Up Říp

En route to and up the trails of Říp–the hard-to-pronounce title of a folkloric Czech mountain that’s sometimes referred to as a hill–I was:

Taken to what was claimed to the lowest lookout tower in Czech lands to look out into the Polabske lowland’s nearby town Roudnice nad Labem.


Led along the roads that ran through pastoral fields to pass by a noticeably little island within a little pond.

Exposed to the scale of the rolling lowlands.

Shown a set of distant smokestacks towering above the agrarian stretches.

Reminded, at an unobstructed outlook just below Říp’s shortish summit, of the subtle contrast of reddish rooftops against autumn landscapes’ even subtler tones.

A Week in the Isthmus

What can one do during a week’s time in Panama?
Start off in the city and see how the skyline stacks over the low-tide muck.
Study local urban ecology by observing how endemic mammals practice the siesta.
Realize that it is quite hot and humid to stay in the city.
Venture off to El Valle de Anton for a few days to enjoy Panama’s natural settings.
Hike up into the hills to see more hills across the crater.
Get privy as to how a fence can depict the cruel reality of the food chain.
Bathe in mineral delight at Los Pozos Termales.
Cross into the woods over a bridge that is itself constructed out of wood from the woods.
Stroll under trees and alongside gushing streams.
Admire how parrots pair at El Nispero Zoo.
Not get poisoned by poison dart frogs that thrive behind glass.
Stop by a mango graveyard.
Watch bugs suck into overripe fruits at Butterfly Haven.
Learn about the stages of life pre- and post-pupa.
Take a peak at the Panama Canal of course.

Snow Week

It was one week ago that Winter Storm Jonas came to NYC. Two notable forbiddances have occurred in this seven-day stretch: on the roads, there was a temporary motor transit ban, and in Brooklyn, a resident who constructed an igloo on his property and tried to rent it out on Airbnb had his listing taken down within several hours.
After the precipitation had settled and things were more or less back to normal, I took the chance to travel north to a wooded area where I could try snowshoeing for the first time.
While there were some traces of human impact along the trails of Anthony’s Nose, on Monday, we had the whole hike to ourselves.
The lack of leaves on the trees on both sides of the Hudson made views of the snowy Bear Mountain grounds much clearer.
After a taste of nature it was time to remove the snowshoes and return to civilization, the designated outpost being Peekskill, NY. The town itself is as friendly as the sign suggests (but not as creepy as its overall appearance suggests).
Back in NYC, the snow has been gradually melting.
SnowgrossSome mountains have amassed on street sides–some prettier than others.
Snowshoes aren’t needed, but still, proper footwear is required for urban snow navigation.
Crocs are not recommended.

Costa Rica: Town, Cloud Forest and Volcano


The small town of Bagaces, Costa Rica, is a pleasantly relaxed place.

However, try not to get stuck there on Good Friday. It’s a major holiday, making the buses few and far between. Scant travel options was something we discovered that very day, by waiting on at the edge of town for several hours in the heat. I did not take a photo there, as it was nothing to see, but we got to know a street-side bus stop quite well. Finally, we crossed the street and hailed down a bus going the opposite direction, just to get out of Bagaces. The driver overcharged us because he could see our desperation and we ended up in the city of Liberia.

Upon entrance to the bus terminal in Liberia, we were hot, sweaty, disgruntled, and wanted to get out. A bus was leaving soon enough for Playas del Cocos, a destination of which we had no knowledge,  but decided to take a chance.


And it wasn’t so bad.


We met a man from Montreal who relocated to Cocos and ran a Lebanese food stand in town. He instructed us to walk along the rock formations to a secluded white-sand area. There we went very early in the morning.


Though it was an enjoyable, spontaneous time, Playas los Cocos is not somewhere I’d recommend ending up on Good Friday, either. It’s apparently a huge vacation spot for people who live in Costa Rica, which is fun and festive, but accommodations are scarce and prices are inflated.

At least the place we stayed had a cat, Cleopatra.


The place we stayed at in Monteverde the next night was more worth it–given this was the view outside the balcony. At night, I even noticed an armadillo scrambling around the ground.

Of course it’s not about just staying at the  that’s not the best open view of the trees.


Naturally, climbing up into the hills to watch the sunset is more worthwhile than hanging at the guest house.


Some of the establishments, like this art camp, display intriguing little structures that play on capabilities of human creativity with nature. Like this gazebo, which resembles trees, and is made out of trees.


Even better, of course, are trees that haven’t been re-appropriated to show trees. At the Tropical Cloud Forest, life is abundant, but sometimes difficult to notice in the lush density of flora.


Look up, and it’s the same tangled case.

Note: watch out for Spider Monkeys atop. They tend to throw down strange items when they are eating.


Or, for falling trees.


At a mountain in the clouds, elevated water vapor must go through a physical reaction, thus fall, at some point.

After Monteverde, we journeyed by van to boat to van to La Fortuna.


Finally in La Fortuna, several journeys presented themselves within, for instance, upwards on a volcano.


Some of the mud was rather clay-like.

This part was through pasture lands lined by flowery bushes, with cows grazing and butterflies flapping throughout. Occasionally, we’d pause by a guided tour group observing intriguing cases of ecological niche phenomena to listen in on some information–such as ants carrying pieces of leaves or flowers to create fungal concoctions for their colonies’ functions.


That open part was steep, but the real challenge came up the muddy, more root-covered area toward the top.

IMG_1234[1]Then it was a toppling time down.

Snowy Walks

IMG_1073[1]Residual snow is pleasant up the hills, on a leisurely Sunday.

IMG_1076[1]Especially when the air is well above freezing, while the snow has yet to melt.

IMG_1077[1]So you can stroll around to enjoy the scenery up close…


…and in the distance.


However, incoming snow can be stressful, in the city, on a routine Monday.


IMG_1081[1]Especially when modes of transportation are affected.


IMG_1091[1]Something about walking around in the grey slush doesn’t feel quite so serene like hiking through white snow in the woods.

IMG_1093[1]At least some scenery is pleasing in the distance, when you can look up from the dingy puddles and piles that accumulate by the curbs.




Museums and Parks’ Perspectives


Don’t feel like actually traveling all around the five boroughs to get your sense of New York City geography?


The Queens Museum offers the condensed, climate-controlled answer. They’ve recently reopened, and fortunately, retained main spectacle of this comprehensive 3-D map.


Of course, they’ve taken efforts to keep the institute current, such as displaying modern living arrangements for anthropomorphic cheese graters.


It was quite the worldly experience.


Hiking, I approached this cave to observe what looked like upside-down ice stalactites. Not exactly sure how they formed, but I would estimate there being some kind of repetitive drip from a just-above-freezing melt — that turned freezing soon enough.

This ice formation was last week so it’s probably all melted by now…


Elevated heights offer fine vantage-points of the Hudson River, partially frozen.

IMG_1029[1]Not to mention Indian Point Power Plant.



Bare deciduous plants this time of year definitely offer enhanced visibility of what’s beyond.


And look interesting up close and personal.


The Museum of Art and Design is currently displaying a 3-D printing expo.

IMG_1035[1]I had been unaware of this previously, but ceramics are now printable.


Around in Autumn

Sometimes, you can forget simple things — like how the 7 train runs express.

On a cloudy October evening, I made this mistake myself, and ended up in Woodside, Queens, rather than the intended Sunnyside, where, en route of my unintentional backtracking transfer, caught glimpse of the Long Island Railroad Tracks. While waiting the arrival of a Manhattan-bound local train, I witnessed below a separate commuter rail network that was transporting passengers greater distances than my meager cross-Queens journey.

IMG_0876[1]And because of the Woodside stop’s proximity to LaGuardia Airport, I was also able to view another vessel overhead, transporting passengers much longer distances than around the immediate New York area, from wherever that may be.

IMG_0880[1]The following day, while exploring the wetlands of Staten Island, I caught a fuzzy view of the Goethals Bridge into New Jersey, packed with slowly-moving automobiles, perhaps en course of courageous journeys, or, most likely, en route of some usual stroke of life or commercial activity.

IMG_0883[1]Beyond those Staten Island wetlands, did not embark on any serious journeys that day, and eventually returned to my neighborhood, where, the only unusual thing I noticed was the discarded sushi on the sidewalk.

IMG_0887[1]Out at the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, you can observe graves, tombs, hills, paths, trees, and, depending on location, local water bodies or semi-distant skylines.

IMG_0888[1]Up and away from the city’s upwardly stacking financial, commercial and residential skylines exists a far more peaceful place, Harriman State Park, where plant life is far more abundant.

IMG_0892[1]To take yourself upward (without any constructed stairs or engineered elevators) you can scramble through the rock formations littered with crunchy, fallen leaves.

IMG_0896[1]After climbing to top heights of the hill to an open-air clearing, you can see further beyond, off into the other highlands and lowlands of deciduous plant life, a sight, which, in mid-October, offers a fine collage of shades.

IMG_0898[1]Closer into the accessible entities of the regional plant life, you can gauge your environmental education to estimate whether a designated specimen is a shrub start or wilted flower — but then realize how you lack substantial knowledge on the surrounding flora whose aesthetic pleases you so.

IMG_0904[1]As autumn will ultimately turn winter, and you prepare to hibernate, you must make sure to stock up on as much seasonal offering that is at hand. For instance, as many gallons of apple cider as your trunk can fit (adjacent to its resident furniture and linens).





Harriman Hike

Yesterday, I appeased my urge to get out of the city. As much as I like it here, I do need time to appreciate breathing in fresh air and observing a view free of humans and buildings.

The determined destination was Harriman State Park. I purchased a trail map at a local hiking store in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The man who worked there said that these maps are turning into something of the past, but I think they are still quite helpful. The paper will not easily fall apart, plus I’d feel like a jerk if I pulled my phone out in the middle of the woods to figure out directions.

Driving out of New York City to head upstate through the usual route brought back memories of driving that same set of roads in that same car on many occasions. Though I’d been absent from New York State for some time, the Bear Mountain Bridge, Palisades Parkway and Route 6 will forever remind me of the downstate-to-upstate haul of journeying to and from Binghamton, the Carousel Capital of America, where I attended university.

On such roads, I know where to slow down for the traffic circles, stop at the annoying yield signs and go about the sketchy lane merges in order to ride efficiently.

Past all that, focusing on the present, right now is a fine time to travel to Harriman State Park. But reflecting back on yesterday, it was a cloudless day, and a perfect occasion to view foliage, making such a hike even more pleasant than usual.

Having lived on the West Coast, I cannot help but constantly compare the mind-blowing nature of places like Oregon and Northern California to wherever I go.

But that was another episode, and this is the nature I can access at this point. Even if there are no impressively grandiose rock formations, ancient Redwoods or snow-capped peaks in these woods, one can still greatly appreciate the subtle, deciduous beauty that is offered.

Although there are no intensely challenging climbs up dangerous peaks, there are several satisfying hills that work to elevate the perspective.

The rocks also serve as a nice clearing deck to take breaks from the trek.

During this adventure, I did have to cross some streams, which involved engaging my mind and feet in executing effective rock-hopping techniques.

So far, I’ve always made it to the other side!

Hiking Shots Around Ulsan

To get into the forest of Ulsan, you must first start at a university, wander around the campus, and climb a hill to get to a giant satellite dish.

Once you enter the forest, if you can read Korean, you may also learn about how hiking can benefit your feet.

A few miles on, up one of the less major peaks, you may see some slopes and bare trees.

Along with rock formations that glisten under the sun’s rays.

Finally, upon ascent to the highest peak, you can emjoy fine a view of the whole city, onto the shipyards and East Sea.

Further down from the peak, you can enter the grounds of a lovely temple complex.

Hiking Shots Around Busan

South Korean land is all mountainous. Even in major cities, it is possible to step out of the development and into the forest. Of course these cities are very populated, so such places are made easily accessible to humans. There are interesting artifacts situated amongst the plant life as a result.

Some rusty barbed wire cluster.

Mineral spring water fountain.

Creek going down.