SEAsia Trip Video Series 3

Okay, I apologize that it has taken me so long to get this out there, but we’ve had some pretty spotty wifi over the last 10 days or so. What I provide for you now is the latest video dump from our trip. As always, if you’re following me on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube you can get the videos as soon as they are released.

Video 1:No sex in the Thai minivan!



Video 2: Thailand’s Sang Som Rum!


Video 3: Thai Street Food: Banana Waffle!



Video 4: Doi Suthep Temple



Video 5: Singapore’s Red Light District



Video 6: Amazing Singapore Ice Cream Sandwich!



Video 7: My $2 Shave!



Video 8: Exploring KL’s Skyscrapers!



Video 9: Slow-mo Pigeon Romp



There you have it… all the videos up to now. Stay tuned for more!!!!

SEAsia Trip Week One Videos

Hey everyone! I hope you’re having a fantastic day. It’s hard to believe, but Jo and I have been out on our SEAsia trip for one week at this point. While I have been pretty good at uploading videos each day to The VLOG Channel, I wanted to place them all on QiRanger.com as well. Each week, I will place an embedded list. So, without further ado, here is the first collection!

Video 1: Pandesal



Video 2: Chinese-Filipino Traditions



Video 3: Chinese Cross


Video 4: Wai Chan Noodles



Video 5: Happy New Year



Video 6: McDonald’s Chinatown



Getting Cheap SEAsia Flights



We’re about ready to start the final pack and get out of here. However, I did receive a question about budgeting for a long SEAsia trip and scoring cheap flights. To be truthful, Jo and I are not budget backpackers and like staying in moderate resorts. Comfort is primary for us. That being said, we also like to travel quick, safe, and efficiently. On our current trip, we have 11 legs that averaged out to $89 per person per leg. While there are cheaper ways to travel, than flying, we wanted to maximize our relaxation time, not spend it on a bus or train.

Seoul Subway Gas Masks



Seoul’s Subways are some of the most traveled in the world. So what happens in case of an emergency? Well, the fine folks running them are on top of everything and have plans in place. In today’s video, we take a look at the Seoul Subway Gas Mask closet. Not only do they have gas masks for smoke, but also for more severe (radiological) types of problems. What’s great about the Seoul Subway Gas Masks is that they’re easy to identify and the instructions are available in Korean and English with pictures.

Korean Subway Toilet Vending Machine



Need a few things when going to the toilet? Well if so, then you’re in luck… at least in Seoul where you’ll often find a vending machine next to the public toilets. Just what will you find in the Korean subway toilet vending machines? Well aside from what you would normally expect, there are a few other things I find a bit odd, like candy bars.

Seoul’s Gusto Taco


Growing up in both Texas and Arizona, if there’s one type of food that I would call comforting, it would be Mexican. Since arriving in Korea almost five years ago, I’ve been pleased to see the number Mexican food restaurants rise. This week, Jo and I venture to Hongdae to Gusto Taco. Trip Advisor consistently rated as one of the top restaurants in Seoul, so I knew I couldn’t pass it up.

gusto taco sangsu hongdae seoul korea steve miller qiranger iphone 5s

The restaurant is located just around the corner from exit 1 of Sangsu Station (Line 6). A few buses do run in the area, but your best bet is to get there by taking the subway or walking. If you want to take a taxi there, just tell them to take you to the station.

It’s a fairly small restaurant divided into two floors. The first floor is nothing more than small window, where you can see the prep cook making Gusto Taco’s signature tortillas. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, they make their own here – and that is a very good thing. However, while we were there, they wouldn’t allow me to film. SAD PANDA

We made our way upstairs and found ourselves the very first customers of the day (or at least the only ones there at the moment. After settling down it was time to get our grub on. We ordered the following: 2 margaritas, 2 sets of chipotle pork tacos, and chipotle pork nachos. The total came to W40,400 ($38.33). That might seem like a lot, but for Western Food in Seoul, it isn’t.

gusto taco sangsu hongdae seoul korea steve miller qiranger iphone 5s

The margarita was… unique. It’s served in a rocker glass and despite asking for a frozen margarita it was simply a regular one placed in a glass with a ton of shaved ice. It tasted all right. I found it quite tart, but that’s the way I like them. All that being said, the margarita wasn’t anything special. For its price, I found it quite lacking and opted to purchase a 500ml San Miguel beer for an additional W6,000 ($5.70).

gusto taco sangsu hongdae seoul korea steve miller qiranger iphone 5s

Moving on to the nachos, I had some high hopes, since I know they make their own cheese sauce. Unfortunately, that’s the best thing about the dish. Seriously, it was so good, I used my fingers to scoop up the excess cheese. YUM However, that was the only thing special about the nachos. Gusto Tacos doesn’t make their own tortilla chips, as that would be “cost prohibitive.” While, there’s nothing wrong with that, kit’s also a shame, since that would make the dish extra-special.

gusto taco sangsu hongdae seoul korea steve miller qiranger iphone 5s

Now let’s talk tacos. Our chipotle pork tacos arrived hot and served wrapped in tin foil. No plates needed here and it reminded me of all the times I got tacos off the end of a truck when crossing the border years ago. The tortillas, as I’ve alluded to before, were amazing. The pork was tender and full of rich spices. When I took my first bite, savory juices dripped out its back end. It was a joyous taste explosion in my mouth and one I would pay for again and again.

While the margaritas and nachos weren’t anything beyond ordinary, the tacos were. Overall, this was a great place to come and eat. On a scale of one to five bottles of Awesomesauce, I’ll rate it a solid 4.

Bundang Line’s Suwon City Hall Station – QiRanger’s Walk and Talk #13



Hey everyone! This week on the Walk and Talk I’m taking you to Suwon and a fresh look at the Bundang Line’s new Suwon City Hall Station. The Bundang Line extension opened up two weeks ago, and this is the first chance I’ve been able to ride it.

Suwon City Hall Station is located halfway between Mangpo Station and Suwon Station on the Bundang Line. While it has 10 exits, it is a very small and vacant looking station. There’s only one store inside, and it’s not even a Storyway. Pretty disappointing when you think about it.

Heading up to the street level, you do find yourself in proximity to malls like the Galleria, HomePlus, and Hi-Mart. Trendy nightlife area Ingye-dong is also nearby.

All in all, Suwon City Hall Station is still getting its feet wet, but I guess you really don’t need a lot inside, where there is so much outside.

Cheorwon DMZ – Steve Miller’s EYE #10


I awoke before dawn and traveled north of Cheorwon, past military checkpoints into the controlled area of South Korea’s Demilitarized Zone. While I had been inside this tightly guarded zone many times, the heavy fog and eerie silence, coupled with a half dozen Korean soldiers standing nearby sent a chill up my spine unrelated to the weather.

choerwon-dmz-c100-steve-miller-qiranger

Walking over frozen rice paddies, I arrived at the Togyo Reservoir. It isn’t a place listed on my must-see travel itineraries, but local residents are proud because it’s the sight of several migratory geese and cranes. When the sun, which I couldn’t see, broke the horizon, waves of geese called out and took to the sky. Their calls were almost deafening to those of us on the ground.

As we continued through the DMZ, several Red-crowned cranes picked at bits of rice still in the field. These are the largest of the Asian cranes and are known to be a symbol of good luck, longevity, and fidelity.

The Cheorwon Peace Observatory is located atop a small mountain. Walking up the hill from the lower parking lot, I passed by the remnants of an old military bunker that dated back to when the area faced fierce fighting between North and South Korean armies. Moss grew in the fine crevices created by time and war, reminding me that nothing lasts forever. With thick fog still obscuring visibility, there wasn’t much to be seen; however, my thoughts drifted back to all those who had served here under similar conditions so many years ago and the terror they must have felt not knowing what lay in the mist.

Information

  • Address: 588-14, Junggang-ri, Dongsong-eup, Cheorwon-gun, Gangwon-do / 강원 철원군 동송읍 중강리 588-14
  • Phone: +82-2-1330, +82-33-455-8275, +82-70-4124-8275
  • Closed Tuesdays, Children’s Day, Chuseok, Seollal
  • Admission W2,000
  • Parking is available; however, one must contact the observatory in advance to gain access. To get there, take a taxi from the local Dongsong bus terminal.
  • Website

The last stop on the Gyeongwon rail line is Woljeongni station. It was the sight of intense fighting during the Korean war and while no longer in service, does show the remains of an old iron locomotive that once traveled into North Korea.

Information

  • Address: Hongwon-ri, Cheorwon-eup, Cheorwon-gun, Gangwon-do
    강원 철원군 철원읍 홍원리
  • Phone: +82-2-1330, +82-33-450-5558/9, +82-33-450-5365
  • Closed Tuesdays, January 1st, Children’s Day, Chuseok, Seollal
  • Admission W4,000
  • Parking is available; however, this is located inside the DMZ. Usually a tour or special arrangements need to be made before traveling here. Cars and buses are allowed entry only at specific times. Contact the offices for complete information.
  • Website

The Taegukki, or Korean Flag flies high above Baekma Hill, a small piece of land that saw some of the fiercest fighting during the war. Over a period of ten days, North and South Korean forces battled back and forth for control 24 times. The landscape was virtually destroyed, making it look like a bare white horse. Towering twin spires rise into the sky remember those who have fallen, while the peace pavilion on top looks forward to North Korea.

choerwon-dmz-c100-steve-miller-qiranger

Dopian Temple isn’t anything out of the ordinary, despite dating back to the 9th century. However, that doesn’t mean it was devoid of charm or secrets to be found by those with observant eyes.

Information

  • Address: 450, Gwanu-ri, Dongsong-eup, Cheorwon-gun, Gangwon-do
    강원도 철원군 동송읍 도피동길 23 (동송읍)
  • Phone: +82-2-1330, +82-33-455-2471
  • Directions:

From Suyu Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 3, take Bus 36 to Yeoncheon Station.
* Bus schedule: 03:50-25:00, 7min intervals
From Yeoncheon Station, take Bus 39-2 and get off at Sintanri Station.
* Bus schedule: 06:30-22:10, 20min intervals
Transfer to Bus 39-3 and get off at Dopiansa Temple Station.
* Bus schedule: 07:00-23:30, 1hr intervals

 choerwon-dmz-c100-steve-miller-qiranger

This video was filmed with the Canon EOS C100 provided by Canon Korea.

Transportation and accommodations provided by the Korean Tourism Organization.

And now for some extra clips from the series…


Korean Bus Travel Tips


Throughout Korea you’ll find many bus terminals (버스터미널). While these are usually categorized into Express (고속터미널) and Intercity (시외버스터미널), the reality of the matter is that for the casual user, there really isn’t much difference. While the Express and Intercity Terminals will specialize in regions, very rarely will you find that you can’t travel from one location to the next.

Most locations have several buses running to each city every day. The number varies, based on what kind of terminal. For example, if in Seoul, there will be more buses departing for easterly locations from the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal than the Central City Terminal. This is because the Dong Seoul Bus Terminal specializes in easterly travel.

There are four bus classes. Jikhaeng (직행버스) buses are direct buses that may make one or two stops between the origin and destination. Mujeong (무정차) buses are non-stop buses from A to B. Gosok (고속), like the terminal name, includes express buses. Finally, we have Wudeung (우등버스) buses. These are the luxury buses. What makes them luxury? Rather than sitting four across like the other classes, the Wudeung buses are only three across, have larger seats, and more legroom. There is a price for this service, and most tickets will be at least W10,000 to W15,000 more than their counterparts. There is one more bus, the Shimya (심야버스). This bus runs overnight and can really be a lifesaver if you’re trying to make the most out of your weekend. Bus information can be obtain from the official website or by calling the Korean Tourism Information Line (1330).

Buses to depart when scheduled so make sure you’re on time. Also, It’s usually a good idea to check your bladder before you go. On trips shorter than two hours, there may not be a restroom break. On longer trips there will usually be at least one, but it is fairly short, only 10-15 minutes. This is long enough for you to get off, complete your business, grab a snack and get back on.

Traveling by bus is one of the best ways to navigate Korea and I highly recommend doing so.

QiRanger Podcast Ep. 2013-25


Jang killed in North Korea, governments seek to keep control, get ready for another cyber attack, and we talk with Kevin O’shea about being Canadian in Japan. All this and more, the final QiRanger Podcast of 2013 starts now!

The last podcast of the year. I will be back in February with new episodes. Videos will stop on the QiRanger Channel until then, but daily VLOGS and shares will continue as Internet makes itself available.

The News: WATCH 

The Koreas

  • BREAKING!!!! Jang Sung-taek executed. WATCH
  • NIS to have more oversight. The ruling Saenuri Party has given in to the Democratic Party’s request for a special committee to oversee Korea’s National Intelligence Service. The DP has effectively stalled much of Korea’s government for the past year, holding out for control and investigation over allegations that the NIS attempted to influence the 2012 election. The new committee will be chaired by Rep. Chung Sye-kyun, a five-term DP lawmaker and have equal members from both parties. It’s a step in the right direction, but how much control should lawmakers have over operations? WATCH
  • Korean lawmakers have guts. Rep. Jang Ha-na, a 36-year-old first-term lawmaker in an emailed statement said, “It is obvious just from the facts uncovered so far that the Dec. 19 presidential election was totally an illegitimate election. I, Rep. Jang Ha-na, declare defiance of the results of the illegitimate presidential election.” His Democratic Party has stepped away from the statement, calling it personal, which is unfortunate, since what Jang says has merit. However, the other day Rep. Yang Seung-jo said, “President Park should learn a good lesson from President Park Chung-hee, and should listen attentively to the warning that she could follow in the footsteps [of her father].” The administration fired back saying the remark was unforgivable. They are now trying to get the two lawmakers removed from office. It’s a growing sign of discontent with how the administration has conducted itself for the past year. The Democratic Pary is electing to treat the matter as an individual event and isn’t getting involved or responding to Saenuri calls for action. WATCH
  • North Korea continues to outpace South Korea in cyber warrior recruitment. While Seoul is desperately trying to strengthen its cyber defenses, reports from North Korea indicate North Korea is actively recruiting young geniuses for its cyber warfare units. South Korea has something along the lines of 400 cyber warfare experts while North Korea has over 3,000. WATCH

East Asia

  • Japan’s Secret Bill Causes an uproar. As I mentioned earlier this year, the provisional changes the Abe administration wanted to make to Japanese law could be construed as a serious attack on personal freedom. Once his party secured both houses of the Diet, passage of the changes was assured. Now that things are coming to a head, people are now raising questions. The law allows government ministers to designate as state secrets information related to defense, diplomacy, counter-intelligence, and counter-terrorism, but is so poorly worded that almost anything could be considered such. Given the lack of transparency with Fukushima, this has many concerned WATCH
  • Free Speech in China? Zhang Xuezhong is a faculty member of East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, for at least a little while longer. This past August he published an article critical of the government’s take on free speech and for the government to abide by the nation’s constitution. The school opted to dimiss Zhang for “forcibly disseminating his political views among the faculty and using his status as a teacher to spread his political views among students.” It’s an interesting take that may be accurate to some degree – but if you can’t ask questions and criticize, then a nation is nothing more than sheep being herded. WATCH
  • Japan creates islands out of thin air. The UN says that only landmasses can be the basis for Economic Zones. Since Japan was thwarted in using two submerged rocks for exclusive economic zones, “Koto in Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture has decided to change the names of a set of submerged rocks in the East China Sea to mean “small island,” according to Kyodo News.” Changing a name doesn’t make something true. WATCH

Take Me Away: WATCH

 

This week’s guest is Kevin O’Shea where we’ll be discussing being a proud Canadian in Japan. You can follow Kevin @JLandKev on Twitter or on YouTube (BusanKevin | JLandKev).

Ladies and gentlemen, that will do it for year’s podcast season. Thank you so much for joining me in 2013. Over the next few months, I’ll be on vacation, but will be returning to a more regular posting schedule in February 2014. In the mean time, to keep up with all I do, visit QiRanger.com or Google Plus. While away, I will try to keep up with daily VLOGS usually posted on The Vlog Channel as long as there is Internet on my trip. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more fun.

If you have any feedback, be sure to drop me a line at podcast@qiranger.com but until next time, remember to be true to yourself, and always be awesome.

The QiRanger Podcast is written and produced by Steve Miller and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. “Morning Blue,” was written and performed by Josh Woodward.