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Geumcheongyo Market in Seoul, South Korea (금천교 시장)

I’m now working on a documentation project on traditional markets in Africa, Asia and Europe in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative to “help promote awareness of and provide tools for laypersons to engage with heritage.” For the next 12 months I’ll be featuring markets in these regions, with a brief guide on the “must-knows” when visiting. The nitty-gritty socio-cultural details will be featured on a future publication. Join me as we tour around bazaars of the world! 🙂

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Geumcheongyo Market, famous for its samgyetang (chicken soup)

Name of market: Geumcheongyo Market (금천교 시장)

Address: Google Map

Operating days and times: All 7 days of the week. 8:30 AM – 6 PM

How to get there: via subway, Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 2, first left.

Fast Facts:

  • Near the famous Gwanghwamun area, Geumcheongyo Market is a must-see for Korean traditional and street food enthusiasts. It’s important to note that although it’s locally called “Geumcheongyo Market,” the entrance arc in fact says, “Sejong Maeul Imsig Munhwa Goli (세종마을 음식문화 거리).” Don’t get lost!
  • There are so many local shops to choose from but the area is famous for its samgyetang (chicken soup), a highly sought-after Korean dish made with ginseng and many other spices. It can be more expensive than other Korean soup dishes, but it offers many health benefits that it’s usually put on menus as a food for gongang (건강)/ good health.
  • The market gives a small community feel, which caters largely to locals.

Visitor Tips:

  • It would be useful to learn basic Hangeul (Korean script) and Korean when visiting this market because almost all signs are written in Hangeul. You can check out Talk to Me in Korean, hands down the best resource for Korean language learning!
  • South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤

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Gwangjang/ Kwangjang Market in Seoul, South Korea (광장 시장)

I’m now working on a documentation project on traditional markets in Africa, Asia and Europe in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative to “help promote awareness of and provide tools for laypersons to engage with heritage.” For the next 12 months I’ll be featuring markets in these regions, with a brief guide on the “must-knows” when visiting. The nitty-gritty socio-cultural details will be featured on a future publication. Join me as we tour around bazaars of the world! 🙂

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The main entrance of Kwangjang/ Gwangjang Market

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One of the many entrances to Kwangjang/ Gwangjang Market

Name of market: K/Gwangjang Market; K/Gwangjang Sijang (광장 시장)

Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Operating days and times: All 7 days of the week. 8:30 AM – 6 PM (shops); 8:30 AM – 12 MN (food stalls)

How to get there: via subway, Jongno-5-Ga Station (Line 1, Exit 8)

Website: http://www.kwangjangmarket.co.kr (in Korean only)

Fast Facts:

  • Korea’s first permanent market
  • Over 100 years old; founded in 1905
  • Coincides with the establishment of the Gwangjang Corporation in 1905
  • Famous for vintage clothing, home furnishings, street food, and traditional fresh and packaged foods

Visitor Tips: 

  • Wear comfortable shoes. The market is huge and it can take 10 minutes to get from the entrance to the street food area smacked in the middle of the market.
  • There are market maps plastered outside every gate, right beside subway exits. They can help tremendously especially when you’re looking for specific items, or a specific shop.
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Market guide maps written in Korean and English posted outside every gate, right beside subway exits.

  • South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut❤

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Publishing My First Book (Dream Come True!)

I’ve been on and off with updating my blog for the past eight months because I’ve been working on… my first book!

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A sneak peek of my first book 🙂

The fun part was, R didn’t have the slightest idea I was working on it although we’ve been working side-by-side since June of last year.

The book was officially published on March 19, with a rather short email I’ve received in the wee hours of the morning saying the book was finally released! I had to read the email thrice to make sure I was understanding everything correctly.

HOWEVER, I used a pen name and have no intention of divulging it at this point. Save for eight people who have signed an invisible contract of secrecy 😛 The reason being I’m not that confident just yet with my work and I’d like to receive reviews and comments objectively.

Why am I sharing this? 

First off, I’d like to say it IS possible to publish a book, especially when the subject is something you are passionate about. The key is to write every day. Even one sentence a day if you get the so-called writer’s block can help out in producing the content that you want. Since English is not my native language, I also wrote my first manuscript in Filipino, then I translated it to English. I felt more confident in doing so.

Secondly, this is not about length. This first book is rather short and something you can read in two days. I wanted to focus on quality and I wasn’t too confident just yet with weaving together a complicated story with 20 chapters.

Thirdly, it is so liberating to write under a pen name! I am not sure if I can try to publish again had I published this first book under my real name. With a pen name though, I am able to roam free and to put off the pressure of making it ‘big’ just because I have put myself out there rather prematurely.

What now? 

On the first 48 hours since the book was published, I got 40 purchases. It’s amazing to think that people would be willing to buy ‘that’ book. It may not be much but it meant so much to me. I wonder how J.K. Rowling would have felt selling out millions and millions of copies on her first HP book!

Still a long, long (read: long) way to go for me. But for now, I’m happy to be walking, talking and breathing behind the mask 🙂

Resources

There are so many free writing guidelines online, and sifting through them can get a bit overwhelming. My favorite, and one which helped me out tremendously, was Annie Neugebauer‘s Plotting Worksheet with Prompts. She has generously made the content available for free, but users are given the opportunity to donate on her page.

As for manuscript format, I used Microsoft Word’s Manuscript Template, downloadable for free.

Biggest thanks to the Internet for leveling out the field for everyone in pursuing their dreams 🙂

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One.com: The Best for Your Buck Website Package

I’ve received some questions on the best website hosting package for those on the budget. This is particularly important for new bloggers and entrepreneurs who are keen to showcase their services and products, but are limited by budgetary constraints.

I’ve tried several hosting sites (I dare not name them here, but shoot me a message and I’ll share them with you) but one hosting site that I really liked is… well, I just named it.

One.com 

Here is a sample of the site’s packages:

one-com

Image Credit: One.com

The best part?

Aside from the packages’ affordability and the easy-to-reach support team, you get an unlimited number of professional emails for every domain and hosting purchase. This means, you can steer away from @gmail or @yahoo email accounts– and a separate email for you and each of your staff.

Sign up now and use this link to get an additional 5 USD discount. I got this discount when I signed up with them, and now I’m able to pass on that discount to an unlimited number of users as long as One.com stays in business which is like, as long as the Danish economy stays put and we are far from an economic, industrial, ecological and climatic meltdown 😛

The site will not disappoint! Sign up now 🙂

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Slovakia

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Well-thought-out manholes in Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital!

Slovakia, not to be mistaken with Slovenia, is a landlocked country sandwiched within Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine. For such a small country, Slovakia boasts of diverse landscapes from waterfalls to karsts, and canyons to mountains. It is definitely worth a visit when you’re in Central Europe!

Some Tips on Visiting Slovakia:

  • The best way to get to Slovakia is via Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary or Poland by bus or train. You can visit local stations for updated schedules and fees, as only third-party agencies have their rather exorbitant rates published online.
  • As there is no Slovakian consulate in the Philippines, it is best to apply for a Schengen visa with the EU country you’re spending the most time in, or your first port of entry. For more info, visit VFS Global, now the only authorized Schengen visa processing facility in the Philippines.
  • You can schedule your visit around these festival dates. Dates vary every year, so make sure you visit Slovakia’s official events page prior to travel:
    • January 6- Ash Wednesday: Mardi Gras or Fasiangy period
    • Early May: International Festival of Ghosts and Spirits at the Bojnice Castle in Prievidza
    • June 29- July 2: Vychodná Folklore Festival in Levoča
    • Early September: Salamander Days in Banská Štiavnica
    • December: Christmas Fair in Bratislava
    • (Interesting Fact): While January 1 is the Slovak Republic Day– when Czechoslovakia split into present-day Czech Republic and Slovakia– it may not be a good time to visit because it is celebrated by sleeping until noon!
  • Download Google Maps and make use of its offline access feature. I used to download a different app per country, but this just beats all of them for finding the best routes and restaurants. Plus, I don’t have to be on data all the time. CNET has a definitive guide on how to make the most of this new feature.
  • As with any country in the world: eat (then walk), pray and love!

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut❤

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Scotland

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Driving onto Scotland!

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Mission at Loch Ness: to spot Nessie over picnic.

Ah… The land of unicorns, bagpipes, whisky, Hadrian’s Wall, Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster), and not the least, of amazing sceneries with storybook-like features wherever your eyes, and mind, take you.

And yes, it’s the birthplace of Harry Potter!

Some Tips on Visiting Scotland:

  • The best way to get to Scotland is via car, train, bus or plane from England; or through one of its international airports at Edinburgh or Glasgow. I always use public transportation when traveling, but Scotland for me is an exception with a car hire ending up as more practical. Scotland is such a massive country and to get from point to point via bus or train is not as straightforward as it seems. If I may recommend a car hire company, go for Avis or Budget Car as they offer transparent pricing. I haven’t tried Hertz. But please, avoid Europcar at all costs. R and I have rented with them before and they surprise you with so many hidden charges when you return the car. Not to mention it’s almost impossible to contact them when you have the slightest questions.
  • Scotland is ‘still’ part of the UK after the first referendum on Scottish independence was voted against by a small margin. However, a second referendum was proposed and we can only wait for the results. For now, as Philippine passport holders, let us just be glad visa-wise that a UK visa can grant us entry to Scotland. For more info, visit VFS Global, now the only authorized UK visa processing facility in the Philippines.
  • There is just SO much to see in Scotland. My advice? Savor every moment and don’t try to see everything on the must-see list. To be in Scotland is like to walk in King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, in Robert Louis Stevensons’ world, in the Grimm Brothers’ tales, and in the Harry Potter series all at once. You can visit one of its hundreds of castles, and watch over the sea as you savor your packed lunch. You don’t have to drive another 20 miles just to have a picnic. And this is the beautiful thing about Scotland– it lets you take out the unnecessary fuss in building the ‘perfect’ itinerary.
  • Scotland is known for its nationalistic pride having gone through a long history of battles, sacrifices and discrimination from the invasion of England and the Vikings. The road for its long-sought independence will never be forgotten, so please do not mistake Brits for Scots; or Britain for Scotland. Unless, you’re prepared for a lecture.
  • Download Google Maps and make use of its offline access feature. I used to download a different app per country, but this just beats all of them for finding the best routes and restaurants. Plus, I don’t have to be on data all the time. CNET has a definitive guide on how to make the most of this new feature.
  • As with any country in the world: eat (then walk), pray and love!

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut❤

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Vatican City State

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Pope Francis’ presence was just so surreal. It felt so light. It felt so encouraging. Even to this day I could not explain why.

As a born Catholic and having attended a Catholic school until high school, I’ve always been mesmerized with the thought of someday visiting the Holy Land and Vatican City, two popular pilgrim sites for Catholics worldwide. As I grew older my views on religion and spirituality have changed, but my respect for tradition remains.

Despite all the mystery and controversy surrounding Vatican City, I’m amazed by the power of faith in those who seek solace in attending the Pope’s public mass, or in simply stepping foot on the city’s grounds. While faith knows no space and time, it’s an amazing thought knowing I’m reliving the tumultuous journey of pilgrims from hundreds of years ago. I’m just thankful that it’s so much safer and so much easier in this day and age.

Some Tips on Visiting Vatican City:

  • The best way to get to Vatican City is via Rome, by car, train or if you’re up for it, by walking. It’s only 3 kms. from Fontana di Trevi, and takes around 45 minutes by walking, 12 minutes by car, and 30 minutes by train.
  • Although there is no visa check when you get to Vatican City, for Philippine passport holders, please don’t forget to apply for a Schengen visa! Application is usually directed with the Italian consulate as Vatican City is almost always a “side trip” when visiting Italy. For more info, visit VFS Global, now the only authorized Schengen visa processing facility in the Philippines. Most EU consulates do not handle visa applications any longer.
  • If you could pick a day to visit, it is highly recommended to get a chance to attend the weekly Papal Mass or the Papal Audience (sort of like a “meet and greet”) which usually falls on a Wednesday. As the Pope has many events to attend worldwide, be sure to check the updated schedule on the Papal Household’s Official Site. Tickets are absolutely free, and can be collected directly from the Swiss Guards at the St. Peter’s Square (Word of caution: All Swiss Guards, by law before hiring, should be married. Despite this invisible untouchable status, I’m sure they’ve grown a fan base from all over the world! *Drool*)
  • Vatican City, like most pilgrim sites, can be a tourist trap. Check at least two souvenir shops so you can compare prices; and make sure you check reviews before deciding on a restaurant. Some restaurants trick travelers by charging service water, bread, even tablecloth! To be safe, bring snacks to tide you over, and save your lunch cash for when you get back to the heart of Rome.
  • Download Google Maps and make use of its offline access feature. I used to download a different app per country, but this just beats all of them for finding the best routes and restaurants. Plus, I don’t have to be on data all the time. CNET has a definitive guide on how to make the most of this new feature.
  • As with any country in the world: eat (then walk), pray and love!

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut❤