Category: Miscellaneous

The Last Notes

How I got hooked on rock climbing in Korea

How I got hooked on rock climbing in Korea

On the last weekend of March, we took a train south out of Seoul. My traveling companion and I had packs full of camping gear, clothes, and food. The train was slightly more chatty than usual — people here usually travel almost silently out of respect for their fellow travelers — but it was early enough that few people expected to sleep.

5 common mistakes editors make

5 common mistakes editors make

Visit MatadorU to learn more about Matador’s online travel journalism courses.A FEW WEEKS back, I was reading the latest issue of Oxford American, which excerpted this badass letter writer Eudora Welty sent to the editors of The New Yorker.Welty wanted a job at The New Yorker and she didn’t seem the least bit reluctant to pull out all the stops to get the editors’ attention.

This new Facebook commercial is why society is going down the tubes

This new Facebook commercial is why society is going down the tubes

FUCK YOU Facebook (sorry mom, but I think you’ll agree with me here). The above video is an ad for a new product called Facebook Home. It basically takes over your smartphone so that as soon as you turn it on the first thing you see is what your friends are doing. Yay, now you can see pictures quicker of people you haven’t seen in person in over eight years.

3 writing styles that kill your authenticity

3 writing styles that kill your authenticity

Take online courses in travel journalism and join a growing community of thousands of travel writers, photographers, and filmmakers at MatadorU.WE’VE ALREADY WRITTEN a lot about marketing language, specifically cliches.This story, 10 Words and Phrases we Never Want to See in Travel Writing Again has, as of this morning, almost 44,000 views.

No sweet revenge on the Seoul subway

No sweet revenge on the Seoul subway

This story was originally produced as an assignment for the Matadoru Travel Writing course.“The next stop is Wangsimni,” the pre-recorded smooth-voiced subway lady announces. “The doors are on your left.”Her intonation is pleasant; her speech perfectly paced; the slight rise and fall in pitch is soothing.

Adopted by an Indian mother in Kerala

Adopted by an Indian mother in Kerala

Two Indian strangers sat in the front seat of the car. My friend Sholeh and I sat in the back, hanging onto each other as we weaved between other cars, trucks, camel carts, and cows. I clutched my noise-maker key chain just in case; in case of what, I didn’t really know. Pulling the chain would only omit a piercing siren that would surely result in a swerve off the road and a fiery crash, despite the Ganesh good luck charm dangling from the driver’s rearview mirror.

A literary pilgrimage: In search of Janet Frame’s New Zealand, part 5

A literary pilgrimage: In search of Janet Frame’s New Zealand, part 5

The final installment in a week-long series here at Matador. Read part 4.THE ROAD to Seacliff twists and turns over and back again across the train tracks between Oamaru and Dunedin. In her Autobiography, Frame recounts taking that ride many times before and after her stay at the asylum, and each time, as the train passed the Seacliff station, she’d think, “the loonies were there,” though, “Often it was hard to tell who were the loonies.

The samurai history of my sashimi knife

The samurai history of my sashimi knife

“There’s a ghost in there!” Mariko said. I looked inside to an old man, pale and haggard. He sat cross-legged on a section of raised flooring behind a low display counter full of scissors. He fiddled, focused and deliberate, with some metal object on an impromptu desk made from a toaster-sized wooden block.

How to take better notes for travel writing

How to take better notes for travel writing

Take online courses in travel journalism and join a growing community of thousands of travel writers, photographers, and filmmakers at MatadorU.WITHOUT NOTES taken in the moment it can be hard to find the inspired words to describe your journey.Notes jotted in the moment can be drawn upon later to revive a visceral sense of place.

Nikon unleashes web-based lens simulator

Nikon unleashes web-based lens simulator

The tips in this article complement the curriculum of the Travel Photography program at MatadorU.BEFORE SHELLING OUT $1,000+ on that Nikkor lens you want, check out Nikon’s slick web-based simulator which allows photographers to try out various focal lengths. In essence, test driving the lens without leaving your laptop.

The destruction of Albert Barnes’ bold, weird dream

The destruction of Albert Barnes’ bold, weird dream

When I was studying art history in college, I frequently came across the name “Barnes Foundation” underneath the images in my textbooks. Unlike the other museums represented in those pages, the Barnes was not located in the heart of a metropolis like Paris or London or St. Petersburg, but in a town known as Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, a suburb northwest of Philadelphia.

A world without borders

A world without borders

Yair will never go back there to live. Every time he says that, part of me wishes he would, for Israel needs a young man who detests the very notion of boundaries between countries. But if he left New York, I would be deprived of a friend who gently sets down his futuristic visions on café tables too small to hold them.

10K to the bar: Charleston’s Cooper River Bridge Run

10K to the bar: Charleston’s Cooper River Bridge Run

The Cooper River Bridge Run is an annual Charleston event that brings together both locals and track stars from around the world. While the aim of the 6.2-mile race is to encourage a healthy lifestyle, it’s become one of the largest parties in South Carolina. Here are my notes on what it was like running alongside a strange mix of dedicated athletes and costumed weirdos.

1 terribly overrated travel article (and 8 ways it could’ve been less lame)

1 terribly overrated travel article (and 8 ways it could’ve been less lame)

ON ONE HAND it’s easy to dismiss content like the recent Overrated Destinations piece on Huffington Post, to chalk up the massive sheeple response (nearly 50k likes on FB) to people who find this kind of article witty and accessible. I get it. In the scheme of things it’s no big deal. It’s a pageview-grab for Landsel and HuffPo.

24 hours in Tbilisi, Georgia

24 hours in Tbilisi, Georgia

MorningWake up early and take the metro to Freedom Square. Navigate the underground walkway until you come out at Pushkin Street. The road links into Baratashvili Street as you continue downhill, and you’ll arrive at the crumbling, old city wall topped with a circular gallery of balconies. Follow the stones of the wall until the smell of coffee at Konka Station, an abandoned tram car converted into a cafe, tempts you in to refuel.

What to order at Chez Boris in Montreal

What to order at Chez Boris in Montreal

Ever since Italians migrated to Montreal’s Mile End neighborhood after World War II, the area has had a strong café culture. Chez Boris and its all-organic, Russian-inspired food and drinks offer a new take on the neighborhood’s émigré pedigree. Chalk drawings of famous revolutionaries share space with Perestroika by Mikhail Gorbachev, and black and white snapshots of Saint Petersburg hang on the wall.

Amanda Knox’s cardinal sin and Italy’s dysfunctional ‘bella figura’ culture

Amanda Knox’s cardinal sin and Italy’s dysfunctional ‘bella figura’ culture

Reading the Amanda Knox memoir Waiting to Be Heard, I was reminded of a slang term I’d heard repeated over and over while living in Italy: la bella figura. Literally translated it means, “a beautiful figure,” but in practice it refers to making a good outward impression. In other words, if you look good and act right, then you are good and right.

On the set of a music video in Bali

On the set of a music video in Bali

No animals. That’s Rule 1 when it comes to indie film projects.So here we are, on the set of our rock-n-roll video shoot, with three roosters, two turtles, two birds, several fish, a stray dog, and a cat. We’re in Bali, Indonesia, drenched in sweat and running power cables through sketchy outlets on the fourth floor of a rickety old building.

The birth and death of a tourist hotspot

The birth and death of a tourist hotspot

The whale shark is slowly swimming 25 yards from the boat — a shadow in the clear, warm water. The German guy is the first to see it; he leaps to his feet and shouts, “Butanding!” The word sounds ridiculous with his accent, but we all crane to see. Jesus Christ, it’s huge! 10 meters at least! I’m the first in the water, beating my fins to catch up to the beast.

Life on the Tibetan border [pics]

Life on the Tibetan border [pics]

Inaccessibility, both geographical and political, keeps many travelers from visiting Tibet. Those who do manage to make it to the “roof of the world,” the “third pole,” will pay for the experience: Between transportation, accommodation, food, and the hefty permit fee levied by China, US$500 is about as budget as you can get for a week in the region.