Reporter Column: Travelling Solo
Reporter Column: Travelling Solo
  • Reporter Won John
  • 승인 2022.10.03 01:42
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Reporter Won John
Reporter Won John

It had been five years since I had set foot on foreign soil. My high school life was full of dreams of freely traveling abroad and experiencing the various exotic cultures around the world. Yet, Covid-19 remained triumphant even after two years of pandemic madness. Hence, I was jubilant when travel regulations were slowly lifted, opening a slight window of opportunity for overseas travel. My original plan was to go to Osaka, Japan, where a friend of mine was living. However, the regulations imposed by the Japanese government banned free travel and only allowed package tours for large groups.
One day, while idly scrolling through plane tickets departing from Incheon International Airport, a ticket to Singapore caught my eye. Suddenly, traveling to Singapore seemed to be the best idea in the world. It was a small city with great public transit, low criminal activity, and lots of things to see. What a perfect choice for my first solo trip! I commenced into an impulsive purchasing spree, buying airplane tickets, hotel accommodations, travel insurance, and a foreign SIM card. Within an hour, I was a few hundred thousand won poorer and set for a 3-day trip to Singapore.
A few relatively monotonous weeks later, I found myself at Changi Airport, Singapore. It was almost 4 in the morning with everything dark in sight, yet I was full of expectations for an exciting trip. Even the insane taxi prices to my hotel room could not quench my mood, and I had a good night’s sleep. The motto for my trip was ‘spontaneity’ and I had intentionally refrained from actively searching up popular touristy spots or famous restaurants. I just wanted to experience every nook and cranny of the city without the guidance of a guide. I packed my camera and a few belongings and just set out to discover whatever looked interesting.
Almost immediately, even after just a few minutes walking along the streets, I was shocked by the sheer diversity of the population and cultures that mingled in this city. I had had the impression that Singapore was a predominantly Chinese country, and while that is statistically true, just listening as you stroll about, one can hear such a diverse range of languages. Chinese, Tamil, Malay, other assortments of unrecognizable languages, and even the occasional friendly Korean. It was in stark contrast to the almost total homogeneity I had become accustomed to while living in Korea for far too long.
Despite the warnings that there was going to be heavy downfalls of rain, the weather was beautiful with clear skies and a cool breeze. I wandered along the streets, walking through Marina Bay, Chinatown, and Little India. Along the way, I met many people willing to talk about their city, telling the story of how Singapore was made and shaped into the great economy it is today. I could find many parallels between their economic miracles and our own Miracle on the Han River. The two days there were very informative and interesting as I learned many things about Singaporean culture and history. I even learned how to play the traditional Chinese board game of Mahjong.
While the trip was a wonderful experience, as all things must come to an end, I found myself thrust back into reality at home. Thinking back on my trip, there were not that many things in Singapore that I couldn’t experience back here, yet everything from the skyscrapers to the most trivial things seemed exotic and new. Maybe it was just my mindset that made the difference. Maybe appreciating things in my own life would make life more exciting and novel. Maybe I’m just thinking too deeply into this subject. Who knows?