My first solo-travelling experience in South Korea

I still remember having this conversation inside a friend’s car while we were driving one night.

“I don’t want my life to be like the way it is forever”

“What do you mean?” my friend asked.

“I don’t see the point in working 9-5 every day for the next 50 years, get married, have kids, raise kids and bring them to school, buy a house then retire. In that exact order.

“How do you want to live your life then?!” my friend exclaimed.

I couldn’t really answer that question back then. Deep inside, something was brewing up and at the time, I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I felt it deep in my gut that I wasn’t going to be truly happy if I follow the path that has been set up for all of us. Sure, I could be working for a lot longer than 9 a.m to 5 p.m but at least it would have to be something that means something significant to me I thought. I had a boiling sensation that I needed to do something purposeful with my life. I wanted my work and life contribution to mean something, I wanted to create impact.

I had been thinking about going on an overseas trip for a while. Part of me still thinks that I should’ve done it earlier, but like many other events in our lives; it doesn’t happen sooner or later – rather, it happens at the right time. I had always been the type of girl that was in long relationships growing up so in a way, I was only starting to break out of my mould.

The thought of being alone and venturing into the unknown just excites something in me that was hard to contain. I felt ecstatic imagining all the possible scenarios of me having the time of my life discovering the world as an individual.

Public holiday blocks were coming up and I decided I would sneak in a trip over the Easter holidays. In the early hours of the morning one night, I just took the plunge and booked a 10-day trip to South Korea. I was full of nerve by this point but knew something good was coming. A few weeks later, I landed in Seoul.

It was my first time staying in an AirBnB overseas – I was greeted by my host Shinmee, whom I remained friends with. Her little apartment was tucked away on the hillside neighbourhood. I loved that about Seoul, neighbourhoods were little close-knit communities, weaving through tubes and alleys of tiny and big houses.

My first few days were spent exploring the different cities in Seoul. I spent a whole day getting lost in Myeongdong’s shopping district, the number of shoppers floating around was overwhelming, it was a crowded spot and there were food carts in every single corner. I tried lots of delicious piping street food, spent a bit too much on Korean makeup and skincare and bought a whole bunch of clothing and accessories I didn’t need.

I was eager to check out its the nightlife as well as its historic monuments. I visited its largest palace (Gyeongbokgung) and went to Everland Resort, I even got a picture of me drawn. I felt like a little kid exploring my own planet.

(Myeongdong shopping district)

(Inside Gyeongbokgung Palace)

(Everland Resort)

By day 3 or 4, I had managed to get my hair bleached and dyed to a lavender blue-grey colour. I knew what I wanted to get done and no time can be wasted.

(My favourite hair colour to date)

I decided midway through my trip that I needed to check out Jeju Island.

(Photo of Jeju Island taken on a tour on my Instagram)

(Photo taken down from my Instagram: “Kissing a Dol Hareubang for goodluck😚
– Dol Hareubang means ‘Old Grandfather’ and is the main symbol of #JejuIsland – The statues are placed all around the island and is believed to be protecting and warding off demons)

Jeju Island was one of those places that I’d watch in modern Korean entertainment music and film. It was meant to be a holiday island where all the celebrities would hang out. Sadly, I did not see any famous celebrities. However, the few days that I spent there were extremely eventful to say the least.

(I visited Halim Park and was accompanied by these adorable school kids!)

I visited the island’s famous female divers, these divers are equipped with sea and marine life and would spend on average 7 hours a day harvesting seafood such as sea urchins, abalone and shellfish. These ‘Jeju Haenyeo’ (female divers) would pass on their knowledge to younger generations in the local community in the area to continue in their footsteps.

(Professional women divers)

What I particularly felt about South Korea was that it was a modern country with a vintage touch. While all the main cities and neighbourhoods were well equipped with their high tech fit out, the temples and palaces still remained intact, unspoiled. South Korea was a country that was quite similar to Japan in terms of consumerism. Shops and eateries were in every corner, buildings were decked out with low, medium to high-end fashion that went up many levels.

I would never forget the excitement I felt during that first solo trip. It was a new chapter in exploring my own identity. I loved seeing everything as they were; only to me. My life hasn’t quite been the same ever since. Not in a bad way, but in a way that forces me to continuously pave my own path. I knew how I felt and I was not going to let those feelings slowly fleet away to mediocrity.

(Inside the matrix ha.ha.)

(N Seoul Tower)

If you’ve always wanted to go to South Korea and have up to 2 weeks break but would like to cover all the main spots then I’ve got just the right thing for you. I’ve created my 10-day itinerary tour highlighting where I went and what I did. I’ll be including the place where I got my hair done for anyone who’s interested 🙂 

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More videos and content coming soon!

 

In the mean time I would be so grateful if you subscribe to my YouTube channel via this link: https://bit.ly/2CysdJZ

I would love to share what I continuously learn with you.

You can say hello on Instagram: @thuy_m

Or email me any questions: hello@thuy.com.au

“The world is like a big theme park, and within it there are endless adventures if you wish to experience it. It will never cease to amaze me – and that is the most exciting part.” – Thuy Mai 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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