Friday, April 15, 2011


Biggest pop stars in Korea taking you into the weekend. GD & TOP - Knockout.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Racial Profiling In Korea

Last night, I was walking back from the bus to my apartment with my buddy Dan around 10PM or so to head back to my apartment. The bus drops me off the perfect place to jaywalk across the street and save myself the 5 minutes it would take to walk up to the crosswalk, wait for the Korean lights until they finally turn green. Korean lights take forever to change colors, and only one side of a 4 way stop is allowed to cross at one time, and each side gets about 1 - 1.5 minutes to cross the street. So if you see a light turn green from a hundreds away, you start running, or at least the Koreans and I do. At first we thought it was funny and called it the Korean shuffle. We all now shuffle on a daily basis.

This brings me back to last night. Dan and I jaywalk this street, no cars coming or anything, perfectly safe. Right infront of us there is another Korean jaywalking. This is something you don't see very often. I've been yelled at before by Korean pedestrians for jaywalking, so to see one doing it was very shocking. And as I get across the street, 2 Korean police offers run up to Dan, the Korean, and myself speaking in Korean and a bit of Konglish. So we stop, one of the cops takes Dan and I, the other takes the Korean kid who couldn't have been more than 17 years old. All he can say in English is "you jaywalk" and then asks "Do you speak Korean?". We immediately said no, he has just no idea what to do. Asks for our ID's, Dan shows his passport, I show my Massachusetts license thinking he might give me a ticket if he knows I'm an ARC holder, and he hands them back to us. The cop just says "no jaywalking" and gestured for us to keep on going. Meanwhile, the Korean kid is being written up for a ticket, while we got off for simply not being able to speak Korean. This would never, ever fly in America. Not that I'm not thrilled about the outcome, but that Korean kid must have been furious. Being an American over here certainly has its advantages at times.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Phu Quoc

We had planned on spending a day in Can Tho before heading to Phu Quoc, but seeing as this was impossible, we ended up getting to Phu Quoc a day earlier than planned, which was not a bad thing at all. Phu Quoc is the largest island in Vietnam and lies extremely close to Cambodia.
We arrived in Phu Quoc around 6:00PM after a short flight from Saigon. Our first night we stayed at a brand new hotel that was closer to the city center than to the nicer beach areas but seeing as it was Tet we were just happy to have a place to crash. We spent that night walking the beach trying to find a cheaper place to stay and fortunately stumbled upon a place called Amigo's that had 3 open rooms for the 6 of us to all crash in. Amigo's was right in the center of Long Beach, the main beach for hotels in Phu Quoc. We were lucky to get this place at only $40 a night because all of the other places around us were upwards of $200 a night due to the holiday.

The following day we met Julie and Quinn at Amigo's and spent the day relaxing by the ocean and taking in the sun. We had had heard that the best way to explore the island was to hop on a scooter and explore the island, so that is exactly what we did. To rent a moped for the day was only $6 (plus gas) and could take you to beaches that have been untouched by civilization. Our second day in Phu Quoc we decided to head to the southern tip of the island to Sao beach. The trek there was a bit dangerous. The roads were 80% unpaved and we would be dodging rocks, pot holes, cows, chickens, sand, bridges, crazy Vietnamese moped drivers, basically it really wasn't a safe idea, but it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Stopping on a red dirt road for a herd of cows to cross the street was something I never thought I would experience, but it was a fairly common occurrence in our two days of mopedding.

We took the inland route to Sao beach but opted for the ocean route on the way home. Both were incredible in their own ways. Inland was a bit more crowded and dangerous. There were tons of families travelling around the island for Tet so we would see families of 4-5 all on one moped, and then you would have the guys driving all alone weaving in and out, I was nearly hit on a couple of occasions by scooters coming from the opposite direction. The beach route was beautiful. It was kilometer after kilometer of untouched beach were we could have just stopped and hopped in the perfectly white ocean at any time. It was truly amazing. Here are some pictures from the South.

On our way back from Sao beach, we made a stop at a little town called An Thoi. We were the only white people to be seen in this poor fishing town but we weren't really being stared at. I would get stares even in Beijing, but not here it was pretty bizarre. Anyhow, we were all starving and had yet to have Pho the entire time we had been in Vietnam, so we decided to grab some street Pho. It was amazing, the best meal I had in Vietnam. We also found some time to do a bit of wandering before it got to dark to drive back considering none of us could figure out how to turn on our headlights.

That night was Tet, so we went to the local night market to grab some dinner and watch the fireworks.

The following day we scootered up the northern coast which was a lot like the south, the next day we spent relaxing on the beach and after that we started our trek back to Seoul. It was an incredible experience, I cannot wait to return to SE Asia. Hope you enjoyed reading about my travels as well as the pictures.

posted by Sam Schofield
all photos by Chris Bailey

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


We'd been on the road for about 2 weeks at this point, but definitely were not ready to stop. Our next stop would by Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We planned to spend two nights and three days in the countries capital named after Communist leader Ho Chi Minh. It would just be Justine, Brian, Chris and I in Saigon as others had moved onto different parts of their travels. Our first stop was the Ben Thanh Market, which was just like any other fake stuff market I have been to across Asia. We picked up a couple of cool souvenirs, had some Pho and left. For our next stop we wanted to go to the War Crimes museum.

I knew a little bit about the Vietnam War through various history and poli sci classes throughout college, but nothing prepared me for this. Upon walking into the museum, you immediately see a handful of Agent Orange victims sitting by a donation box at the front door. According to Wikipedia, the US used Agent Orange for the following reason:

During the Vietnam War, between 1962 and 1971, the United States military sprayed 20,000,000 US gallons (80,000,000 L) of chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand. The program's goal was to defoliate forested and rural land, depriving guerrillas of cover; another goal was to induce forced draft urbanization, destroying the ability of peasants to support themselves in the countryside, and forcing them to flee to the U.S. dominated cities, thus depriving the guerrillas of their rural support base and food supply.

The following is what resulted in thousands of people:
I knew the museum trip was going to be sad and weigh heavily on me, but I didn't quite realize just how bad it would be. We wandered the museum looking at the various exhibits explaining the Vietnamese side of the war. I've never really looked at history from a different perspective before. From grade school on we only learn of things from the side of the US. It would be nice if were at least taught that there was a different side to the story, one that may or may may not be beneficial to US citizens. Overall I was glad that I got the opportunity to see this museum. Now I know some of it was most certainly anti-US propaganda, but at the same time there were certain levels of truth to a lot of the things I learned. Here are some pictures from the museum below.

Images and quotes like the ones featured above went on in room after room, it was crazy. You would think you would finally read something or see something that was even the smallest bit positive, but it just never. It was an intense experience to say the least.

After the museum, we headed over to the Reunification Palace. A couple of years after the US left the country, the North Vietnamese finally overran the South in Saigon and took over the Palace where the South Vietnamese brass was located. It wasn't anything too special, but definitely worth checking out if in Saigon. Here are some pictures from the Palace.

After a long day, we decided to head back to the hotel for some much needed rest. That night we got drinks at The Rex and wandered the streets a bit. The Rex was a famous hangout spot for US military personell during the war so we figured it would be a cool place to grab a drink and catch the skyline. Here are some pictures of the hotel and the rooftop bar below. (The drink I ordered was called "Going To South Africa" and had like 6 different types of alcohol in it, it also had a pink color and wide assortment of fruits included in it, i wasn't to proud of it went it arrived to say the least)

The following day, Justine, Chris and I had elected to go on a Mekong Delta day tour through a local tourism company. We had planned on spending a night in Can Tho but upon our arrival in Saigon we learned that all of the trains and buses to Can Tho were sold out. Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta and we were hoping to catch some of the Delta there, but unfortunately we were stuck with this tour. Now we didn't really have high hopes for it, but it was pretty bad. The tour was about 9 hours long and did only cost 200,000 Dong ($10 USD) so it wasn't a total loss but it was a pretty terrible tour. It was one of those tours where they take you on a boat, have you get out only to look at a coconut farm where you can buy coconut soaps and liquors.

My favorite (and most certainly the funniest aspect) of the tour was the first stop, this Buddhist temple with a pretty big statue of Buddha sitting in front of it. When we inquired as to when the temple and Buddha were built, our tour guide told us they were both built in 2008. Here are some of the pic's we took with this "historical site".

We next hopped on a boat that took off for about 30 minutes down the Mekong to some place for us to grab lunch. Our lunch facility also doubled as a coconut farm where you could purchase basically anything and everything you could do with a coconut. After lunch and learning a bit about the magical powers of coconuts, I found a crew of toothless Vietnamese men playing 3 card poker. This country lives for this game. I unfortunately know how to play thanks to a trip a few months back to Walker Hill Casino here in Seoul, and sat down to play some friendly poker with these guys. Here's a picture of the 3 of us with the man who was nice enough to take me away from this awful tour for a half hour.

The rest of these are some random pictures from the rest of this tour, a tour that the three of us could not wait to end.

We finally arrived back at the hotel around 5:00PM or so, took a nice nap and headed out into Saigon for the night once again. A friend of ours who studied in HCMC our Junior year for a semester recommended a good restaurant and bar for us to check out, the most memorable of which was the bar. It was called "Acoustic Bar Saigon". It was basically a Vietnamese band who played American pop songs. We were the only white people in there, hearing a bunch of Vietnamese people singing "Living on Prayer" was almost to good to be true. We also somehow managed to get free beers for most of the night somehow. Not really sure how that one worked out. Anyways, here's a picture of the band and us outside the bar.

We called it a relatively early night as we wanted to do some final wandering around the city before we had to leave for Phu Quoc the following afternoon. Here are some other miscellaneous pictures from around the city. Oh yeh, never drive a scooter or car in this city. It's not quite as scary as driving in Beijing would be, but it's pretty close.

All pictures by Chris Bailey.
Published by Sam Schofield

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


It was tough to leave Ko Phi Phi, but knowing we had Bangkok, the countries capital and largest city waiting in the wings kept us excited to continue on our travels. From Ko Phi Phi, it was just Olivia, Justine, Chris and myself making the journey, but we would be meeting up with our buddy Brian as well as Quinn and Julie who had made the the trip to Bangkok the day prior. We arrived at the Bhiman Inn a little after 1am and crashed upon arrival.

The following day, Chris, Justine, Olivia and I set out to explore the various Wat's (temple's) of Bangkok. At first we thought we might be able to hire a water taxi for the day to take us to each, but soon, after much haggling learned that this would end up being a huge scam and not worth it, so we decided to use a combination of walking, ferries and tuk tuk's to get us to all three.

The temple's were beautiful, there really isn't much else that can be said about them. Here's a bunch of pictures below from our day exploring the various temples of Bangkok, including the Grand Palace, where the king lives.

After a day of Temple exploring, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest. It was hotter than Phi Phi by a lot in the city. I sat by the pool intermittently hopping in and out to recover from the ridiculous heat in the city. Our hotel was a bit off of Khao San Road, thank god. Hate that place. Worse than Phuket. Crawling with prostitutes, old men (aka sex tourists) and back packers. We walked up and down it as we had read it was the area the majority of people stayed while in Bangkok, but I would recommend staying away come night time.

The following day in Bangkok was uneventful. We checked out the famous shopping area, relaxed by the pool, called it an early night as we had to be up at 6am the following day to hop on a flight to Saigon.

posted by Sam Schofield