Since the beginning of 2018, I have stepped foot in 26 countries. Leaving Korea and doing some travelling was something I had contemplated for the last couple of years of my time in Seoul, and it was scary as hell. I gave up a lot in order to do so: everything I had in my house, my home, my job and career, my friends and my loved ones.
I reduced my life to one suitcase, a backpack, and my camera and laptop. I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go and where I would end up at the end of the trip (which was Canada, for the wedding of two good friends of mine). But I felt that if I didn’t do it now, at the age of 37 and while I was still young enough to do so and to transition from my job into a new career, then I would never do it. I’d got some money saved up and a desire to see and do more with my life, and so many people told me they were jealous of me doing it.
I had an idea that travelling and seeing the world would help me learn where it is I wanted to go with my life. Living and working in Korea was nice and I enjoyed it. I had a good job working as a university lecturer and a side career as a proofreader and copy editor for publishers and magazines, but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. Living in Korea as a foreigner is not always easy; you will never assimilate into Korean culture, no matter how well you learn the language or understand the culture, and you will never truly be able to strike out on your own and do something different than what your visa allows you to do.
This is what I wanted to try. I didn’t really know what it was that I wanted to do. I had a notion of setting up a company to provide proofreading and copy editing services, since I wouldn’t be able to have my own company in Korea. I always liked the idea of property developing, or running a small business like a shop or cafe. I figured that heading out on the road would help me decide on these things and figure out a direction.
I saw 2018 as the year of doing everything that I wanted to do; the year of saying yes; the year of saying fuck it, I’ve never done this before, so let’s do it, just because. Who knows what could happen? Who knows what opportunities might arise? I might meet someone and talk about what I do and they might say, hey, I need someone just like you to work for me in an interesting or exotic place. This was the year of saying yes.
It has taken me some time to get round to adding to the blog. I had lofty plans of updating it as I went along on my trip, but a couple of things stopped me. First, when I was in Australia and staying at my brother’s house in January, the internet was so weak I could barely update the end of the Dan in Japan series. I was already three weeks into the trip by the time I got the final two posts published, so I was already three weeks behind on writing up the start of my trip. I had also run out of storage space on my original WordPress account and was deliberating as to whether I should upgrade it. I also hadn’t got into a writing routine as I was spending my days being busy out and about and then spending my evenings going through the roughly 300 photos a day I was taking and posting them to my Instagram account.
But now as we approach the end of 2018 and the one-year anniversary of my decision to leave Korea and go travelling, I feel it’s time to take stock on where I have been and what I have done. I had a blast in 2018. I’ve seen some incredible highs – a blue whale; the view from the top of the Burj Khalifa; the sun rise over Mt. Everest and the Taj Mahal – and had some crushing lows (the end of a dream that didn’t want to be caught). Now is the time to try and share this story.
So read on and keep coming back as I will try to update the blog with as much as I can remember, and, of course, with photos. Lots and lots of photos.