“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.’” – Lisa St. Aubin de Teran
Living The Asian Dream
Ever since I was young little boy, I dreamed about exploring the world and going off to exotic places that I never actually thought I would ever visit.
Asia was a part of the world I never really dreamed about exploring. Possibly it was because I did not watch enough ninja movies.
I mostly thought about living and exploring Castles in Europe.
South Korea was a country that I never knew much about and never could imagine that one day I would live here. It’s safe to say that it was not in my top 10 countries to live in. But as I have embraced the uncertainty of life and going with the flow, things for the most part have worked out delightfully.
It all started when I was living in Costa Rica and I met my friend Young who is from South Korea. I was contemplating my future plans and as I did some research I became intrigued with Korea. Next thing you know I am sitting at a “kim bap” shop becoming a semi-pro at using chop sticks.
Now That I have lived here for close to 8 months, I am really happy that I made the jump. South Korea truly is a wonderful country with much to offer.
Here is a short list, In no particular order, of why I love living in South Korea:
1. Jim Jil Bangs (Public Bath Houses/Spas): Man oh man, I would have never thought that I would actually look forward to relaxing in the company of dozens of naked men. “Jim Jil Bangs” are simply spas where you go to unwind and relax. For around 7 bucks you get all day access to an amazing facility, at least the ones I frequent. One of my favorites is Vespa Spa, for it’s superb views overlooking the ocean.
My typical routine goes something like this: Get naked, take a quick shower, then hop in the hot spring bath that’s around 40 degree Celsius. I soak and relax for about 30 minutes to 1 hour, then head on over to the water fall and massage every part of my body. When I’m done with the waterfall I head on over to the sauna and sweat it out for 10-15 minutes. Finally, I usually go into the oxygen room to lay down, or go into the sleeping room, grab a little mat and meditate for an hour.
When I wake up, or come out of my Zen like state, it’s lunch time so I head on over to Taco Senora’s for a decent burrito. Not a bad way to start my day.
2. Cheap good food: I have to admit, I am a pretty picky eater, my taste buds just don’t like a lot of things. I wish I had more say in the matter. Like for one, I really hate onions, and onions are in everything.
Most of the sea food, I just can’t get down on. I had eel the other day and I just had to swallow it and hope for the best.
It’s tough when you go out with your Korean friends and they are all scarfing down eel like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. They look over at me and say with a big smile, “so what do you think?”. ….“Oh it’s very different, but good” I say, with a very meditative face, struggling to keep the eel down.
One of the things I was really worried about coming here was whether my poor little stomach would survive.
Luckily, for the most part Korean food has turned out to be pretty delicious. Here are some of my favorite:
- Tofu Stew: Wow, I also never thought I would become a fan of tofu, but this stew makes my stomach smile.
- Gal-megi-sal (I am probably butchering the pronunciation): Pure awesomeness, if you get the chance, just try it.
- Korean Barbecue: I never thought I would be going to restaurants and cooking my own food, but it’s turned out not to be so bad, and I actually love the whole eating experience.
3. Teaching: This is also something I never imagined myself doing. I am currently teaching at a Catholic School for orphans and kids from distressed families. This has been a challenging experience at times, but has turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life.
This has showed me that I would like to continue being a teacher in some way shape or form. It has helped me to develop a love for helping others, and that everyone has something to teach the world. Plus, being around young kids with overflowing energy is magical.
I plan on living abroad indefinitely and this has proved to be a great way of being part of the community and getting long term visa support.
My goal for the next 1-2 years is to have my current online projects fully support my lifestyle and to continue teaching part-time to get visa support in my new host country. I prefer to live long term rather than just exploring a country for a few months on a tourist visa.
I have run into problems in the past in extending my visa, and I also tried setting up a business which ended up being very costly, complicated, and did not work out in the end.
So for anyone who wants to live and travel abroad, teaching can be a great way to accomplish both.
4. The People: Korean people are extremely nice, maybe it’s because of Confucianism, and the emphasis on the well being of the whole over that of the individual. Koreans come off as being some of the kindest people I have ever met, and have made my stay very comfortable.
5. Transportation: Just the other day, my father asked me what I wanted to do with my car, for a split second, I forgot I even had one. I have realized how much I enjoy not having to worry about a car. The public transportation system here is very efficient and cost effective. It’s nice not having to worry about parking, car insurance, and high gas prices. If you do need a car it’s not difficult renting a car for the day or the weekend.
6. South Korean Woman: I find them to be extremely attractive, enough said. Many of them say I am very handsome and funny, so that’s a big plus. I know they say that to almost all the foreigners, but I like to think I hear it more often :).
7. It’s safe: I feel real safe here, I have yet to see any form of violence. I will be coming home from a night out and see young kids walking home by themselves, it’s really that safe.
8. The Events: There is always something going on. Recently I attended the Pusan International Film Festival, and I watched the movie “The Albanian”, afterwords I got to discuss the movie with its German director. It was an awesome movie by the way, I definitely recommend it.
9. The baseball games: They really do love their sports here. The best part is that they let you bring in your own food and drinks. The game turns out to be a huge pick-nick with people bringing in boxes of fried chicken and 24 packs of beer, it ends up turning into one big party. (video of game below)
10. Japan: It’s a stones throw away from Japan. You can hop on a boat in Busan and in a few hours be enjoying some great Sushi.
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