Do and See: Stuff I Recommend

Bogildo Magic

 

I knew two things about Bogildo Island before pulling up to it on an old Korean ferry: it was covered in pine trees, and compared to the other West Sea Islands Norbert Paxton wrote of in the Rough Guide, it was a ”well-kept secret.”


Where the Lava Flowed: Manjanggul Cave

Ever since I found myself belly-worming through an increasingly dark and unexpectedly narrow crevice in a cave in Vang Vieng, Laos, a few years back, I’ve been sketchy about spelunking.  Something about the cold, damp walls pressing in on both shoulders and the inability of the local boys guiding us to clarify how far the exit was gripped me with my first-ever claustrophobic pang.  Probably the worst thing you can think of during a moment like that is the possibility of an earthquake, but that of course is what crossed my mind.

“Dude,” I remember saying to my friend Melissa, who was edging her way forward on the ground behind me, “I don’t like this anymore.”

“Me neither,” she said.  “Keep going.”


After the Beach, the Temple

In the Rough Guide to Korea, my guru Norbert calls Yakcheonsa one of Jeju’s most magical experiences.  The best time to arrive, he writes, is 7 pm on a summer evening, when “worshipping locals chant under the interior glow with their backs to the sunset.”

So I hiked a staircase at the end of Jungmun Beach, grabbed a cab from the Hyatt hotel, and missioned to the temple, which was built in the 1990′s and, according to Norbert, is considered one of the most impressive in the country, despite its less-than-historical 20th-century roots.

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In a smaller sunlit hall to the left, these guys sat perched…

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The Pacific, a Book, and So Much Blue

After the falls,

the beach.

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Waterfalls for Melissa

The winter I was 21 I backpacked through Southeast Asia for two months with three other girls, my old Pentax K1000, and a second-hand guitar.  We landed in Malaysia, wove north through Thailand, and after boating down the Mekong River to a town called Champasak, parted ways in Southern Laos, from which I ventured to Vietnam alone.  Two weeks later we met back up at the airport in Kuala Lumpur and flew to Melbourne. 

The trip remains one of the larger landmarks in my life, shooting up out of the memory plains like a mountain.  Leaving Vietnam I wished more than anything I could stay on and go through to Cambodia.  But the money had dwindled to very little, our two months was up, and my passport held a work visa for Australia.  Time, as it continues to do, required that change occur.


Time Travel on Route 97, Jeju

This isn’t the time travel part.

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Jeju Morning: Volcano Crater and a Country Stroll

Rarely do I rise before 10 a.m. 

But the guidebook said Jeju’s ‘Ilchulbong’–a volcanic crater on the East Coast in a town called Seongsan–was the first place on the island to spot the “orange fires of dawn.”  A sunrise sounded good.  Really good.  So after the Busan plane touched down on a Saturday afternoon, I caught a bus from Jeju-city that rolled along the North coast for an hour or so, checked into a minbak, and wandered out to find dinner–with a crater view, of course.

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It was just a light snack.

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Mud Day

The first night we kept it pretty clean…

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but it still went late, and a few beers were downed the next afternoon before we even discovered the grounds.  The girls and I entered in a trio of cheap white tanks we’d bought in Nampodong the weekend before…

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until we spotted the Mud Prison, an obvious place to start the festivities.

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Mud Bed

Officially back from two days away at Mud Fest, Korea’s annual festival held on Daecheon Beach and devoted to, well, mud.  Shenanigans included 40 foreigners discovering a microphone on the Friday night bus trip up and breaking into (among other tunes) a rendition of “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations.  The Mudslide, Mud Prison, and Mud Pit had Leah, Dianna, Bryan and myself caked in grey by early afternoon Saturday.  In an effort to preserve my Canon, mud pics are on the disposal, to be developed asap.

Meanwhile, we couldn’t resist getting our new friend Branden from Michigan to snap a few shots of us in our weekend living quarters…upon arrival, we discovered the booked-for-four hotel room provided one bed only. 

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49 Minutes in Busan’s Museum of Modern Art

Back from my whirlwind one day, one night mission to Shanghai, where I caught up with Canadian band Jets Overhead on their 11-day China tour.  After performing the previous two nights at Expo’s Great Hall and America Square, they rocked the stage at Yuyintang bar, infusing the packed room with a whole lot of rich vocals and thick, layered grooves. This week I’m putting all the deets together for an upcoming story in Eloquence mag, currently titled “24 Hours in Shanghai with Jets Overhead.”  In the mornings I wake wishing I could sip coffee and write all afternoon, but the kids and the classes await, so more late-night sessions it is.  New posts to come after Saturday… 


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