Cañon de Colca

An Independent Traveller’s Anecdotal Guide to Trekking Colca Canyon, in 11 Aphorisms

1. Appreciate silence.  Near the end of our six-hour bus ride from Arequipa to Cabanaconde, three awful, young French people boarded the bus, standing near our seats. The loudest wore a backwards cap and blue tinted shades, and I could see the flowing tattoo of an angel wearing armour on his arm beneath his too-tight white T-shirt. He could not stop talking, joking, tapping his hiking stick on the … Continue reading An Independent Traveller’s Anecdotal Guide to Trekking Colca Canyon, in 11 Aphorisms

What Happens to a Tiny Luxembourgish Commune in the Winter

THERE ARE SOMEHOW SIX HOTELS in Berdorf, Luxembourg, a commune with a population of not quite 900. Most of them were closed. I stepped into an open one, the Famille Defive, for a coffee. Everyone knows everyone: this was immediately clear as I made eye contact with the waitress, a hefty woman with spiky red hair and angular eyebrows, with whom I shared a two-second … Continue reading What Happens to a Tiny Luxembourgish Commune in the Winter

Postcard From Jeju Island, Korea

YOU CAN ALWAYS TELL where you are in Jeju from where the mountain is. And you always know where it is, and you always know which mountain. Though Korea’s largest island is home to many peaks, only one might be called “the” mountain — Hallasan, the tallest in South Korea. It is the centerpiece of Jeju Island, visible from almost anywhere, looming in the distance, … Continue reading Postcard From Jeju Island, Korea

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

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 hill. It is a profoundly ridiculous slope. We witnessed a … Continue reading Seoraksan, Korea: Frozen Tears, Crystal Snot