Once upon a time, I moved to Korea and started this blog. The idea was to go to exciting places, do exciting things, and then write about them.
What I hadn’t expected was how hard life in Korea would hit me. There’s this idea that if someone has as externally exciting life, with pictures of sunsets and dakgalbi and cherry blossoms, then that person must be happy.
My first year on Jeju Island, I found that everything I had assumed about reality had been replaced by empty space. Time became an empty space to fill, as did relationships. My most basic beliefs were no longer reliable. And over the four dark days that I spent in a Mongolian river valley with no company but the thunder, I found myself in the position of having absolutely nothing to support me but my own self.
I can say, without reservation, that my first year in Korea was my hardest year in memory.
But being worn down to nothing taught me to be true. The woman who walked out of Mongolia was far more real than the girl who had followed the sunrise across the Pacific.
Since last August I have had the chance to rebuild what I want to be, with the support of the beautiful friends I have made here on Jeju. I can honestly say that I am happy now. And I am once more ready to write.
Here is the truth: travel does not save you. A different colored sunset will not make you feel complete. Ancient ruins can not make you feel safe. The ocean lends no promises, and the planet holds absolutely no obligation to make you feel at home.
If anything, travel teaches you that you have to save yourself.
My name is Tammy. I have no sense of smell. I now had a scar on my calf from a motorbike in the Philippines, a sore knee from the second horse I fell off of in Mongolia, and a new appreciation for sports bras in hostel dorms.
And I’m back.