Notes From a Mountain: Sleeping Beside the Loudest Snorer in South Korea

THERE’S LITTLE TO BE SAID about hiking in Korea that I haven’t before tried to write about; instead of struggling unprepared with my girlfriend in the bitter midwinter snow, this time we were four sweaty dudes in midsummer humidity suffering from sore feet and comically rosy sunburns. Our particular route up Jiri-san, South Korea’s second-tallest mountain, wasn’t actually very strenuous — but damned if it doesn’t … Continue reading Notes From a Mountain: Sleeping Beside the Loudest Snorer in South Korea

Notes From a Giant Post Box: Looking For Bingsu; Finding a Monkey in a Diaper

BEFORE I INTRODUCE THE MONKEY LASER CAFE — which is, to clarify, a cafe along a rural patch of Korean coast with a pet monkey and a laser strobe light — it’s important to start with the fact that V and I were looking for a particular mythical patbingsu, a.k.a. the lovely East Asian dessert of shaved ice, condensed milk, sweetened red beans and any topping in … Continue reading Notes From a Giant Post Box: Looking For Bingsu; Finding a Monkey in a Diaper

A Postgrad’s Travel Tale: The Aimless Twenty-Something Life

IN MAY 2011, I was sitting across from four editors in the startlingly modern private boardroom of the Chronicle Herald newspaper in west end Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’d prepared for this job interview all week. The Herald isn’t an especially well-regarded publication (it’s locally nicknamed “The Chronically Horrid”), but holds the distinction of being one of Canada’s oldest daily papers, and the largest of the … Continue reading A Postgrad’s Travel Tale: The Aimless Twenty-Something Life

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, which is a mysteriously brown sort of thing, rife with … Continue reading The Three Things You Notice When Eating Dog Soup in Korea

How We’re Flying Through Java, Brunei, Kuching, Penang, Cambodia and Thailand for Under $300

AFTER FOUR HOURS OF SHITTY MATH, I found myself awake past 11:30 last night, staring at my computer screen, clicking and refreshing as my desk lay covered in sticky pads noting various potential flight routes. PUS – CGK, CGK – PHN, BKK – PEN. Or PUS – BWN, BWN – KL, KL – BKK. PUS – CGK, JOG – SIN, SIN – BWN? Suffice to … Continue reading How We’re Flying Through Java, Brunei, Kuching, Penang, Cambodia and Thailand for Under $300

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 at a fork in the road. It’s safe to say … Continue reading Chenjiapu Valley, China: A Refreshing Take on the Great Wall

Busan, South Korea: Texas Street is an Angry, Lonely Place

Let me be clear: the lads only went to see boobs. This is why, after two-and-a-half hours of drinking through one of South Korea’s most notorious and least desirable red light districts—and having eyeballed disappointingly zero nipples—it seemed a good idea to ask the six-foot-two, black-leather-jacketed Russian man stumbling down the street at 2:30 in the morning: “Do you know where a strip bar is?” … Continue reading Busan, South Korea: Texas Street is an Angry, Lonely Place

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 Korean acupuncture clinic was a seemingly delightful experience, as I … Continue reading Notes on Visiting a Korean Acupuncture Clinic

A Long Way Back

THERE ARE TWO directions from South Korea to Canada: a long way back, and a short one. I’m not speaking in metaphors here: one is literally 10,799 kilometres, while the other is closer to 15,444. According to this online distance calculator, when I tried to drag the location marker across to Toronto from Busan over Europe, by around Iceland it simply suggested flying over the North Pole … Continue reading A Long Way Back