Travel is, for most people, an exercise in leisure. A temporary escape from their day-to-day life, whatever it involves – at least on a superficial level. Sure, people travel for different reasons, like immersing themselves in foreign cultures, but we travel primarily to seek out enjoyment and very rarely to confront difficult personal truths.
When I moved to South Korea about a year and a half ago, I was pretty certain of my subsequent move. I told myself that I wasn’t going to stay here longer than two years, and that once finished, I would seek out a destination with more money and better opportunities for professional advancement.
One of my reasons for moving was, unashamedly, to travel more. Over the past year I’ve spent a month travelling through Vietnam, visited Taipei, Hong Kong (twice), and the Philippines. In a few weeks I’ll be travelling to Japan for ten days to experience the Rugby World Cup – something that would likely not have even registered on my radar had I not moved here, to South Korea.
Every destination has left some sort of mark on me – mostly positive, each with its own quirks and cultural idiosyncrasies.
I’ve been here for a year and a half now and the result of these trips is that I keep changing my mind about my next move on a monthly basis.
Exaggeration perhaps, but I’ve gone from having a plan that was pretty much set in stone to not knowing where I’ll lay down roots next. All because of the places I’ve travelled to.
Two years of teaching experience and the requisite qualifications means that most of East and South East Asia is open to me for work. And after seeing what each destination has to offer I’m less certain of my subsequent move than I was when first getting here.
You see, as much I’ve travelled for self-enjoyment, I’ve had to grapple with the very real personal truths that come after the good times. The fact that at 30, my next move will have very real consequences attached to it in terms of my career, and family.
While my passport bears testament to the amount of travel that I’ve done this year, I have a feeling that this lifestyle of fairly frequent travel is one that I will probably continue to seek out in the next few years – and one of the unintended consequences is that it has now created a situation where I’m stuck in a paralysis of choice.
It's akin to standing in a Baskin Robbins store and being asked to choose from 20 different ice cream flavours. A good problem to have, but the wrong choice could leave a bad taste in your mouth.
I will continue to mull my options, but I know that as long as I keep visiting new cities and meeting new people, travel in its current form will be something of a gift and a curse. An introspective experience that keeps me hankering after the places that I’ve been.
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