It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere. That means it’s winter in the Southern. Both seasons tend to bring about a thirst for travel in all of us. Maybe it’s the electricity of summer. Or maybe it’s the somewhat cooped up feeling some of us get in the middle of winter. Either way, a tropical island sounds simply pleasant, doesn’t it? Pleasant because of the solitude. Pleasant because of the weather. Pleasant because of the unerring freedom of steady blue skies and cyclical coastline.
The Caribbean, of course, has this appeal. So do the islands that make up Hawaii. Another Pacific island, though, has driven us to write with such fervor. An island that’s filled with massive coast, seaside cliffs, and endless exploits packed inside a beautiful melting pot of a culture. You should most certainly take time to enjoy every last portion of this lush landscape. From the limestone plateaus in the north to the volcanic hills in the south, this island has a unique character and energy everywhere you turn.
But believe it or not, it offers much more than what’s housed within its boundaries. How? It serves as a phenomenal jumping-off point to experience all-things Asia. In fact, this Pacific island is known as the Gateway to Asia. It’s only three to four hours flying time away from lively cities such as Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
So, in light of this, instead of writing unabashedly about all the magnificent aspects of this Pacific island, we thought we’d take time to share a bit about the best things to do in the above-mentioned Asian cities. After all, if you do decide to take a locum tenens assignment in this paradise, you’re a short flight away from these metropolises that once seemed like strange and distant places.
Seoul, South Korea
From the dissipating flames of the Korean War came a roaring, lion-hearted city bent on rebirth. Welcome to Seoul—a 24-hour, brighter-than-bright city you’ll definitely be surprised by. It still retains its seismic past: If you’d like you can take a day-trip to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that splits South Korea from North (this is actually quite the popular tourist spot).
Spend as much time in Seoul as you can though because there’s plenty to see and do in the city itself. And its flashing lights shine the way. It’s perfectly reasonable to take a tour of a centuries-old palace (Changdeokgung) follow it up with a visit to a teahouse in a 1930s hanok (Suyeon Sanbang) and end with city-top views in N Seoul Tower (hint: be sure to visit at sunset) all in one day.
We think Tokyo and visions of neon immediately dance in our heads. A lot of the city looks like a sci-fi film. Take Tokyo Sky Tree for example. Opening barely in 2012, this silvery broadcasting, restaurant and observation spire stands at 634 meters (2,080 feet) above the cityscape. There’s a glass elevator and even glass floors throughout so you can admire the dizzying magnificence of the megalopolis below. And on the clearest of days you can see all the way to Mt. Fuji.
Still, Tokyo gives a respectful nod to its past while looking ever-forward to the future. Head to the Kokugikan (sumo amphitheater) to witness a sumo wrestling match. If you want to learn more about this 1,500-year-old tradition, stop by the Sumo Museum first. Tokyo’s gems don’t ever end. There are ancient Buddhist temples (Zōjō-ji) to admire. There are riverboat cruises along the Sumida-gawa (the city’s central waterway) to enjoy. There are street-packed festivals (Sanja Matsuri) complete with portable shrines. We can’t forget the famous Roppongi Hills, either. It’s full of shopping malls, museums and breathtaking gardens.
Hong Kong is quite the interesting place and like Seoul and Tokyo, it has a storied past. As much as you’ll see an endless horizon of modern buildings scraping the misty sky, you’ll see just as much ancient and colonial tradition winding its way through flashy night clubs, idyllic beaches, green mountains, lively markets (Temple Street Night Market) and even atmospheric temples (Man Mo Temple). This fusion of old and new is everywhere.
A mix of chaos and harmony also exists. Within hours you can jump on a double-decker tramcar and explore behind the scenes, wander around in a Song-dynasty village, catch views from Victoria Peak (the highest point on Hong Kong island), be hypnotized by a Cantonese opera, and engorge yourself with sweet and sour prawn in a high-class restaurant or right in a dai pai dong (open-air food stall). Satiate your hunger for adventure and great food virtually anywhere in this vibrant city.
Keep in mind, we do not currently place in any of the above-mentioned Asian cities.
These are simply fantastic regions to explore while you’re on your locum tenens assignment in the Pacific Islands. If you’re interested in learning more about where we place, go ahead and view our current physician opportunities. Then feel free to request information, or contact us.