Category East Asia

The Three Things You Notice When Eating Dog Soup in Korea

1. No cartoon dogs. There are no cutesy animal cartoons on the walls or windows, a staple of many meat restaurants. Round-eyed pigs? Adorable! Cows in aprons? ^^ 귀엽다~~~!!! Now, wide-grinning dogs? None of those, at least at particular bosintang restaurant near Gaegeum in Busan. Not many pictures at all, actually, except for ones of the meat itself, […]

Seoraksan, Korea: Frozen Tears, Crystal Snot

THERE IS A MOMENT on Seorak Mountain, over two hours in and 1,000 meters above sea level, that is dauntingly unfair to novice hikers. You have to squint real hard and crane your neck so far back that your head hits your backpack just to glimpse the three-kilometer signpost, tauntingly perched atop this sleet-covered, 70-degree-steep, God-knows-how-tall […]

Guinsa, South Korea: Accidentally the Only White Guy Among 8,000 Koreans in an Extremely Holy Temple in the Middle of Nowhere

A VERY PARTICULAR DARKNESS envelops Guinsa at night. Arriving after sunset, I was met by the few dozen parked cars surrounded by something smaller than a village—a smattering of homes and restaurants, maybe 30 in all, mostly closed up by 8 p.m. The temple complex itself lies one kilometer uphill, wedged within a valley surrounded […]

Taitung, Taiwan: Wherein Nearly Everything Goes Wrong (or: How I Learned to Never Stop Worrying and Love Itineraries)

ACROSS THE STREET from the Taitung County airport, in a rural patch of southeast Taiwan, sits a gift shop-slash-restaurant that is in no way discernibly Taiwanese. On its walls hang aboriginal-style handbags of primary colours, generic landscape paintings, kitschy bamboo scrolls and an inexplicable amount of Snoopy paraphernalia. My notes on the contents of this […]

Qingdao, China: Sleeping Everywhere But in a Motel

WE HADN’T SLEPT longer than an hour when the disinterested, pale-shirted, tired-eyed Chinese airport security guard padded over and shook us awake. I knew immediately that our plan had failed. When you travel like this, very rarely do things go as expected. Flustered by interrupted sleep at 1:30 a.m. and a lack of ability in […]

Taiwan: Gearing Up for the Chinese New Year (Photo Essay)

IN JANUARY 2012, weeks after my 23rd birthday, I took my first solo vacation to Taiwan, moving from Taipei down south through Hualien, Ruisui and Taitung, one week before the Chinese New Year. Taipei has remained in my memory as one of my favourite cities—like, in the world—though the trip was not without its share of problems. […]

Chenjiapu Valley, China: A Refreshing Take on the Great Wall

ACCORDING TO GOOGLE MAPS, Chen Yang’s farm is situated in the middle of a patch of complete, unblemished grayness. There is no Street View. Driving directions on his website are an exhausting 368 words long: Jingzang Expressway to Badaling, a tunnel to exit 62, keep right after a U-turn 200 meters after a toll booth […]

Notes on Visiting a Korean Acupuncture Clinic

NECESSARY PRETEXT: I am a nervous laugher. I laugh uncontrollably in bad situations. I’ve laughed at funerals, giggled at being dumped, chuckled at the doctor’s and chortled at the dentist’s. So it should come as no surprise that, after my first half-marathon resulted in a strikingly painful bout of runner’s knee, my first visit to a […]