I have a strange obsession when I remember to take photos during my travels I often focus, not on the panormic views and overphotographed tourist markers I should be seen with, but instead on the notations carved into benches and trees surrounding me.

Shuffling through my photos this week, I realized there’s one thing every city apparently has. Love notes.

In South Korea, N Seoul Tower is a famous meeting place for placing locks symbolizing the love between two couples.

In Malaysia Valentine’s Day is celebrated through graffiti as the holiday was outlawed for celebrating that one human emotion which causes so much pain and so much joy. Apparently asking someone to be “your valentine” may lead to idolatry. Sadly I can’t find a photograph of appropriately “I love you” painted on bridges in Kuala Lumpur, I promise it exists. It’s some of the best ever social protest in the world. Next time, KL, next time I shall photograph your graffiti.


However there is some great Valentine’s Day themed graffiti on Flickr.

A little closer to home, I found Seattle to be a great destination for public proclamations of love carved into benches and tables.

There’s something to be said for leaving all kinds of messages in places where strangers can see it and read their own desires into what has been left behind. Either someone loves a Sarah Palin named child called, “Trap” or it’s a message that love is a trap. For the sake of playground survival I hope it’s the second more cynical message.

In South Korea it’s a great big deal for new couples to celebrate their “100 Days.” Surviving three months of coupledom is something like an anniversary to be celebrated with notes, gifts, carving into benches and romantic dates. The 100 Days is a common trope in Korean dramas.

In New Orleans, I found a new kind of graffiti love. Finger painting, markers, spray paint and more to leave messages memorializing a person and what they mean to the living. According to the tour guide, this first site is the only place in Cemetery #1 where an old man is allowed to paint his mother’s head stone. It is by far the most colorful in an area of white stone and silence.


I am totally on the lookout for some cups in a fence over a freeway while I’m in the States. What’s your favorite graffitied love?


2 thoughts on “Travel Love Notes

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