why i love travel

IMG_0251ed3One pedal, then the other. Over and over and over again. Almost there. Just me and the road, and . . . That old guy who just flew past me.

Seriously? . . .

. . . He was pushing a much lower gear.

I felt better.

Then, suddenly, “Hiiiiii!!!” I looked to my left. High up on a balcony, a little boy and his dad were catching the last rays of the setting sun. The little boy was waving vigorously. I smiled. “Hiii!!” I called back and waved as I pedaled on. The boy grinned.

(A few minutes later. Heading down the hill I’d just pushed up, contemplating my next blog post [now my next-next post] . . .)

A group of men, strolling. Hands clasped behind their backs, chatting amiably on the sidewalk. A few wore caps. They were tan. Asian. One of them looked at me as I flew past. His eyes smiled, as though he were amused, as if he were saying, “What are you doing here?”

And, suddenly, I was back in Taejongdae Park in Busan, South Korea.

I was on an adventure.

And I was happy.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel see only one page.” — St. Augustine

(Its diversity is also one reason I like living in California.)


Staircase to Dalmaji Hill


Dalmaji Pagoda


Haedong Yunggong Temple






Dinner, anyone? It’s fresh!



Yongdusan Harbor

Yongdusan Harbor

Art gallery in Taejongdae Park


In June 2011, my friend Leah and I (who were both living in Taiwan at the time) decided to take a trip to Korea. This is Haeundae Beach, the most popular beach in South Korea (off season).


The gentlemen I thought of on my ride—Taejongdae Park.

59 thoughts

    • We were in Busan at a rather magical time of year. Cool and cloudy, foggy. Being somewhat drawn to overcast weather, and loving the fact that it was less humid than Taiwan (and Hong Kong), and you can see why I LOVED it. The weather in Tokyo was cool, too, when I was there (on a separate trip)… I’ve never been to Singapore. Lucky you! How long will you be over there?

  1. One place I love – South Korea – teaching in Daejeon and Seoul were highlights of my life – and then teaching in Busan was wonderful! Thanks for the visual!

    • I thought of you when writing this post, Hoss. I was only there for a few days, but the memories are really special… I really, really hope to make it back… soon!

      • You should be sure to visit again, too! I might look into teaching over there. Probably too late for that this year, but possibly for the following school year. We’ll see. Thanks for the encouragement. :)

  2. I loved your pictures! You made me want to travel back to Korea. When I was ages 10-12 my family lived in Korea on a mission compound in Seoul. It is so very different now. Then, we were allowed so much freedom, riding our bikes all around our area of the city. We went down to the market and would haggle over buying a piece of Gingsang (sp?) candy. When we left I felt sad. I love the fact that you have seen and felt so many areas of the world Jessica. It is not often that someone your age has gotten outside of their little microcosm. Your writing reflects your experiences. Thank you.

    • You are so sweet, Terri. I had not forgotten that you’d lived in Korea. I never made it up to Seoul. Was only in Busan for a weekend. There is so much more to see… I pray I make it back before long. I really liked Korea.

      Yes, I’ve seen a number of places now—enough to make me well aware of how small a part of the earth is the plot we tread, as well as of how little of the earth I’ve actually seen. I didn’t state it explicitly above (on purpose), but it is that added awareness—of others, of various cultures, of myself—that is, for me, far and away the most important thing I’ve gained by travel.

  3. The quote from St. Augustine sums it up. People who do not travel seem to have a limited view of the world. Does it affect us? Sure! When our elected officials are so busy wanting to spend money on erecting more fences on our borders and view this as a bigger priority than feeding elderly people who have been reduced to 4 free meals a week, then yes; it affects us.

    Great post and I like the pictures of South Korea too!

    • Thanks, Steve. Absolutely travel affects us. The awareness I’ve gained—of others, of other cultures, of myself, of just how big the world is, etc.—is irreplaceable. It is a shame more people aren’t able to see more of the world than they do. That most simply stay in their small comfort zones for most of their lives (and I’m not blaming them for this) is what leads to bigotry and narrow-mindedness…and erecting fences instead of feeding people.

      I wish I had an answer for all of this. The only thing I know to do is to encourage people to take advantage of any and every opportunity they get to travel, *especially* if it is to a place they wouldn’t have thought to go to before.

  4. Those squids looks so strange with their tentacles lying straight like that. They almost don’t look real. (Is “squids” correct? Is that the plural of “squid?” I have no idea. Sounds funny.) Anyway, I love your work.

    • Haha. Yes, they do look funny. They smelled funny, too! (I would *not* want to work in a fish market! Also, according to Merriam Webster, squid can be pluralized either “squid” or “squids.” I looked it up!)

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Means the world! :)

  5. Jess, I understand your love of travel and how the breadth of your experience has changed who you are. This post may be the best you have done on this topic – personal, visual, brief, effective. And the photos bring it home!

    • Thanks, Dad. It’s really true. The day-in and day-out will never be the same for me, ever again… You know I loved Korea. I really do hope to go back!

  6. What clean and clear photo-journaling, and the St. Augustine quote was a teaching moment: first time I’ve ever read it, here on Shift.

    Again, another quality post on a blog I enjoy reading.

    • Really, Mike? You’d never heard the St. Augustine quote? I actually put it in as an afterthought, and now I’m *so* glad I did.

      Thanks so much. I’m happy to know you enjoy my blog. I really enjoy yours, too! :)

  7. I like how you enjoy the subtle spoken and visual interactions with people in the places where you go. This tells a little about you.
    Beautiful images. Did you take these?

    • Thanks, Nate. People are the most interesting thing in the world, and the best part about traveling, hands down. There is nothing like being the “outsider” and finding your way in someone else’s land. It gives you a whole new perspective on life and the way we all live.

      I’m glad you liked the pictures—yes, I did! With a Canon Powershot I bought in Korea, actually. It’s nothing fancy, but it suits me well!

  8. It sounds like a magical adventure Jess! I think the best part of travel is experience in emotion it generates ~ Looks as though you found this on your great adventure!
    Love to you x RL

    • You are such a sweetheart, Robyn. I agree that the best part of travel is the emotion it generates, but I’d also have to tack onto that the origin of that emotion, which is interaction with people… There is nothing like being the outsider in a foreign land. It gives you a whole new perspective—on everything.

      Love to you, too. Thank you so much for your kind words! xo jess

  9. i’ve had a similar experience too. when i visited HK i noticed even the grandmas walk faster than me. with a cane and tennis shoes too. =)

    i’m so thankful that you share your stories along with your photos. it gives a greater depth and context for us readers as we enjoy your photos and vicariously live through them. =)

    • I’m so glad to know that, Sophia. It’s funny. When I started this post, I hadn’t planned to include all of the pictures. In the end, though, it just seemed to make sense. I’m glad I did. :)

      Yes, people in Asia walk a lot, and walk fast, too! You *have* to in a city so crowded!… I grew very accustomed to feeling like a foreigner. That feeling gives you a whole new perspective on life, and some of it I didn’t even realize I until I came home!

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment. :) jess

    • That’s the plan! I will try. I hope you do go wandering and wondering. That’s the best, truest way to live, and the only way to truly discover yourself.

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. It makes my heart smile. :)

    • I’ll try! Very soon! I got stuck working on a poem that never quite came to fruition today, so I never quite got to my Asian adventures. You definitely have to get to Asia. I never thought I’d go, but now that I’ve been, I wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world!

  10. oh!! wow beautiful post and lovely destination and i like The world is a book, and those who do not travel see only one page.” — St. Augustine, words that inspire people to travel world wide, And you are one of them that you are love to travel :) God bless you.

    • Thanks so much, Amresh! Yes, I love to travel and hope to see more of the world soon! Everyone and everywhere is so different, and yet we share similarities, and that’s what makes this world so beautiful and fascinating. I look forward to seeing your beautiful India someday. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. God bless you, too! :)

  11. Great photos and great story. I like the idea that the mind can take you anywhere you want to go at any time. As Milton once said “The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.” One of the beauty of travels is it keeps you wanting to travel to one more place…

  12. Great memories for you. You must miss some of these more faraway travels. I would agree that living in more diverse communities in North America would appease a travel lust wanderer.

    • You are right, Jean. It definitely would. I spent some time in San Francisco recently, and it was a breath of fresh air—in more ways than one! (The weather there is always cooler!)… I think I might like to be up where you are, too. ;)

      Thanks as always for stopping by!!

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