Newley Purnell's home on the web since 2001

Month: February 2006 (Page 1 of 2)

A Week in Bangkok

A few observations after being in Bangkok for a week (my first lengthy return to the city since 2002):

1. Thai cowboys rule:

Thai Cowboy

I spotted this dude at the Chatuchak Weekend Market yesterday (where, incidentally, there appears to be a thriving market for apparel from small, private universities who most people outside of the American southeast have never heard of; i.e. my alma mater).

2. Elephants are fun to feed:

Me with a Friend

This precocious pachyderm and his handler came up to the restaurant where I was eating. I paid 20 Baht (about US $.50) to feed him some fruit.

3. Siam Square, the neighborhood where I’m staying, is a satisfying mix of commercial and residential districts with a small tourist-related street (hotels, guest houses, restaurants) set off to the side. The place is buzzing with activity; here’s a shot I took from an elevated Sky Train platform one night:

Siam Square

4. On my previous Bangkok visits, I’d never been to Jim Thompson’s House; it’s well worth a peek. Though photography isn’t allowed inside, I snapped this pic outside the gates, along the banks of one of the city’s many khlongs (canals); for some reason I really like it:

Orange Paint Cans

5. The food. My God, where do I start? I haven’t taken many pics of the gustatory sensations I’ve been sampling simply because they seem too myriad to document. I’ve been eating most of my lunches and dinners at street-side food stalls, which are cheaper and tastier than the foreigner-oriented joints, and I can only say this: I am in culinary heaven.

The rest of my pics so far are in my newly-created Thailand photoset.

Notes from My Week in Taiwan


Okay, so here’re some notes from my week in Taiwan:

1. I flew (four hours) from Seoul to Taipei and spent the night there. The next day I took a bus (four-and-a-half hours) down to Kaohsiung. (For those of you who don’t know, I taught English there last year.)

2. I took a cab to my friends Mammoth (seen here with our pal Dong) and Crystal’s (also pictured with Dong) apartment, where I’d stay for most of the week.

3. The photos I’ve linked to above were taken at a restaurant at which I spent a lot of time during my year in Taiwan: a joint near our apartments run by the husband-wife duo of Gin-long and Mama.

Not long after I left Kaohsiung, Gin-long had a massive stroke and nearly died. He’s no longer able to do the cooking, his vision is impaired, and he doesn’t move with his former grace. (He also no longer drinks whiskey, smokes Mild 7 cigarettes, and chews betel nut.)

We all went to the restaurant one night, and when Gin-long arrived, I was afraid he wouldn’t recognize me. But he did, immediately. And after talking for a while (we communicate with a combination of my very poor Chinese and his decent English) and posing for silly photographs, he headed for the door to go back home. As he did so, he put his hand on my shoulder and said “you come, me happy.”

4. I was delighted to have a chance to catch up with my friends from my old soccer team, the 100 Pacers. In fact, I stayed a few night with my buddy Rob Jr. in Pingdong, a town not far from Kaohsiung. We ate some excellent night market food, came across a poster featuring some fantastic Chinglish, and met Guy, a fellow Pacer, for more delicious food. (For more Taiwan pics, here’s my photoset for my week there.)

5. And now I’m in Thailand. And we’re all caught up. Next up: I’ll detail just what, exactly, I’ve been up to here in Bangkok for the past few days.

Greetings from the Land of Smiles

I’m writing this from Bangkok. Arrived here yesterday on a direct flight from Kaohsiung. I’m staying near Siam Square. My belly is full of red curry with pork. I can taste Singha beer on my lips. The high was 92 degrees today. I can smell exhaust fumes from the tuk-tuks buzzing by outside. The air is dense and thick and sticky.

I absolutely love Thailand.

Anyway, I’m long overdue on some updates.

First: the conclusion of my Korea trip.


The photo above should explain the madness of my last evening on the town in Seoul. Went out to a bar in the Shinchon area with my brother and his friend John. And, among other things, the guy above was dancing with his head stuck in a lampshade. Other photos from the night can be seen at the end of my Korea photoset.

Best small world moment of my trip so far: Yesterday I received an email from a woman named Aly — she teaches English in Seoul and I met her that evening. Turns out she read a post Rolf Potts made in which he pointed to my blog; she checked out my site and hey, turns out she recognized me. She, too, knows Rolf and was inspired by his travel manifesto “Vagabonding,” and reads his site. And, interestingly enough, I’d seen and bookmarked her blog after Rolf linked to it last month. So I sat there that evening not knowing that I’d read her site before; she sat there and then ended up reading mine later inadvertantly after seeing it’s on Rolf’s blog. It’s enough to make your head spin, I tell ya.

Anyway, I’m pressed for time, so in my next post I’ll relate some tales from my splendid week in Taiwan. Bye for now.

Korean French Fry-Encrusted Corn Dog Linklove

Quick note: I just discovered that the (now infamous) Korean french fry-encrusted corn dogs have been featured on and CityRag.

In other news, a couple folks have emailed to see if I’m okay after the landslide in the Philippines. Not to worry. I’m still here in Taiwan.

More photos soon. I promise.

Still in Taiwan

Sorry for the silence that’s descended upon of late. I’ve been largely away from the Internet, but that’ll change soon. Will be in Taiwan a few more days. After that, well…like I said before, that’s for me to know and you to find out. Having a great time here catching up with friends from last year.

In the meantime, check out a couple of Gridskipper dispatches I penned from Seoul.

Hello from Formosa


A quick note to inform you of my new coordinates. I’m writing this from a smoky, dimly-lit gaming cafe* in Kaohsiung, Taiwan**. As most of you will remember, this is the city in the south of the island where I spent last year teaching English. Big ups to Steve (aka Mammoth) and Crystal for putting me up.

I left Seoul on Saturday night and flew two-and-a-half hours to Taipei. Spent the night there, and then bussed five hours down here to Kaohsiung yesterday. I’m here for the next several days. And after that…well, I don’t wanna spoil the surprise. You’ll just have to keep reading to find out where I’m heading next.

I’ve only got limited Web access*** over the next few days, but I’ll be posting more photos from my last night in Seoul soon. It was somethin’ else.

[*The joint is packed to the gills with Taiwanese guys smoking cigarettes and playing first-person shooter games, FYI.]

[**To get all meta on you, I’m actually at the very Web cafe outside of which I took the photo above almost exactly 12 months ago. Oh, and sorry about the screwy punctuation. This keyboard is all messed up; just be thankful that I didn’t have to compose this post using Chinese ideograms.]

[***But not so limited to have missed the story of Dark Lord Cheney shooting his buddy full of bird-shot.]

A Visit to Namhansanseong Park


Yesterday I spent a couple of hours hiking around the snowy trails in Namhansanseong Park, which is close to my brother’s neighborhood. The place is quite isolated, even though it’s fairly close to Seoul, and it boasts some interesting temples.

Despite (or perhaps because of) my poor choice of footwear, I only fell down (as is my tendency* here) once.

[*In case you missed it in the comments, Mike W. claims my recent spills have to do with my biorhythms.]

Korean TV

Korean TV

There’s some interesting stuff on TV here. Sure, you’ve got your math equations (above), but you’ve also got Chinese checkers, wrestling, and my personal favorite: not one, but two channels devoted to video games. Best I can tell, guest players show off their moves and share tips.

Notes from a Week in Korea

Dog with Dyed Pink Tail and Ears!

Some thoughts after being here in Seoul for a week:

The food is fantastic.

— It’s cold.

— I thought I’d seen dogs cute-ified during my year in Taiwan, but Koreans seem to take fashion-inspired dog-mods to a new level. In the photo above, you’ll notice that the pooch’s tail and ears are dyed pink. Which is awesome.

— Some sights and neighborhoods I’ve seen so far include: Namhansanseong (“South Han Mountain Fortress”); Dongdaemun (“Great East Gate”); Gangnam; and Itaewon.

— Though I expected to encounter it, the heavy US military presence here is remarkable. The American base is in downtown Seoul; US troops (of which there are 37,000 in the country) are visible out on the town at night; and the American Forces Network Korea broadcasts on TV and over the radio.

— I’ve been brushing up on my Korean War history; it’s interesting to see the extent to which North Korea figures into the South Korean national consciousness. I recently came across Guy Delisle’s graphic novel “Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea.” It is absolutely mind-boggling — a fascinating look at the bizarre totalitarian state that exists just 30 miles north of Seoul.

— The Korean recycling scheme is mandatory, extensive, and seemingly quite effective; plastics, paper, and non-recyclables are separated in households and then sorted into various outdoor bins. And, notably, food-scrap-recycling containers collect bits of leftovers that are ultimately fed to pigs.

Welcome BoingBoing Readers

Hello, BoingBoing readers. I’ll be traveling in Asia through June, so please consider subscribing to my RSS feed or adding a bookmark ( or otherwise) to this site.

Okay. Back to the originally-scheduled programming…

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén