Trip Down the Memory Lane

Yes, I know. It’s been too long. I’ve been drafting over and over again trying to figure out what to say as my ‘update’ post but it all ended up sounding too heavy and wordy. So I decided, I can update you slowly. For now, I’m going to go with a light post. You all know I’ve decided to settle down in Korea after 18 years of living abroad so I thought a perfect post would be to show you my memory of Korea before leaving (back in 1997). So, this weekend, I decided to go back to the neighborhood I spent 2 years in before moving to Cambodia. I was surprised at how much I still remembered. I didn’t even need a map to revisit all the places.

10177946_10152038535855685_4817963240625623353_n

The house we used to live in. I remember visiting the neighbor’s everyday since both of my parents worked.

10300707_10152038535980685_645040998208170757_n

The daycare I used to go pick my sister up at everyday. She graduated from University today.

10307225_10152038535820685_6828273653891389088_n

That uphill looked MASSIVE when I was 7 years old.

10313534_10152038535800685_8647761918385092427_n

The house in front of ours – I used to play by those walls under the shade.

10364188_10152038535875685_7468964809010394340_n

I used to collect coins and go to the small hole-in-the-wall store at the bottom of the hill. Looks like they’ve been closed for a while. :(

10371757_10152038535940685_5899001186315779718_n

The only school I’ve been to in Korea. I was here up until half of 2nd grade.

It’s always bitter sweet revisiting old places. It definitely brought back a lot of memories. So, with this post – I promise you more regular updates.

My New Chapter

Many things have happened since the last time I updated you on my life. Last thing you probably remember is me announcing that I am quitting my job, leaving, and traveling for a while. And then I went silent… The past few months (9 months to be exact) has been eventful and a lot happened – not just physically but also emotionally. I’m hoping to tell you all those things when I’m ready to put them into words. For now, I just wanted to tell you the state I’m currently in.

Through my travels, I had a lot of time and opportunity to think about myself, my situation and my future. I got the chance to realize and rediscover what it is that I want to do and what makes me truly happy. I weighted those thoughts with what I think is best for me and my plans changed… immensely.

If you follow me on my Facebook page, you’ll know that I am currently in Korea, a place I call one of my ‘homes’ but have a hard time connecting myself to. I was also here few months ago. There are a few reasons why I’m back here but one of my main reasons is that I decided to give Korea a chance and stay here for a while.

tumblr_lzeotx5C1c1qho97ro1_1280

Deciding to live in Korea:

As you may have read, I am Korean but I left Korea when I was 7 years old. Ever since then, I visited a few times but never really had the time to connect with this place – a place where I understand the language, love the food and look like everyone else but a place, where its many cultural aspects were puzzling and frustrating to me.

When I came to Korea couple of months ago, things started to change. I thought ‘maybe, I should give it a chance… If not now, when will I ever have the opportunity to come back and live here? If I really hate it, I can always leave.”

That was exactly what I thought and decided to do – but when I went to Cambodia, my thoughts started to change again.. ‘I’m not ready to settle, work and live the conventional life I left… I’d rather spend this time exploring and living in other places and doing projects that are worthwhile. I want a free life.’

But, I’m back. I’m in Korea. I have mixed feelings about it still but right now, I’m pretty certain about it. I’m going to give it a chance – be it a month, year, 2 years or more. After all, I am a Korean. If I don’t try living here now, I’ll never know. It’s unfair for me to not be here because of my prejudice and expectations.  And I seem to have found the right type of people who stop me from doing anything conventional. What will I be doing here? I’m going to be learning new things I’ve always wanted to learn, be it dance, sports, a language, etc. I’m going to try jobs that I’ve always wanted to try – be a bartender, barista, freelancer, teacher, yoga instructor etc. I’m not going to pressure myself to be a certain type of person.

I’m pretty confident. I’m pretty excited. I think it’s time for me to let go of all expectations and give this new chapter a try. 

The only way to see where you are or where you are going is by stopping.

Map and Compass

Couple of years ago, I was going through a very confusing transition. I was trying to figure out what it is that I really wanted to do in the midst of my thoughts on what I thought I should be doing with my life. Everyone goes through a confusing period like this in life and instead of focusing on solving the problem by thinking it through, I kept myself occupied with a very busy schedule trying as many different things as possible hoping that down the road, something will pop up. Instead of getting answers, I just got even more frustrated and was on the verge of crashing, losing all motivation.

And then time stopped and I was given a chance to think. I had gone on a ten-day trip to Laos thinking I’d get a mini holiday sightseeing and exploring the country but I was wrong. Arriving in Vientiane, I was shocked at how calm and quiet the city was compared to any other cities I have been in. It was almost if time had slowed down in Laos. Initially I hated how bored I was but things changed after a couple of days.

My ten days in Laos consisted of not only walking around, reading books, sightseeing and sitting at a cafe observing my surroundings but more importantly, learning to appreciate doing nothing and in return having the chance to focus on me and only me.

I was able to stop, let go of everything and turn full attention to myself (having barely any internet connection helped me disconnect with the outside world as well). I was learning to be more attentive about my needs and desires, and to reflect on my past, present and future. And everything changed since that moment. I started seeing things in a different perspective which consequently made me happier and more grateful towards life. When others ask me how Laos is, I say it’s beautiful but boring – and that’s why it’s one of my favorite destinations. Laos teaches you how to do nothing but the most important thing everyone needs to learn how to do – stop and reflect.

The only way to figure out where you are going is to stop and look at your surroundings. Sometimes you need to stop, take a break and just focus on nothing else but you.