[Unfiltered; ep.1] Simon & Martina

Welcome to the first episode of my new blog segment, Unfiltered: Unraveling Truths About Traveling, where I ask bloggers, vloggers, and the like questions about traveling in order to share with you their perspectives and opinions.

I am beyond honoured to introduce to you all my first guests on this new segment!

Taken directly from their website – all credit goes to Simon and Martina.

Simon and Martina are a married couple who moved from Canada to Korea, and then to Japan. Throughout their travels, they have been documenting their adventures by blogging and sharing videos on YouTube. Since the upload of their first video, their channel has grown; not only in terms of subscribers and views, but also in the artistic ways in which they present their content.

Through their videos, Simon and Martina share with their viewers what it’s like to travel to different countries and give them a glimpse of the beautiful aspects of each country that they visit. And all the while, they are completely relatable with their outgoing, funny, and positively radiant selves. Furthermore, they have not only taught me to truly appreciate different cultures, but they have inspired me to be true to myself, step out of my comfort zone, and remain optimistic even in the face of adversities. And these are things that I will be forever grateful for.

Without further ado, here are Simon and Martina’s advice, perspectives, and opinions on traveling:

1. What has traveling taught you?

When we were living in Canada, we took a lot of it for granted: the fresh air, the open spaces, the trees and the grass, the multiculturalism. Traveling to Korea showed us how much we like those things.

Korea is very compact, and the air isn’t great there, and there isn’t a lot of grass for our dog to run on. When we go back to Canada, we really appreciate those things that we took for granted before, while our Canadian friends think we’re odd. But we also learned how to think about things that need to change about Canada. We never thought about the ridiculousness of tipping at restaurants, even when the service is bad. We never thought about how slow construction is in Canada, and how development takes a lot longer. We never realized how terrible the internet connection is, and how astronomical the prices are for data service on your phone. Traveling taught us how to look how things are done differently in other places, and see how we could apply them back home.

2. Is there something you can’t travel without?

Our pillows. It sounds silly, I know, but we’re very picky sleepers, and we’ve been to so many places where the pillows are monkeyballs awful. Some places where the pillows are just bags of beans. Some have had really hard pillows. It’s too big of a risk for us to sleep uncomfortably, because we’ll wake up the next day in a lot of pain, and then it’ll be more difficult for us to have a good time traveling. A good night’s rest is very important, and I’ve suffered more often than not from a bad night sleep in other people’s beds, so I’ll pack my pillows and hope for the best.

3. Should I travel to a place where I can’t speak the language?

Most definitely. If you limit yourself to traveling only to places where you speak the language you’ll be depriving yourself of many great experiences and memories. And, to be honest, some great memories come from miscommunication as well. And language is only one form of communication. There are other ways to communicate, especially with the technology we have now. I also think that there’s a benefit of not knowing the language when you travel. We feel it the most when we go back to Canada. For the first few days, when we hear everyone speaking English, our heads keep turning because we think they’re talking to us (because, more often than not, when someone is speaking English when we’re traveling, they’re asking us something). When we go back to Canada, our eyes actually hurt for the first couple of days, because there are so many signs everywhere, and our eyes are pulled to them and read them all, while in Japan we don’t read all of the billboards. And so, there’s a kind of white noise, a hum, a bubble, in which we can walk around and be left alone in our thoughts when we travel to places where we don’t speak the language. We can walk around without everything fighting for our attention.

4. Is traveling safe? Should I go on a solo trip?

I don’t want to say that traveling is 100% safe, because that’s obviously not true, but I do want to alleviate people’s fears who say that traveling is dangerous. My parents, for example, were so worried about us traveling to Japan because they thought it would be dangerous. Japan! Dangerous?!? My parents had a worry that things would happen to us and we wouldn’t be able to protect ourselves, but, good lord, I’ve never felt so safe in my life. There’s no petty crime here like I’m used to back home. I can leave my bike unlocked. I can leave my wallet unattended. People here are calmer than I’m used to. So I think saying that it’s unsafe to travel is just what people feel when they think about life outside of their comfort zones. I’d say there are a lot of things that can be uncomfortable about traveling. But unsafe? I wouldn’t say so.

5. Do you prefer to plan out your travels or be spontaneous?

We never want to plan out our itineraries when we travel. We love just being thrown in the middle of the city, and wandering around and finding things out for ourselves. We want to get lost in a place. There’s a beauty in the aesthetic of lostness. And when you find something on your own, rather than going to a place you were guided to, then it feels so much more rewarding. You’ll look back on that day and think “OH! Remember when we found that small shop down the side street of Beijing? Remember when we found that toy shop in Stockholm?” That’s what we like.

6. Do you ever feel burnt out when you travel? How do you deal with it?

Oh, of course! We’re not in the best health. We’ll spend some days gallivanting and exploring, and then the next day we’ll be wrecked. So the next day, we’ll relax somewhere. We’ll find a coffee shop and read a book for a while. We’ll stay at our Airbnb and try to cook some local recipes. Traveling isn’t just about moving from spot to spot. All that movement is exhausting! Traveling to us is also just relaxing in a place, smelling the air, and feeling the spirit of the city around you.

7. What advice would you give first time travelers?

Your traveling starts the moment you check out of work for your vacation. Don’t think about the destination, or the event you’re going to as the start of your vacation. Packing for your trip is part of it. Flying on the plane is part of it. Dealing with customs is part of it. If you view these all as chores, though, and you keep deferring your fun until you get to wherever you want to get, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Enjoy every aspect of it. Have fun while in the customs line. Enjoy the steep walk up that hill, even if it hurts, and don’t defer your happiness until you get to the peak. It’s the journey that counts, not the destination. And I know that sounds cheesy and you heard it before but IT’S IMPORTANT. I’ve seen many people ruin their trips because of the stress they felt from deferring their fun. It’s all fun. Enjoy it all.

Many thanks again to Simon and Martina for taking part in this blog segment!

Are you interested in learning about Japan and Korea?

Make sure to check out Simon and Martina’s blogs, podcasts, and videos!

You can find them on:

YouTube: (https://www.youtube.com/user/simonandmartina)

Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/simonandmartina)

Instagram: (https://www.instagram.com/eatyourkimchi/)

And their blog: http://www.eatyourkimchi.com/