Category Archives: Travel

Ulsan, South Korea: What If…


Playing games at orphanage in Pusan, South Korea

What if we all sat in a circle and talked about our similarities and our differences? Would it make a difference? I think it might.

Living in another cultures gives you a different perspective on just about everything. It’s impossible to ignore the differences and it’s a joy to discover the similarities.

What if we left products for sale out in the open each night, with just a tarp to cover them up? Would people in the United States steal them all? Or would they get used to having them there?

What would it be like if we all took time a few times a year to rest and reflect on our lives in a peaceful and serene spot? Would we still allow the stress to get to us all the time if we did that? Somehow, I don’t think so.

A mountain retreat near Ulsan, South Korea

If we left our shoes at the door, our floors wouldn’t get dirty as quickly. Would our minds stay cleaner as well? Who knows?

The girls came to my room at English summer camp in Pusan, South Korea.
They left their shoes at the door. So had I.

If we celebrated birthdays simply and elegantly, would it be enough? Or do we have to have more gifts, bigger cakes and larger parties to show our worth? Not only was this cake simple, but it was also scrumptious.

“Tis a joy to be simple, ’tis a joy to be free…” Shaker song

At the end of the day, I think it should be enough to stop, to stretch, to take deep breaths, and simply, to rest, and to enjoy the view. What do you think?

Good night, Sun.

Travel to another land and take in the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes. Celebrate a world filled with people who are different, but who are the same. Believe in yourself and your dreams. Hold onto your hopes. Cling tightly to love and family. Forgive freely. Live large. Don’t give up. You will not pass this way again.

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Haeundae Beach Sand Festival, Pusan, South Korea


Gone fishin’ sand sculpture, 2008

I fell in love with the “Land of the Morning Calm,” within hours of arriving there for the first time in 1997. Ten years later I went back, and my love affair continued unabated. Pusan  (or Busan), South Korea is located on the east coast of the South Korea.  As with other large cities in South Korea, a stark  contrast lies between miles of huge concrete apartment buildings and women sitting on the sidewalks hawking their fresh veggies or fish.

One of Pusan’s famous summer events is the Haeundae Beach Sand Festival. Artists, families and individuals come from all over Korea to try their hand to sculpt all manner of things. The boardwalk booths offer tempting food, information about various services and businesses, and giveaways such as pens and bumper stickers — much the same as any American fair.

This particular artist told me he had worked since the sun came up to sculpt this lovely lady.

Here’s a popular Korean cartoon character.

Love this little bug!

Korean women take a great deal of pride in their appearance and always dress to the “nines” when going out…even for a sand festival. This is one of my favorite photos, because I just couldn’t understand why any woman would wear heals to an event like this!

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Kind Strangers I Have Met: #1 Ulsan, South Korea


Korean children, photo by
Ellie Kuykendall

From an early age Korean children are taught to follow directions and respect their elders. However, there are always those who would rather play than wait patiently. I smiled as I walked by these kids that bright spring day in 2008. I was on my way to my new job; it was only my second day, but already I knew I would love it.  Not only was I teaching ESL, but I was also editing students’ papers, so it was a nice mix of my talents.

Two minutes after walking by the children, I was on the ground because I tripped on an uneven pavement. I knew that one ankle was sprained, but when I tried to get up, I couldn’t support weight on either leg. “Now what?” I asked myself.

Thirty seconds later a man came out of nowhere. There were other people walking around, but I hadn’t seen him. He lifted my right foot up and massaged it. One of the things I love about South Korea is that people try natural remedies first. The massage hurt me, so I let him know. He disappeared for a moment and came back with a chair. He lifted me up and helped me sit down. Then he walked out onto the street to hail a cab.

If you’ve ever paid outrageous prices for taxis in the United States, you’d adore the fact that cabs are really cheap in some other parts of the world. The cost of the cab from where I was to my school was about $1.50 for the trip of about 2 miles. I arrived at the school, having called both the director of the school and my minister. My minister was going to pick me up at the school and take me to the doctor.

My director looked at me skeptically, as if I were lying about not being able to walk. I told him I would be fine. He allowed me to go to the doctor with my minister. After we left, we drove down the street where I had hurt myself. We looked for the man who helped me, but we couldn’t find him.

Maybe he wasn’t a man after all. Maybe he was one of my guardian angels. You have them too, you know. They’re everywhere and nowhere.

And the next time you meet a stranger, don’t think of him or her as a stranger. Think, “S/he is just a friend I hadn’t met yet.” That’s what I do. Have a blessed day.

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Restoration, Rainbow Trout and Friends I’ve Never Met


gone fishin'

So there you have it. My hand holding my new fishing rod and enjoying every minute of it. I took off on Wednesday, April 18th, for the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I wished for restoration like in Psalm 23: “He leads me beside the still waters.He restores my soul.” God gave it to me.

Ever since I can remember, trout fishing has been one of my favorite pastimes. At one point in my life I was lucky enough to live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and went fishing every day I possibly could. I had just been through a series of difficult times in my life, and God restored my soul each day I sat with pole in hand, marveling at the wonders of nature. I watched a family of baby ducks grow up, saw the seasons change from fall to winter to spring and felt that I had learned several very important lessons.

These last four days helped me put some things into perspective in my life and get a renewed energy toward finishing my book. I’ve needed that for a long time now. I’m looking forward to getting it done!

Everyone needs restoration time. And we don’t necessarily have to get away to get it. If we set our minds right, we can rest from our busy lives just about anytime we want.  But we have to REALLY want to do that. Otherwise, it’s useless.

Time was when I would have done nothing but fished. My passion would have been my obsession. But I have changed. Now I can exercise my passion and leave myself open to opportunities of the moment at the same time. And as a result, my trip had many facets: fishing, meeting new people, cooking at the condo and eating out, reading, sitting quietly without reading or watching tv or doing anything, praying, meditating and more. I’m glad I didn’t lose those things by spending all my time trying to catch my favorite fish.

As a result, I did catch one fish, which was more than anyone else caught. 🙂

What do you do to restore yourself?

On this trip I stayed in a modern condominium with all the comforts of home, met some friends I hadn’t met yet, ate some tasty treats, and visited an historic general store.

Old post office at Mast General Store, Valle Crucis, NC

500 types of old-fashioned (mostly) candy

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Up, Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon


Balloons at the Knoxville Balloon Festival, 2010

I always wanted to go to the huge hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque, NM. I haven’t made it yet, but last year my daughter and I went to a smaller version in Knoxville, TN. What a dream come true I had as I saw balloon after balloon rise, then go higher and higher until they were out of sight.

I never had a desire to ride in one; I just wanted to see them go up. That is not true of airplanes. I love traveling by plane. It gives me a sense of what it would be like to be the man on the bottom of the largest balloon in the picture at the top of this page. Just a sense.

Sometimes all we need is just a sense of something, a taste of whatever, a little bit of that thing we’ve been longing for. At times, it’s enough to set us on an entirely different path in life, because it ignites in us a passion we never realized we had before that moment.

Travel is one of my passions. I like traveling alone, and I like traveling with someone. Sometimes I think that if I had the chance, I’d be gone three weeks out of every four. But then I know that I would miss my kitties, my garden and my own sweet four-poster bed.  Maybe being gone two out of every four weeks would be a better balance.

This year I went to Puerto Rico. It wasn’t the most memorable trip I’ve had by any means. It was more like a comedy of errors. I’m still glad I went, though. Oscar was probably the highlight of the trip. Standing about 5’7″ tall with wavy brown hair, Oscar was the taxi driver who saved me a lot of money. He declared that a lot of drivers would overcharge people just because they were tourists. So I paid him a set amount to drive us around for a couple of days. He took us to a beach where we found a few beautiful shells. I have shells from everywhere, though I haven’t personally collected all of them myself.

There was a huge conch shell with a small piece broken off. I like that shell almost better than the perfect ones in my collection. It shows me how we are such amazing creatures. Even when a small piece of us breaks, we’re still beautiful if we can see it or allow others to see it and show us our beauty.

I’m really getting itchy to go somewhere again. But when? Where? I don’t know. What I do know is that for this moment, I’m happy to be at home writing my blog. My kitties are snuggled up on the guest bed in the office, waiting for me to tell them it’s time for us all to go to bed. I think I’ll do that now.

Where would you like to go in this wide world? Leave a comment!

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