People often wonder what our everyday life looks like. A few months ago, my girlfriend joined the ranks of the freelancers, so I feel like we can provide a more balanced overview of what our work-life-travel balance is like.
Of course, not all weeks are created the same. Sometimes we travel very fast and hardly get any work done. Sometimes, especially when we spend more than 10 days in one place, we live like locals, working a 40-hr week or probably more, to catch up with the times we work less, and barely do anything touristy at all.
This first example week is more middle of the road, and describes the week we spent in Seoul in November. We have both been to the city before, so there wasn't a lot of sightseeing. We mostly decided to go to Seoul this time because it was on our way from HK to Japan and we can't say no to Korean food :)
After a slightly crazy flight from Hong Kong, we arrive at our Airbnb in southern Seoul in the late afternoon. As the last few days had been very busy, we quickly nip into the supermarket on the corner to get some basics for preparing an easy dinner. After dinner, we catch up on email and might have watched too many YouTube videos, because the Internet in Korea is so fast!
We get up around 8.30 and have a breakfast of canned Korean coffee and sugary biscuits, which our Airbnb host left at the apartment in plentiful amounts. We kick ourselves for not getting decent breakfast items the day before. After breakfast, we both work a few hours until it's time to cook a quick pasta... I get very grumpy when hungry, and am picky about where to eat, so we aren't taking any chances. After 2 pm, we head out to explore our neighbourhood at last, and end up spending what feels like 3 hrs in Artbox, a Korean homeware / stationery shop that sells all the things you never knew you needed. I am looking for a new wallet, and manage to find one at a not so crazy price (it broke when we were in Japan, where wallets as seen something auspicious and even the cheapest cost $80, because that will be bad luck. If you want a lot of money in your wallet, spend on the wallet first!)
On our way back, we stop by the supermarket for some more reasonable breakfast options... which don't really exist there, it's all white bread and jam. We pick up some pastries at the bakery instead. The rest of the day is more work, dinner and random internetting.
As on Monday, we get up around 8.30 am, have breakfast and get back to work. Around 1.30, we head off to a restaurant we found the day before for an incredible steal of a set lunch. After that, we jump into the subway Seoul Station to purchase our onward train tickets. Then we have the genius idea to check out the adjoining supermarket, which is crammed to the gills with Chinese tourists buying Koreans sweets and cosmetics. But they do have muesli and organic food! Finally, breakfast sorted.
We get up, work for 3-4 hrs, cook lunch, then head out to visit the Korean War Museum, which I highly recommend. It's free, massive and gives a great overview of the country's history. Some kind of military parade is going on outside, which helps after the more depressing (most) parts of the exhibition. On our way back, we try to find a cafe, but ironically (usually every second shop in Seoul is a cafe), we find nothing within half a mile's walk and head back home instead.
We cook dinner and I do some more work from around 7 to 10 pm, then it's time for some yoga and sleeping.
Thursday is a blur of work for me, with really nothing exciting to report from my side. After lunch, Celine heads out to Hongdae for a hipster haircut at a place she discovered last year. This year, they don't do as well a job...
This time in Seoul, my mission is to visit some of the museums I haven't been to. Again, we follow the morning routine of a few hours of work, and decide to grab lunch at the cafe around the corner.
Then we jump into the subway and towards the Seoul Museum of History, although we first nip into nearby Gyeonghuigung Palace (the last palace out of five in Seoul I have been too, not very impressive, but free).
The museum does a great job of telling the city's success story, but it's the special exhibition with photography from the 60s and 70s that captivates us most. I can hardly believe that such a modern city counted among the world's least developed just 30 years ago!
After we get back, I catch up with some work before and after dinner.
You know the routine... get up, breakfast, work. At 1.30 pm, we start walking southwards to Gangnam station, where we meet my Korean friend Yeseul, who takes us to a rad noodle & bulgogi restaurant. We met in a hostel in Korea a few years back and as we are both avid travellers, we see each other at least once or twice a year when we randomly end up in the same place. After lunch, we head to a cafe nearby to continue catching up.
As Yeseul is heading to a demonstration later in the afternoon (against the Korean president, if you have been following the news), we say goodbye. And as it's a Saturday afternoon in Gangnam, we become part of the consumerist stampede and end up buying all the Korean cosmetics... (well, some! Sheet masks are great to moisturise your skin after flights)
It's our last day in Seoul already! Sunday is spent working and packing, as we jump on a train to Busan the next morning.
So, that's it! This was a pretty well balanced week for us, with equal parts of work and play, I would say! Would you have expected more work or less? More partying and eating out? More socialising? I definitely regretted not making time for Korean street food in Seoul - but we caught up with that in Busan ;) Seoul is one of my favourite cities and I can imagine spending a couple of months there sometime in the future.