Politcal Yeti: A Tale of Two Atrocities

Disclaimer: This post is entirely political. If that isn’t to your taste, please head somewhere else. I am an unabashed Leftist and that skews the way I see things.

I have said very little about the elections this year, not even back when Bernie Sanders was running. That is for three reasons. The first is that I really don’t like reality TV and in my opinion, these reports and memes and jokes really aren’t any different from the scripted reality tv you can find on any channel. Did people watching the debates learn any substantive? Or was it mere entertainment? As John Dewey said long ago, “As long as politics is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance.”
We’ll get to my second reason in a bit; it’s a bit unrelated.

But the third reason is that there is very little that can be said. Trump is a moron, yes. But it’s not the first year he’s run for President, and everyone seemed to forget that. It seems  manufactured how easily he rose to the top. It’s almost as if control of the media means something. And let’s not forget that despite how ridiculous, abhorrent, and offensive  Trump is, he’s not even as scary as, say, Ted Cruz or his own VP. There is not one good thing I can think of to say about Trump as a person, as a politician, or especially as a presidential candidate.

But … I don’t know that Donald Trump would make for a worse president than Hillary Clinton. Part of that is because he ran as a Republican. That means Democrats would oppose him, watch his every move. Hillary would be able to move with less encumbrance, as we’ve seen with some fairly conservative policies by Obama not be opposed by the left.

Sidenote, if someone like Romney had added more troops (30,000) to the Afghanistan War, refused to close Guantanamo after promising to, ordered Drone Strikes on US citizens, changed the definition of enemy combatant to any male over 18,  funneled billions of taxpayer money to banks, increased offshore drilling and generally helped the 1 percent, he would have been seen as a terrible president. Obama operates under different standards, apparently, and it’s reasonable to suspect that Hillary will too.

I’m going to say it: I think Hillary Clinton is a bad person. I don’t even care about the conspiracy theories and the right-wing suppositions. Her actual record is enough for me to know that as a liberal I can’t support her.

There are two things in particular  about Mrs. Clinton that horrify me.

Firstly she always votes for war. There are too many examples of this to list here, but here are some of the key points.

  1. She supported US bombing of Belgrade in 1999 (Kosovo War). She told reporter Lucinda Frank: [she] was traveling in Africa, called Bill, and: “I urged him to bomb”.
  2. She voted to invade Afghanistan in 2001
  3.  She supported sending 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban in mid-2003
  4. She voted to invade Iraq in 2002 – gave stirring speech in US Senate in support of it.
  5. As Sec. of State, she poorly handled the illegal military Honduran coup in 2009, but as recently as April 9, 2016, she defended the illegal coup. Honduras isn’t doing well these days.
  6.   She voted in 2006 to let US military continue to use cluster bombs in areas with concentrated civilian populations. 108 nations (but not the U.S.) have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, because they are the single most lethal weapon for civilian casualties in war.
  7.  And recently she spoke of no-fly zones over in Syria. This worries a lot of people–I don’t think it will lead to WWIII– but it will certainly “kill a lot of Syrians” (her own words.)

There are a lot more examples (Libya) but you get the point. If you think American lives are worth more than people in other countries, than I get supporting her. That’s not a traditional liberal value, however, and it puzzles me how many liberals overlook the fact that Clinton in power means that a lot of poor people will lose their lives.


John Dewey – “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” 

The second point about Mrs. Clinton is that she’s very beholden to corporate interests. This is well documented. The NYT reported that Hillary Rodham Clinton will begin personally courting donors for a “super PAC” supporting her candidacy, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has fully embraced these independent groups that can accept unlimited checks from big donors and are already playing a major role in the 2016 race.

There is indication of collusion between the Clinton Campaign and the DNC, and hiring Debbie Wasserman Schultz did nothing to distance herself from the speculation. Nor is the sudden vilifying of Assange, who was a leftist hero when he exposed Bush’s dirty underwear but now is more of a pariah than ever.

Forgetting right-wing rumors and unsubstantiated claims, her factual record speaks for itself. Hillary Clinton voted to bail out Wall Street, and the Glass-Steagall Act passed under Bill Clinton is one of the underlying causes of the 2008 financial crisis.(Admittedly, maybe she’s not to blame for that but it’s certainly consistent with her values.) She’s pro-fracking and has accepted millions from the fossil fuel industry, she voted for the Patriot Act twice, gave the infamous Super Predator speech, and she’s earned the praise of Henry Kissinger. Oh and just quietly? Trump isn’t the only one who wants to build a fence.

There’s a lot more, but I guess if that doesn’t convince you nothing will. I suspect that if Clinton was running against Reagan, liberals and moderates would have to choose Reagan as the more leftist choice. Perhaps it’s because my family grew up well below the poverty line, but I find impossible to ignore someone who consistently rewards corporations at the cost of opportunity for the impecunious.

I can understand voting Third Party. I can even understand the Chomsky “Hold your nose and vote for Clinton.” But I don’t understand this whole-hearted “I love Hillary” stance from the left. If you are reading this and you will/or have vote for Mrs. Clinton, I’d love for you to share why in the comments. I can’t see that a vote for her is anything but a vote for the American Empire, for war and bombs abroad and the rich getting richer at home.

Hillary Clinton is not Donald Trump; she appears far more intelligent, far more composed, and the people she represents a direct threat against are far less American. But the more I think about it, the more I think that might be exactly the point. Using a propped-up Bogeyman so that you are afraid of any choice but her. Maybe that’s not true;  perhaps Trump is a legitimate candidate. It doesn’t really matter.

By the way, my 2nd point that I alluded to earlier is just this. Ultimately I don’t think it matters for the US who is the next president. There is an idea that we need to act now to save the country, but I suspect that time passed long ago. But that’s a subject for a different time.

For the record, I’m posting this because I have seen many people I know vitriolically supporting Hillary Clinton. To the point where to even suggest an alternative is seen as offense. Many on the left have joined the right to become intolerant bullies when confronted by differing opinions. Luckily, no one reads this blog so I feel pretty safe.

In summary, this Simpsons episode is a little dated, but actually not dated at all.

Yeti Daytrips: Vegan Fiesta in Hongseong Village

Improbably, it was a facebook add that informed me about a Vegan daytrip. Well, FB must know I’m vegan and in Korea, but still it kind of surprised me. It was through a website called Playplanet, which I’d never heard of but looked kind of cool. The daytrip was expensive, but these things are in Korea, and just look at that menu. It looks like something my sister would eat in Portland, not the kind of grub available in Korea.


It started off with a long bus ride, then some “Traditional Korean dying” (which we hippies called tiedye.) The coolest part was for the yellow die we just used turmeric, which smelled pretty awesome. We then met some village elders who told us they used actual Ducks to eat the pests and thus go organic , and it is working well enough that 2 million tourists a year descend upon the town of 230 people to witness it. There are little statues of ducks throughout the village too.

Then we went to a fashion show put on by disabled Koreans while we drank lotus tea and ate Hangwa (Korean traditional cookies.)


The food, when it came, was pretty great. Buffet style in a historic Joseon dynasty house with no electricity and live musicians playing violin and a traditional korean instrument that sounded suspiciously like a kazoo.



But the whole thing was kind of weird too. Like, early on we learned that none of the people hosting the event were vegan or even interested in veganism. Frequently they filmed us and asked us questions about what we thought about s0-and-so. The people acted a bit strange and it almost felt like we were going to be recruited into a cult. While we were eating, the brought cameras and lights on us and asked us to sum up the experience in one word. So strange. In the end, we suspected (strongly) they were secretly making a promotional video for a catering company. Or something like that.

I dunno. It was a fun trip, and the food was good, but the bizareness of it kind of outweighed the postives. So all-in-all, pretty much your prototypical Korean experience.

On Hiking and Not Hiking in Japan

My first vacation (of more than 3 days) in a couple of years and Japan was calling. I thought about a few other places like Cambodia or Malaysia but Japan a) had cheaper flights and b) featured a rad hike that I couldn’t get out of my head. (The Nakasendo.) So I prepped a folder with hiking information and japanese phrases for explaining veganism and I hopped on a plane. The first stop was Kyoto, a legendary city of marvels and wonders.

Not Japan’s fault, but we didn’t get off on the right foot this trip. (Not to mention last time when they mistakenly wouldn’t let me board a flight to New Zealand.) Both in Korea and in Japan I was subjected to “random” pat-downs and bag-checks. I was even wearing my nice clothes and had my tattoos covered up. Anyway, no big deal but kind of a bummer to go through all that yet again.

I wander the stinking hot streets of Kyoto for 3 days. With humidity, it’s 45 degrees (113 F) and I get the worst case of chub rub I’ve ever had. Like, I’m waddling like a penguin but because my time is short I’m still walking 20+ km a day. Halfway through the second day I realize that I don’t much like Kyoto. It’s a surprising revelation, to me as well as to you, and I spend some time pondering why it might be. I mean, it’s a city that gets 50 million tourists a year so clearly it isn’t a bad place.

Contrary to my hopes, there aren’t really many bookstores and the two I visit don’t have much in the way of hiking books. Likewise, the much vaunted vegan restaurants disappoint-many are closed for the day or afternoon. Thus several long, sweaty walks ended up as fruitless endeavors. Luckily the convenience stores have inari and edamame and other good stuff so it wasn’t a major bummer. Also, the one place I did go to (twice), was the grubbing Cafe Matsuontoko.

So as to Kyoto. Most of it is boring city. The temples are nice, absolutely, but they are places you have to make an effort to get to. They’re not places you can stumble upon, which isn’t really my jam. Still, I’m glad I saw the city, and maybe I’d go back in spring or fall, but probably not.

I leave Kyoto and catch a train to the castle city of Hikone, which is were I was thinking I could hop on the Nakasendo. But between the lack of map, the heat, and my sore thighs, it just seems like a bad idea to hike. I make the call to just go to the Kiso valley (the best part) and before that to travel around and see some cool cities. Hikone is a very cool city, not swollen with tourists and has one of the best castles in Japan. Plus it has a samurai cat as a mascot. But it’s really hot here, so much so that most of the shops are closed even in the early afternoon.

The guesthouse I stay at is nearly tropical, and brand new. Apart from two other Japanese backpackers, the dorm is empty. It’s too hot to sleep though (32 degrees at 7:30 am) and I get up early and catch the train to Gifu, which is where the castle of a notorious warlord once stood. The rebuilt castle isn’t special, but the view from the hill is nice and there are cool weapons and artifacts in the small museum. It’s kinda special to stand in a place where once ninjas and samurai fought.

I actually have no idea of where I’m going next, but on a whim I head to a place I hadn’t heard of called Takayama.

This is probably the best decision I make on the trip.The ride itself is brilliant, ambling up into misty mountains, past rice fields and granite rivers, distant bridges and villages cut into the jungle.

Takayama is a wonderful, walkable city that is much cooler by virtue of being up in the mountains. There are temples and parks and villages and bridges galore. It’s much smaller than Kyoto, but it has the vibe I was hoping for. It also has half of Europe seemingly striding its narrow streets.There’s a festival with live music the night I arrive the closest I can come to describing the vibe is Pai meets Malakka.

I spend the next two days with my Swiss roomate Alex. Just 24, he saved up for a year on archaeological digs and had 7 weeks to travel Japan. We went to an outdoor museum/craft village and learn about things like silk worms and tofu pressing. We take off and put on our shoes, a lot.

The next morning we wake with the sun and bus further up into the mountains. A group of Spanish tourists become enamored with Alex’s boots and their tour guide actually starts presenting the boots (no lace, zip up) features to them.The hiking is perfect, pretty and cool and not too crowded. After 35 km of hiking in the Japanese Alps, we get back on the last bus and get back to Takayama. I have to change hostels and then Alex and I meet a couple we had met hiking for drinks.

This ends up a bad move. I come back before midnight to see that my hostel has a door code. I should have asked before leaving but they didn’t say anything and I didn’t ask. I come to rue this decision. It’s summer, so I think of sleeping in a park. But I make my way back to my friends and learn that the couple have an extra bed, so I crash with them for a few hours.

Phew. My hostel is very apologetic and end up giving me a cake and then, on my way out, refunding that night. They just opened this month so are working out all the kinks, so it’s a nice gesture on their part.

It’s time to make future plans again. But there’s a bit of a bummer. The post towns of  Tsumago and Magome are booked out, as are the towns on either side of them. There are places I can stay, but none for less than 100 dollars a night. So my raison d’être for coming to Japan is now discarded entirely.


I head north to a town called Toyoma. It seems to be more of a gateway to other places than a destination in its own right, but it has plenty of gardens and canals and even a reconstructed castle. I read a few books and wander the streets in my 2 days there. It’s a great little town, and it’s nice to say goodbye to the tourists again.

My flight back to Korea is on Sunday at 2 pm and I check out of my hotel Saturday at 11 am. My first thought is to spend the day in Toyoma, read in a park, and then catch a night bus. The night bus is all sold out though. The train ride is supposed to be beautiful and it’s less than four hours but it cost 120 dollars. So I catch a bus for 77 dollars and hope it’s not much longer. It is.

The bus leaves at 1:30 pm and I get into Tokyo at 1o pm. After that long (but comfy) bus ride, I think “Hey, it’s my first time in Tokyo. Maybe I’ll find a cheapish hotel, wander around a bit tonight, and then get up early tomorrow, explore some more, and then head to the airport.” The two hotels I check are booked and/or too expensive. So I catch one of the last trains to the airport and prepare to spend the night there, which was my very original plan.

It’s a good airport, but I feel sweaty from a long day and the few comfy places for sleeping have long since been claimed. No worries; I buy some edamame and start a new book.

Around 1 am I hear them announce “The Peach flight to Seoul will now begin boarding.” I actually text Nahid and say something like “I wish that was my flight.”

I read for 15 minutes or so before the daunting realization (that you no doubt already suspect) hits me.

What if that is my flight? After all, my ticket said leaving at 2:00, not 14:00 and there’s no am or pm. I grab my bag and jump on an escalator. As luck would have it, Peach check-in is right there and it is indeed my flight. Had I succeeded in night bussing or getting a hotel, I would have entirely missed my flight! What a chump move, man.

The flight’s delayed, and the Seoul subway is slow, so I don’t get back to my house until 8 am, as sleepy as can be. The vacation now officially over, I fall in bed and sleep like the sleepiest sleeper that ever slept.


Even without the official hike, I walked 231 km in my 11 days, and despite sleeping in hostel dorm rooms, eating almost entirely at convenience stores, not drinking very much alcohol, and taking the cheapest transportation possible, I spend almost a month’s salary in my time there.

It was technically my 4th trip to Japan, but at 11 days this was longer than the other three put together. As I said at the beginning, I was jonesing for Japan but whether it was the heat, the high costs, or my unrealistic expectations, I left Japan thinking I might not ever go back. On previous visits, I felt like Japan was just a much better version of Korea, but this time I was actually kind of happy to come back.

On the other hand, I still wouldn’t mind actually trying the Nakasendo some day.


Vegan Seoul – 2016

The last time I blogged about being vegan in Korea, it was 2011 and the world was a different place. Veganism was growing in popularity in Seoul. There were vegan buffets, more every month it seemed, Loving Huts with all kinds of options, Purely Decadent had dedicated stores and was even available in some convenience stores. It was an exciting time.

But in many ways, it seems the  great vegan experiment is over. All but two Loving Huts are shuttered and gone. The buffets are closed and forgotten. The top 5 restaurants I blogged about in 2011 are all long gone. And it’s not a surprise. Korea isn’t really a place that vegans prosper. It’s more surprising that it even tried to catch on here.

Honestly, even though rents are expensive I think the market for veggie and vegan food is ready to expand. A restaurant that sells vegan mandu and ddukbokki could make a killing, I think. Plus there aren’t any mock-meat Indian, Thai, or Chinese restaurants that could clean up. It may take time, and the vegan market will  skew away from Koreans and toward foreigners for a long time, cutting out so many potential customers. But the opportunity is there.

Anyway, until then, here are some of the best places to eat as a vegan in Seoul. It’s not a comphrensive list, but all of these places are pretty awesome.


Location: Itaewon

This is probably the most famous vegan place in Korea, and it’s as tiny as it is delicious. Although it can be hard to get a seat, and the portions are, too my taste, both a bit expensive and a bit small. But it’s a great haven and the baked goods are incredible. I got my birthday cake here and it was so good it impressed my omni friends.

Baker’s Table

Location: Gyeongridan

I haven’t actually tried the vegan sandwich, but the baked bread is so good. The Focaccia (tomato or garlic) might be my favorite edible thing in the whole city. You can also get hummus at High Street Market (about a 20 minute walk away) for a tasty little sumthin’ sumthin’.

JULY 2016 UPDATE: I actually will never go to the Baker’s Table again. Last time I went, the focaccia was so old and stale that I could barely eat it. Well, no worries. I went back and ordered the vegan sandwich. They cooked the vegetables in bacon grease, like a lot of bacon grease. I can’t recommend them as a vegan option anymore.

Taco Loco

Location: Sinchon

Thanks to some friends who introduced this place, it has become my favorite Mexican in Seoul. There aren’t too many vegan options, but if you order the veggie burrito without cheese it’s totally happy. It’s a bit cheaper than other Mexican places, plus the burrito comes with avocado.

Cafe The Bread Blue

Location: Sinchon

A weird name, sure, and it’s a little expensive. But this place is cool; like a typical Korean bakery but everything is edible for vegans. They have cool little cups of parfait and soy milk for all their coffee drinks. The cafe is cozy and a fun place to, say, play a board game.


Location: Everywhere

Not the first place you think of, but given that most of the vegan places in the city are either in Sinchon or Itaewon/HBC this place is a bit of a oasis. In order to get a vegan version, order a veggie sandwich with no cheese with Italian bread and hot chili or sweet chili or sweet onion sauce. This is a cheap and cool option and Subway has saved my fakin’ more than once.

Petra Palace

Location: Itaewon

A long time ago

There are a couple of other restaurants I’ve been to but don’t have pictures of, including Jack’s Bean in Hongdae. Also, at least some Paris Baguette’s carry a Quinoa Lentil Bean Salad.

Also every vegetarian or vegan who lives in Korea probably knows about Iherb, but it’s an awesome source for nutritional yeast, Braggs, herbal tea, quinoa, oatmeal and so much more. Here are some of my scores this year.


While it’s harder to be a vegan in Korea than it was even 5 years ago, there are plenty of places to go. Especially in the Hongdae/Sinchon and Itaewon/HBC area. It’s not 2011 anymore, but hopefully it’s better than just convenience store apples and pringles.


10 Reasons I Can’t Live in America again

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here. I’ve been writing and developing games and running an RPG here in Seoul which claimed much of my free time. Plus I think all bloggers go through a point where they wonder if the hours spent blogging might be better used on … almost anything else. But this is a subject that has been percolating in my mind for a while now.

Before I go any further, I’ll clarify by saying that the reasons I do have to go back–family and friends (and burritos)–outweigh these. Okay, Mom?


Consumerism: buy buy buy

cj 033

This has been covered before just about everyone, but the longer I live out of the US, the harder it is to come back to the bombardment of “buy X=happiness” messages that make up so much of day-to-day life. (The part of the world I live now is arguably just as consumerist, but not speaking the language or belonging to the culture makes it feel far less so.)

Buying into the culture gets harder too–“new” things like uber and Spotify and smart phones and well who knows what gaining popularity since I lived in the US lead to a disenfranchising feeling. (For me at least.) On the flip side, going back is often a process of discovering a new culture, which I do appreciate.

Over-Regulation and Bureaucracy


Renting an apartment requires background checks and credit checks and promises of first-borns. My mom moved for the first time in years and was shocked at all the hoops she had to jump through. From checking into a hotel to registering for school, everything is so needlessly complex.

This might be more an Oregon thing, but it insane to me that a thirty year old person cannot necessarily buy a beer if they don’t have their ID. A non-ending series of permits are required for far too many things, from opening restaurants to painting your house. Everything is needlessly more complicated than it should be, and that’s no way to live.

Gun Culture



See the guest post from 2015 by liberal anarchist and gun enthusiast Bob Swan to demonstrate that even educated people can hold very bad ideas. Selling guns in stores and online is, if the rest of the world is any sort of system to judge, a bad idea and a key ingredient of a toxic culture.



“I Deserve” Entitlement


This one is harder to articulate–it’s a more a “I know it when I see it.” But it permeates everything; the decadent “I deserve” mentality and the counterpart, the prevalent “you should sue” mindset. This is a refection of rampant consumerism and while there’s nothing objectively wrong with those attitudes, they are pretty much 180 degrees from how I live my life.

Undereducated Populace


Socialism is still a bad word. People don’t know it’s not the same as facism. I should note this does seem to be changing now, but there are still plenty of people who think that socialism=lazy people asking for free stuff. This goes far beyond the political. It’s a society that glorifies money and fame for their own sake.


Driving Culture


The ultimate symbol of freedom in America? A machine that kills or injures over 2 million people a year, and includes costs for insurance, gas, repairs, and registration. Even Portland, famous for bikes and public transportation, requires a car to get anywhere out of it. Intercity options like Greyhound are stigmatized and inefficient for anything other than big cities.



They suck everywhere but in the US they are a special flavor of suckiness. (And I wrote this sentence a year ago, well before this year’s singular madness of an election process.) I haven’t commented much on the election this year, but I’ll say this. For me, the candidates rank like this. Bernie Sanders (he’s not actually as liberal as I’d like but still the best by far candidate), and then Green Party candidate Jill Stein (better than Sanders but with even less of a chance), then a tie between Trump and Hillary (both of which are disasters) and then Cruz (the worst case scenario).

But part of me wants to see Trump in the White House. He is the president that “Honey-BooBoo”-watching, mass produced pop listening America deserves. The mirror image of the culture. And it would make for way better comedy shows. (Inherent in this opinion is that he wouldn’t be any worse for the people of the world than Clinton.)

Anyway, one of the problems in my opinion is that the US is too big and too diverse and the solution of splitting into separate countries  still seems too radical.



I actually defended our wonky system for years, but I can’t do it anymore. It would be hard to go back to funny old Fahrenheit and miles after the nice conciseness of the metric (almost) everywhere else in the world. It’s the 21st century and a system based some English King’s foot probably isn’t the best system imaginable.

Fear culture


The USA is good at big portions, and that includes the buffet of fear-mongering options that citizens chomp down on with glee. Fear of other countries. Fear of germs. Fear of immigrants. Fear of the other. Fear of the Other. Fear of Republicans and cyber-predators and flying and terrorism and so many other ungrounded fears.

Even in relatively safe places like Portland, people knocking on doors is a cause of fear. And yes, a fearful populace is a more easy to control but is that all there is to it? It would be exhausting to be afraid all that time and, quite frankly, I’m afraid to be that afraid.

Portland is a Hard Place to Live


Most of the reasons on the list are philosophical. This is purely practical though. It’s so hard for me to find a job in Portland. I have applied in my life for several hundred jobs in Portland (over a period of almost 20 years now) and heard back from fewer than 20. I’ve been rejected from Powells 3 times. And I only apply to jobs where I fit all the criteria. I always thought it was just hard to get a job in Portland but my sister has no problem doing it so maybe it’s just a me thing. It’s definitely discouraging to come back and be *lucky* to get a job temping or in a grocery store.

So that’s my thinking. From afar all of those things seem kind of terrible. But as I said, with so many good friends and family there, I probably will come back.



A Typical Week in Teaching


Leave the Class for one minute and there’s poo everywhere. Poo shoes!

One of the questions I asked for one of my classes on their monthly Speaking Test. They are one of my favorite classes. This kind of shows how funny and weird they are.


The question is: What do you like about your best friend?

Student 1: “She is very high nose.” 

She thought this was a completely satisfactory answer so I gave her 3/5 points.

Student 2: “She has very straight, very black hair.”

Better grammar. And who am I to quibble on the importance of straight hair in friends? 4/5

Student 3: “She is very kind to me.”

Perfect. 5/5

Student 4: “He is very smart.”

This doesn’t seem funny but the look he gave me was like “You know what’s up.” 5/5 and he wasn’t done.

The next question: What is an important quality in a friend?

Student 4: “Money. I think money.”  (His look: “You still know what’s up.”

In another class with lower level students, they learned about twins. I asked them if they knew the word for three brothers/sisters born at the same time.
One girl, Marsha, who is preternaturally smart, shot her hand into the air.
“Trio,” Marsha said confidently.
“No,” I said. “But that’s very close. In fact, the word starts with tri.” I said, writing TRI on the board.
All the kids raised their hands simultaneously.

“Trins,” they all said.

Me: “Oh. That’s actually better than what we use. Good job class.”


Best of 2015 in Pictures

I’ve been doing this for a while now: 2009, 2010, 2011,  20122013 and 2014 . Unlike the last couple vagabondy years, this year I spent entirely in one country (with a one weekend in Japan visa run exception). While this year didn’t have visits to Everest or the Grand Canyon, overall it was nice to get back into a groove and start saving some money again.

2015 will be characterized for me by my job at the Talking Club, by the friends I made with the Scifi Meetup group, and by weekends spent teaching English at the Buddhist temple. I juiced fresh veggies and cooked a thousand stir-fries and drank a thousand thousand smoothies and my weight in hazelnut coffee. It’s a year that got me back on my feet.

January 2015

January 2015January – I almost took a terrible job outside of Seoul but I’m so glad I didn’t. It made for a financially precarious time for a while but also gave me time for long city wanders, such as this one up to Namsan. I was listening to Animal Farm on audiobook and now this mountain and that story are forever linked in my mind.

February 2015

February 2015February was the one time I escaped Korea this year.  I went back to Fukuoka where I spent a lovely weekend full of walking and seeing new sights. This picture was taken in a small canal town about half-an-hour out of the city. It was early in the morning and raining hard and few people were around.  These hardy souls didn’t seem to mind at all though.

March 2015

March 2015Birthday hike with some of my coolest friends. They didn’t even mind when I zigged instead of zagged and we missed the place we were looking for. Not only was it a good hike, with hummus for a snack, but after we played board games and ate some fun vegan food. Good birthday!

April 2015


This hike, along Bukhansan’s Dullegil, was in early spring with the blossoms raining down along with the rain, which was also quite good at raining down. For whatever reason, I quickly entered a natural high on this hike and stayed that way for all 7 hours. It was just too nice walking up and down the mountains in the soft spring mist.

May 2015

May 2015

May weekends I walked an hour to Yeouido Island and played basketball until my legs stopped working and then walked home. This view of the 63 building was along the way. I like the juxtaposition of a field of towers with the immensely tall building.

June 2014

June 2015

In June I went to a sheep cafe! ‘Nuff said.

July 2015

July 2015City wanders in Seoul often reward with unexpected art. This wall in Sincheon is equal parts random and sweet.

August 2015

August 2015In August I took time off from the temple and went down to  Gyangju. What a nice city! Burial mounds and observatories and temples and lakes and this Unesco World Heritage Temple, Bulguksa. It was hot as blazes but a place I’d like to go back to.

September 2015


In September I went back to Insadong as part of a year long project to write a walking tour to the area. This view of the moon over the giraffes was pretty cool.

October 2015

October 2015Halloween at Everland. What more could you want?

November 2015

November 2015It was a long autumn filled with plentiful leaves but these Suyu bongo trucks really strike my fancy.

December 2015


Not a lot of pictures this month, but the first snow was pretty great. As much as I love snow, it’s almost better to see how cranky my students get. These kids don’t love snow because it’s too cold and they come bundled up to class in ski jackets and scarves and mittens.