Sat in Beijing airport after a hectic few weeks, and a far from perfect morning, it was only then that we could start to reflect, to look back on the past three years in Korea.
In those last days, time seemed to be on steroids, pumped up and running away from us at break-neck speed as we tried to fit it all in: one last time to our favourite islands, one last meal at our favourite restaurants, one last meeting with friends.
Even the attachments of daily life seemed to pass too quick, as we tried to savour riding our scooter around town, and watching the rice fields being readied for planting.
Throw in a full teaching schedule and an ever growing backlog of articles to write, photos to edit and videos to make, plus a full-on six day camping road trip around Kyushu, and the weeks just disappeared. Oh, and then there was the appearance on Korean TV for a popular dining program too!
On top of that, packing up three years of accumulated stuff while still trying to plan for a busy six months of travel, meant we lost even the time to watch an episode or two of our favourite shows through the week. Last minute decisions to buy new camera lenses, filters and a drone further ate up our remaining time as we hurriedly researched the best options and prices. The days raced by and suddenly, spring was gone and summer was here.
Arriving at Busan Gimhae Airport, the plan had been to check in and enjoy some patbingsu (the quintessential Korean dessert) with our friends, before saying goodbye and boarding our flight. It had become a bit of a running joke; Kim had somehow never had the iced red bean dessert and we’d been talking about it for weeks. But standing at the check-in desk, the lady informed us that our connecting flight from Beijing to Melbourne had been cancelled – we were now on a flight two days later. Our Australia plans were starting to unravel, but after an hour and a half or so, the airline had managed to get us on a flight to Sydney instead, with a connecting flight down to Melbourne. Still no patbingsu for Kim though.
Tough goodbyes to good friends and our last taste of makgeolli
Stress over. Or so we thought. After a quick final cup of our favourite makgeolli and a tearful goodbye, we had to pull every battery out of our carry-on at the security check, and were told that we were over the maximum number of batteries allowed. Faced with the prospect of having to ditch a lot of expensive gear just bought, and with only 20 minutes till take-off, we were both a little frazzled. Luckily, one of the airline staff we’d been dealing with arrived and signed off on it. Soon we were through immigration, on the plane and in the air, watching Korea fade from view as we rose through the clouds.
With ten hours of downtime in the airport in Beijing, we had the time to start looking back.
Leaving is hard. Korea and Tongyeong has been a real home for us, and leaving home isn’t easy. Unlike our true home in Scotland, we know that we’ll never be back again, at least to live, and probably not for a long time. The letting go of all those familiar sights, sounds, and places, not to mention the people, feels almost like a physical loss. We were so busy in the end, so rushed, that we never really got to say a proper goodbye to many of the people and places we love. We’re excited for the future, but for the moment, that excitement is tinged with sadness at what we’ve left behind. But, we know that sadness will pass, and when it does, what we’ll be left with is just happy memories and lifelong friendships.
For now, it’s time to put the past behind us and look to the future. We’re setting off on the start of a new adventure, on a period of full time travel that will take us to some of the most amazing places in the world, to meet some of the most interesting and diverse people, and to experience some of the most fascinating cultures.
We’ll be working full time on growing GTWH, improving our skills and making it the best, most useful and most interesting travel blog we can possibly make it. We’re excited for the challenges ahead and look forward to having you along for the ride.
For the next couple of weeks we’ll be bouncing round half of Australia, doing some long overdue catching up with many great friends we’ve met along the way. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to come back to Australia for the first time since 2011, seeing as we were sort of close.
After that, the adventure starts proper. We’ll be heading back to a few of our old favourites to explore further, and landing in countries we’ve yet to visit, doing a whole lot of hiking, camping and generally appreciating some of the world’s stunning landscapes.
Just thinking about it now, the excitement is building, and we can’t wait to get started.
Be seeing you.