Post #100: Goodbye Coco Busan, Hello Free Bird

Coco Busan started as a little idea in my mind 2.5 years ago in Edmonton, Alberta, when I decided to leave Canada on my own and venture to Korea.

Once I published my first post (and received comments in a matter of minutes), I realized the power of connecting instantly to people through my writing.  In the two years I lived in Korea, this blog has been both an anchor to and expression of my creativity, and a continual link to my friends and family at home and around the world.

Read more

Kindergarten Goodbye

Last weekend, my students graduated kindergarten–a two-hour ceremony that featured caps and gowns, song and dance acts, and a re-imagined version of The Blind Men and the Elephant, for which I constructed a miniature elephant from cardboard, felt, and packing tape–the same tape I used to seal up the three boxes I shipped home to Canada.

This week, while I begin my travels through India, my students will begin Grade 1 and the start of a long road through Korea’s education system: days in public school, afternoons in hagwons, and evenings spent studying, often until they sleep.

Read more

Butterflies + Waterfalls (and India in nine days!)

Coco Busan friends, readers, all my peeps out there…yes, it’s creeping to the end of February and I travelled to the Philippines in December and I’m still posting about it. Yes, I’ve been back in Korea for almost two months, and have been living life here as well.  But I’ve got a thing about chronology.  And following a storyline through to the end.  It may be a minor obsession, but let’s just call me thorough.

Read more

Island of Fire and a Secret Beach

Called “Island of Fire” by the Spaniards who docked on its shores in 1565, Siquijor is known for mystical healers, relaxed villages, quiet beaches, and–hence its Spanish nickname–fireflies.  Though government-posted signs declare that, despite a prominent folklore presence, witchcraft-practicing healers don’t exist on Siquijor, one friendly born-and-raised local man we met outside a bakery in Lazi (a town on Siquijor’s south coast) claimed you just have to ride to the top of the Mount Bandilaan in the island’s interior; there the mangkukulam (healers) can indeed be found.

Not destined for the mountain this trip, we’ll never know…

Read more

Tarsier Time: Hanging Out With the World’s Smallest Primate

A long-time opponent of zoos, my up-close experience with wild animals has been somewhat limited.  A trip through SE Asia years ago provided brushes with iguanas, water buffalo, and the ubiquitous gecko, but sightings of elephants or tigers evaded me; I refused to visit them in camps, wary of bearing witness to animals who underwent training for the sole purpose of entertaining humans.  Wild creatures of an exotic nature felt like an aspect of the planet destined to remain distant from my own small existence; I sometimes imagined them in their natural habitat, but beyond that didn’t persue learning about them in any sort of focused way.

Read more

Loboc, Bohol Island, In Pictures

Waking to 6 a.m. rain and rooster calls, fried eggs for breakfast, fried eggs for dinner, packs of children trailing us on the Barangay dirt road, a marching band that travels from house to house each year for forty days, the sea-green river, wide wooden floor planks of a 15th-century church, cats, a clock tower, bananas and Red Horse beer, a porch rope hammock and again, rain, beading on the leaf-tips, threatening to let go.

This was Loboc.

(Click on a photo to enlarge and view in a carousel…it’s better that way.)

Read more

Journey to the Jungle

It’s 12:25 a.m. on Sunday, the eve before Korea’s Lunar New Year, temperature for tomorrow predicted at -1.  I’ve been typing away on a couple marketing projects all day,  while Joe fried beans for seven-layer dip, trucked to Home Plus for a bottle of wine, some  Johnnie Walker Red, a pineapple, other colourful things. Now he is chopping mushrooms for pasta salad, preparing for our overnight trip tomorrow with friends to a pension in Yangsan.  The train will leave from Bujeon Station at 10:30 a.m.  I haven’t packed but the Philippines is fading and between preparing to leave Korea (38 days!), selling my bookcase, my couch, my mirrors, teaching, writing text for websites and reading up on Rajasthan (11 hours, the guide book says, from Delhi to Ajmer, then 30 minutes to Pushkar…) the blog has been on an unwanted pause.

Read more