise take an express or rapid express train (100 minutes, 870 yen, departs every 20-30 minutes), most of which require a transfer at Hashimoto Station along the way.


At Gokurakubashi, transfer to the cablecar which travels up the mountain to Koyasan. The ride takes about five minutes and costs 390 yen. From the top station, it is a ten minute bus ride into the town center (290 yen to Senjuinbashi bus stop). Note that it is not permitted to walk along the street which connects the cablecar station with the town center.

To save money consider using a Koyasan World Heritage Ticket or Kansai Thru Pass.


The hike from the station to the town was not difficult at all. To get to Koya town, people typically take the cable car up but I took the Fudozaka trail instead. The hike is roughly an hour to an hour and a half up the mountain.



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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Capsule Hotel, Osaka, Japan p.3

It's about 6pm now here in Osaka. I am tired from staying out all night as well as from walking around Nara. I do not know what my plans are for the rest of the night. I may just get dinner and sleep.

Currently, I am staying in a capsule hotel. I saw capsule hotels on TV a long time ago and it looked interesting so I decided to end my stay in japan in one.

The capsule hotel is pretty straightforward. The only thing that goes in the capsules is you and you have to wear their provided sleeping wear. The bottom floor is where the saunas, televisions, gambling slots, library, and wireless is. The price is nothing special. I am paying 2900 yen a night. Compared to my previous hostel at Sakai which I was paying  2600yen, it's more expensive but the difference in price equalizes out once you factor  in that I had to pay train fare every time to come to Namba.



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Todaiji Temple, Nara, Japan

It was around 12 when I headed off to Nara. To get to Nara you can either take the JR line or take the kintetsu line. Both are pretty cheap and get there about the same time. I ended up taking the slower train for 5 dollars.

The trip to Nara took about 40 minutes by train. Nara's main attractions are the deers and Todaiji temple.



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Osaka, Japan p.2

The next morning I met up with my old friend kimiko for lunch. Kimiko took me to eat sushi, the kind where you just pick plates off the conveyor belt. Each plate was only 120yen and came with two pieces.

Your sashimi Ms. Sol



Afterwards, we walked around America town and chatted; mostly catching up on what we've been doing, what our mutual friends have been doing, and the like.  We then parted ways.




Later that night, I met up with Mao again and she introduced me to her friend Hillary, from canada. We first had dinner at a Mexican place and then we went to a club. We ended up clubbing for 8 hours. We started at 9pm and finished way past 5am. At the first club, we met up with two Mao's friends. They were Japanese. We also made friends with a gay couple, a hawaiian and an Italian.



At the second club, we then met up with six more of Mao's friends. They were all Taiwanese. Mao never seems to tire of dancing. I danced for an hour or so and just sat on the couches. I get tired real fast at clubs. I did get my second wind though at the second club when they started playing Hardwell, but it was only a brief second wind.

After we finished clubbing, everyone said goodbye and I took the train home, slept for four hours, checked out of my hostel, and headed off to Nara.
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Osaka, Japan p.1

I got into Osaka on the 17th of January. In Osaka, I stayed in a hostel near the Sakai stop. Sakai is pretty far from everything, located near the kansai airport. The hostel is nice though. It is one of the smaller hostels that I have stayed in but the ambiance is real mellow and overall, there is a cozy feeling to it.

For dinner, I met up with my Osaka host Mao who took me to eat in Namba. Osaka is pretty big and it is generally split into two parts. I forgot what is in the north, I think museums, but the south is where the entertainment is. Namba is in the south.


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Friday, January 17, 2014

Backpack

In case anyone was wondering what I was lugging around.

In my Zepton50 backpack, I am currently carrying:

1. 4 t-shirts.
2. 2 sweaters
3. three pants
4. two towels (shower and face)
5. sandals
6. 5 boxers, 5 pairs of socks
7. emergency flashlight, deodorant, toothpaste/toothbrush/floss, foot smell neutralizer, beanie, scarf
8. 2 jackets
9. various electronic cords


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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kyoto, Japan p.4

This morning I checked out of my hostel and left with all my gear to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Just two stops south of central Kyoto, Fushimi Inari is only 10-15 minutes away from Kyoto station.



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Kyoto, Japan p.3

The afternoon after I returned home from Kurama, I planned on visiting the temples on the east side of Kyoto station. But after hiking all day, I was tired and only ended up stopping by the Imperial Palace. When I went, the palace was closed. I don't know if it is always closed or whether it was only closed that day. In any case, it was a bit dissapointing.

On the way back to the hostel, I stopped by Nishiki market once again to get dinner. This time I remembered my camera.



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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hiking Kibune and Kurama, Kyoto, Japan

Today I woke up at 700am and left for Kurama. Kurama is a small town with many shrines north of Kyoto, located in the mountains. To get there, I took the Eizen train. The ride only lasted 30 minutes or so.

The night before, the staff at the front desk suggested I stop at the Kibune stop and then hike to Kurama, so that's what i did.  I got off at the Kibune stop and walked along the road for about half an hour before reaching the west trailhead entrance.



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Kyoto, Japan p.2


I did not plan on doing anything in Kyoto today but I got in way earlier than I had expected and there was no way I was going to spent the remainder of the day at the hostel.  There was also not enough battery left in my camcorder for me to get an early start on my plans and capture everything so I just went to Nishiki market.

Nishiki market was a lot of fun and unfortunately, it was only after I had finished doing everything  did I remember that my rented iPhone could take high quality pictures. Nishiki market is one long street that connects with two other shopping streets. The market itself is lined on both sides with mainly smaller food vendors selling all sorts of foodstuff. It was a blast for me just buying whatever looked good for 1-2 dollars and eating it while I strolled along the market. Some things I bought included a plate of sliced tuna, some small tomatoes from local farmers, egg tart, fish stick, squid on a stick, fried chicken, and takoyaki. I did not enjoy the takoyaki much but I loved the tomatoes and tuna.

I also bought a thicker sweater. I spent a good deal of time browsing stores along the shopping street connected to Nishiki market but most of the jackets I saw were for 40-70 dollars and I didn't really want to spend that much money on clothes when I could be spending it on food or local entertainment. Luckily, I found a vintage/retro store (a euphemism for second clothing) and found a really warm sweater for 1000yen, or about 10usd.

Now I am just in the hostel debating whether or not to make some friends and go out or let the night pass by and prepare for tomorrow. I am currently in a room with four guys and one girl.

Tomorrow I plan on going to kurama.
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Kyoto, Japan p.1


Got in this afternoon to Kyoto and made it safely to my hostel. I left Nagano at 1000am and got to Nagoya at 100pm. On the way there I ran into Theresa and Ella, two girls I had met earlier at the monkey park.

Ella was a dark haired girl from Australia while Theresa was a dirty blonde haired girl from Italy. I mention this because if I had to guess, I would have guessed the dark haired girl was from Italy and the blonde haired girl from Australia. In any case, the whole situation was funny. Out of all the times for them to travel south, and of all the cars to get into, they got into mine. Twelve departures and eight cars to choose from, the chances that day were (1/8)(1/12)=1/96. 

Because of them, the first hour and a half went by quickly. Not only because they were attractive but also because Ella was good at carrying a conversation. I would have liked to talk to Theresa more but time ran out and they had to get off. 

I spent the remainder of the train ride from Nagoya to Kyoto  reading  Caves of Steel by Asimov.
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Stinky Feet

Either it is something that naturally happens to people when they are traveling or whether it is because of my athletic past, but my feet smell so bad. I hope I can find a remedy for this soon. The smell is embarrassing.
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Zenkoji Temple, Nagano, Japan p.2

Have I already mentioned that Nagano is cold? Because it is. It is so cold! I did not think it could get colder but lo and behold, it did. According to the weather forecast, its only 19F but it sure feels a lot colder. 

I woke up today at 600am to visit Zenkoji Temple with my roommate Jae. Jae is a 20 year old South Korean guy who knew quite a few languages because he had lived in many countries before.



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Hiking Jigokudani Monkey Park, Yamanouchi, Nagano, Japan

This morning I traveled to Yudanka to visit the monkey park. I woke up around 730am, met up with the four Singaporeans at 800am, and left the station around 900am on the limited express train.

Normally, a ticket to Yudanka is 1320yen one way, 2640yen round trip, but for whatever reason, there exists a special ticket that only costs 1500yen which not only includes round trip but also free entrance into a hot spring.

The ride from Nagano station to Yudanka station is about an hour or less. As we got closer to Yudanka, the weather became colder and colder until it started snowing. When we got off the train, it was freezing.

From the Yudanka station, we then took a local bus to the park entrance. From the entrance, it was about a half hour hike up the mountain to the Monkey park entrance.



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