Jürgen and Mike are two seasoned travelers who came up with a new way of seeing the world. Instead of undertaking a stressfully nomadic way of life where they are constantly moving from place to place, they choose a certain area of the globe and settle there for three months – approximately 91 days. Luckily for us, they are currently residing in Busan, and are recording their time in the vibrant Korean city with beautiful photography by Jürgen and equally attractive prose by Mike. Read our interview with them to discover their thoughts on Korea’s southern port, as well as their traveling tips and future plans.
What came first, traveling or the blog?
Traveling. We’ve always been nomads, and I think we recognized this trait in each other right away. Before we started For 91 Days
, we had lived in Boston, Frankfurt, Berlin, Ireland and Spain, for varying amounts of time. We’re both restless, both have unconventional jobs, and have always been interested in seeing as much of the world as possible.
We were in Valencia, Spain for almost three years before we started feeling the “travel itch” again. One of us had the idea that maybe we should just embrace “moving” as our life direction, and do it all the time. That’s how the “For 91 Days” idea was born. We’re never happier than when exploring a new corner of the world, and figured that we should just go for it. We put our stuff into storage, packed a couple suitcases, and set off.
You’ve done Oviedo, Buenos Aires, Bolivia, Palermo, Sicily and Sri Lanka so far on your ongoing For 91 Days journey. Do you have a favorite out of those places?
Honestly, we don’t. Each place has its own personality, and there were things about each which we loved. Sicily for the food, Buenos Aires for the city life, Savannah for the atmosphere, Bolivia for the adventure, Oviedo for the easy way of life, Sri Lanka for the nature. How could we choose between them? But if we had to pick one spot to live in for the rest of our lives, I might lean towards Buenos Aires. But the truth is that we go through phases reminiscing about each of our previous homes… right now, we’re talking about Palermo a lot, for whatever reason.
What is it that attracted you to South Korea, and why Busan in particular?
After Sri Lanka, we wanted to stay in Asia, and were leaning towards a big, modern city after three months in the jungle! We were considering a number of countries, but narrowed it down to Japan and South Korea. A few Korean friends of ours from Berlin and Spain had great things to say about Busan. And the more we researched it, the better it sounded — affordable, lots of nature, beaches, the world’s largest department store. And now that we’ve been here a month, I think we made a good decision. Most tourists to Korea visit Seoul but skip on Busan, which is really a shame, considering how much the city has to offer!
Do you think blogging about your travels has changed the way you experience them?
Definitely. Having the blog makes us much less lazy — if we didn’t have the blog, we wouldn’t be nearly as driven to go see and do things, and probably would spend many more days relaxing at home. But with the blog, and also with the time constraint of just three months, we force ourselves to be active. And we like to say that “91 days” allows us to get to know the culture of a place, so we try and make this come true.
When do you think you’ll stop and settle down, if you plan to at all? How many more countries is on your ‘91 Days’ list?
When we started, we planned on continuing for about five years. But the more we travel, the more addicted we become! We keep adding places onto our “list”, so I really don’t know when we’ll stop. Eventually, though, we’ll have to slow down — maybe buy an apartment or house which we can use as our home base. But I doubt we’ll ever stop travelling entirely. I envision a future where we spend half the year travelling, and the other half at “home”… wherever that turns out to be!
Where are you off to next?
Next, we’re headed to Idaho. It might sound a little random, but we’ve both wanted to explore the Great American West for a while, and Idaho is one of these off-the-beaten-track places that is incredibly beautiful and relatively unknown. We’re going to be living in Boise, which is supposed to be a surprisingly vibrant city, and we’ll have a car, so plan on doing a lot of trips around the state. It would be a huge understatement to say that life in Idaho will be different to Busan!
We really love your Golden Moments in Busan blogpost, where you’ve documented some strange yet brilliant times you’ve had in Busan. Can you tell us what your number one ‘golden moment’ in Busan has been?
That’s hard — we’ve already had a number of amazing experiences. I guess that visiting Haedong Yonggungsa Temple a day before Buddha’s Birthday was the top highlight. The temple was covered in lanterns, and so many people were there, it was really an incredible excursion. This is one of the few Buddhist temples found on the shore, and the views over the sea were unforgettable.
What else is on the Busan itinerary? Are you planning to travel any more of Korea?
We have a crazy number of things left to do in Busan. The famous aquarium, the spas, and almost all of the museums are high on the list. There are a lot of shopping areas we haven’t explored, and entire neighborhoods where we haven’t been. We want to do more hiking… and I’m not leaving Korea until I’ve sung some Karaoke!
We’d like to do a couple day trips near Busan — Gyeongju is top of the list for that. Also, the World Expo is currently in Yeosu, which isn’t so close, but hard to pass up. Neither of us has ever been to a world expo, so we’re considering it even though it hasn’t been getting great reviews. We thought about going to Seoul, but decided that’s best left for a return trip!
Being experienced travelers yourselves, what is one piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about seeing the world?
We’re a little different than most travelers, in that we stay for a long time in each spot. 91 days is probably unrealistic for most people, but too many travelers spend too little time in the places they visit. For example, we met tons of people in Bolivia who were staying in the country for a total of three days, before moving on to Peru or Paraguay. That kind of schedule might allow you to see a lot of different places, but it’s like glancing at a bunch of book covers without bothering to actually read anything.
So I guess my advice is to limit the amount of actual “traveling” you do during your travels. Your time will be a lot more rewarding if you spend your days experiencing about the cultures, rather than sitting on another bus or train.