Traveling to South Korea was a high school dream, one that I realized while re-watching Princess Hours for the nth time through a borrowed DVD.
Coming from a very practical family – who rarely went out of the realms of Cavite and Batangas, or spent on anything beyond what was really necessary – traveling was a luxury I never thought I could afford. But then seat sales came along. While my friends were going on relatively cheap trips to Southeast Asia, I bid my time – waiting for the seat sale of a lifetime, and the courage to spend some P30,000 in a single week.
It finally came in 2014. By then no one could squash my dream of breathing the same air as my favorite Koreanovela characters anymore. I spent one week in Seoul, half of it on my own, and it changed my life forever.
It is true, what St. Augustine once said, The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. I never knew just how much I was missing before I took that one step to discover more about the world.
After that first trip, my thirst to explore has become insatiable. From the beautiful beaches of the Philippines, the quaint streets of Japan, the multi-cultural districts of Singapore, the night lights of Malaysia, the quiet countryside of Thailand, and the unbelievably chaotic streets of Vietnam – it’s not much, not even close to how far other people have gone. But for a girl whose first favorite book was the Atlas, it was a dream that I still couldn’t believe has come true.
But for some reason my heart only knows, I keep on coming back to the place where it all began. I used to think it was the people. But my recent trip made me realize that no, they’re humans too, not saints. And it felt like the overwhelming number of tourists have finally pushed their patience for strangers to the limits. I was a bit disappointed at first, and I wondered whether I was coming back for a 5th time.
But here I am, 1AM, exactly a month after I came back home, wishing I was typing from the common room at my guesthouse in Seoul, hoping it was Namsan Tower outside my window. It’s almost autumn, I wonder if I’d ever get the chance to see the leaves turn red, or the snow fall, or the cherry blossoms fully bloom. I always find myself there mid season, and frankly I have never seen Seoul at its most gorgeous yet. Still here I am telling my friends how beautiful it is. Because it is.
Whatever the season, South Korea is beautiful to the core. That’s my heart talking, can’t explain any further. It’s weird. Good night.