Why I Broke Into An Abandoned Hotel in Korea [Part 1]

I caught a glimpse of a black cat sleeping on a metal blockade stretched alongside the countryside road.

As I walked closer, no movement.

“Here kitty.” I said, in an attempt to get its attention. Still no reaction.

Upon further inspection, lifeless.

Never mind that, I thought. Behind this tall blockade lied an old abandoned hotel, “Ganghwa World,” named after the small countryside island in South Korea, Ganghwa-Do. Ganghwa-Do is anecdotally regarded as the birthplace of the Korean people, as many historical artifacts can be found within its vast fields. I found myself in Gilsang, a small rice-farm town within the island, home to Jeondeungsa, one of the oldest temples in the entire country. What was once a thriving destination is now merely a minor tourist stopover struggling to sustain a rapidly diminishing town where students are trained to leave and never come back. On weekdays, Gilsang is visited by a handful of elderly Koreans and Chinese nationals. And me.

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Ganghwa World: a long-abandoned hotel.

Maybe the cat, laying with its eyes and mouth wide open, was foreshadowing what was behind the blockade: remnants of life that existed years ago, but have long passed. Much like this town. Whatever happened that left this building abandoned, I didn’t care. I just knew one thing for certain:

I need to go inside.  Continue reading Why I Broke Into An Abandoned Hotel in Korea [Part 1]

On Manila

Photo Album of Manila

I started my first week of #QuarterLifeCrisisTour2016 in the city I initially visited back in 2014 – Manila, Philippines. Before venturing out into unfamiliar territories, I thought there would be some level of comfort in starting this long journey in a familiar place with some familiar faces. I have fond memories of Manila, especially because of one of my best bros, Kristoff, played an amazing tour guide and host during my initial visit in 2014.  Continue reading On Manila

On #QuarterLifeCrisisTour2016

A few weeks ago, I shared that I was quitting my job at UXPin to visit Asia for the next 4.5 months.

I fully realize this is the most Millennial thing I’ve ever done, which is why I’m jokingly naming this trip the #QuarterLifeCrisisTour2016. In case you’re worried, I’m not really going through a crisis – this is a trip I’ve been thinking about doing ever since High School (thanks, Mr. Levering). The timing just couldn’t have come at a better time. Continue reading On #QuarterLifeCrisisTour2016

On quitting UXPin

This week I gave my notice to the best job I ever had. It’s been around 15 months since I first joined UXPin, but my last day will be on September 2nd. For the following four and a half months, I’ll be traveling all over Asia – a trip I’ve wanted to do ever since I first read Vagabonding, by Rolf Potts, in high school.

Coming to this decision was incredibly difficult. I noticed that people who do these kinds of trips usually hate their jobs. I, on the other hand, quite enjoyed working for UXPin. I have never come across a company that treated its employees so well. I absolutely loved the problem we were trying to solve and the people I was solving it with. I was learning so much from the VP of Product and the CEO, both of whom I consider to be close mentors. With that said, I was faced with the decision of either moving back up to Mountain View for at least another year or going abroad. I picked the latter. Continue reading On quitting UXPin

Reflections on SoCal UX Camp 2016

Yesterday marked the 4th annual SoCal UX Camp, an event attended by more than 400 individuals who are passionate about the field of User Experience. To my knowledge, SCUXC remains the biggest free UX event in Southern California. It’s quite amazing, actually. When events in the UX industry costs thousands of dollars just for a few days of content, we have to wonder if we’re creating higher ladders for those who are trying to enter the field. Perhaps those other conferences are designed intentionally, keeping the beginners out while milking the training budgets from as many companies as they can. Continue reading Reflections on SoCal UX Camp 2016