Photoessay: Stunning Sunsets in Rural Korea

My area, particularly Waymok Beach is actually quite famous within Korea for its incredible sunsets. I live a few kilometers from the famed beach view, but my view of the sunset is usually pretty stunning, regardless. Framed by seemingly endless rice paddies, some beautiful cloud formations and a distant ocean, I’ve managed to capture a few killer shots. I also took a little trip to the nearby seawall to capture the photographs with the pagoda in them.

So enjoy this assortment of the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve seen in my area, and my attempts to catch them on camera. Whoever said that the countryside was boring obviously didn’t look around long enough to catch these beautiful moments.

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Photoessay: Bikes of Germany

Germany is one of those countries with its ducks all in a row when it comes to transportation. Public transportation is everywhere, convenient and cheap. Cars are small, sometimes battery powered and gas is expensive, which prohibits people from driving for dumb reasons. Scooters and motorcycles are more common than uncommon. Walking for long stretches is considered usual, and when you can’t walk, then the answer is to bike.

Biking is everywhere. Bikers have their own lanes, either part of the road or the sidewalk, and if you’re walking in the bike lane someone will yell at you and possibly just fly past you at high speeds, scaring you poopless. Most people have mastered one handed biking, biking with heavy bags, biking around sharp corners without wiping out. It’s amazing.

So, yeah, I took a lot of pictures of bicycles while I was in Germany. Why not?

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Moto, moto, on the wall…
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Biking gets you places and prevents heart disease!
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Bike to the beach, sit your butt in the sand, swim in freezing water, bike home and dry off in the process. Smart.
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Travemünde, Germany.
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People lock their bikes onto anything they can find, including street signs.
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Baby goes for a bike ride!
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Everyone in Leipzig bikes to the library. Everyone.
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You can always drag your infant child around, too.
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Brave souls, biking with the traffic.
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Bike and sightsee at the same time!
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Bicycles and graffiti somehow go together quite well…
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Some people bike to the river, then relax for a while outside.
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Or people just stick their bikes into the bushes.
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Biking through Potsdam was one of the best things I did during vacation.
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If you didn’t bring a bike to Germany, you can always rent one.

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iPhone Photoessay: (Delicious) Things I Consumed in Istanbul

Today is quite a busy day and I’ve little time for writing, so I thought it would be perfect for a little photoessay blast from the past. I’m not going to claim that I ate all the correct, culture-y foods in Istanbul, because I definitely didn’t. But my pallet still had a field day, rebounding off all of those Korean rice dishes and becoming wowed with interesting flavors and… bread. Oh, bread.

Before we get started, I’d like to apologize to my mother for putting one embarrassing photograph on the internet of her. I tried to make up for it by putting an embarrassing one up of me as well! That evens it out, right? Right?

[Related Post: Snapshots of Istanbul]

Anyways, here we go!

IMG_1199This obviously MUST be the first picture in a photoessay about food from Istanbul. Baklava is delicious, and we did our best to eat as much as possible and then a little extra. And that there is even more than one kind of baklava to try was mind-blowing to me. YUM!

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This photo is awkward, but there are two important aspects to it. One, I was drinking Turkish tea. Second, it’s inside the Grand Bazaar!

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This photograph, as far as photography goes, is a terrible picture and deserves to become corrupted and die. But it is a photo of two of my favorite food/drink things from Istanbul, and the lighting really was red, so I’ll allow it to see the face of the internet. This was out first evening in Istanbul, we were tired from flights but dragged ourselves out for food and, as you can see, dessert.

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The hotel breakfast was incredible, and it wasn’t even that incredible. Cheese, deli meat, bread, cheese, figs?! Apricot? CHEESE? BREAD?!!

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Straight out of the pomegranate, pomegranate juice. No sweeteners, no nothing. Super healthy, kind of (okay, realllllly) bitter, and for integrity’s sake we finished it anyways.

[Unrelated Post: iPhone Photoessay: Cats of Istanbul]

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During our first tour with Salih, he took us to this authentic Southern Turkish cuisine restaurant. We pointed to giant cauldrons and pots filled with food and they dished us out a large portion. The food was so strange, interesting and oddly, kind of healthy.

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The full spread. Look at all those colors! And weird shapes! And… BREAD.

 

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Street bagel/pretzel combos are a big thing in Istanbul, and if you want, they’ll even smear it with cream cheese or nutella.

[Unrelated Post: Featured Snapshot: One More Mosque]

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I’m so sorry, Mom, but this sandwich doner was too important to leave out of the photoessay. It was our first taste of the infamous Turkish food that’s now made its way to Germany (and then morphed a little). Junk food, but delicious junk food and I’m so glad I tried it.

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BREAD! This was on our second tour with Salih, and he took us to this family bakery in a neighborhood outside of the center. The bread was fresh baked and we got to check out the oven, too. Later we shared some bread and I can assure you it was better than the picture. It was also dirt cheap, my eyes bugged out at the (lack of) price.

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This juice was some kind of pickled radish/carrot situation and that face, right there, is exactly how it tasted. (Feeling better now, Mom?)

[Slightly Related Post: An Accidental Visit To The Princes’ Islands]

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We ended up at this restaurant three times in seven days of Istanbul. The servers were beyond kind, the food was quality and delicious, and it was close to our hotel. Sold! (Website for Fuego Cafe)

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Cheese! French fries! Grilled veggies! It wasn’t that spectacular of a lunch, taste-wise or creativity-wise, but it sure did look pretty.

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Toasting off our goodbye with some wine. And by some, I mean the largest glass of wine I’ve ever had delivered to me in a restaurant and tried to hold up in a picture.

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The classic “Starbucks with Mom” picture. Yeah, we went halfway across the world to look at stuff and then buy Starbucks coffee, try and stop us! Muahaha.

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What Istanbul food did I totally miss? What do you wish you were eating or drinking right now? Have you seen enough photographs of my face, now?

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Snapshots of Istanbul

Last January, 2013, my mom and I headed to Istanbul from our respective corners of the globe. We had planned a short, joint vacation of only 11 days. When I came back, I was overwhelmed with all that I’d seen and done and managed to publish very little about our time there. The city was beautiful, fascinating, busy with quiet corners and full of surprises. I didn’t do it justice. This is my attempt to remedy that situation.

Because it’s been more than 10 months since that trip, my memories are a little… unfresh, shall we say? But that’s what pictures are for. Instead of piecing together fragments of memories and filling the holes with untruths, I’ve put together a series of pictures that best captures what the vacation was like for us. Below the photographs, I’ve written little descriptions and context. While it’s not a linear story per say, hopefully these snapshots of our vacation can still paint a picture, sporadic as it may be.

What better way to begin than with the famous Blue Mosque? One of the more spectacular mosques in Istanbul, it’s also on the top of every visitor’s list, day 1, first thing. But it’s only one of many; mosques are everywhere and many of them are unbelievably beautiful, even the buildings meant simply for the neighborhood. The call to prayer rings out several times a day, throughout the city, and became more of a lullaby for me than anything else.

[Related Post: Featured Photograph: One More Mosque]

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Anytime I visit a country, I make it top priority to find an outdoor market, if possible. Markets are busy and loud, so it’s difficult to speak to whoever you’re with and you find yourself in a strange, singular bubble of quiet inside the chaos. The things they sell are endlessly fascinating and are a real snapshot into the soul of the country. Olives are a big deal in Turkey, the climate is ideal for variety and quality. (Yes, I was coerced into tasting an olive, because maybe I just don’t like “bad” olives, but it turns out that I’m just not a fan. Sad day.) Fishing is also a predictable staple, considering the heart of Istanbul are the rivers that surround the three distinct “continents”.

[Thanks to Salih from My Local Guide Istanbul for bringing my mom and me through this particular market.]


The outdoor food markets are wonderful, but the outdoor goods markets, or bazaars are even more wonderful. If I was much of a “shopper”, I would have emptied my wallet right about here. The little avenues with lines of shops are all over the main parts of the city; I’m not sure about more residential areas, time was unfortunately short.

[Related Post: Master Pottery]

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You also can’t talk about Istanbul or bazaars without talking about THE Bazaar, the Grand Bazaar her royal self. ‘Nuff said. Also, my iPhone photos from this particular visit were total crap, apologies.

[Unrelated Post: An Accidental Visit to the Prince’s Islands]

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I love stepping outside of the big city and flashing lights to see what everyday life is all about in a country. (Or “off the beaten path”, SEO BOOST!) Our tour guide, Salih, took us to these winding roads in a neighborhood several miles outside of the city center, Eyüp. It was one of the best parts of the trip, because the neighborhood is especially rife with contrasts, one of my favorite things. Crumbling homes stood directly next to recently remodeled places, painted bright colors and returned to glory. The neighborhood was originally home to wealthy Jewish families who were punished by a population exchange with Greece in the 1920s and had to abandon their homes. Hence, the Greek people who moved in created this all-in-Greek-curriculum school, which holds elementary, middle and high school students in one building. As one would expect, after so many years, enrollment has dwindled.

[Related Post: iPhone Photoessay: The Cats of Istanbul]

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Baklava. Once again, need I say more? No? Great.

I also need to say sorry for never taking a decent picture of the classic Turkish tea. I have a picture of my mom drinking tea, but I’m pretty sure I would be murdered if it made its way onto this blog. Tea is everywhere, delicious, and you can’t eat baklava without it or you are breaking rules and the higher order will punish you in due time.

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Last but not least, here’s a crooked photograph of me giving my mom a noogie in front of a historical monument, the Hippodrome of Constantinople built in AD 203 by the Emperor Septimius Severus.

Teşekkür ederim for the memories, Istanbul.

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Featured Photograph: Farm Ladder

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Taken in a rural farming neighborhood in remote Taeon, South Korea.

(Heads up: if you’re interested, you can also buy prints of this photograph, without the watermark.)

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Photoessay: People Creeping in Germany

I think people are fascinating. Anytime I have a chance to stare, unhindered and undiscovered for more than a minute, I rejoice in it. I don’t like to judge people for what they’re doing necessarily, and I don’t only stare at weirdos (though that’s always interesting). I just find humans, in general, to be so fascinating. The way someone drinks their coffee, carries their bag, avoids or hops over a big crack in the sidewalk.

So obviously, if you give me a camera, I’m gonna take some creepy photographs of people around me. It’s just inevitable. I had a great time photographing people in Germany during my last vacation, of course often without their knowledge. Occasionally I got caught. It was cool, no one paid mind really. And at the end of the day, I’m happy with my creeping (creepy?) results. What do you think?

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Berlin, Germany
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Oops, you caught me. Hello. Berlin, Germany.
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Creeping on a serious family moment in Lübeck, Germany.
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Berlin, Germany
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Can’t even rest on a bench without me sneaking up with a camera, man. Berlin, Germany.
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This man is not impressed with Berlin. Or maybe just the construction directly to his left (not pictured).
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Here’s a tip: pretend you’re taking a photograph of postcards. Berlin, Germany.
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Posing for one photo, ended up in two. Berlin, Germany.
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Yes, I started early: in the airport on the way to Germany.
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How am I supposed to not take a picture of this adorable little man?! Lübeck, Germany.
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Creepin: hipster biker addition. Berlin, Germany.
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Berlin, Germany.
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Waiting for the bus? You’re still not safe from my camera.
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The lighting was too perfect not to. Berlin, Germany.
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Camera takes a picture of the camera takes a picture of some chick with dreads in Berlin, Germany.
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Oops, you’re blinking and you don’t even know I took a picture. Munich, Germany.
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Capturing a solemn moment in the Jewish memorial of Berlin, Germany.
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At first glance, I couldn’t even tell this sleepy kiddo was breathing at all. Thankfully, she was simply dead tired. Berlin, Germany.
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Sorry I creeped your personal, religious moment. Leipzig, Germany.
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Leipzig, Germany.
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I couldn’t help but stare because that ice cream looks DELICIOUS. And they didn’t even leave leftovers. Leipzig, Germany.
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I think I believe in karma now.

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Photoessay: Street Signs of Berlin

I have a fascination with a few common day objects, one of which is street signs. Wherever I go, I find myself photographing them. It could be the contrast between the sign and the background, the static words and the life behind them, or maybe just the awesome bokeh they produce, but signs get me every time. Before I know it, *snap*, a hundredth picture of yet another street sign. At least I can make a photoessay out of them, right?

I spent most of my time in Berlin, which means I wandered through a lot of Berlin’s streets, sometimes with Claudia and sometimes alone. I’ve included some signs that don’t quite qualify as street signs, but they have words and I liked the photograph. Words, ya know? They work. Enjoy these eighteen snapshots from the streets of Berlin, Germany.

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Photoessay: Nature Walk in the Countryside

I’ve often walked down the one lane roads that wind between rice paddies for miles and gawked at the excess of natural beauty, but it was only this week that I let my camera in on my little secret. Get ready for plants, lots of green, rice sprouts, a guest appearance by a snake and so, so, SO many spiders. (Maybe don’t look at these pictures before bed if you’re prone to spightmares.) Otherwise, enjoy the mid-morning walk in my sneakers, except for the leftover spiderwebs sticking to your face.

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Photoessay: Butterfly Festival in Hampyeong

In southern Korea, in a small village named Hampyeong, there’s an annual butterfly festival. The festival is this town’s “thing”, so throughout the streets you see butterflies everywhere. The lamp posts, the sidewalk, the fences, an entire bridge… you name it, it’s butterfly themed. All year long, it seems as though the residents of Hampyeong look forward to their annual claim to fame.

The festival has really interesting fauna exhibits, including goldfish, wood beetles, larvae, and an entire building full of cacti. After walking through the cool plants, you can also see lots of interesting displays, like elder women who are hand weaving a straw mat. And the shopping: everything from green tea powder to baby wood larvae to take home and raise.

Continue reading Photoessay: Butterfly Festival in Hampyeong