Travelling in South East Asia, moving to Korea, teaching, living alone in a foreign country, starting a blog and exposing my thoughts to the virtual world… I always strive to do things beyond my personal realms of comfort. And this week is no different, with the latest edition of nerve-creating activities being the purchase of a scooter!
Everyday in Korea I do something that scares me, whether intentionally or not. Every morning before I step into my first classroom, before I utter my first ‘good morning class,’ butterflies flutter hard and I think ‘oh crap I am actually doing this.’ This element of fear in my daily ‘routine’ is a huge buzz and forces me to push myself every day. Not only do I have to stand in front of 70 innocent Korean eyes, but also I have to attempt to teach, and hopefully, entertain them for a full 45 minutes. One year ago I could barely give a presentation without breaking down in puddles of sweat. Now this is my ‘norm.’
Living in a foreign country naturally presents more opportunities to face daily fears, whether its upon seeking them or just happening to chance upon them. For example: you’re hungry, there’s no McDonald’s, no Mcdelivery, only Korean restaurants, with Korean food, written in Korean hangeul (not that I frequent mcdonalds but it’s one of the places that guarantees an English menu). Whether you like it or not, if you’re hungry, you’re going to be challenged. The first challenge is placing an order, for anything, successfully. The second being that you order the thing you think you’ve ordered. The third being it arrives and you actually want to eat it. Even this basic need for survival may be a challenge. But even beyond these unavoidable opportunities of ‘aaaaaaah’ I like to seek out other possibilities Korea offers for further discomfort. In the hope tackling these scary things might, as Miss Aguilera once sang, make me stronger and actually be fun! Hence the scooter.
Two years ago a scooter purchase had never flashed up on my life radar. The roads in England are not friends to those on 2 motorised-wheels and neither is the bitingly cold climate. Then a year and a half ago I exchanged bleak Britain for sunny Asia, and suddenly scooters were on my life radar. Destination 1 was Thailand, a country in which it’s difficult to not be woo-ed by the paradisaical dream of cruising along the palm tree-studded street heading for a glowing sunset, with a warm breeze nuzzling against your cheeks. I was woo-ed and I fell for that dream. Then I fell off. And I missed the sunset. And the trees. Its difficult to really see anything really when you’re sprawled across a pavement of gravel. However, it did leave me (physically) scarred, a constant reminder that I tried. Yes I tried and failed. But failing at something that scares you is insurmountably more powerful than failing to try something at all. Four months later I glanced down at my scar, took a deep breath and got back on the proverbial horse. I took it slow, and steady, definitely not hoping to win any race. Although I definitely felt like a winner when I completed a day with no additional scars. And loved every second! Then a year later another opportunity came around. I was in Taiwan. Alone. And I did it. I rode another day. (Read about it here… )
This purchase was a particularly scary thing for me. Almost like a months worth of nervous restaurant orders and pre-class jitters roled into one big ball of anxiousness. Those nerves are the explanation for my months of summer sunshine spent envying friends, strangers and most commonly, delivery drivers (and not because of their edible load), zipping down the streets, on their two wheels of adventure. It took a second trip to Taiwan, not for the trip itself, but the scooter-riding opportunity, to seal that doubt in my driving ability. Once it was sealed I was ready to make the move from two feet to two wheels.
After a few weeks of searching I chanced upon one right here in Gimhae, so I did it, I handed over 300,000 for the 125cc bundle of metal that is a new way to scare myself each day, and finally my access to independence in Korea! I’m not yet on the road, due to a minor complication of my boyfriend flying my licence back to Australia with him… (He’s obviously not too sure of me driving among the precarious nature of Koreans in their vehicles)… But once those papers are back in my hands, the registered name will be mine, I’ll be insured against any adventurous jay-walking ajummas and a new bundle of butterflies will be released to yet again push me beyond that zone of comfort I don’t feel welcome in for too long… A whole new set of Korean adventures await…
Have you taken a scooter to the streets of Asia? Let me in on your stories…