Step 1: Check the weather
According to Lonely Planet , Seoul's peak summer period is from late June to late August and as it turns out, my internship will be in the heat of this summer!
Try to avoid peak summer, from late June to late August, which starts off with the monsoon season, when the country receives some 60% of its annual rainfall, and is followed by unpleasantly hot and humid weather. Although air-conditioning makes summers much more bearable these days, many locals flee the muggy cities for the mountains, beaches and islands, which become crowded, and accommodation prices double. There is also the chance of a typhoon or two.
Typhoon? Monsoon? It's okay. Been there, done that. But in daily business casual attire?! I've done the bit where I attempt to wear as reasonably (and appropriately) little as I can to survive the humidity of Asia while trying to avoid unwanted sunburns. That was when I was an exchange student, now I must figure out how to balance business with humidity. As a gal who spent most of her life in sunny Los Angeles and San Francisco (except when Karl the Fog came by, of course) where the weather is generally dry, I've never had any real problem dressing for any occasion. I don't plan on having that problem in Seoul.
The month of June is characterized by gradually rising daily high temperatures, with daily highs increasing from 76°F to 80°F over the course of the month, exceeding 86°F or dropping below 69°Fonly one day in ten.
One of my Danish friends once told me, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only poor clothing choices."
Step 2: Pack your checked luggage
I have my clothes sectioned in unequal thirds including work outfits on the left, casual outfits in the center packed tightly into my large work purse, and various toiletries/accessories/items to the right.
Step 3: Pack your carry-on luggage and/or backpack
Step 4: Have all of your travel documents and IDs in one easy to reach place!
Here I have this great and pretty cheap Buxton bag I bought off of Amazon for travel purposes. I got the burgundy color for $11.24. It was a recommendation from a friend and it's incredibly handy! There's so many pockets for card storage and a neat little mirror attached to the inner front flap. I love that this can double as a purse for a night on the town or even walking around the city.
The morning I got out of Calmette hospital, Andrew and I hopped on a bus to Siem Reap. We didn't want to miss a beat. I luckily didn't have to lug around my backpack immediately upon getting my IV removed thanks to my companion's upper body strength.
I was kept hydrated thanks to fresh coconut water as I browsed the beautiful and intricate carvings and designs all around the temples. Rocking my badass bandage on my right hand in the photo below.
The photo credits here go to Andrew because I lost my camera (actually, my dad's) in the back of a truck somewhere in Yangon, Myanmar.
It's been a long while since my trip to Cambodia and I've held off on writing about my experience for several reasons. Particularly because this was one of the most terrifying yet amazing trips I took this year. Another being that this was my first time visiting the country in which my parents were born. I had been promised by my dad that we'd go as a family when I was younger but those dreams always fell through so that being said, I was already in Hong Kong and Cambodia was a short $60 flight away.
As a lot of my close friends know, I got a high fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit during my Cambodia excursion which lasted 4 days of the (~) 12 that I planned on exploring my parent's home country. Andrew and I started off Cambodia in the south in Sihanoukville and the island of Koh Rong. Sihanoukville was hyper-touristy and I was frequently asked if I needed my underarms plucked. (Hey, some things just don't matter when you are traveling on a budget and schedule!) Koh Rong was glorious - we kayaked, snorkeled and roasted mini crabs that Andrew caught over a bonfire on the beach. Amid all of our fun, we paid little attention to the awful sand flies that kept attacking us in hordes and feeding on our blood. Thinking about it now still gives me shivers. Any bare flesh we had ended up being covered by these sand flies while each smack we'd deliver to the demons wold leave skinny trails of blood down our bodies. There were so many sand flies, I became slightly traumatized by mass flocks of tiny insects and had mini-nightmares when I returned to Hong Kong...but that is another story!
After our little honeymoon-like escapade, we returned to Phnomh Penh, the capital of Cambodia with intentions to see S21 and the killing fields during the Khmer Rouge reign. I really wanted to see and learn about this because this is what my parents experienced as children in Cambodia and then refugees. However, that night we came back I just became exhausted and knocked out early in the evening fully dressed in my dirty clothes. I woke up at around 3-4 am to shower because I felt sticky and dirty and returned to bed. When I woke up in the morning, I was even more exhausted and fatigued. I felt extremely hot and dizzy which I attributed the humidity of the country and assumed would go away after breakfast. Breakfast came and went with none going into my stomach because I lacked appetite and I told Andrew that I needed to lay down for a bit. An hour past and my fever just got worse and worse. Andrew hesitated to take me to the hospital because I didn't want to go to a third world hospital and I am slightly apprehensive of the idea of hospitals in general. Another hour past and I knew I had to go somewhere for help because my fever and fatigue were not improving.
We took a trike to the nearest hospital which ended up being the French Cambodia Calmette Hospital. To my dismay, no one spoke English and only spoke French and Khmer. I understand Khmer a decent amount but I cannot speak it and I became more than nervous as I could understand them expressing how awful of a position I was in without being able to communicate effectively. I had an IV put in and it was one of the most painful medical experiences of my life and I cried. I tried so hard to not cry but I was terrified and there were nurses around me in flip flops and no gloves in the hospital. I thought that if I wasn't going to die from the fever, I would die from the lack of sanitation.
4 days and 4 nights came and went with lots of drugs, care and rest. There were a lot of things I wish I could have foreseen or done about what happened but these are lessons for the future. I am glad I wasn't alone during this all because the rare times I was alone were the times I was most afraid.
If you're reading this, thank you Andrew.
It's time for reflection but I don't know where to begin. I've finally mustered some energy and motivation to put this blog together now that my extreme jet lag is starting to wear away. My body has been waking up at 4 pm Los Angeles time thinking that it is 7 am Hong Kong time.
How do I describe my 6 month experience with anything but a whirlwind? From meeting new friends from all over the world to taking international business courses and learning exceptional amounts of so many different cultures, this is a semester I will never regret and never forget.
I met most of my great friends on a hike to Victoria Peak and they became the people I traveled with time after time...starting with the Philippines and ending with Thailand over the course of the semester. Over this time, I realized how ignorant I was to outside cultures and while I initially blamed this on the educational system with which I was brought up, it really came down to my own minimal self-exposure to the world. I'm so very happy to say that I've learned an enormous amount about myself, life, travel, and what it means to care for others.
I returned home a few days ago feeling ready to return to the reality of productive college student existence and ready to spend quality time with my little brother who I missed the most. It is nice to escape the humidity of Hong Kong and rejoice in the beauty of my temperate LA but while I feel so different and changed, everything back home has remained the same. I cannot say I didn't expect this as I did but it is just peculiar to finally be here and witness it in action.
All Ankle Recovery Asia Azores Barrier Reef Belize Berkeley Burma Cahal Pech California Cambodia Camping Canada Caye Caulker Central America China East Asia Europe Fiverr Gluttony Go Slow Guangdong Guangzhou Hair Loss Hiking Hong Kong How To Internship Island Long Distance Luohu Commercial City Maya Maya Ruins Myanmar New York North America Ocean Ontario Paddleboarding Philippines Portugal Post Travel Post-Travel Reflection San Ignacio Shenzhen Sickness Snorkeling Southeast Asia South Korea Stress Study Abroad Taiwan USA Vietnam Yunnan