Guest post by Jac Seah, The Occasional Traveller
I’ve had the good fortune to visit many places around the world. Some were welcoming, embracing me as a stranger and immediately making me feel at home, others were a little more frosty and I never quite warmed up to them. But Seoul… we might not speak the same language, yet I felt a strong connection and it’s a place I will always hold close in my heart.
It was the first place I ever travelled to purposefully alone from start to end; I was only there for a quick getaway between jobs, and I really wanted to get a taste of solo travel. It rained most of the time that July, I didn’t plan much of my trip beforehand so everyday was up to my mood (and the weather) – it was simultaneously scary and refreshing to be on my own and ultimate master of my itinerary. When you’re in a place where hardly anyone speaks English… some days I barely spoke a word at all. I stayed in a lovely guest house and it was easy to get around with the subway and on foot so I wandered around having adventures on my own most of the time.
It was in Seoul where I made one of my first friends ever on the road, and we still keep in touch today. In any other situation, we probably wouldn’t even have had the chance to meet – our wide age gap, our different backgrounds, the fact that we were countries and cultures apart – but we connected that one day in the Secret Palace Garden of Changdeokgung and bonded over speaking English and travelling, and I had an epiphany on the power of travel, how it connects people, and why I love it.
I will return there one day, for the fantastic shopping and the goodness of ginseng chicken soup, for the palace relics standing amidst modern buildings, for the beauty of the Cheongyecheon that flows through its concrete heart, but fondly in my heart will remain the memories of making a friend and how I got through my very first solo trip.
Jac is a traveller from sunny Singapore who really hopes to become a more frequent traveller someday. But for now, she has a little blog and shop over at The Occasional Traveller where she hopes to inspire and remind others like herself to take some time off and just… escape!
Credit to @TreyRatcliff for the beautiful photo of Seoul.