Do you go back to your hometown?

I left home three years and some months ago. I embarked on something called long-term travel, or a nomadic life with my backpack. I’ve never stopped moving around ever since, but I always came back to visit family in Seoul, Korea during holidays. It allowed me to breathe after vigorous traveling.

The funny thing is, by leaving home to travel I’m more fond of where I’m from. Whenever I come back, I’m wowed by the beauty and complex culture.

This time around I flew to Korea after two weeks in Mexico to spend Chuseok holiday with my family. It’s a holiday celebrating a successful harvest, on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. It’s one of the two biggest holidays in Korea along with the Korean New Year (lunar new year). As I talked about before, I always come back to help my mom prepare the food (a lot of it), and spend time with my family. We cook for two-full days, perform a ceremony on the morning of Chuseok, and visit my brother’s family. It is tiring — cooking for two days and playing with my 6- and 8-year-old nephews!, but it’s a fulfilling time for sure. My nephews are now old enough to understand the concept of different countries and know about my travels. I’m almost a cool aunt to them.

Autumn is the best time to travel in Korea. Spring, or Summer, or Winter are great of course. But Autumn is the best because of the mild weather and beautiful leaves. After Chuseok, Stephen and I took a break to visit Seoraksan National Park. Hometown travel, I’d like to say. I’ve been there a few times, but it’s always a pleasant place to go back to . We planned a two-day hike via several peaks. It was funny and heartwarming to watch how my dad worried and prepared for our hiking trip. My dad is a big hiker. He’s been to most of the mountains in the country several times. No matter how many mountains I’ve been to, even internationally for that matter, to him I’m still a baby. He tracked us the entire time by texting. If you remember how rocky it has been between me and my dad… you’ll notice how things have been changed.

Sunset in Seoraksan National Park
Sunset in Seoraksan National Park
Seoraksan National Park
Seoraksan National Park


Seoraksan National Park was absolutely stunning. I don’t remember anywhere this beautiful. I’m sure there is , but I guess the hometown pride factor kicked in big time. The start of the hike was a straight up uphill, but it rewarded us with great views the entire way. The weather was great, warm but not too hot, cool but not cold. The sky was like a canvas that kept changing with the shape of clouds and mountain peaks. The trail was rocky and rough. Considering its height (tallest peak 1,708m), it’s a tough mountain to climb. But when we reached the top, the view was just too stunning. “Wow, Korea is beautiful,” I said again. The hiking trip was a great break, but more importantly, it was a great reminder of how beautiful my country really is.

Korea is a great place to live. That’s the sentence I thought I’d never say.

It’s important to not forget where one’s from. It’s important to cherish what we’re given. But funny enough, you can’t see that when you’re up close. There’s an old Korean saying, “at the foot of the old lamp is the darkest.” It means it’s easy to overlook what’s close. When I was in an agony of unhappiness years ago before my travels, I blamed it on my environment. I thought all the problems were given to be by default. The conservative society and family, the one path I was being made to follow, other people’s expectations… I thought it was unfortunate that I wasn’t born into somewhere more adventurous. This was before I realized I could change my situation by making my own decisions. By coming back to my hometown, I realized once again how wonderful my childhood was, how fortunate I was to have Seoul as my hometown, and have supportive and loving (in their own way) family. I can’t change what I’ve been given, but I certainly can change what’s coming afterward. The happiness was here all along. It was just up to me.


11 thoughts on “The Importance of Hometown Travel”

  1. It’s wonderful when we realize that our hometown doesn’t define who we become once we leave, but that it will always be an important part of us because it formed us in so many ways. Coming home feels like making peace, in a way. I don’t identify with my hometown anymore, but I do appreciate what it has afforded me in life 🙂

  2. I couldn’t agree with this post more! I actually just did this a little while ago because I feel like so many people overlook how great there own country is (especially in the US). Its great to see you going out and experiencing all Korea has to offer. And I’m so jealous! Korea really is the perfect place for fall… wish I could hiking with you~

  3. It’s always great to travel own country. You will discover more beautiful things in your own country, Which you are unaware about that. stunning picture of Seoraksan National Park thanks for sharing..

  4. What a thoughtful post. Really enjoy reading your blog and glad to see that you enjoy storytelling.
    My hometown is a little-known place near the crowded city of Calcutta, and I left it almost 10 years ago! Every time I go back to visit the place feels a little different–urbanization wreaks its many changes there all the time, but I too evolve and change as I travel and learn. Hometown visits are always so interesting to me. Glad you wrote about this.

  5. I think that hometown travel is important. Sometimes we go on a quest to find the best places on Earth without realizing that quite a number of them are just around us. I come from a city called Medan in Indonesia and there are plenty of natural treasures, and it’s quite a shame that I haven’t explored more of them – but whenever I did explore, I see amazing things everywhere: Lake Toba, Mount Sibayak, Tangkahan, Sipiso-piso Waterfall, Berastagi. I’m impressed to see your pictures of Seoraksan National Park too. It’s tempting to imagine that Seoul and Jeju are the be-all end-all of Korea travelling, but Seoraksan National Park just put me in complete awe.

  6. I feel the same about the U.S. You could spend a lifetime exploring everywhere and you still wouldn’t see it all. So, I’m doing my best to at least see a lot of it. The U.S. has about everything you can find anywhere else, plus things you can find nowhere else. It’s a big, amazingly beautiful, and diverse place.

  7. I swore I’d never go back to my hometown of Philadelphia in the US when I left for college. After college, I promptly moved back to Philly (a guy, a job, etc). We (not the same guy) left to raise our boys in the suburbs—better schools, but moved to Center City Philly when we became Empty Nesters. There has been a huge change since I last lived in Center City as a brand new lawyer in 1980. We no longer roll up the sidewalks at 6:00 PM. Many young people have moved into the city, making it a lively place at all hours. We love being able to walk everywhere. We love living in vibrant Philadelphia.

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