Category : Travel
My South Korea Travel Experience
By Ofonime Essien
The best education you will ever get is travelling. Nothing teaches you more than exploring the world and accumulating experiences. In both business and personal life, I’ve always found that travel inspires me more than anything else I do. Travel makes a wise man better. Samuel Johnson, an English writer once said, “All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”
I was privileged to travel to Seoul, South Korea courtesy of West African Power Pool (WAPP) and Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in 2009 for a course on Designing the Basic Concept of Information Coordination Centre (ICC), a study that was carried out by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).
We visited a lot of places during the trip namely: Namgansol Korean Traditional Village – Culture Preservation / Traditional Villages, 765 KV Transmission Substation, President’s Private Home, Hyaundai Car Manufacturing Plant, Power Research Institute, Power Museum, Samsung Innovative Centre, NANTA Theatre, Technology Park, 2002 Seoul World Cup Stadium, Namsam Tower etc.
I learnt a lot of things during the trip but four (4) major ones has stucked with me over the years.
1. Capturing ideas
On my first day of training in KEPCO Academy, Seoul – South Korea, I was surprised to find pens, pencils and jotters in the toilets. At first, I wondered what anybody will need a pen or pencil and jotter for, in the toilet. I later realized that an idea can pop up from anywhere and you need a pen and paper to capture it. As a writer, I’m addicted to ideas. I feed off on them. And nothing makes me more upset than having a great idea and losing it. Ideas never happen at opportune times, and having the proper idea capture tools can make sure that you’ll capture all your ideas for later processing.
The problem with ideas is that they’re situational. You don’t only have ideas while you’re in front of the computer, or while walking. Ideas happen all the time. This poses an interesting problem when you’re trying to capture all your ideas.
After this trip, I started keeping a notebook and always go out with a notebook and pen wherever I go. I invested US $533, four (4) years ago in Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. It really was a good investment because I can write wherever I find myself using the Samsung SNote. If you rely more on technology for capturing your ideas and thoughts, be sure to back up your notes regularly. I lost some ideas I captured recently when my Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 suddenly developed a problem and had to be wiped at a Samsung Service Centre.
Pencils and papers are also great alternatives to your phones. I remember so much more if I write it down. Be sure to tuck a notebook under your arm and pencil behind your ear before you head out if you prefer old school to new technology.
Now that I’ve launched my blog, I find myself writing more than I ever have. Blog posts, email newsletters and random ideas pop into my mind at inopportune moments. I have developed the habit of capturing everything important that crosses my mind, when it crosses my mind.
I use Evernote more to capture ideas, clip pictures, links and videos, set up to do list and goals. It also helps in tracking my goals and to-do list. The good thing about it is that it syncs with my laptop and other devices.
2. Have Backup Plans
While in Seoul, we visited the Shin-seosan 765KV Substation. When Korea Power Company (KEPCO) embarked on the 765kV project, it was hoping to achieve the following:
1. Transportation capacity increase.
2. Efficient use of land.
3. Construction cost savings.
4. Reduction of transmission loss.
During the planning phase of the project, KEPCO came up with four (4) plans: A – D. Should one plan fail, they were to switch to the next plan and replace the one that failed with another one until the project was successful. Luckily, Plan A succeeded and the project was commissioned in May 8, 2003.
I learnt to have backup plans in whatever I embarked on; be it career, business, relationships etc.
3. Don’t Throw Your Keys Away
While in Seoul, we visited Namsam Tower – the Love Zone of Seoul City. It is where lovers go and make a vow to love themselves forever. The Love Zone has two (2) parts:
1. Agreement Point where lovers meet and agree to always love themselves and that nothing will come in between them.
2. Hanging Point where lovers hang / lock their padlocks, attach a love note and throw their keys away into the valley below believing that they will never need the keys again. Most believe that they will live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, many lived to regret their actions. Many have regretted that decision few months or few years into the relationship. They found out that they need the keys to break away from the relationship but the keys must have been washed away by rain, buried somewhere deep down in the valley or in a mountain of other thousand keys. They become stucked up in a relationship they no longer fancy.
Based on this experiences, there is an advice for people not to throw away their keys in case, they need them.
Whether it is business, relationships, jobs or other endeavours, always have an exit strategy in case things don’t pan out as planned. Don’t throw your keys away. Don’t throw caution to the wind. Never allow emotions to becloud your sense of reasoning. Don’t let your guard down. Always remember that in life, things don’t always work out as planned.
4. Does God Exist?
That is a question my little friend pictured above asked Mr. Femi Fajemiroukun and I eight (8) years ago in Seoul, South Korea. He asked the question based on our refusal to eat lunch in a Budha Restaurant.
After site seeing for the day, our host who happened to be his father took us to have lunch in a Budha Restaurant. We were a company of six (6) including our host and his son. We got in, looked around and went to the area of the restaurant we were to have our meals. Instinctively, Femi and I got up, told our host and colleagues that we won’t eat there because it was against our religious beliefs. We can’t claim to be Christians and eat from the Temple of Budha. We refused to even drink water there.
Unfortunately, one of our colleagues who is a Christian didn’t see anything wrong in having his lunch there, so he ate with them. We waited for them outside the restaurant while they had their meals. They joined us outside after their meals.
On our way out of the area, the little boy asked, “Does God Exist?” We answered, “Yes”. He added, “If God exist, why will He allow natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires where so many people lose all they have and some their lives to happen?” “Why will He allow the wars and all the killings in the world to happen?”
We did our best and explained to him that God really do exist. From our discussions with our little friend, I realized that they are people who don’t believe or deny the existence of God because of what they are passing through.
Because some people believe that God doesn’t exist, doesn’t make the immortal, the invisible, the alpha, the omega, the omnipotent, the omnipresent God, non-existent. Because God doesn’t show up when you need Him, doesn’t make Him non-existent and it is not enough reason to give up on Him. Don’t give up on God because He won’t give up on you. God can never give up on any man that is holding on to Him.
South Korea is a technologically driven society. I had a wonderful time there and I look forward to visiting there someday again. I first saw and experienced 3D glasses before it became well known. I had the privilege of checking my biological age there.
Develop the habit of capturing everything important that crosses your mind. Capture ideas in whatever means that is convenient for you; be it using pen/pencil and paper or using technology – SNote or Evernote.
Always have an exit strategy in case things don’t pan out as planned. You always have a way out. An exit strategy to make sure you don’t get hurt. You always walk away. You walk away before they can walk away from you.
Always have a backup plan. If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal. If Plan A didn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. Stay cool. In the words of Julie Andrews, an English actress, singer, author, theatre director and dancer, “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th”.
That God exist is never in doubt. Don’t allow the troubles of life to make you doubt God’s existence. God will always be God. Don’t give up on God because He won’t give up on you. God can never give up on any man that is holding on to Him.
Traveling is not frivolous. We must travel to increase our understanding and caring for others in the world. Travel while you are young and able. Don’t worry about the money just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.