Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The World's Greatest Dad (Video)

I recently flew home for my Dad's 60th birthday. It was a big occasion, with lots of relatives flying into Burlington, Vermont from all over the States.

As part of the celebration, my sister, brother and I made a video tribute to Dad, based on the R Kelly song "The World's Greatest." We tweaked the lyrics a little bit; Leah played the ukelele and sang. Kevin threw down some smooth dance moves and backup lyrics. I took off my shirt and put it all together.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Check out The World's Greatest Dad on YouTube here.

Monday, June 17, 2013

This is why you shouldn't get extra passport pages

There are 2 reasons - and ONLY 2 reasons - why you SHOULD get extra passport pages. 

1. You want to save $28. 

$110 The cost of a new, standard-issue US passport (renewal).
$82 The cost of adding passport pages (26 or 52 - your choice, same price) added to your current passport. 

As a frequent backpacker, Couchsurfer, and a former dirty, broke Peace Corps Volunteer, there have been moments that I've been seriously hard up for cash - and $28 can go a LONG way in many of my favorite parts of the world. 

Things I have literally bought with $28:
  • 4 whole lobsters (USA)
  • 200 avocados, or 3 months' worth of chapati and beans (Kenya)
  • 9 pints of beer (Korea)
  • A hostel for 8 days (Laos)
  • A domestic flight (Philippines)
  • An international flight (Malaysia)

So I get it. You're broke. Get the extra pages, and buy yourself something $28 worth-of-nice. 

2. You must travel in the next 2 weeks. 

According to the State Department, 
Except in cases of genuine emergency requiring immediate travel, U.S. passports are produced in the United States and sent to our Embassies/Consulates overseas by express mail. 
This takes 2 weeks. And no, "I really need to get to the full moon party in Thailand on Friday" is not a 'genuine emergency' - at least, not according to the embassy. 

So if you're down to your last passport page and you've gotta hit the road tomorrow, opt for the extra pages. 

Here's why you SHOULDN'T get extra passport pages: 

1. Your passport will look like it was taped together by a 2nd-grader.

Exhibit 1-A: Standard Issue (www.twittertravels.com)

Exhibit 1-B: Jacked. Up. 

When I was in high school, a friend of mine submitted a semester-long project stapled inside of a cardboard box. I'm not certain that it wasn't him behind the desk at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Those are 52 extra pages, taped - yes, TAPED inside of the over-stretched binding of my standard-issue passport.

I'll admit, my passport was already pretty beat up - he was never going to win any beauty awards. But now he could barely get to first base with a Big Mac wrapper.

2. You could spend a mere $28 to get a shiny, brand-spanking new passport. 

No matter how cringe-worthy your last passport photo was, you can get it replaced.

3. You'll never fill your passport now, idiot. 

It's pretty much the dream of every traveler to retire a passport before it reaches expiration.

To accomplish that feat now, I have to cross approximately 250 borders in the next 5 years. Not that I won't try, but yesterday I was only 4 countries away...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Sites That Pay for Your Travel Writing

This is an update of a previous post on publishing travel articles in print and online. 
So, you think you're a writer, huh? Well, now, isn't that cute. Let me give you some advice.


You're wasting your time: travel writing is dead.

Sleeping at Incheon Airport

If you've ever glanced out the window flying into Incheon Airport (ICN) before, you might have noticed that it's pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It is, in fact, on its own island. It takes at least an hour to travel to Seoul Station, and that's not even accounting for traffic.

If you have an early morning flight out of ICN - or a late-night arrival - you're probably on the hunt for accommodation close-by. And if you're on a tight schedule (and a budget!) there's no better bet for a quick night's sleep than the airport's own sauna and lounge.

Spa on Air (SOA)

For a mere 20,000 won (about 18USD) you can shower, soak, and sleep for the night in one of Korea's classiest sauna establishments.

[Note: if you don't want to spend the night, make sure you get to SOA before 8pm, when the price is only 15,000 won.]

Spa on Air is one of the most expensive saunas I've been to in Korea (most average around 7,000 won), but it's also one of the most regal. The individual semi-private showers with waterfall showerheads are a nice treat, and the all-granite interior lends a quiet elegance to the place.

SOA features gender-segregated bathhouses with hot and cold pools, dry and wet heat (steam) rooms, and individual shower stalls with frosted glass.

After winding down, throw on shorts and a t-shirt (provided) and head into the lounge area where couches, lounge chairs or floor mats are available to crash on.

If you want more privacy (or are a loud and chronic snorer!) you can book a private sleeping room for an extra 15,000 won (35,000 total).

Family room (extra bedding available)

If you're traveling in a group, you can book one of two family rooms for 40,000 won (per 12 hours). Each room sleeps up to 5 people.

[Note: This is in addition to the admission cost per person to the sauna.]

The best part: it's actually INSIDE of the airport! (Though not located inside of the secure terminal area; you don't need to be flying to visit.)

TIP: If you're stuck inside of the secure terminal area for a few hours on a layover, there are FREE shower rooms for use. It's reasons like this why Incheon is consistently ranked as one of the world's top airports!

[Spa on Air is located on the East side of the basement (B1) in the Main Terminal, past Cold Stone Creamery and Starbucks.]

To make a reservation for a private room, or for more information, call Spa on Air at 032-743-7042. (For international calls dial +8232-743-7042.)

If you're in the market for a bit more luxury, there are a few hotels and guest-houses nearby ICN, and some of them are actually reasonably priced:

Best Western Premier Incheon Airport (from 115,000 won)
Hyatt Regency Incheon Airport (from 200,000 won)
Incheon Airport Guesthouse (from 50,000 won)
...and a bit further away:
Oceanside Hotel (from 90,000 won)

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Management Training"

On Friday the English department at the university had its annual MT, or "management training" retreat.

The MT is, in theory, a time for the fourth-year English majors to co-mingle with all of the incoming freshmen, and to inculcate in them the honorable traditions passed down to them throughout generations.

In reality, it's the night where freshmen students learn how to get really drunk. And not just with their senior counterparts, but also with...wait for it...their professors.

The afternoon started out quite tamely. The students had rented a "pension" (Konglish for a rental house that sleeps a dozen or more) out in the middle of nowhere and carted in a busload of booze, meat, and, well, fresh meat. There were six foreign professors in attendance. While the seniors grilled up stacks of sliced pork, we taught a few of the freshmen how to throw a frisbee and taught them an impromptu game we made up that involved large cardboard tubes, a frisbee, and drinking.

Later we played some games that the freshman organizers planned, such as:

  • "Contest Line of Eating Foods that Should Not be Eaten by Themselves, Like Onions, Garlic, and Hot Peppers,"
  • "Rolling Dice and Moving Pieces of Tape on a Large Circular Piece of Paper,"
  • "Drinking Random Cups of Liquid,"and
  • "Blowing Up Balloons and Drawing Faces on Them" (I don't think this last one was a game but rather just a waste of balloons.)
We also played a team game in which the organizer would yell out a word or name ("Elephant!" "King Kong!" "Super Junior!"), and all eight blindfolded team members would pose. More people doing the same pose meant more points.

I'm not sure what the winner got, which means there must have been some less-than-forthright-judging methods, because I - of course - performed spectacularly.

The night also included much karaoke, cake, dancing, and this guy:

He and his friend sang this song anytime someone was forced to drink in any game they were playing. Which was pretty much every turn of every game.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Free TESOL Training Course

EFLClassroom has put up a Free self-guided TESOL Training course developed by the US Department of Education and the University of Oregon. 

It's an open-source course featuring videos from classrooms all over the world. Unfortunately it's not accredited, but if you're just looking for some work-related self-improvement, then it's a great resource (did I mention FREE?) for you.

Check out the course here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pohang Fireworks Festival 2011

International Fireworks Competition 2011 - Program (English)

This is the program for the Saturday night show (7/30) at Bukbu Beach. It kicks off at 8:30pm, so get there super early if you want to sit in the sand.

Pohang Fireworks Festival schedule (Korean)
There are also fireworks on Thursday (Bukbu Beach) and Friday (Hyeongsan River Park - next to the POSCO bridge), as well as other festival activities all weekend.

Here's a map with locations of the events.

Here's a map of the Saturday night fireworks location with parking lots marked.

축제행사장 주변은 교통이 혼잡하므로 외곽 임시주차장에 주차후 도보 또는 대중교통을 이용하시면 귀가시 편리합니다.

Where's Waldo? Korean poetry.

A beautiful Korean poem, and obviously an ode to "Where's Waldo?"

내 눈엔...
너 만 보인다는말...
난...거짓말이라고 생각해...
내눈엔 많은 사람들이 보여..
그 치만..그 많은 사람들 중에서
" 너만을 찾게돼..."

In my eyes
To say that you're the only one I see
Is a lie in my mind
In my eyes, I see a lot of people
But among all of those people
I search only for you

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FBI Background check for Korean visa

The Waygook Effect has an excellent step-by-step guide (for Americans) to getting an FBI background check (with a Department of State Federal Apostille) for renewing an E-2 visa to teach English in Korea.

Check it out here.
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