48Seoul, South Korea
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My self-summary
Apart from experience, which I have in spades (tinker, teacher, journalist, scout, travel guide, police provocateur, spy), you'd be surprised I also have youth on my side. Indeed, my age might be in the fuddy-duddy 40s but I live life in my late 20s and early 30s. Ever heard of the Fountain of Youth? No, not that one of Prester John, Juan Ponce de León or even Captain Jack Sparrow, but rather the allegorical fountain in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" - youth, thanks not just to positive thinking but positive living.

Hmmm, fair enough.

Quisnam sum ego? Born on the same day as Karl Marx and Søren Kierkegaard, I am - to borrow Anne Frank - a bundle of contradictions: adventurous yet domesticated, easy-going and passionate, chatty yet a good listener, respectful and irreverent, God-fearing yet skeptical, idealistic and old-fashioned, optimistic yet cautious, lively and stoic, flexible yet uncompromising, inquisitive yet oddly incurious.

People hold me in thrall, stimulating exchanges of lofty or practical ideas and insights inspired by Noam Chomsky, Slavoj Žižek, Edward Saïd and Benedict Anderson with those who care, dare or both in any of my eight tongues.

Night owl, bookworm, chameleon, crane, cat and walrus all call me kin. Causes swim inside me like fishes in the deep blue sea of lovely pearl-string islands I call home.

This mélange makes me, if the mood catches, a Gauguinesque child of the tropics, a wondering nomad like Waugh, deconstructed intellectual with Sartrean leanings, uppercase Romantic in the best Pushkin tradition and glass-half-full fellow in Mandela mold.
What I’m doing with my life
Thanks to my passion for work and my penchant for travel, I have lived, studied and/or worked in Manila, Tokyo, Madrid, Moscow, and Beijing before Seoul and traveled in 85 countries.

When I am not traveling, I study languages. Korean is my ninth, which includes Tagalog, Italian, and Chinese (Mandarin), apart from the five already mentioned in My Details.

Volunteering as a CouchSurfing host (thythia) also takes up quite a bit of time, as does being a bit of a culture-vulture.
I’m really good at


Asking questions.

Making people laugh and putting them at ease.


The first things people usually notice about me
"You're NOT Korean?

"Let me guess: 28? 30? Okay, last guess - 34!"

Soprano from Almaty, Kazakhstan 3mins into our chat: "You have lovely eyes."
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food
AUTHORS: Mikhail Bulgakov, Salman Rushdie, Kawabata Yasujiro, Nikolai Gogol, Jose Saramago, Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, Ursula K LeGuin, Ambrose Bierce, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Milan Kundera, Natsume Soseki, Umberto Eco, Italo Calvino, Sebastien Japrisot, Mo Yan, Mishima Yukio, Andrey Kurkov, JRR Tolkien, PG Wodehouse, Fernando Pessoa, Endo Shusaku, Truman Capote, Louis de Bernieres

FILMS : Amadeus, Rashômon, Jeux interdits, Amores perros, The Pianist, Slumdog Millionaire, Dilber’in Sekiz Günü, Fight Club, Nuovo cinema paradiso, My Life Without Me, Before Sunset, Ladri di biciclette, Fucking Åmål, Est-Ouest, Shichinin no samurai, Before Sunset, Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA, Hable con ella, À la verticale de l'été, When Harry Met Sally, Mała Moskwa, Bronenosets Potyomkin, Tonari no Totoro, Braveheart, Tengoku to jigoku, Festen, L'odeur de la papaye verte, Palwolui Christmas, Das Leben der Anderen, La stanza del figlio, Jean de Florette, Ran, La femme du boulanger, The Darjeeling Limited, Shrek, Being John Malkovich, 12 Angry Men, Green Card, Bound, Groundhog Day, Memento, Sixth Sense, Dor, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Il Mare, In Bruges, Notting Hill, Wanted, Je vais bien, ne t'en fais pas, Léon, Fa yeung nin wa

MUSIC BY: [Algeria] Khaled [Antilles] Kassav' [Argentina] Enanitos Verdes, Soda Stereo [Armenia] Armen Chakmakian [Australia] Natalie Imbruglia [Austria] Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart [Brazil] Caetano Veloso [Bulgaria] Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares [Cabo Verde] Cesaria Evora [Canada] Feist [China] Cui Jian, Dadawa, Na Ying [Colombia] Shakira [Congo] Papa Wemba [Cuba] Buena Vista Social Club, Compay Segundo [Egypt] Mahmoud Fadl [England] Beth Orton, Aztec Camera, David Sylvian, Lily Allen, Portico Quartet, Sting [Estonia] Anu Taul ja sõbrad, Eda-Ines Etti, Maarja-Liis Ilus, Slobodan River, Tanel Padar [Finland] Angelit, Mari Boine, Niko Valkeapää, Jean Sibelius [France] Les Hurlements de Leo, Manu Chao, Les Nubians, Zebda [Georgia] The Rustavi Choir [Germany] De-Phazz, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdi, Ludwig van Beethoven [Hong Kong] Faye Wong [Ireland] Clannad, The Chieftains, Enya [Italy] Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi, Jovanotti [Japan] Hirai Ken, Love Psychedelico, Sakamoto Ryuichi, Shang Shang Taifu [Latvia] Cosmos, Hospitāļu Iela, Rolands Ìdris un Egons Kronbergs [Lithuania] Saulės Kliošas, SKAMP [Mexico] Café Tacuba [New Zealand] Crowded House [Norway] A-ha, Edvard Grieg, Kings of Convenience [Philippines] Cynthia Alexander, Joey Ayala, Grace Nono, Hungry Young Poets, Philippine Madrigal Singers [Poland] Ania [Portugal] Madredeus [Russia] Gosti iz budushego, Yulia Savicheva, Zemfira [Senegal] Orchestra Baobab, Youssou N'Dour [Singapore] Sun Yan Zi, Tanya Chua [South Africa] Ladysmith Black Mambazo [Spain] 10 de Paco, Camarón, Corquien, Ella Baila Sola, Estrella Moriente, Kepa Junkera, La Oreja de Van Gogh, Paco de Lucia [Taiwan] Chiang Mei Chi, David Tao [Ukraine] 5'nizza, Mlada [Wales] Jem [USA] 10000 Maniacs, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews Band, Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, Jewel, John Mayer, Natalie Merchant, Norah Jones, Six Pence None The Richer, Tori Amos, Tristan Prettyman

FOOD: Mediterranean, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Chinese (Cantonese, Szechuan), French, Cajun, Indian, Filipino, Thai, Greek, Lebanese, Tex-Mex, Fusion
Six things I could never do without
1. People
2. Languages
3. Travel
4. Culture/Art
5. Justice
6. Faith
I spend a lot of time thinking about
Traveling, in particular going back to Russia, the Baltics, the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Altai plateau.

Since 2004, I have been planning to go on a five-week grand road trip on the upper Silk Road, since the lower route from Urumuqi in China through the Taklamakan Desert to Pakistan and Afghanistan on the Karakoram Highway or via Ladakh is still too crazy to contemplate. Instead my itinerary would start in late October in Dunhuang then Kashgar in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region, go up the Pamir mountains in Tajikistan, through Murghab and Khorugh, then a side trip to the Fenn Mountains and Penjikent, before retracing the route to Dushanbe, Khujand and part of the Fergana Valley to Osh over the border with Kyrgyz Republic, then Lake Issyk-Kul, Tian Shan mountains into Kazakhstan, curl back toward Uzbekistan through Shymkent, then Kokand and Tashkent, for more caravanserai towns (Samarkand, Shakhrisabz, Bukhara, and Khiva) to the surreal Aral Sea, back to Nukus before transiting five days in Turkmenistan - Merv, Ashgabat, Nissa, Konye Urgench, and Turkmenbashi for the Caspian Sea ferry - or if immigration officials insist I exit by land, go over to Mashhad in Iran until Tabriz, cross the border with Turkey across Lake Van (either way I get a ferry crossing in landlocked Eurasia) and end up the trip with a flourish: the Rumi Poetry Festival in Konya, the capital of Turkish Kurdistan, and Cappadocia and Istanbul in early December.

Don't even get me started on my plans for Africa (I've both an Egypt-Rift Valley-Zanzibar-Durban itinerary as well as a Tangiers, by the Atlantic coast, inland to Mali, down the western coast through the Congo to Namibia and eventually Cape Town route), Latin America (from Baja California in Mexico through Aztec and Mayan land, Galapagos, down to the northern Andes, the Cono Sur countries, a bit of Brazil and the Amazon, before turning right down to the Pampas to Ushuaia and Perito Moreno Glacier), road trips in the US (Four Corner States, the fjords of Alaska, hitchhiking from the panhandle along the Gulf of Mexico through New Orleans until Galveston, etc), a leisurely cruise in the Bahamas to relax, and then the Austronesian maritime route (extending from Easter Island in Chile through Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Nusantara Southeast Asia, through the Indian Ocean all the way to Madagascar), all this while dancing an Irish jig in my head.

I also think about how to make a difference in this world.

Trying to eat healthy and keeping fit.
On a typical Friday night I am
Out watching a ballet, play, opera, movie or reading a book indoors.

Sampling yet a new restaurant or bar.
The most private thing I’m willing to admit
I am afraid of rejection and being irrelevant.
You should message me if
You are a person who can see beyond age, ethnicity and religion, who is open-minded, passionate and knows how to value life, both the blessings she knows and has, as well as the things she can still discover and explore. Someone who wants to get into a serious relationship, loves to talk as much as to listen (or vice versa) and who lives life in varying speeds and different directions, sometimes all at once. Someone who loves people, who trusts rather than distrusts, who chooses to be happy rather than sad, who can rise above the mundane and banal, who can sweep away stress, or let others help them do it. Who knows balance and does not let herself easily be taken by what people say around her. Who thinks and acts for herself, who has or can travel by herself and prefers adventure to comfort.

But most of all, do message me if you are a humane and descent person, someone who is selfless, who can rise above herself and who knows that, while she has peace, it might take another person to bring out the very best in her as a human being. I am looking for someone from another culture yet shares the same language. She would know there is the right time and place - or the right person - for everything. And that person might just be somewhere around, if she knows how to listen to her heart. In the end, I am looking for someone who has both yin and yang inside her.
The two of us