three friends, seven months in china

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Jun 6

The view from Sky100, Hong Kong, HK

The cityscape

Photos of Deoksugung

Seoul, Korea

Touchdown @ Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong

Touchdown @ Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong

so, so naive.: Reflection on the first half of my travels

noitsprianka:

At this moment, I am in the vibrant city of Shanghai, sitting on a couch near the hostel’s bar listening to music and relaxing away with friends. During these past few weeks I rarely had time to just sit down and reflect; something so integral to a person’s travel experience. So here I am,…

A change of pace in Suzhou

We are leaving Suzhou tomorrow and will be beginning our week and a half stay in Shanghai. After staying in Seoul, a lively city that never seems to sleep with its vibrant nightlife and 24-hour cafes, our three day side trip to Suzhou was just what we needed to recharge and prepare our mental and physical states for another bustling metropolis. Suzhou is breathtakingly beautiful with its intricate gardens, canals, and abundance of historical sights. We went to the Humble Administrator’s Garden (anything but “humble” with its seemingly neverending acres of carefully pruned trees and rock gardens) and the Suzhou Museum, designed by the ledgendary I.M. Pei. Our first day in Suzhou was relaxing and very meaningful. We ended the day with a delicious dinner with flavors close to my heart and memories as my parents are both from the nearby provinces. When we first arrived in Suzhou, we noticed that most of the stores were closed by eight or nine at night.

It’s a small and almost sleepy town, but it’s definitely a worthwhile sight. The hostel we’re staying at, Watertown, is a small and picturesque building, with a comfortable ambiance and many open spaces (even a small koi pond and friendly golden retriever!) To escape the heat of the day and to rest up before another week of fast-paced travelling, we’ve been taking advantage of the hostel’s expansive DVD collection. Later tonight, we’ll be venturing out to see what is supposed to be the world’s largest LED screen located in Times’ Square.


May 9

To all those SM fans!!!
So while in Korea, we went to Gangnam and found the SM building. We went there on May 2nd, and saw many girls lining up outside. Does anyone know why? Because it was EXO-M’s Tao’s birthday!!! And a few days after his, was Baekhyun’s birthday. We only stood there for a little while, and every time we saw a van, our hearts would lurch.
However in the end we didn’t see any idols :/
There’s always next time! Hope to spot some next time I can go to Korea.

May 9
We have had such a wonderful experience in Seoul, Korea. It was awesome meeting up with an old friend, meeting a friend you’ve only ever communicated with online, and meeting new people. I really do hope that sometime in the near future I’m able to go back to Seoul again.
However, Seoul does make one spend a lot of money. People say that Seoul is very cheap and it’s awesome! But we found it to be exactly the same as American prices. Sure some places are really cheap, but not always. We all spent a lot of money, not just on food, but also on clothes and skin care/makeup. Besides that Seoul can be very intimidating…everyday we felt the need to dress out best and put on a full face of makeup (bb cream, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, blush), which took forever every morning. I now understand how stressful life can be for the young people in Korea (especially when you see advertisements for plastic surgery everywhere). But Korea isn’t the only place that focuses on beauty, other places are just as stressful, but since we’ve grown up in that culture we don’t really see it (like braces). 
Though it was stressing at times to always look our best, I still loved this trip. We went to historical places, new places, we went almost everywhere! I hope to go back and explore even more :)

We have had such a wonderful experience in Seoul, Korea. It was awesome meeting up with an old friend, meeting a friend you’ve only ever communicated with online, and meeting new people. I really do hope that sometime in the near future I’m able to go back to Seoul again.
However, Seoul does make one spend a lot of money. People say that Seoul is very cheap and it’s awesome! But we found it to be exactly the same as American prices. Sure some places are really cheap, but not always. We all spent a lot of money, not just on food, but also on clothes and skin care/makeup. Besides that Seoul can be very intimidating…everyday we felt the need to dress out best and put on a full face of makeup (bb cream, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, blush), which took forever every morning. I now understand how stressful life can be for the young people in Korea (especially when you see advertisements for plastic surgery everywhere). But Korea isn’t the only place that focuses on beauty, other places are just as stressful, but since we’ve grown up in that culture we don’t really see it (like braces).
Though it was stressing at times to always look our best, I still loved this trip. We went to historical places, new places, we went almost everywhere! I hope to go back and explore even more :)

May 8

Goodbye Seoul, Hello Shanghai

It’s so late at night that it’s technically morning. I’m pretty much done with packing my belongings (and lots of new things, thanks to Korea’s mass market of skincare products in adorable packaging). Tomorrow, we leave for Shanghai. We’ll be spending the first few days in Suzhou, so there will be plenty of opportunities to take photographs of idyllic gardens and canals.

Our two week stay in Korea has been a very affluent and fulfilling trip. We made the most of our time here and made new friends and unforgettable memories. We delved into Seoul’s history, its youth culture, and even brushed against the rims of society. In some way, while we are invisible drifters while travelling, with no concrete identity or role, after living in a place for a length of time like two weeks, it becomes conflicting to feel confined to observing from a distance while having an instinctual desire to feel grounded in something that just feels more “real.” 

We’re young and alive. We are incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to study abroad and simply travel without having the burden of worrying about the responsibilities and consequences that simply are part of growing up. This is the moment when we are at the cusp of adulthood and we can feel it in the very marrow of our bones. We’ll all have to make our own choices one day, and we’ll inevitably walk down different paths, but for now, while we are young, we’ll live life to its fullest.

There will never, ever be a chance for us to have this kind of opportunity again, which is why, in the company of good friends, with the support of our loving families, we will travel, we will explore, we will find ourselves in every street and corner when we’re lost, and most importantly, we’ll come to learn and define by our own terms what it means to live and be alive.