All posts filed under: Travel

Letters on Tues(Thurs)days – A Travel Plan Without Plan

As the rain encroaches… Dear Wilton, As you know I went to Panama last week for four days for a short Thanksgiving vacation. It was a surreal experience and here I am to discuss the trip and my planning (or rather the lack of) as a metaphor. No matter how much you plan, life always have something else in mind – not that I was big on plans to begin with. Fortune, good or bad, will always lead you somewhere, whether you want to be there or not. The decision to go can be considered spontaneous, but I have known that I was going to Panama since September. Though, to keep in that spirit of the spontaneous, I neglected to plan anything. This type of spontaneity has been a big part of my travels since college: spontaneous road trips, flights, visits. What made it different this time is that I did not even look at any points of interest until the day before. Even then, all I found where places to go but not how to …

Letters on Tuesdays – Seeing the World

Dear Wilton, We have been very privileged. Remember to thank mom and dad. Our parents never really stopped us from exploring the world around us, though sometimes it definitely made them uncomfortable. They were not passive either. Indeed, you can recall the numerous times that they took us on vacations to different countries in an effort to broaden our worldview and our horizons. Travelling and seeing the world take on different meanings as you grow older. As a kid, I was fascinated by the physical differences of all the places we went. Every place looked different and felt different. Some, like Singapore, was hot and humid. Others, like Thailand, was more rural and resort-like. Still others, like Japan, was highly technologically advanced. I was focused, always, on the present moment and present location. Slowly, however, I began to become more interested in the fabric that makes each place unique: history, environment, people, culture, etc. Perhaps the change was driven by my own interests in history and biology, further developed by my pursuit of an anthropology …

A Brief about Letters on Tuesdays

Dear Friends, Starting tomorrow, I will be posting a serials of short essays every Tuesday on a wide variety of topics in the format of letters to my little sister, Wilton. It will be an exploration and a reflection based on my various experiences over the last 27 years. It will also be a creative project to hone and expand my skills in communication and writing. If there is any topic or issue you want me to write about, don’t hesitate to let me know. I hope you will enjoy them! William

Data Visualization Assignment 1 – That Urbanization Thing

“When you are that curious about the world, scholarship never ends.” – October 18, 2015 As I mentioned in my last post, I started the Data Analysis and Interpretations Specialization with Coursera in order to gain more skills relevant to my pursuit of urban studies and interest in urban planning and development. Our assignment for the first week is to develop a research question based on the data sets provided by the course or another data set of our own choice. With my background and interest in cities, I looked through the code books for each data set looking for relevant data. I decided that the Gapminder data set had the information I needed to look into the effects of urbanization globally. Though the scale is on a national level, which can obscure many relationships, particularly the distinction between rural and urban areas and their respective economies, I look forward to comparing the general trends and effects of urbanization. The increasing rate of urbanization has been accompanied by a corresponding rise in number of urban …

If You Want to Visit Peru

As a recent graduate, I have a fair amount of time on my hands while job hunting. This meant that I have plenty of time to indulge in reading, one of my favorite pastimes. I am a pretty avid reader cutting across a variety of subjects: history, biography, biology, classics, philosophy, to name a few. One of my favorites things to read is books about foreign places, cultures, and histories. I recently devoured the book, Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams. The author retraced the expeditions by Hiram Bingham III, who was famous for “discovering” Machu Picchu and a host of other Inca ruins in Peru. The book is highly entertaining and really reminded me of my own time as a research assistant in the Peruvian Amazon. If you are interested in learning a little bit about Inca culture and history, there is lots of nuggets in this book. If you want to visit a foreign place, but is unable to physically at the moment, this book …

Kenting Travelogue

Kenting – a summer paradise for beach-goers and sun-lovers at the southern tip of Taiwan. It has been almost ten years since I last set my eyes on its bustling main street, its numerous inns and shops, and its small beaches. The sun just feels different there, different from the sun in Taipei. More radiant, it shines down from a blue sky flanked by towering white clouds that floats like cotton candy instead of the dark, foreboding rain clouds that seem hang over Taipei perpetually. Perhaps that is just my imagination, fueled by a desire to get out of the trappings that I have come to associate with Taipei. What makes a place attractive is not what characterizes it. It is just how much we prepared ourselves to find the place attractive (kind of works with people too…hahaha). For me, someone who loves being outdoors in the sun, Kenting is vastly more attractive than Taipei. For others, those who show up on a trip to the beach with brand-name bags, make-up, and high heels, the …