I was twenty-one years old the first time I traveled abroad.
Well, I’ll conveniently ignore brief border crossings I made as a child on family vacations to Canada and a week in my parents’ motherland, South Korea.
This trip was meaningful to me in so many ways. I had just been kicked out of university in the middle of my junior year. A lot of skipping & failing classes will do that for you. I was contemplating my future, and also searching for who I really was. I had just gone through the biggest failure and hardest time of my life. While living under my parents’ roof again, I worked part-time at a local university library cataloging books and also at an outdoors/camping equipment store selling North Face and Mountain Hardwear. Meanwhile my friends were preparing for their internships at Goldman Sachs and Mckinsey.
I barely scraped together enough to take this trip. Or at least, I thought I had enough… It was my first time traveling alone. I didn’t really have concrete plans, just a list of things and places I hoped to see. I wanted to wing it, and live the backpacker dream. It was my first time in a place I could not understand the local language. It was my first real adventure in life – at at time I should not have been on one. I’m not sure how I had the audacity to jet off to Thailand for six weeks. Mostly, I just wanted to run away from it all. But this trip would completely change my life.
To add to the irony it was around this time I also started getting interested in photography. Well, I was always interested and eager to shoot with my dad’s old film SLR’s growing up. Ahead of the trip I picked up my first DSLR – the Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D as it was called in most of the world). Back then, the “Digital” and “D” was still necessary to designate as most photography was still done on film. The 350D was the successor the what I think is the first real mainstream digital DSLR, Canon’s original Digital Rebel. On hindsight, the money would have been better served as cash to take with me.
The picture above is the first picture I took with the camera. Right off the plane at DMK (this was a year before BKK opened).