▲Kim is smiling with joy that she put on the ao dai she had bought in Vietnam thanks to the interview.
Always very curious, Kim Yoon-hee gets energy from traveling. She had made the decision to go to other countries since she was in high school. After she entered university, she stayed abroad as an exchange student and experienced a variety of cultures in different countries. She traveled around Europe, her dream destination, when she was a sophomore. The next year she went to the Middle East and Central Asia during summer vacation, and traveled around Northeast and Southeast Asia in the senior year. She has traveled to over 30 countries already, and we asked about her ‘art of travel for refreshing herself.’
“First I think of the purpose. I used to go backpacking in university when I had enough time, but since I started working, I travel for repose. I make a ‘MUST-SEE, MUST-DO’ list instead of making time-based plans. Then I just enjoy as I let myself just wander around. As long as the list isn’t too long, I can experience enough things while still enjoying repose.”
If she prefers taking a nap over visiting an art gallery, she chooses to do so. She knows that great scenery and delicious food can be meaningless if she is not happy. Thus, she enjoyed traveling as she focused on herself instead of the objective indicator.
“I decided on a theme and gave meaning to it. Fair travel is a good example. With the belief that a true journey is to experience the country fully, I paid more attention to the ‘people’ when traveling in a new place. I could develop tolerance and capacity as I faced conflicts with different values.”
As she traveled, she also began to have an increasing number of things she desired to learn. She learned new languages to communicate with the natives, and also studied the life of Arabian women after traveling to the Middle East. The most significant outcome was the maturity of her ego upon realizing the fact that nothing in this world is worthless.
“As I traveled by myself in the eastern part of Turkey where it had once been a terror zone, a man who looked like a terrorist sat down next to me on a bus. I realized that this man, looking out the window at the vast wilderness, is also someone’s son and father. That’s when I resolved to treat everyone with respect and without bias.”
Mongolia is the Best Destination for Healing
Kim’s curiosity about the world grew as she traveled around enriching her experiences, which led her to have more passion and energy in life. This summer she went back to Vietnam, which had been the destination of her first overseas travel, where she recalled the memories of her undergraduate years and enjoyed peaceful repose. When we asked her idea of a good destination for healing, she recommended Mongolia, where she could purify her body and soul at the endless green plain. She returned to the innocence of childhood as she raced across the plain on horseback, and enjoyed the experience of assimilating with nature under the clear sky.
Kim says that traveling for repose is like ice cream, sweet yet melting fast, so you must enjoy it moderately. Surely her unique ‘art of travel’ must have come from her vivid experience.
▲Han is making preparations to provide medical services for the poor in the Philippines this fall.
“Instead of hesitating and thinking, I just jump into it, because I don’t want to regret what I haven’t done when I die.”
Han is still like a young man eager to learn and try anything. He says volunteering is the opportunity to encounter a new world. For many years he has been traveling to places where help is needed during vacation, providing medical services. His act of ‘sharing’ began as his closest friend closed his hospital to volunteer for medical service activities.
“Ten years ago, my friend left to the Philippines to provide medical services. He and I opened an Internet café called ‘Amisa (http://cafe.daum.net/doctorparklove)’ to post volunteer news. As the number of members increased and the funds grew, we could build a medical office and a school in Nepal. I’ve been to the poor neighborhoods of Nepal and the Philippines many times to provide medical services, and we’re still supplying nurses and medicines to Nepal. We could accomplish all this with the donations of our café members.”
Modern people tend to compare themselves with others deep inside their hearts. He was also one of them and used to think, Why can’t I do better? But as he embraced the wounds of poverty, he could let go of the complaints he had from comparing with others. The volunteer activity, which he had begun by merely following his friend, has built his self-esteem.
We Can Develop Self-Esteem by Making Donations
“Mountain people think of the sea as a vacation spot, whereas the sea people think of the mountain as a vacation spot; I think experiencing something out of the ordinary is what repose is all about. Whenever I’m exhausted and tired of my life, I help the people in need suffering from poverty, and feel rather relaxed.”
The sun and the moon he scribbled on the paper packets of medicine for patients who cannot read; the value of 100,000 won he discovered as he sponsored cataract surgery for patients who may have to live blind forever; his impatience and arrogance he realized upon seeing people who walk many hours in their illness to see the doctor… Han experienced many unforgettable things as he met the poor in Nepal and the Philippines.
“I once distributed food at a poor neighborhood in Manila. Children who waited through the long lines were first saving food for their families, although surely they were hungry too.”
Thanks to the children in the poor neighborhood, Han learned the value of human existence and obtained the power for a fresh start. He wanted to tell other people who started volunteering that they will enjoy themselves once they think, ‘I’m not sharing because I have too much; I’m giving away what is mine.’
“I’m also full of complaints. I had the prejudice that only people with a lot of money and time to space can volunteer or make donations. But beneficiaries can get more help from small yet constant volunteer activities and donations. Make consistent donations of 10,000 won a month. If you think about how your donation will be used, your self-esteem and energy will grow.”
▲Thailand gave Lee Seo-wook a passion for life as well as open mind and know-how for communication.
For Lee Seo-wook, Thailand is like a turning point in life. He opened his heart as he faced whole new places and people with different culture and customs. After his trip to Thailand where he could truly see himself, he became more appreciated at work and also met someone he loves.
“If you ride a boat from Amphawa Floating Market in Bangkok along the river, you can see houses and a forest. You can rent a house and stay there, where you can see a splendid view on days with many fireflies. I heard that fireflies give out light to mate, but they die only a couple of months after that. It made me think that perhaps the fireflies sparkling brightly in the dark forest are now spending the happiest moment of their lives.”
Watching the fireflies that shine with sad yet beautiful light in the climax of their lives, he resolved to always do his best in things he can do in life with genuine passion. He could also have an open mind as he met other people who also came to travel in Thailand, and learned how to communicate as he asked the natives for directions or had conversations with backpackers from all around the world.
“I used to close my mind to people who had different ideas from me. But as I traveled in another country, I started to make efforts to understand different culture and ideas. Talking to travelers from other countries made me realize that they want experiences, not designer bags, from traveling.”
Enjoy Some Time of Your Own with Composure
As he opened his mind by traveling to Thailand three times, his thoughts also changed. He has built a sense of accomplishment that he can experience something new outside his home.
“The most attractive thing about traveling is the time you spend carving your own way around. You may be forced to eat something you didn’t order due to the language barrier, or you may enter a completely different path from your original plan. As I coped with unpredictable variables and faced new people and cultures, I gained the confidence that I can do anything. I realized that I could become more mature as I returned from the trip.”
The days he spent in Thailand are priceless. Once he returned to Korea with the energy to start fresh, he began to make a turning point in his life. He broke away from the old days when he could not adjust well and began to work enthusiastically, becoming a hardworking employee who also promotes good fellowship at work. This fall he will take some time for introspection in hot springs of Japan. He realized that it is more important to make time for himself than visiting various places.
“You must have the same purpose for travel with your companion. If you have different views, you may face conflicts. Just rid yourself of greed and enjoy. If you focus on one thing while traveling instead of spreading out, you will find composure in mind as well as time, leaving a stronger afterglow of your experience. Just remember these two things, and you will be able to find the energy to start your life fresh by traveling.”
▲Tanya recommends Moscow, a city with a long history and culture, to Koreans who travel to Russia
Born in Vladivostok, Russia, Lunichkina Tanya translates technical materials into Russian in Power Systems PU Global Sales Team 4. Many Koreans lived in Vladivostok, which is located two-and-a-half hours away from Korea on flight; and naturally she became interested in Korean culture since childhood.
After graduating from university where her major was Korean language and minor Korean economy, she came straight to Korea to pursue a master’s degree and a Ph.D. Born and raised in Russia, Korea was a mysterious country in Asia for her. Places she visited for the first time in Korea were filled with amazing things. The most memorable place was Seokguram, to which she went on a field trip for a course related to Buddhism.
“When I saw Seokguram, I was surprised that it was much bigger than I imagined. I wondered how the ancient Silla people could build such a grand artifact at the top of the mountain. The exquisite carvings were so beautiful that I could not tear my eyes away from them.”
Experience a Variety of Things like a Mosaic
Having studied economics at the Academy of Korean Studies since 2006, Tanya traveled all around Korea for the past 8 years. She says many Koreans she saw while traveling were in a rush.
“Once a Russian friend who had traveled with a Korean tourist told me it had been exhausting. She said she was worn out by getting up early in the morning and always rushing from place to place, taking some photos, and then rushing to another destination.”
Russian people tend to enjoy traveling in a more relaxed manner, perhaps because they can take a break for one month a year. Many Russians try new things during this time or go on a vacation with their families. Tanya also spent her vacation seeing sights around Moscow with her family.
Tanya talked about Russia’s idea of vacation, which is quite different from Korea. When we asked her what vacation means for her, she replied that it is like a ‘mosaic.’ This is because she can reflect on herself as she experiences various things in other countries or regions like putting together pieces of a mosaic.
“As I experience new ways of life, I can find prejudices or a crooked mind within myself. While enjoying repose and composure, I can look back on how I’ve lived and think about what to change. Repose enables me to find or design the future direction of life. In fact, I think most Russian people spend their vacation and enjoy traveling like that.”