I was at a party with a selection of great-looking mini-desserts. Having a sweet tooth, I got one of each. Meanwhile, my friend filled her saucer with her favorite cream puffs. I wondered why she didn’t try the other variants and I learned the answer as I forced myself to finish the ones on my plate. The cream puffs were splendid – perhaps the only good thing on the table. Unsatisfied by my selection, I got up to replace mine with more cream puffs, but the tray was already empty.
When I planned my trip to Seoul, I vowed I would have the best time of my life. Months prior to my trip, I read travel books at the library, logged-in to different travel apps, and listed all that I wanted to see and do. In my list I included the time shrines and museums would open, and if there were attractions like the changing of the guards, I’d be there to see it. I knew it would be long before I return to Seoul, so I have to make memories worth sharing.
When we travel for a weekend getaway, our effort to try and make the most out of that trip is to cram so many activities in our itinerary. While it is a surefire way to see all that the place has to offer, in the end we are overwhelmed by memories of exhaustion rather than the quality of how we spent the time.
In Seoul, time will never be on your side. The bustling metropolitan will leave you in awe. There are so many things to see that the day may end without coming to a decision. I spent five days in Seoul, and during the first day, I roamed around the neighborhood where I stayed to familiarize myself with the nearest convenience store, train station, and information center.
The next two days, I hopped from one historic site to another – my itinerary for the day more detailed than any travel agency. Honestly, the shrines and palaces all look alike, hence I spent no more than 1 hour at each place and rounded up all major shrines in Seoul within 2 days. On the fourth day I filled my SD card with photos of Korea’s autumn colors at Jongmyo Shrine. I was lost in the moment of photography – everything from the architectural details, the serene lake, and the people coming together to savor the last warm rays – until I felt my stomach complain.
Due to the time spent in Jongmyo, I skipped going to Insadong, Dongdaemun, COEX, Lotte World, and other areas commonly included in the “Must-see in Seoul” list much to the chagrin of my friends back home. I don’t understand why they feel disappointed about my trip when I was extremely satisfied. I was excited to go back, not to cover the ground I skipped, but to take photos of the same place in a different perspective and season. I want to see what kind of feeling it will give me when I experience it during winter or under the rain.
The abundance of nature in Jongmyo is something easily seen in most conservatories yet there is something magical about it. The road less traveled compelled me to explore the area rather than follow the concrete main path leading to the exit.
Cheesy as it sounds I thought, “Ah, this must be how it feels to be alive.” Ironically, I felt it at the place built to honor the deceased royalties of Joseon. It was as if their spirits were handing wisdom from the world beyond, telling me to live to the fullest without regrets. It is not the kind of YOLO that justifies dangerous activies, but the kind of YOLO that should make your heart beat through the endless possibilities of learning and new experiences. It should make your inner being hunger for more, push forward without looking back.
Like the dessert table, life offers us many choices resulting to two types of hunger: unsatisfaction and craving. Which one’s yours?
About the author: Patricia is a mermaid who enjoys the world of humans.She likes dark chocolates and warm hugs.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter our next Travel Writing competition and tell your story.