Day 80. Seoul, South Korea Again

Seoul is the only place I visited twice on this trip.  That is fortunate because this time my  long time friend Carolina is visiting me.  I was able to spend more time with Yun-Jin too.  Carolina and I hung out with Yun-Jin, Yun-Min, her older sister, and Catherine, Yun-Min’s room mate.  The second experience was just as memorable as the first.  I am thankful to have a guides that know the language and show me around.  The generosity of strangers continue to amaze me on my journey.

Catherine, Yun-Jin, Carolina, and Yun- Min

We went to Incheon to visit Yun-Min and she took us out to eat at a seafood place. It was delicious.  Koreans know how to eat.  Carolina and I asked if this was a special occasion kind of meal.  They said no, this is how they normally eat.  I love that idea.  We went to the beach and looked for oysters.  We also grabbed coffee/ice cream.  Then they showed us the Incheon China Town.  Hearing a little bit of the history of Incheon and Seoul was sobering.  A divided nation that has indefinite time frame of when they will rejoin, if ever.

Fish Ice Cream. Don’t judge the taste by the wrapper.

The next day Carolina and I went to Hongdae and ate American breakfast.  That was what I wanted to eat.  I really enjoy a big breakfast.  There’s a satisfying feeling when I can eat eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and pancakes.  We went to Lotte world after that.  Lotte world is basically the Korean version of Disneyland. That was what Carolina wanted to do.  It was an interesting experience, they basically compacted an American sized theme park in a mall in the middle of a city.  We ended the night with eating Korean BBQ.

Korean BBQ with Caro

On the last day we went to eat sashimi at the Noryangjin Fish Market.  I would like to say it is a unique experience to eat fresh fish straight from the fish market.  There are many places in the world where this is possible I think.  But this is Seoul.  The experience was one of kind.  We ate an assortment of fish, shrimp and sea urchin(uni). Like most meals I’ve had in Seoul it was accompanied with Soju and beer.  We were stuffed from all that food and decided to walk it off.

Fresh Sashimi for lunch

Yun- Jin took us to her school,  Seoul National University. Carolina and I compared the feeling of being in an American College and Seoul National University.  We were seeing not as much school pride as US schools. You know ever third student you see walking by has a sweatshirt or shirt of their school name. I’m all for school pride but it gets over the top at some schools, i.e. Stanford, Cal.  She showed us her graduate office, where a couple of other master students were working on their thesis.

Yun-Min got us tickets to opening night at Jamyung-go, a Korean Opera.  I have never been to an opera before so it was a first for me.  There was an orchestra, set design and a full cast of costumes.  It played for only three nights. They had English subtitles for me on a screen above the stage.  Carolina speaks Korean say she probably followed along better than me. The story is about a magical drum that warns the city if invaders are approaching and the division of two kingdoms trying to reunite despite the opposition of inside forces.

Like most countries on my trip I say that I will return.  I really mean it for Korea.  I plan on learning Korean and planing my next trip back to Korea after my world tour.  It maybe because of the culture, a certain someone or that I didn’t train Jiu Jitsu there. Either way I had a memorable experience that I wish to have again in Korea. I recommend Korea to everyone.

The church group took a group picture with the leading lady. Jamyung-go

Day 73. Guam, USA

Somewhere between Peru and Chile I decided to take a detour and visit my old home, Guam.  I lived on Guam for 3 years when I was in the Navy.  I look back on my time on Guam as my transformation into Adulthood.  It was the first time I really was away from home.  I lived by myself without room mates.  I paid rent, utilities, cleaned my home, cooked my food, and solved my life problems on my own.  There were many ups and downs that came with the experience which is why it feels like a home.

Guam is a small island in the Pacific Ocean.  It is a United States Territory, like Puerto Rico. Citizens on Guam cannot vote during federal elections but they do have a delegate in the House of Representatives.  The US military is the islands #1 employer.  The bases cover 27% of the islands land mass. Most of the income comes from tourists that visit from Asian countries like Japan, China, and South Korea. Here is a video by Wendover productions for an overview.

It is very expensive to fly to Guam from the United States. The average round trip ticket is around $1000 USD.  I was initially going to spend three weeks in South Korea.  My thought process was that I can take a cheaper flight to visit Guam now than when I return to the States. So I took a detour and made some arrangements with some friends that were still on the island.

 

Jordan, Emily and I in front of Naval Hospital Guam

My friend, Jordan, and his wife, Emily, were hosting me during my stay.  They live in Mangilao, Guam.  They gave me my own room and bathroom.  It was a luxury that I rarely had during my trip.  Both of them were working during my stay but we caught up at night.  Jordan even let me borrow his car while he was at work.  Jordan worked during the day and Emily at night but she comes home at 8 to 9ish. At that time we would eat dinner and have catch up on life.

 

I visited my duty station, Naval Hospital Guam.  I was a Hospital Corpsman at NH Guam for 3 years.  One of the most frustrating jobs of my entire life.  Though it helped shape the person I am today because of my experiences there.  I ran into some old peers that were still there.  It felt great to catch up but it didn’t feel good to listen to the consensus of low morale.  It was a good reminder of why I left the Navy to travel the world.  I know where their dissatisfaction comes from because I lived it.  I hope they find their peace with the Navy.  I compare the hospital visit felt like going back to your old high school, if your high school took care of sick and dying patients.

Hiro(Japanese Tourist), Jordan, me and Tyler. We went sailing on Lasers. It one of my favorite past times while on Guam.

My friend told me it would be a good morale boost to be on American soil and be around friends.  I didn’t realize until I left how true that statement was.  The ability to speak English freely without thinking if the other person understood me was comfortable.  I used to live on Guam, so when Jordan let me use his car, it felt like driving around my home town.  I revisited my favorite restaurants McKrauts, Gabriels, Cafe Tu’re, Asu Smokehouse, and Pikas Cafe.  I cooked risotto for Emily and Jordan as a kind of payment for hosting me.  I’m so thankful to have friends on the other side of the world.

 

Cooking risotto while drinking. 

I trained Jiu Jitsu twice.  I went to Vida once. It wasn’t too far from where I was staying. It had a good core of students.  Some are MMA fighters on Guam.  Every night was competition training for them.  It was a good push. They waived the mat fee too. Then I trained at Spike 22 at Steel Athletics.  I had to pay a $15 mat fee for that day.  Only two people showed up for lunch open mat.  Rohin was training for a MMA fight in July and Mike was there training with him.  It was good training with heavy weights that just used technique, especially Rohin.  Rohin could have crushed me, he looked over 250 lbs.  It was a chill rolling session.  Despite the $15 mat fee and the few people it was a good experience.

 

 

Vida BJJ in Mangilao, Guam.

I went to see Gabe Baker, my coach when I trained at Carlson Gracie Guam.  We had lunch at a Thai place next to the academy.  It was getting renovated, new mats, so I couldn’t train at my old gym. Getting a one on one with my old coach was what I needed. It felt at times that I was stumbling through the dark with what I needed to work on.  He gave me some guidance that was worth more than the two training sessions I had on the island.  He had an interesting philosophy on the belt system.  I’m grateful for the training I received on Guam and I thanked him for all that he taught me.  I will visit Guam and Carlson Gracie Guam again some day.

 

Gabe Baker in Carlson Gracie. Work in Progress.

“Purple belt is the longest belt, and is the belt most people quit at.  A brown belt is just waiting for his black belt. “

Day 69. Seoul, South Korea Part I

I enjoy stories.  I believe every good story has a great beginning.  The origin of how Yun-Jin and I met has an interesting start.  We met in Spain on the Camino de Santiago.  The first time I met her was in an albergue in Pendueles, Spain. We had just finished dinner and the table started singing songs from the different countries they were from.  There was Germany, Colombia, Poland, and three old Spanish pilgrims recited a dirty song in Spanish.  Then when it was her turn, she beautiful sung a Korean song and won the prize of another carafe of vino tinto.  She, of course, shared the prize with rest of the table.

 

Yun-Jin and I in cool looking ponchos.

We ran into each other the next day on the Camino.  We walked together that day from Pendules to Po, I think.  It was a long day.  But it was full of adventure and learning from each others story and history.  There was scattered rain along the path.  At the end of the day we walked close to 8 hours.  An ice cream truck pulled up to the albergue and we bought ice cream. We enjoyed the fact that the day was finally over, while enjoying our ice cream.  I have heard shared adversity and overcoming it brings people together.  I think that its true because we both recall that day vividly.

 

We ran into each several times, obviously, because we were going to the same place.  I took different paths some days and walked at my own pace.  During the last part of Asturias and all the way to Santiago, we walked together with Thomas, from Germany.  It was mostly just of the three of us.  It was an interesting crew.  Rasmus, a pilgrim from Denmark, said we reminded him of the Harry Potter Crew.  I’ll take that reference.

 

A Korean picnic on top of a mountain.

Fast Forward to seven months later.  I’m on a Jiu Jitsu/ travel world tour.  I choose to stop in Seoul to visit Yun-Jin.  Food, hiking, and adventure were on the itinerary.  It was an amazing experience.  After getting over the initial language barrier and metro system I was able to really take it in the culture.  Especially when you have a guide. It was a busy week of activities and trying new food.

 

Some where in Yeoeuido-Dong.

 

We did many activities while I was there.  I have to summarize a lot of it. We walked around Myeoung-Dong and had ramen at a very old restaurant.  We hiked up a mountain to a Buddhist temple where they fed us lunch for free.  We took a bike ride to Yangsae-Myeon and stopped by a strawberry farm.  There was a night where we just ate chicken, drank beer, soju, and rice wine.  We saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in a really fancy theater.  Afterwards we ran into a music festival in Yeouido-Dong.  There were many food trucks and we sat by the river eating poutine and steak while drinking Mojitos. It was a great week. I’m very thankful I had a local guide to take me through the city.

The wall near Dongdaemon.

Currently I’m in Guam.  I will go back to Seoul for three days to finish my time in Asia.  I will reunite with Yun-Jin again and my long time friend Carolina. More to come.

How to get to Seoul:

Incheon International Airport (ICN) Bus 6002 can take you to Hapjeong station for $10,000 KRW.

A “Korean” picture for the memory.

 

Day 60. Valparaiso El Fin.

A month in Valparaiso, Chile.

I spent a month in Valparaiso, Chile.  I did a work exchange at a hostel.  I worked in exchange for a bed and some food.  It was actually a lot easier than I thought, despite everything being in Spanish.  It is said that Chilean Spanish is difficult to understand because they talk to fast and they have different slang.  I got along fine though. Before Chile I spent the prior month backpacking through Peru.  It was too fast for me, a week here and a week there.  I found this gig through, Workaway, check it out. I have another gig in August in Scotland.  It was great to relax and not have to worry about traveling.

 

Cerro Bellavista

Valparaiso is the cultural capital of Chile. There are 42 hills, cerros, in the city. There are many incredible murals all over the city.  It has one of the three homes of famous Chilean Poet, Pablo Neruda. It used to be one of the premier ports in the 1800s.  With the creation of the Panama Canal.  Its stopped receiving as many visitors.  I saw a video that showed the city and immediately I wanted to visit the city.

I don’t know who this artist is but I dig the character style and colors.

Red Bull Valparaiso Abajo

 

Me, Hernan, and Lucas

Who I met.  The first people I met were my co-workers, Hernan.  He was the manager of the hostel.  He was very friendly and welcoming.  I learned a lot about Chilean culture from him.  Lucas, a young Brazilian kid, who is from Sao Paulo.  He is traveling all over South America.  He will be in Chile until July.  Pierre, a French traveler, who is from Marseilles.  He has a travel visa for a year.  He left to travel south after a week I arrived.

Pierre made crepes as his last meal with us.

What I got from the experience. Traveling slow is a much more enjoyable experience.  I was able to spend more time to meet people and learn about their culture and country. One of the traditions at the hostel was to have lunch together with all the workers.  It will be something that I’m going to miss.  I believe breaking bread with strangers is one of the best ways to get to know people. The last lunch I had with Hernan and Lucas, I made Filipino chicken adobo.  I believe knowing how to cook is an essential adult skill.  I’m thankful for living on my own, it helped with my knowledge around the kitchen.

My last lunch with the guys. Food brings people together.

I had a lot of down time to train Jiu Jitsu, read, cook, walk around the city, enjoy a  wine tour and take in the Chilean culture.  I will miss the weather, empanadas, murals, food, wine, and speaking spanish but not the terremotos.  I will go to South Korea for a week.

The view from La Sebastiana.

 

Travel slow.

Day 41. Valparaiso

One of my favorite parts of my stay.  Eating together with my Hostel. 


I finished Christian Graugart’s book this week while working reception at my hostel. One take away from the book is that it’s easy for me to be self conscious of my skills and compare myself to other purple belts around the world. By the end of my trip I will roll with over hundred different strangers from countries all over the world. It’s ridiculous to compare each other. We walk our own Camino, our on path.

Cerro Concepcion.  Looking down.


I have to enjoy to process, the journey.  With the example of the Camino.  The most enjoyable part was the day of walking.  The getting up early and packing your bag.  The walk by yourself or with people.  The evening meals with other pilgrims. Those are my favorite memories.  When I got to Santiago, the final destination. I got this meh feeling.  That’s it. I was just sad that it was over.

“If you’re an asshole when you start out and you’re an asshole when you get back,”- Yvon Chounard.

I spend most mornings going for a walk and exploring the city. I sit at a cafe and I write in my journal.  It’s very meditative.  I enjoy this slow pace of travel.  I’m reading a lot more. I have time to really immerse myself here.

 I trained last Friday at Gracie Jiu Jitsu on Pedro Montt.  Which is the picture above. Samir was the Black Belt. He is very welcoming.  First time back since my URI(Upper Respiratory Infection). I rolled mainly with Nico, a purple belt who is competing in a tournament the next day in Santiago. He submitted me many times, with many different submissions.

Currently reading: The Portrait of Dorian Gray.

I will try to blog every week.

Jiu Jitsu Terms in Spanish

Compiled from Reddit and my own research. Please correct where you see necessary.

As I come to the end of my South American part of my trip until Brazil.  Here are some of my research while I had some time to think.

Body- Cuerpo

Head- Cabeza

Face- Cara

Throat- Cuello

Shoulder- Hombro

Chest- Pecho

Stomach- Estomago

Arm- Abrazo

Hand- Mano

Hips- Cadera

Fingers- Dedos

Legs- Piernas

Knees- Rodillas

Feet- Pies

Positions- Posiciones

Closed Guard- Guardia Cerrado

Half Guard- Guardia Medio

Side Control- Pecho a Pecho/ Cien Kilos

North South- Norte Sur

Knee on belly- Rodilla en el estomago

Mount- La montada

Back- Espalda

Turtle- La Tortuga

50/50- Cincuenta Cincuenta

X Guard- Guardia X

Single X- Solo X/ Simple X

Deep Half- Profunda media

Inverted Guard- Guardia invertida

De La Riva Guard- Guardia De La Riva

Moves – Movimientos 

Ankle lock- Llave de Tobillo

Knee Bar- Llave de Rodillo

Triangle- Triangulo

Armbar- Llave de abrazo

Choke- Choke/ Estrangulacion

Sweep- raspado

To Shrimp- Hacer la Gamba

Guard Pass- El pasaje de Guardia

Passing the Guard- Paseando la guardia

Useful Words- Palabras Util

Grip- Agarre

Loose- Libre

Tight- Estrecho

Space- Espacio

Heavy- pesado

Light- Ligero

Weight- Peso

Post- pata

Timing- Ritmo

Floor- Suelo

2 on 1- Dos en uno

to pull- tirar (infinitive)

to push- empujar (infinitive)

Good Training- Buen entrenamiento

Questions- Unas preguntas?

What is  your name? – Como se llama?

I am (your name)- Soy ( tu nombre)

Nice to meet you- Mucho Gusto

For Example. Por Ejemplo

Can you show me? –  Usted puede mostrarme?

Can I train here?- Puedo entrenar aqui?

How much does it cost?- Cuanto cuesta?

Thank you very much- Muchas Gracias

Oss- Oss

Travel Slow!

Day 27: Cuzco

It’s been five days having URI symptoms. I don’t feel like doing shit. I just want to stay in bed until I leave. I’ve been a connoisseur of tea and soup.  I really enjoy Cuzco though. It’s just a shame I can’t shake this cold.


I got back from Machu Picchu and I went searching for Bunker Cuzco.  I ran into Diego Yule. He runs Bunker with Nico Culrich.  It was good to exchange Jiu Jitsu stories and have a local show me around.  He showed me the Mercado de San Blas.  Little things like showing a traveler a local market means a lot.


I trained three times. I’m proud of myself for training but feeling of being sick when I’m not training isn’t good.  Some techniques Nico and Diego went over were an omoplata from spider and half guard/ knee shield. When I went to open mat we exchanged GI and NO GI. Diego was preparing for a No Gi tournament in May. We discussed how leg locks is now a system everybody needs to study. If not you will be behind the curve, especially as purple belts.


I met a Helene at the Open Mat on Saturday, a fellow BJJ Globetrotter. You can follow her blog. She has over 400 days on the road. She gave me some advice on traveling. She is truly an inspiration.

@helenebjj. Follow her on instagram @helenebjj and her blog 

 

As a former US Navy Hospital Corpsman, I self diagnosed myself with acute URI (upper respiratory infection). (Note: self diagnosing yourself is a running joke in the medical field. Why? Nearly all patients google their symptoms and think they know what they have.)  I have decided its viral and that I will just ride out the symptoms.

I fly to Lima then to Cuzco in a few hours. I hope the weather will be better for my symptoms.