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.

From the Golden Mound, I then walked all the way down to the Royal Palace.

Outside the palace, many taxi drivers try to trick you. They tell you that the temple is closed and that in 2 hours it will reopen. In the meantime, they offer to bring you around to other temples. Fortunately, I read about them before heading out so I just ignored them.

After the Palace, I visited some smaller temples and then finished at the Temple of the Dawn.

To get home, I took a longboat down the river.

As an aside, I found out the other day that I lost weight. I left the US at 160lbs and now I am 150lbs. I guess all the hiking took its toll. I have hiked a mountain in almost every city in every country that I have been to so far.

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.

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.

To get there, we first took the subway line and then a local bus. Situated right next to the ocean, Yonggungsa Temple is a good place to visit in the early morning. There are a lot of statues that you can pray to for all sorts of things in your life.

After, we went to Spa Land Centum City.

Let me tell you. This place is jaw-dropping. Spa Land is so huge! Not only does it have separate sections for men and women to enjoy the saunas, steam rooms, and spas, but there is this massive 3 floor annex for both women and men to hang out in. From differently themed sauna rooms to a movie theater, my favorites out of everything that was offered at Spa Land were the outdoor foot spa and the cold room.

Best of all? It only costs 12 dollars. Bueno.

The next morning I left the hostel at 550am for my flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

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.

From the south gate, the plan was to take the cable car down but because the signs were all mostly in Korean I got lost; so I just started hiking down the mountain.

At some point, I started to get nervous because I had no idea where I was going and even if I got off the mountain, I wasn't sure how I would find the station again. Fortunately, I ran into two older women near the bottom and they walked me to the station. One woman spoke a tiny bit of English while the other one spoke a tiny bit of Chinese. One gave me an apple and the other one tried to dress me. I think it was because I was only in jeans and a t-shirt. They might have thought I was a young bum. They also probably didn't know that I hiked all the way from the other side of the mountain which was why I wasn't cold at all in the chilly weather.

I spent 6 hours hiking on that mountain. 6 hours.

Later on tonight, I will go meet up with a Korean guy I met on

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.

Originally I planned on hiking to the top but the signs were all in Korean and somewhere along the way, I accidentally got onto another path and ended up doing a shorter hike.

After Bukhansan I came back to the hostel, met up with Berringer, and we went to see the infamous Nanta show. It was a decent show but I don't know if I would ever go to watch it again. I would however suggest everyone to at least check it out once since it's sort of a big deal in Seoul.

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.

Sooyeon really took care of me every time she came out to meet me and because of her, my experience in Seoul was that much better. If you're reading this Soo, THANKSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

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, It's supposed to be another type of Craigslist or something similar. I was not too impressed with the interface.

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.

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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