You know in the “Big Poppa” track by Notorious Big when P’Diddy says “How ya livin’ Biggie Smalls?” and Biggie replies with “In mansions n Benz’s, givin’ ends to my friend’s and it feels stupendous”. Well, if you were to ask us that question “How ya livin’ Eb n Kels?” I’d respond with “In hostels on bunk beds, with three other people and it feels stupendous!”, because that’s literally how we’re livin’, minus the stupendous haha. Sorry for the cheesy Biggie referral but that song just came into my head. I’ll tell you what though, coming from Iceland where we had a maaassive 3 bedroom shared apartment with our own kitchen, king size bed, surrounded by mountains and a fjord, then coming all the way to the other side of the world to this hostel, where we’re sharing a room with other people in this tiny space, it’s so noisy and we’re surrounded by the many nightclubs in Seoul. It made the transition really difficult for us. We both really miss having our own space, peace and quiet and fresh air! In Seoul, there can be days where it is so polluted that we don’t even want to go outside without a mask on. In saying that, we were aware of these differences prior to coming to Seoul, but we took up this opportunity to live in a city, so that we can experience meeting lots of different people from all over the world, and what better place to do that than in a hostel.
We live in a four story hostel, the bottom floor being the reception/café, then the next three floors are the bedrooms – We have private rooms, 4, 6, 8 and 10 bed dorms. We currently live in a 6 bed dorm with 3 other people, who are part of the staff at the hostel, there’s Rafa (Brazil), Jean (Canada), and David (Ecuador). When we were shown our room on the first day, I was literally thinking wtf! (why the face…), this has to be a joke. It was the same size as our bedroom we had in Iceland, except, there were 3 bunk beds, 3 other bodies in there, with backpacks and clothes all over the place and the fact that we all had to share one toilet and shower as the hostel only has ensuites in each room, rather than large bathrooms on each floor. There aren’t even communal toilets here. I hated it so much and it made me miss living in Iceland even more. A couple days later, maybe even a week living in Seoul I realized just how much my standards had raised. I remember the feeling I had when we were travelling through places like Cambodia, India and Nepal. Looking back reminds myself of how much it humbled me and to be appreciative of the things that I had. I was so angry that I allowed myself to raise my standards and pick at little things that didn’t matter. Heck, I remember in Cambodia, we stayed in a room on the ground, with 12 – 15 people, in scorching 40+ degree hot weather! We even slept in a tent for almost 4 months straight throughout Europe while we were cycle touring and I loved that! So I just looked at this situation as another humbling experience, being grateful and appreciative of what I had. Plus, we were out of comfort zones again, which is exactly what we want on this trip, because it challenges us!
We really wanted to work at a hostel in a city so we could meet new people. Well, we definitely got what we asked for as we meet new people who check in and out every day! Some of them are real stinkers that we just can’t vibe with, and others who are awesome people that have awesome stories that we vibe with.
I want to share a couple stories of people that have awesome stories, including our roommates!
This is Leonid, a 25 year old bartender from Russia. He quit his job to travel, with no end date.
He left Russia with $77 USD in his pocket and has been travelling for over a year now, covering most of the countries in Asia. He earns money by picking up odd jobs here and there, but his main source of income is from busking on the streets with his ukulele. Sometimes he earns as little as $5, but the most he’s earned was $763 in one session! Busking for 5 hours straight in China. He reckons he had close to 200 people watching him busk on the side of the street.
He carries a tent with him and pitches it wherever he can to save money if he doesn’t want to pay for accommodation. He even managed to purchase a new MacBook on his travels with the money that he’s made. He doesn’t drink, smoke or party, so the money is just going back into food, accommodation and transportation.
Leonid is off to Papua next and then he plans on doing Africa and South America.
Meet David, a 21 year old from Ecuador who has been travelling the world for 2 years. He never intended on travelling though.
In 2014 David was ranked the number one professional mountain bike rider in South America. His goal back in 2014 was to compete at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, he injured himself in his last professional race. He went too fast around a corner, lost control and crashed, breaking his collarbone. The doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to ride for months. With that news David fell into a deep depression, upset that he wouldn’t be able to ride a bike and that it would be a long road back to being a professional.
His sister who lives in Germany, suggested to David that he should go and visit her and go travelling. He liked the idea, so he sold his bikes and possessions and decided to travel.
He’s travelled to 14 countries and has lived in Israel, Switzerland, Russia, Sweden and Korea along the way. David looks at his situation as a blessing in disguise. He’s learned how to speak English, met so many different people and learned a lot about himself and the world, whilst travelling.
He plans on heading home soon to focus solely on becoming a professional mountain bike rider and earning that title back of being the best mountain bike rider in South America, and to hopefully compete at the next olympics in 2020.
This is Rafael (pronounced Hafael) He’s from Curitiba, Brazil. Rafa works morning shifts at another guesthome where he earns his money, then he comes to this hostel where he volunteers to do the afternoon/night shift in reception. He says he earns more money here than he does back in Brazil (where he taught English). He says there just isn’t much opportunity back home. He loves travelling and plans on saving up enough money to do a cycle tour. Rafa is one of the nicest blokes out there. The reviews on TripAdvisor prove it too, with guests leaving shout outs for him. This is a shot I took of him on our rooftop. He goes up every single day, teaching himself how to play the harmonica.