Many of us find it difficult to get out of our comfort zone!
Have you ever had the courage to leave your well-paid job, to leave your whole life, board on a plane and spend almost 1 year traveling the world?
Who said yes?
I present to you Sonya Galcheva – the girl who literally abandoned everything, got on a plane and lived & traveled for almost one year in South Korea! Sonia is now the author of the YouTube channel “Sonya AroundTheWorld“, where she posts interesting videos about her travellings every week . I’m glad that she managed to find time to have this great interview with me! I hope that we’d be able to do a joint project soon. 🙂
Hello, Sunshine! I know you’re a big fan of South Korea and the Korean language in general! Can you share what attracted you so much in this language?
In general, my interest was initially ignited by the difference in our cultures and way of life. At the beginning, I started reading, watching, listening and trying to find out more about this country. I think that in order to get to know the real people in general, the language is very important, there are different ways to express yourself when you use your mother tongue, therefore I wanted to know more about Korean one. You need to know one thing – Korean language has an alphabet that is quite easy to learn because it is phonetic. Once I understood that I wanted to learn to read and ever since than I feel like I am in high-school again. I am still studying the language as If I am doing my homework just not having all the pressure from back then. 🙂
A year ago, your life took a 360-degree turn, you used to work at a large financial institution but took the decision to try out new horizons! Tell me what made you take such a bold decision? 🙂
It was time for a change. I have always loved traveling and over the years I have visited many countries, including Korea which I visited in 2017. Ever since then I knew that I wanted to go back there and stay for a longer time, to immerse myself in the locals’ life, not just as a tourist for 2 weeks. And it’s a great first destination for an Asian trip! My idea was to go to Korea and Japan, then continue exploring on West until I arrived back to Europe.
What happened during that year – which places did you visit?
It was one of the most exciting things that had ever happened to me. I went to Busan, the second largest city in Korea. I spent a little over 2 months there, visiting different cities, as well as the famous island of Jeju. Then I went to Japan, the island of Kyushu – the biggest south island, and the cities I visited were Fukuoka, Nagasaki (that one was one of my main goals), Kumamoto and Ace. Then, for the next half of the year, I was in Seoul, sinking into the life there. And because just one trip to Japan was not enough, in In March I went back for another week – this time to the famous Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. However, the last months of my trip were related to taking distancing from people and restricted access to various sites so that there are still places in Korea and Japan to discover.
Which of all the places that you visited in the past year impressed you the most?
I would say that the Buddhist temples and the architectural style in Asia made a huge impression on me.b As well as the modern large-scale construction, however, the height of some buildings is pretty scary. Anyhow, I must admit, among all the beautiful natural views, I was most impressed with that of the active volcano Aso. It is located in Japan, and is generally open and you can climb to the crater itself. I would have gone despite I was afraid, however as of April 2019 the volcano has been really active, spewing rocks, ashes and everything else that is possible to come from its depths. Therefore, unfortunately the climbing was restricted and the closest we could was from the Volcaton’s foot from where the lift normally departs. Everything there was covered in ashes. Some of the photos are from there, that’s quite easy to be recognized.
You lived in South Korea for almost a year – how would you describe the people there and what impressed you the most in their way of life?
Yes, I lived for 10 months in total there. What I tell everyone who asks me this questions is that we can definitely learn to care for the nature the same way they do. Parks, hiking trails,, recreation areas, equipment to exercise , all this surrounds you and is easily accessible, clean, well maintained and with free access. Native people are extremely friendly to tourists, and Korean food is very tasty!
Seoul is a huge megapolis and there are certainly many things to see in it! But what would you recommend me to visit there and why?
For sure every single tour guide will advise you to see the most famous landmarks – Namsan Tower, The Historic Castles, Myongdong and Hongde districts. But I would recommend something that the locals do – have a picnic by the river Han. This is the largest river in Korea that flows through Seoul. There are so many beautiful parks along its shores. All you need to do is just to buy snacks, drinks and whatever else you want and afterward spend the entire afternoon in peace. And at night the view of the illuminated bridges is indescribable.
How did you come up with the idea about the „Sonya AroundTheWorld“?
In fact, upon the beginning of my journey I already had the idea to share with the world the places I visit. This is for several reasons – I wanted to share with the people who were not with me some of the emotions I was experiencing and the places I was visiting while being way. It was also extremely valuable for me to relive again what had happened – trough watching the videos which I shot I always feel like travelling onceagain! Of course, at the beginning I had no idea how to take a proper video, how to hold the camera, where to pause, what to talk about, who to talk to and many more things. That’s why I’m still struggling to upload my first videos (laughing).
Every week you surprise us with a new video on your channel. How was the idea born, what do you want to show to your followers on YouTube – do you have a preliminary schedule for the things you post there or is everything happening according to your mood?
As a matter of fact, I don’t have a specific schedule. Every week I upload a new video, trying to alternate videos from my travels with videos from Bulgaria. We are all aware that traveling abroad is not the best to do right now, but this gives me a wonderful opportunity to enjoy and discover Bulgaria as well. Our country is beautiful and has something to offer, so I decided that I could go around Bulgaria to show what can be seen here and who knows, maybe I will arouse people’s interest and attract tourists (laughing)
Can we expect new projects from you such as a blog, a book or an exhibition with your photos)?
At the moment, I am telling about my travelings trough videos and sometimes articles. I don’t know what the future may bring, but I would be happy to work together with you on a project. And you have a lot to tell too, so definitely we can create something together! 🙂
Do you miss traveling abroad at the moment and how do you deal with the current situation? With all the restrictions due to the COVID-19?
Everything changed this past year, that’s right. I remember very clearly the moment when my friends and I were in Seoul and we said to ourselves, “There’s no way 2020 to be worse than 2019! Let’s go on, so that we can leave everything bad in the past year and may the new one brings happiness and success to all!” But how little we had known back then. For sure my plans were affected, and I failed to visit several countries that I had planned to, this year. But I think that everyone’s wellbeing is more important, so we need to adapt to today’s reality. I am very positive that it someday it will be possible to travel again but until that day comes we need to stay healthy and beware!
Once the situation normalizes and we have the opportunity to travel freely again, what is the first place you want to visit?
It’s such a complicated question, because I want to go anywhere! I know there is no way to do so, but given the fact that my trip to Asia has been suspended, I would very much like to restart my journey around the world from there. Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos are the countries that come immediately to mind. Most likely they will be the next starting points. Let’s hope that soon we will be able to conquer new horizons once again.
This post is also available in: Български (Bulgarian)