They said that you’ll never be completely at home again because a part of your heart will always be elsewhere. I guess it’s true. You’ll always miss a bit of this and that. You will sometimes think of the people you met at the other side of the world. The memories you collected will make your heart smile and ache at the same time.
When I was a kid, I dreamed of going to as much countries as I could when I grow up. But when I was able to travel, I visited some places more than once. I thought to myself, re-visiting the places where you had fun the most is not bad at all and it is not a waste of time and money. It is like finding another home in this world. It is like seeing an old friend in a sea of strangers. Familiarity brings comfort.
The more you visit the place, the more people you get along well with in that place. Well, that depends on you. If you are the type to just do some “touristy stuff” on your own or with your travel partner, you will not widen your circle. You’ll miss the best things that could happen while traveling. Okay, I’m not trying to be expert here. I’m just babbling as always. But honestly, having fun with the locals-turned-friends in the strange-place-turned-home is the best thing in traveling.
So why did I change my mind about quantity over quality travel? I figured, there are places that are underrated but amazing and some are over-hyped but are so-so even after paying a thousand dollars to get there and after spending God knows how much time of flying. It’s your own preference that matters. Don’t let others’ list misguide you.
My turning point is Hong Kong. It may be heaven to others, but it is one of the countries I’d say once is enough. I don’t know. I was not comfortable there. Maybe I met some nice people who I couldn’t recall because I could remember more the ones who were not. I didn’t encounter any danger or terrible things, it’s just unfortunate that I find them uneasy to deal with. Maybe it was the weather, or maybe it was just not my lucky day when I was there. I had a good time but it wasn’t warm in the heart.
I learned that it is not the number of countries you’ve been that is important, it is your happiness and the good times worth keeping that really matter.
I remember how I imagined myself traveling to France just to check out the Eiffel tower (for the sake of seeing the famous landmark), leave, and move onto the next European country. I wasn’t even intrigued how it would look like in person. It was just like a school assignment that I have to do and be done with it. But I was awestruck when I saw it. I couldn’t take my eyes off it when it lighted. Have you heard the perception about French people being arrogant snobs? I did since I was in nth grade. I even heard if from a French I met in Dubai for a business meeting. He said that they’re only like that if a tourist’s first words to them are “Do you speak English?” That’s the time they’d speak French hurriedly until the tourist gives up. Of course, they know English.
I spent a few days in Paris and found out that French people suit me well. They’re kind as a matter of fact. I liked it a lot there that I went back in less than a year. And I miss it every now and then.
The big surprise to me is South Korea. I am a Europe fanatic. I am a romantic. I did not consider going to Korea until two years ago. I wasn’t interested at all. After seeing some of the Asian countries, I thought to myself there’s nothing to see in there anymore. I was not interested in anything Asian. I find them all the same. It just happened that my friend is interested in Korean Wave (something to do with Korean dramas and all) and got me hooked to it. I wasn’t expecting anything in the country. I thought I would just go there once and that’s it. But then I fell in love with everything: place, food, and people.
Others would say that it’s difficult to communicate with the locals there. Unexpectedly, I even made a number of Korean friends on my first time in Seoul and visited them again the following year. Actually, I’m more fond of talking to them than with others. Strange is it?
France and South Korea. Totally different countries. Totally different in everything. But I felt a sense of belongingness. A part of my heart will always be with them. They feel like my second homes…
… And I will never be completely at home in my own again.