I don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions. However, last year, a friend and I decided to make 2019 our year. I can’t find that exact moment when things didn’t seem like they were going to go my way. Probably, that’s what happens when you’re chasing happiness and perfection rather than contentment and peace.

One swallow does not make a summer, neither does one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.

Aristotle

Life is a journey of battles. Some are external, and some — more personal and intrinsic. Here’s what I don’t get. We’re told that every day should be perfect. Every moment should be perfect — so that it’s worth recording and sharing. We should be perfect. And yet, when I look around, nature seems to prefer imperfections because that’s what gives rise to change.

I spent most of last year, either trying to run away, or sink into a dark space. I was chasing a reality that I thought was necessary for my existence. While all along, I had the signs around me that proved: life is more than a pretty picture. It’s all right to be flawed. It’s all right to not know where home is. It’s all right to not speak every language. It’s all right to not fit in. It’s all right to be sad. It’s not all right to tolerate discrimination. It’s not all right to be body-shamed. It’s not all right to be taken for granted. It’s all right to have an opinion and speak out. It’s all right to want to forgive and forget. It’s all right to be scared and weak. Above all, it’s all right to just be human because that’s what makes us alive.

As the earth revolved rather slowly around the sun last year, and the seasons changed, sprouts turned into dense leaves — then burst into a riot of colour — only to fall onto the mud again. There’s a certain banality to life making every action seem predictable, uninspiring, and rather futile. Perhaps, that’s where I was wrong. The essence of life is in living every moment and appreciating what I have — than what I didn’t. Looking back at these pictures, I only remember those happy moments of 2019, and realise: it wasn’t that that bad after all.

January

Hyochang Park, Seoul
The Meditation Path

My old grandmother always used to say, Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.

George R.R. Martin

February

View outside the Window

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

Lewis Carroll

March

Cherry Blossoms, Jeju
Ora-Dong, Jeju

What a strange thing!

to be alive

beneath cherry blossoms.

 Kobayashi Issa

Cannola Fields, Jeju
Sanbangsan, Jeju

If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.

Victor Hugo

Yongmeori Geo Trail, Jeju
Yongmeori Geo Trail, Jeju

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” 

Charles Dickens

April

Cherry Blossom Sky
Seoul Forest in Spring

In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends.

Okakura Kakuzo

Eungbongsan, Seoul
Namsan Cherry Blossom Trail, Seoul

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Taehwagang Simni Bamboo Grove, Ulsan
Bamboo Love

Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.

Khalil Gibran

May

Tulip
Poppies
Azaleas

Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.

Anne Frank

Iris
Roses

It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.

Leo Tolstoy

Hyochang Park, Seoul

…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough? 

Vincent Willem van Gogh

June

Lotus Blooms of Deokjin Park, Jeonju
Deokjin Park, Jeonju

Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.

Pablo Neruda

Martial Art Performance, Jeonju
5.18 Memorial Park, Gwangju

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

Rumi

Daerangi Terraced Rice Fields, Namhae
Rocky Coast, Daerangi

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. 

Oscar Wilde

July

Seoul Sky

I heard an airplane passing overhead. I wished I was on it.

Charles Bukowski

Seonyudo Park, Seoul
Seonyudo Park, Seoul

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

Rumi

Songdo International City, Incheon
Central Park, Songdo

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” 

Lao Tzu

August

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul
My old friend, Seoul

I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention. Invention . . . arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.

― Agatha Christie

September

Ulsanbawi Hiking Trail, Sokcho
Seoraksan National Park, Sokcho

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” 

― John Muir

Sokcho

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.

Lao Tau

October

Silver Grass, Seoul Forest
Young Love, Seoul Forest

Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.

John Lennon

Ginkgo Trees, Seoul Forest
Feeling Yellow, Seoul Forest

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

Albert Camus

Gilsangsa Temple, Seoul
Gilsangsa Temple, Seoul

“Nature does nothing uselessly.” 

― Aristotle

November

Yongduam Coast, Jeju

There must be something strangely sacred in salt. It is in our tears and in the sea.

Khalil Gibran

Songaksan Trail, Jeju
Songaksan Geo Trail, Jeju
Songaksan Trail, Jeju

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.

Gautama Buddha

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. 

John Muir

December

Khiva, Uzbekistan
Khiva, Uzbekistan

The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. 

 Maya Angelou

Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan

When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.

Clifton Fadiman

Samarkhand, Uzbekistan
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

A cold wind was blowing from the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things.

George R.R. Martin

Posted by:twobrownfeet

Walkers. Wanderers. Travellers. Now in Seoul.

44 replies on “The Best Walks & Sights of 2019

  1. So much truth in these quotes! A beautiful look back, Cheryl, and nothing ugly in sight. 🙂 🙂 I wish you a year in which you feel comfortable with your place in the world. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It’s a joy to know you.

  2. Hi Cheryl, How are you? I haven;t had much time for blogland for quite some time. Work is sapping strength from me. I need to catch up with some of your back posts to see what you have been up to. I love this post. Such great photos and love some of the quotes. John Muir’s particularly resonate with me. I agree with you. You can’t be happy all the time, that is not realistic at all. Remember to be kind to yourself. Louise x

    1. Hi Louise! How have you been? It’s so good to hear from you. I’ve also been taking very long breaks from blogland, so I get what you mean. 🙂 You said it perfectly well. I need to be kinder to myself. xo

  3. Wow, such a beautiful collection of amazing photos! Looks like you had a year to remember, Here’s to another one filled with heaps of memorable adventures. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva

      1. You are too sweet, Cheryl. I love how we connect and inspire one another in this community of bloggers. I only spent one year in Korea teaching English twenty years ago, and although I absolutely loved the country and the people, I haven’t seen that much of it, so experiencing it through your eyes is such a joy and privilige. I really hope this year will be a gentle one for you.

        PS Thank you for linking back to my blog. That is very kind and generous of you. Sending you a nice big cyber hug!

      2. You were in Korea? I never knew that. Korea would have been so different then. 🙂 Things change so fast here and it’s hard to keep up. I’m so happy you enjoy our Korea trips. It’s very difficult to find information, making the country not easy to explore. 🙂
        Sending you a warm hug back! Have a great week!

      3. Thank you, Cheryl. Yip, and loved my time there, even though it was only for a short while. Reading your posts, although I haven’t been to most of the places you write about, always stir up memories of my time there.

      4. Korea has so many places that are of the tourist trail. And the language barrier adds to the challenge of the trip. 🙂 Maybe, you’d come back someday. 🙂

  4. What a beautiful reflection upon last year with some of my favorite quotes. I don’t think I’ve ever had a year that’s been mine. But, like you I am finally beginning to learn how to live with joy in the chaos, as an outsider, and on the boundary of things.
    Thank you for providing so many wondrous opportunities of discussion and insight. Thank you for giving such deep love and kindness towards my rambling, half-formed thoughts and stories.
    My wish for you in 2020 is that amidst all its changeability, you will be able to hold onto life’s delights and plan your path for future contentment.

    1. Being an outsider isn’t easy. Strangely, I’ve always felt like the outsider, no matter where I go. 🙂 I’ve finally learned to accept who I am and hope that people will do the same.
      You’ve always been such an inspiration! Your blog and writing is far from a half-formed rambling. I wish I could write posts like you do. 🙂 Thank you for such a generous wish! I wish you a 2020 with many wonderful experiences and travels!

      1. 😊 Thank you for such a lovely compliment my friend! It fills me with gratitude to hear that I am an inspiration to you. So happy to hear you are feeling comfortable in your own being and embracing the unique perspective that being outsiders gives us in the world. Sending lots of love your way.

  5. What might I enjoy even more than a compendium of walks (one of my favorite things, as you know)?! Well, I think that would be your open-hearted comments about your year and your ups and downs. The vulnerability you feel as an expat is one of the topics that you write about best. Of course, I don’t wish frustration or struggles upon you! You write beautifully about happy things, too; I guess I’m just saying that when you lay it out there from the heart, those are the posts I enjoy the most!

    1. Your comment made me smile. 🙂 My initial thought for this post was a little different. But I didn’t want to start the New Year with a gloomy post. We had just come back from Uzbekistan, I was high on travel, and that helped me be more optimistic. I love writing from the heart. It makes me a ‘braver’ as a writer. Your comment made my day!

  6. What a beautiful post with such a great collection of walks, photographs and quoes. So nicely done. Bravo! What a wonderful memoir of the year and even though it sounds like it was not all a “walk in the park”.. is it ever? you certainly had immersion within the beauty of nature. The shots of Jeju and Shokto are incredible. So much beauty.
    May 2020 bring you light and joy and many beautiful walks to savour and remember.

    Peta

    1. Thank you, Peta! I do consider myself to be extremely fortunate to be surrounded by nature in a big city. I don’t know how I’d survive without these parks and seasonal escapes! Life has been a rollercoaster and it makes me truly appreciate the highs. Jeju and Sokcho are Korea’s national/natural treasures. We love them!
      Thank you for your wonderful wishes. Wishing you and Ben a wonderful year of amazing experiences in Vietnam.

  7. A year full of experiences is a good year, even if some of them are not entirely positive. Even negative experiences have lessons. It looks like your year was full of both new experiences and a chance to marry them to poetic philosophies.

  8. Almost got my eyes wet while reading this. Such a fulfilling journey of 2019. I cheer for you! “It’s all right to be scared and weak sometimes.” But you are brave to me by sharing your vulnerability as an expat and bringing up discussion and insights that matter. Beautiful quotes and writing. I am healed 🙂 💕 Wish your all the joy and peace in 2020, Cheryl.

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