In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Juno, the world traveler behind the popular travel blog, RunawayJuno.com. Originally from South Korea, Juno started blogging long before her career break. When I sent her the questions, I didn’t realized her trip had ended. But, I’ve been wanting to interview her for a long time. I’m a big fan of her blog. Also, so much of my audience is in the US and Canada. It’s great to interview someone who to a career break TO North America. So, let’s get right to it.
1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?
After three months traveling around America, I’m back in Korea, planning my next trip. I’m currently writing this from a comfy couch on Jeju Island.
2. Juno, I’ve always wanted to ask you this, are you really running away or are you running toward something?
I choose ‘Runaway Juno’ because the word runaway implicitly indicates travel. While working as a cubic farmer a big part of me always had an urge to escape, but now I know that I was running toward something. I don’t want to use travel as a method of running away from the reality. I want to make the life of travel my reality. So I’m off and running toward my goal. Everyday.
3. Your one of the few travel bloggers I know from anywhere in Asia that blogs in English. Why blog in English instead of Korean?
To be involved in a bigger circle. Like it or not, English is the most widely spoken language in the world. Because the biggest reason for opening the travel blog was sharing my stories and learning the world better, English was the perfect choice. It was not an easy decision, but I knew it was the right one. Also, there’s not a big community for backpackers or independent travelers in Korea. If I had started writing in Korean, I wouldn’t have gotten this many readers and friends.
4. You’ve been touring around North America, both the US and Canada. How was it different than you imagined and how was it exactly as you imagined?
I can’t speak for the whole country because I only traveled to the East Coast, mostly New England and then Quebec in Canada. Three months were not enough to explore the gigantic countries. For America, the diversity was something I certainly expected, but I was surprised by the breadth of diversity—from people to food to cars. In my home country, everything is very homogeneous. Everything can be divided into normal and abnormal. Same race, same language, same cultural background, and same lifestyle. However, in the US, I was surprised by the much broader diversity and how people are respectful of the individual’s opinions. I sensed that it was very possible to achieve the lifestyle I wanted.
Quebec felt like a whole different country, not just a province of Canada. It’s their ongoing protest, and Quebecers are proud to be different. Quebec was much more European than I thought it would be.
5. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your trips?
Career change. It grew out of a moment of boredom. For two and a half years of the office life, I realized this is not for me. I couldn’t see any future with the position. Something that gives me excitement and hope, that’s the kind of work that I want to do. So I changed, not only my career but also my lifestyle.
6. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?
Traveling can be the biggest textbook there is, and the wisest teacher you can ever meet. People who don’t understand why I have this desire to go out and learn about the world are always asking me back, “what could you possibly learn?” not because they are curious, but because they are judging. Partly due to the rough political, social and economic history of Korea, people think that higher education is the only way to success in life. But what they don’t know is that school alone can’t teach you how to be an independent thinker. I met so many people who had no idea how to provide themselves. People who had never been out of their comfort zone. It’s not something we are born with; its something we have to experience.
7. What was your first ¨I’m not in Kansas (Seoul) anymore¨ moment?
Recently, when I arrived at Washington Airport, I was looking for a way out. Then a big, tall African-American airport security guard approached to me and said “You can’t go this way ma’am,” in very deep voice. Okay, I was not in Seoul for sure.
8. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?
Coincidence after coincidence, I stayed with a family in Auckland, New Zealand for few weeks and we went on a road trip together. We went for a walk everyday to different parks, I attended a talent show of homeschooled kids, visited friends and family, and hung out with local kids who were extremely curious about Korea. It happened on my very first backpacking trip and the experience gave me the idea of how great ‘local’ experience could be. Luckily I had a great start and I cherish the experience. That’s why I prefer travel as living in a place rather than sightseeing. That was the foundation of all of my travels and me became a travel blogger.
9. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
When an English girl totally iced me out at the party because of my English skill. On my backpacking trip to New Zealand, I met this girl at Greymouth, a small town on the South Island. About five of us who met at the hostel went on a brewery tour and BBQ party after. We were talking and the girl from England got annoyed at me because I couldn’t understand her a few times. Just like that she decided to ice me out at the party. It was clearly her characteristic fault but I felt very embarrassed. But it was a good experience to get to know that there are different types of people including not so considerate.
10. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?
I try to do nothing. Even though I’m on a short schedule. Not that I’m wasting time, I’m trying to just be in the place. Visiting historic ruins and museums are important, but feeling the place whilst jaunting down the street is also valuable. Listening to how people talk in their language, seeing what they are wearing, eating and buying or selling, looking at the houses they are living in, talking to street vendors… This is one of my favourite activities and the reason why I travel.
11. Finally, our lightening round.
- Best dish you’ve found so far: Laksa, in Malaysia
- Most exotic food eaten: dried seahorse on a stick, in Beijing, China
- Most breathtaking moment: Sunset in KK, Borneo
- Biggest disappointment: Beijing, China – bad experience with not honest people
- Most memorable place: Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
- Most memorable person: Ailing who lives in Jeju Island, originally from Malaysia
- Best thing to have on a long bus ride: Book and blanket
- Worst thing to have on a long bus ride: Small bladder – not fun!
- Best thing you packed: Sarong for efficiency and space, ice-cream for fun
- Dumbest thing you packed: laptop on a hiking trip
- Funniest travel habit you have: Weird or endearing? I travel with my stuffed animals and space icecream.
- Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer: So many places, but Borneo and South island of New Zealand.
Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit. These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.
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Tags: Who´s Out There Now