I visited Hong Kong for the Lunar New Year, visited the Korean DMZ, bought a scooter and rode all over the Gyeongsangbuk-do area, strolled through cherry blossoms in Gyeongju, visited the Korean Expo in Yeosu, hiked the beautiful mountains of Seoraksan, went rock-climbing all over Korea, frolicked in the mud at Mud Fest, ate dog soup, went to the beautiful island of Ulleung-do, played guitar and sang in front of an entire bar of people, finished a year of teaching some awesome kids, said goodbye to the many dear friends I made in Korea, learned scuba-diving in the Philippines, hiked the jungles of Malaysia, explored the urban jungle of Singapore, and finally made it to Thailand to play with elephants and tempt fate riding a motorbike through the northern mountains.
I am so lucky to be traveling the world and having the time of my life. Yet, in spite of my experiences and the fun times I’ve had, I know I’ve missed so much. I’ve missed Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family for the second year in a row. I’ve missed seeing my cousins grow up quicker than they should and hearing their stories. I’ve missed weddings and birthdays, new jobs and relocations. I missed my brother’s graduation from the California Maritime Academy and his subsequent departure on his first job in the field. I missed my sister leaving for a quarter abroad in Austria, where she seems to have had an absolutely wonderful, whirlwind of a good time. I’ve missed my parents slowly going crazy from having ’empty nest syndrome’. I’ve missed seeing my friend’s daughter growing up into a fast-talking, cute-as-a-button, Gangnam-style dancing machine!
I guess this holiday season is bitter-sweet. This has been the happiest, least stressful year of my life and I am having a fantastic time exploring the world. Yet, I also miss the family and friends – both at home and in Korea – whom I’ve left behind. As I look towards another year of travel and exploration, I feel my excitement and anticipation for the road ahead balanced by the weight of what it costs to live like this. To all of you back home and around the world whom I call my family and friends: know that you are always in my mind and in my heart. I miss you more than you know and can’t wait until I see you all again. Thank you for your kindness, your support, your stories, and your love. I love you so much.