I’m Filming a TV Show for National Geographic Channel in South Korea

Greetings from South Korea, where I’m filming a TV show with National Geographic Channel

Over the next three weeks, I will get to know the “real” Korea by taking the road less traveled, meeting locals, photographing everything I see and reacting to whatever dramatic curveballs the producers throw my way.

Filming alongside me will be Jesse Day: a Canadian-born rapper and actor who calls Korea home.

But first, this is the story of how I got here…

I just love being around signs in other languages; like this one in Namdaemun Market - Seoul, Korea
I just love being around signs in other languages; like this one in Namdaemun Market – Seoul, Korea

 . . .

How Did I Get this Job?

With Dahee and Jeff Hutchens at Photokina, where we met
With Dahee and Jeff Hutchens at Photokina, where we met

It all started last fall, when I was hired by Samsung to present my work at Photokina: the world’s largest photo trade show.

While there, I became friends with Dahee, who works for National Geographic Channel Korea.

After getting to know each other, she told me about a program she might be filming  in 2013 and asked if I wanted to be involved.

“Of course, I said. “Whatever it is, count me in.”

I half expected to never hear from her again.

. . .

Four Months Later, I Received a Message

There I was, working in my home office in Chiang Mai, Thailand, when Facebook made the “new message” sound. Waiting behind the little red “1” was a chat from Dahee:

Just wanted to check if you still want to visit Korea in 2013.

Without a map, 2 bloggers travel around 2-3 different provinces of Korea by bicycle. It will be an adventurous and authentic local journey.

Over the next few weeks, little bits of new information trickled in. Filming might start in April; I would be staring in the show alone; bike riding might be eliminated…

However, specific details, including filming dates, a time-frame and who would produce the show, were still something of a mystery.

While in the Philippines, Carrie and I stayed on Romblon Island for 12 days. That gave me lots of time to photograph star trails
While in the Philippines, Carrie and I stayed on Romblon Island for 12 days. That gave me lots of time to photograph star trails

. . .

The Waiting Game

Complicating matters was the fact that my wife, Carrie, and I had planned to leave Chiang Mai by late February.

We had a ticket to the Philippines together, then she was heading to India while I (in theory) went to Korea.

Well, after a month in the Philippines, I still had no confirmation on our start date. So, when Carrie left for India, I bought myself the cheapest plane ticket I could find.

$31 and a two hour flight later, I was in Taiwan.

The Jiuhuashan Dizang Temple in Chiayi, Taiwan
The Jiuhuashan Dizang Temple in Chiayi, Taiwan

. . .

Taiwan Was Amazing!

For the next month, I had one of the most authentic and unforgettable experiences of my life.

I rode the train everywhere, stayed in hostels, attended a music festival, explored cities, hiked mountains, photographed architecture and had a never-ending string of incredible local experiences.

Meanwhile, like a 1950s teen waiting for a phone call, I also spent that month as close to my e-mail as possible. Finally, in mid-April, I was told that filming would begin on June 11th.

Riding the rails of the Pingxi Line Railroad near Taipei, Taiwan
Riding the rails of the Pingxi Line Railroad near Taipei, Taiwan

. . .

I’d Love to See My Wife Now

My darling wife, Carrie, at the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul
My darling wife, Carrie, at the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul

While waiting until June was no problem, it meant I wouldn’t see my dear wife for another three months.

Nuts to that!

One international Skype call later, we had changed our plans and were going to meet up in Turkey.

That turned out to be the best idea ever!

One glorious month of travel and relaxation later, we said yet another airport goodbye and went our separate ways.

Carrie’s itinerary involved France, London, Alaska and Portland.

Mine included visiting friends and family in New York City before coming to Korea to finally film the program.

. . .

Be sure to follow me on

FacebookTwitter and RSS for

photos and stories from Korea.

 

As I spend these next three weeks filming Get Lost in Korea, I will be frequently updating this Web site and my social media.

A view of Seoul and the Namsan Mountain Radio Tower
A view of Seoul and the Namsan Mountain Radio Tower

 . . .

Thank You All For Your Continued Support

Words can not describe how proud and excited I am to be working with National Geographic Channel to make this program.

It really is the opportunity of a lifetime and I want to thank everyone who made it possible. I couldn’t imagine being where I am today without the continued support and love of my dear family and friends.

It's crazy to think that it was nearly 8 years ago that I left home on my first backpacking adventure to join my wife in Nicaragua
It’s crazy to think that it was nearly 8 years ago that I left home on my first backpacking adventure to join my wife in Nicaragua

. . .

Some Early Photos From Seoul, Korea

I will end this first post from Korea with a photo essay of the last 24 hours of my life. These include leaving New York City, getting to Seoul and my first day exploring.

Hover over any photo to see the description

My bording pass for the flight from JFK to to Incheon International Airport in Korea
My bording pass for the flight from JFK to to Incheon International Airport in Korea

During the 14 hour flight, I spent about 11 hours sleeping. While I was awake, I wrote this post from my seat.
During the 14 hour flight, I spent about 11 hours sleeping. While I was awake, I wrote this post from my seat.

Welcome to Korea... now please wait 45 minutes to clear immigration and pick up your checked bag
Welcome to Korea… now please wait 45 minutes to clear immigration and pick up your checked bag

Hye Jung waiting for me at the airport at 4:45am
Hye Jung waiting for me at the airport at 4:45am

Hye Jung's brother gave us a sunrise lift from the airport to my hotel
Hye Jung’s brother gave us a sunrise lift from the airport to my hotel

How did they know I was coming?
How did they know I was coming?

We passed by all sorts of beautiful buildings on the way to downtown Seoul
We passed by all sorts of beautiful buildings on the way to downtown Seoul

My room at the Hotel Rex in downtown Seoul. The internet is very fast, there are a few English channels on TV and the beds are somewhat hard
My room at the Hotel Rex in downtown Seoul. The internet is very fast, there are a few English channels on TV and the beds are somewhat hard

I didn't stay in my room long, as it was early morning and the light was beautiful in Namdaemun Market
I didn’t stay in my room long, as it was early morning and the light was beautiful in Namdaemun Market

It took all of about 5 minutes for me to find Psy (the man behind Gangnam Style) on the streets
It took all of about 5 minutes for me to find Psy (the man behind Gangnam Style) on the streets

Pedestrian tunnels make for very interesting photographic subjects
Pedestrian tunnels make for very interesting photographic subjects

My first meal in Korea - Kimchee dumplings, soup, cuttable kimchee and some yellow thing
My first meal in Korea – Kimchee dumplings, soup, cuttable kimchee and some yellow thing

Locks of Love at the N Seoul Tower
Locks of Love at the N Seoul Tower

A bullet train in the Seoul Station
A bullet train in the Seoul Station

Me, Jee, Hye Jung and Jesse in the hotel lobby on my first night in Korea
Me, Jee, Hye Jung and Jesse in the hotel lobby on my first night in Korea

Yonsei Building - Seoul, Korea
Yonsei Building – Seoul, Korea

My final photograph of the day, leading down to the Seoul Station - Subway Station
My final photograph of the day, leading down to the Seoul Station – Subway Station

. . .

 

 

…here is my diary from a rainy day 1 of filming…