I’d like to introduce you to Jim Cheney from Tripologist.
Jim’s a world traveler and former Korean English teacher, which is how his site caught my eye. When I was planning my move to Korea, I read a lot of what Jim wrote about his experience.
Not only does he talk about world travel, but Jim keeps things local too. He recently launched a website about Pennsylvania which he mentions later in the interview.
Tripologist by the Numbers
2 years living abroad
2 years writing Tripologist
11 travel-related quizzes
31 countries visited
2,000+ Twitter followers
Interview with the Tripologist
“I’m pretty sure hiking is more popular in Korea than anywhere else in the world.” – Jim
Where have you lived outside of the US?
I lived in South Korea for 2 years teaching English. Unfortunately, that’s the only place outside of America I’ve had a chance to live.
Where did you live in Korea?
I lived in Bundang, a suburb of Seoul in the city of Seongnam. Fantastic location to live if anyone is looking for a place in Korea.
What was your favorite thing about Korea?
I loved how easy it was to get everywhere. As an American, the concept of public transportation is a bit foreign to me. In Korea though, with the cheap public transportation and cheap taxis, you could get almost anywhere in the country in under 5 hours for less than $30.
[NOTE: I agree, public transportation here in Korea is excellent!]
What was your least favorite thing about Korea?
I could nitpick here, but to be honest, other than a few difficulties at work, I really loved Korea. There really isn’t much bad I can say about it.
How does hiking in Korea compare to hiking in other places you’ve been?
I’m pretty sure hiking is more popular in Korea than anywhere else in the world. No matter what trail you were on, there were always other people. Most of them took it very seriously and had whole brightly-colored outfits just for hiking, but others would hike in their business suits or heels.
I also loved that you could go on fantastic hikes right in the middle of Seoul.
Of the hikes you’ve been on, what’s your favorite one?
In Korea, my favorite hike is Namsan Mountain in Gyeongju. Not only is there a great view at the top, but as you hike you pass 1,000 year old statues and carvings that really should be in a museum. It’s great.
Out of Korea, I really loved my hike of Tiger Leaping Gorge in Southwestern China. Imagine hiking along a mountain-side trail through a gorge that’s deeper than the Grand Canyon. Beautiful!
When talking about travel, a lot of people worry about safety. What’s your experience been with safety and security?
In my travels, I’ve never once felt threatened. I’ve had stuff stolen on two separate occasions, but both were non-confrontational, and I never felt unsafe because of it. The truth of the matter is that something can happen anywhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s half-way around the world or on the sidewalk outside your house.
However, if we’re being perfectly honest, the country I’ve felt the least safe in while traveling is America, my home country.
You’re uncovering Pennsylvania too. Other than steel, Amish, and cheese steaks, what would you like people to know about PA?
Pennsylvania is an incredibly diverse state. While it might not have a ton of world-class sites and attractions, there is something for everyone. It would take you a long time to get bored while traveling through Pennsylvania.
Do you have any travel plans before the end of the year?
I have a trip this fall to the Pacific Northwest of America, and then I’m taking the train back home to Pennsylvania. Other than that, I’m planning trips all over Pennsylvania for my new travel blog, UncoveringPA.com.
I hope to do some more international travel in 2014, but I don’t know where to yet.
As you know, among travelers there’s a lot of discussion on the best way to pack. So, how do you pack for travel – traditional or light?
Generally, I like to travel as light as possible. However, when I’m taking short trips at home, I find that I often pack as much for a weekend away as I did for my 6-month trip through Asia.
Do you have a tip (or two) you’d give to a first-time traveler?
Limiting me to 1 or 2 is tough because my site, Tripologist.com, focuses so much on travel planning. However, if I had to limit it to one, my top tip would be to save up money, quit your job, and travel. You may not want to do it forever, but whether you travel for 2 months or 2 years, it will change you and make you a better person. Sometimes I think back at who I was before I traveled the world and wonder what I was thinking.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Just that I’m really excited about my new Pennsylvania travel website, UncoveringPA.com. If you’ve ever thought about visiting the east coast of America, it’s definitely worth checking out. Also, if you’re planning a trip to Asia, I’ve got some great hidden gems on my other site, Tripologist.com.