I run a lot. Running a lot is a requirement for running trail ultramarathons; being on vacation is no excuse not to run, but I’d do it even if I didn’t have a race the week after! Running - and especially trail running - is an incredible way to see a country or city. I ran a total of 76 miles during our vacation in Korea and Japan, most of it in the mountains. On almost all of my runs, regardless of where I am, I carry an iPhone X, which has really exceptional cameras. Here are a collection of photos from those runs on: Bukhansan, Ansan, Namsan, Han River, Achasan (Korea), and Inariyama, Kamo River (Kyoto).
Staying in Kyoto for our trip to Japan, we only took a quick day trip into Osaka to check it out. Osaka castle, as expected, was beautiful but intensely overrun with tourists (like us). As was pretty much everywhere else. But I caught three frames that I think showed three sides of Japan’s third-largest city: Feudal, traditionally old, and modern.
Although Korea is a second home, or even a second country for me and my wife, Japan is one of our all-time favorite places to visit. We’ve rarely gone to a country more than once, and typically only because we happen to know someone there. We returned to Japan because the holistic experience is off-the-charts good; the food, people, beauty… Almost nothing compares.
My wife and I met in Korea 9 years ago; she was there teaching English and Chinese, and I was writing text books. I don’t want to speak for her, but it was a hugely formative period of my life, and I think it was close to being that big for her. Regardless, although I’d been back to Korea for a very short trip a few years ago, we hadn’t been back together since we left in 2011. We planned this, one of our longest vacations together, as a wedding anniversary present to ourselves. Along for and enhancing the ride were our two best travel buddies, Justin and Emma.
Ting and I traveled to Spartanburg, South Carolina, home of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Carolinas (VCOM) to watch and celebrate as Ting's brother, Matthew, and his girlfriend, Emily, graduated as Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine. Spartanburg was a charming little town!
Hong Kong describes itself as Asia's "World City." That may be true. Its unique blend of colonial Britain and China is unlike any other city I've visited, even vaunted, nearby Macao (which I found much less impressive). With off-the-charts density, amazing food, lively markets, and impressive hills, Hong Kong offers quite a lot to explore in such a small area. I'll be back.
My friend Eric and his new wife Felicity decided to host a "friendeymoon" - instead of a honeymoon - at a villa in Tuscany. Just our best friends, dozens of liters of wine, insanely good food, and Tuscan mountain towns for a week.
Lima is a sprawling city showcasing Peru's poverty and wealth. Our friend, Juan Carlos, told us of Peru's historically massive economic divide and currently growing middle class - both were evident as we drove through the streets of Callao, explored near the city's old center, and toured wealthier areas such as Miraflores and Barranco.
Our time in Lima was really defined by the food we ate. Having sampled famed Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio's work at Chicha in Cusco, we went to his La Mar cevicheria in Miraflores and had one of the best dining experiences any of us could remember. No fewer than three and as many as five waiters attended to us - everything from empanada and ceviche starters to whole grilled fish to dessert was out-of-this-world good. We spent at least three hours there.
Barranco, I think, was the visual gem for us. Vibrant buildings, parading groups from far-flung reaches of Peru; Barranco felt like the welcoming, energetic, Latin locale grey-skied northerners like us would crave.
Although we spent one night in Lima, it was a very short sleep before heading back to the airport to fly to Cusco. The city sits near 11,000ft high in the Andes; airport billboards warn travelers (with images of puking gringos) to beware of altitude sickness. Coca tea, which is supposed to help, is abundant. None of us fell ill with altitude sickness, but we were all exhausted from travel, the lack of oxygen, and general excitement.
We left Cusco after one night to explore Machu Picchu and returned; we left again for a day to climb Vinicunca and returned to stay again. While in Cusco, though, we ate amazing food (Gaston's Chicha is fantastic; Bodega 138 has the best pizza; you can get street food - risky, I know - for 3 soles) and found the good beer spots (Cholo's is tucked away up a hill and has quiet, courtyard seating). We even found delicious breakfast (The Meeting Place - a Christian mission-based, not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization) with kittehs.