My budget imposed travel ban is almost at its end, and I’m headed out to Freshwater (near Manly) tomorrow to do a little snorkeling and experience some more of my favourite beach area in Sydney. Forget Bondi – give me Manly, Shelly Beach, Freshwater, and Dee Why any day.
In the interim though, here’s a short update about things that are going on in my life right now. All of them travel related, I promise.
Joining the Tribe
For those who don’t know, a Travel Tribe is a group where (and I’m quoting direct from their website here) “world nomads, wanderlusters, and tomorrow’s thinkers come together to share stories, ideas, and drinks in support of the online travel community’. If you didn’t know that, don’t feel bad – I didn’t prior to going along either.
Since I’ve started this blog I’ve been lucky enough to stumble across quite a few excellent travel blogs, most of which you can see listed down the left hand side of your screen in my links. People like Simi from Straight from the Curls and Hamish from Bondgam South Korea two in particular that I interact with outside of just reading their blogs. But up until Thursday night, I’d not been fortunate enough to meet a fellow travel blogger in person.
Well, that’s only partially try. My mate Tony keeps the very good It’s Good Overseas blog, but I knew him before I knew about his blog. If you fancy travel to unique destinations – you’re going to get a real kick out of his site. His travel CV includes odd destinations such as Yemen, Togo, and Lebanon – and he’s just back from a fascinating trip to Timor Leste that has me wanting to explore the world’s newest country.
Upon seeing my Twitter declared bemoaning of the lack of travel minded friends I had, Tony suggested I tag along to the Sydney Travel Tribe’s November meeting. Based out of the Scary Canary (a backpacker bar that smells suspiciously of vomit, but has cheap drinks and surprisingly good food), the Sydney Travel Tribe is where it all started. There are now travel tribes all over the world and I’ve half a mind to set one up in Korea. But more on that later.
I arrived before Tony and immediately realized that I had no idea what anybody in the tribe looked like. Like a kid on his first day of school, I lurked in the corner nursing a beer and frantically Tweeting in the hope that one of them would spot me and save me the embarrassment of walking around a crowded backpacker bar asking people if they were ‘in the tribe’. It just sounds like code for a swinger’s party or something.
I eventually plucked up the courage to approach a pair of friendly looking girls and ask them the question, and I was greatly relieved when they both smiled and immediately began asking me where I was from, what I did, and where I’d been. As we chatted about our travel plans and our travel pasts, I learned that they were Heather of There’s No Place Like Oz and Dina of Vagabond Quest.
Dina’s blog details her and her husband’s eight years of traveling around the world together, while Heather’s is about her decision to uproot herself from her life in America and spend a year living and working in Australia. Both very good reads and both get the CWB tick of approval. Go look now. I’ll wait.
Done? Good. Let’s keep going.
As the night wound on and the $5 pints flowed, I met a bunch of other cool people. I’ll only list the ones with blogs I can link to, but rest assured everybody I met was very open and eager to meet a fellow traveler. I had a good chat with Craig and Kaz from the very popular Y Travel Blog and shared Korean war stories with James from TravelByU. I got a little star-struck meeting Brooke from Brooke vs. the World and Why Go Australia fame. All very cool people. All very cool sites. It’s kind of a recurring theme here, but I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it.
After the majority of the travel tribe had wandered off in search of bed or food, a few of us decided to embark on a trek for some Korean BBQ. Dina, Tony, Brooke, Pat (Brooke’s partner), Craig, and I all made our way to Hanabi on Liverpool Street. My only other Korean eating experiences in Sydney have been at BBQ City (very good, although pricey) and Narukorean in Surry Hills (not particularly good) – and I’d say that Hanabi sat somewhere in the middle. Decent galbi, cheap pitchers of Hite, and friendly enough staff – but it didn’t feel like a Korean restaurant, especially when James’s near flawless Korean was continually ignored by the Korean staff. Not cool!
All told it was a really good night. I met some great people, discovered some fantastic blogs, ate some good food, drank plenty of beer, and became thoroughly jealous of those people whose blogs have snazzy business cards. Definitely something on the agenda for me. I’ve already set up a base camp on Moo to design my own.
If you’re a traveler, somebody working in travel, or just somebody who is giving travel some serious though, I’d thoroughly recommend heading out to their December meeting. It’s on a beach!
Speaking of Korea…
I got home from the travel tribe meeting at around 1am and was pleasantly surprised to find an email waiting for me in my inbox from one of the dozen or so Korean recruiters I’ve been speaking to lately. Turns out the job I’d interviewed for earlier in the day was offered to me, so I’m Yongin bound in February of 2011!
While it’s true that my first and second preferences were Gwangju and Busan respectively, I’d softened on the idea of going to Seoul considerably over time. It’s the place to be as a foreigner in Korea, and while it’s a bit big for a country boy like me, Yongin is a satellite city that gives me the comfort of a smaller city with all of the perks of living by a city with more people in it than my country of birth.
I’ve actually been to Yongin once before. My friend Tash and I waited an inordinate amount of time there for a bus to Gwangju after spending a day exploring Korea’s biggest theme park, Everland. Thus far my Googling hasn’t managed to turn up much information beyond its proximity to Everland and the country’s largest Korean Folk Village – but I know it’s on the Seoul subway line, and that’s enough for me.
The school itself sounds really fantastic. It’s run by a Korean lady who proudly considers herself an educator first and a businesswoman second, which is a breath of fresh air in the Korean education landscape. Her school, predominantly a kindergarten, integrates sport, music, and art into the education process – and seems to be one of the few Korean schools I’ve encountered that acknowledges that students need to be having fun to learn English. She did stress that there is a lot of work involved, but I’m personally quite excited to get a chance to actually educate rather than simply regurgitate a textbook and have the kids regurgitate it back.
In the way of neighbors, I’m lucky enough to have a few good friends from my Gwangju days in the area. Heloise and Phil, who were both present at my first Korean birthday party, are nearby – and my high school buddy Paul is perennially based out of Seoul. It’s not Gwangju, but I’m quite excited about a change of scene and a change of pace. It’s a perfect opportunity for me to re-reinvent myself.
And now for something completely different…
Actually, that pretty much brings you up to speed. Fallon and I have our snorkeling adventure tomorrow and in two weeks we’re doing a walking tour of Sydney/photography workshop as her birthday present to me. Then I’ve got a weekend in Armidale and Glen Innes (quiver with anticipation!) and the following weekend we’re off to New Zealand. Exciting times ahead. Stay tuned.