Jeju and Seongsan Ilchulbong Crater, South Korea (August, 2002)

While You Are There: Hike in the crater and get drenched in sweat. That’s what I remember about it – the humidity inside. It’s its own microclimate. It’s a steamy tropical jungle. Clearly the volcano inside is not active, but it’s so hot that you get the sensation it might erupt at any moment. Or maybe I was just there on a really hot day. So, hike in the crater and then explore the rest of Jeju Island. Check out the bonsai and drive on Mysterious Road. See airplane hangers from World War II in the middle of the countryside. Walk around beautiful Jeju City and then head south to the beaches. But be forewarned, if you sleep on the beach you might get an early morning visit from the police (see picture above).

Why It’s On My List: Where else do you get to walk inside a volcano?

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

eXpatriation

Yes, I’m aware expatriation doesn’t really begin with X. But what else can I write about for the letter X? I don’t think I had any big misconceptions in my younger years about x-rays, xylophones, or Xerses the Great. I’ve never been xenophobic either, obviously, or I wouldn’t have been an expat for so long. In fact, I love all things foreign – people, food, traditions, geography, climates, history, cultures. Bring them on! When I started travelling, I thought I would never return to the United States. I even contributed several segments to a book on leaving America. There’s just so much to explore and experience that it seems a waste to just sit around the same place all the time. But in some respects, Dorothy was right.

My longest stay in any foreign country was in Russia – I spent one academic year in Volgograd and two in Moscow. We were five foreign teachers at my language school in Russia and I was the only non-Russophile. I chose to teach in Russia because, well, why not? I had taught in Mexico first and then South Korea, so I was looking for some place that would be very different from both of those. Aside from Greenland or Vanuatu, I think Russia was really the best choice. Continue reading →