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Kim Dayeong: Traipsing across South America and Reading the Land

The Inha Times interviewed traveller Kim Dayeong, who returned from a trip to South America last year. She wrote a book, Reading South America, chronicling her experiences for those interested in South America. The Inha Times sat down with her to earn more about this fascinating author.

 

The Inha Times (IT): Hi! Introduce yourself, please.

Kim Dayeong: Hi, my name is Kim Dayeong. I'm glad to meet you. I’ve always loved living the life of a wanderer and have a keen interest in travelling and studying geography.

 

IT: Is there any particular reason why you chose to travel to South America?

Kim Dayeong: The wonder of somewhere that I didn’t know about stimulated my curiosity. I was curious about the unknown natural environment and people on the other side of the world. I'm often asked why I chose to visit South America, unlike other university students who usually go to Europe. My answer is that I think I have seen enough of Europe in photos!

 

Pucon, Provided by Richard Schmidt in Flickr

 

IT: What is the most memorable place that you visited during your trip?

Kim Dayeong: I've been asked this question many times. Actually, every place was precious, so it is hard to choose just one. So, I usually choose depending on my mood or impromptu thoughts. Today, Pucon is the place that pops into my head. Pucon is a small town in Chile located by a lake and volcano. When I made my own bucket list during a first year cultural studies class, I wrote 'taking a picture next to a volcano' for fun. After visiting Pucon, I was able to tick this off my bucket list.

 

IT: Please tell us about any culture shock that you experienced.

Kim Dayeong: I was shocked by the difference in toilets. I was surprised that the toilet bowl didn’t have a cover. I even suddenly thought, ‘Did I come into the men’s rest room?’ Another amazing thing is the two kinds of toilet bowl. One is familiar to us; however, the other has a tap, though it looks like a toilet bowl. So, I and the other travelers talked about that. Someone said it was a sink for washing hands and another said it was a men’s urinal. It turned out to be a bidet. We kept laughing about that, after.

 

Ushuaia, Provided by Guilhem DE COOMAN in Flickr

 

IT: I guess that happens a lot when travelling - what was the most intense episode?

Kim Dayeong: In Argentina, there is a place called Ushuaia, which is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world. I planned to stay there for just one night, leaving the following day on the 5:00 a.m. bus to El Calafate. That night, I drank half a bottle of wine because I was intoxicated with the place. The result was to be expected – I became drunk on the wine, fell asleep and over slept. When I woke up, it was already 5 in the morning. I rushed to get my bus but it had already departed. However, at the moment, the sun rose. It was the warmest and softest sunrise I had ever experienced. I can't ever forget that moment. In the afternoon, I met with some Croat and Argentine friends to draw pictures and drink with them. It was an additional and unexpected happy day in Ushuaia. Oversleeping turned out to be a touch of serendipity.

 

IT: What did you get from the trip?

Kim Dayeong: First of all, I was able to make many new friends - not only Chileans and Argentines from South America but also Croats from Europe. Though very brief encounters, I cherish the memories with those friends. I also learnt a new way to enjoy travelling. I used to be preoccupied with making thorough preparations before travelling anywhere. But on my trip to South America I travelled alone and without a plan. As a result, I inevitably stumbled upon places and things that I never would have if I had bogged myself down with a meticulous travel plan. I had the chance to discover hidden diamonds in the rough and the opportunities to communicate with the people native to the places I visited.

 

IT: What are your future plans?

Kim Dayeong: I am a senior, so I have many worries. For now, I am planning to prepare for graduation and am seriously considering my future. I am also planning to publish a second collection of stories about my travels.

 

IT: Lastly, do you have any words for your fellow university students?

Kim Dayeong: I recommend that you travel alone. Solo travel is good, whether it is a day trip or long trip. Travelling alone can be a wonderful way to meet locals and make new friends, and when you travel alone, you are not obliged to entertain anyone but yourself. If you want to 'waste' the day sitting at an outdoor bar drinking mojitos instead of sightseeing, you won't have to answer to anyone! But I also want to say that you shouldn’t expect too much from your travels. Many people say that travel can change lives, but I don't think that travelling has really changed my whole life. However, travel is helpful when I feel something's missing from my heart.

 

이지은  dlwldms0014@gmail.com

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