I’m back here, to update what I been up to for… the last 10 days! Alvin and i took a trip to Korea – Seoul & Jeju. Jeju really surprised me because I really liked Jeju. Although I was feeling super tired and sick during the days in Jeju, I felt like it was such a serene place with lots of land and greens and sea. And i actually enjoyed the sightseeing – HA HA HA. NEW FOR ME RIGHT?
I am the omg i don’t want to walk type of person, but recent 1 year I think I have changed a little. After doing Dragon back Trail in HK, I felt like I start to enjoy scenery and hiking related more. It tend to tell me that even though the journey is long and far, during the journey it teaches me how to be patient and take one step at a time, and the end result – the view is worth it. But i really appreciate and learn more of the journey itself,i feel like it shapes my character in a weird way, and i relate that back to me and my business.
So we took a nearly 10 day trip to Korea. 3 days spent in Jeju which was not enough for me. I actually on the impulse asked the host if she had space for 1 more night for us because i really loved her place – it looked out to the sea. but she was really full, so we just went back to Seoul as planned. I would recommend anyone who is going to Jeju to stay at her place, she provides korean breakfast and she speaks english. Its hard to communicate in Korea if they don’t know english and chinese. All the circles and the squares make my head fuzzy too.
Let me ramble on before I start on the Korea stuff proper maybe on the next post. So this trip, is something both of us really needed. Our last trip was August 2015, alvin been working hard at his job and he’s also achieved completion of his ACTA – Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment. He studied part time at night classes for around 6 months before completing it in June. And also, he has decided to embark on his Masters that will start in August, so it was a good break for him :’)
For me, I been stressed over my business, wondering what next and how do I do certain things better. Also, what is important for me in the business and as a person – this will affect how I treat and grow my business; sort of like my values. I remember my previous work place manager, he always told me that if one’s mission is to earn 1mil bucks, 2 mil bucks, then you will be lost after achieving it. It should be more like, how meaningful your job/what you are doing, does it help the society, do you give back? I struggled abit also because a retail business is based on “wants” and not “needs”. I think “needs” are like food business like hawkers, fruit sellers, econ mini-mart where they sell bread and stuff. Things you need to live. I honestly got lost somewhere and just sit back and wondered what value am i providing to people? Why are they buying from me? Why I am selling stuff to them? As well as got caught up thinking of growing the expanding the business, and was afraid that it would just be all about numbers/money.
This trip – Jeju especially opened my eyes and heart about a few things. A general gist was that, we stayed in Airbnb studio owned by Isabel (The host) and her husband. We hired a taxi driver Mr Lee who was in the hotel industry before he drove taxi and take tours. Both of them inspired me pretty much more then average. I always loved to chat with locals when we go to any cities (the last i enjoyed so much was chatting with Maureen, our host at San Fran) because it gave us their perspective in life, in their job, in the place they are in and the situation they have.
This is what our accoms in Jeju looked like. the seaview is REAL.
Sign up via my referral link to get SG$30 travel credits : www.airbnb.com.sg/c/stang18
Isabel house Airbnb link : https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/7331339
What i took away was that – If you can make yourself or your service of Value, I.e. it brings value to people, your business will flourish.
Isabel was a teacher before being a host, her husband designed and built the 3 storey house and also had the foresight that people will like this place because it had a scenic sea view. I am also curious (friends would affectionately say I am kaypo) because I always wanted to know what inspire people and what led them to making the choices and decisions. The location of their house was purely coincidental. They were going nearby to view a land as they wanted to buy, and they didnt like it so much so they drove further and around. They just drove pass the current land that the house was in and there was a big rock on it. Her husband immediately said the land is good, but she couldn’t see it. Then he decided to buy it, removed the rock and built a building there. She couldn’t give two hoots , and didnt even visit the place until after it was done. She said she didn’t fancy or cared much of the process because she loved her job as a teacher. She just saw the rock and then the building, and i thought that was pretty hilarious and amazing. And other people around the neighbourhood was so worried for them and wondered why this couple person bought such a small piece of land with a rock on it! I feel that her husband has great foresight and also had in mind that travellers would like to stay in their house. He designed such that the windows faced the sea, the staircases are outside (like a flat style) not a bungalow style and the rooms are studio like.
2 points here I want to highlight is firstly, she loved her job. This is something i found in the Jeju locals that they are so proud of what they do and they put their heart into it. I have hardly ever heard anyone saying that they love their job in Sg. 2nd point was that sometimes things happen for a reason, a coincidence, just happened and its somehow God’s plan. I mean what are the odds that you chance upon a great piece of land when you were actually disappointed in the one you initially wanted to view. (I am not sure if they Christians, but she left a review on my page that included “God bless you ” so maybe they are. I read other reviews she left for other people that stayed at her place but she never did write God bless to others.) But anyway, my point, you get it.
She told me – I am not sure why people would want to stay here. i said the view is awesome and you serve breakfast and speak english. She said ohh ok, I guess the sea and breakfast right! I said yes. And this also led me to my 3rd point – that if you give something more then others, even if others may be doing the same thing as you. If you go an extra mile, just a small one, people will come to you. When I was searching for places to stay in Jeju, there was many to choose from, including sea view and even pool. I was so inclined to stay at her place because there was korean breakfast provided and her pictures looked so yummy and it felt like her hosting was very warm. And of course, it was convenient too to eat before heading out for sightseeing, thats what i thought and it proved to be a great decision and met her. I am always grateful to our airbnb hosts who are open to chat with us and share with us about their lives and their stories.
Me having korean breakfast prepared by Isabel’s helper
And to the third point, when I was chatting with her, I asked if she knew what the other building used their rooms for. There was one or two other building just a few meters away and they could be doing airbnb as well but I am not sure. i was wondering if it was competitive to rent our the airbnb at her area because of the seaview and others did the same. She said to me simply, I don’t know and I don’t bother, I just do my own things. This taught me one thing is that, doesn’t matter what people are doing, even if they are doing well, better then you or not and if they are your competitors or not, you should just focus on what you do and do it well. It was quite a rude shock to me because I am always kaypo and curious to know what others are doing and how i can do better then them – if I am her, I would want to know if they have “better business” then me on airbnb. Then i learnt my 3rd point is – don’t look at what others are doing, just concentrate on your own thing. This called me back to the short meeting I had with Farah, a lady who on and off check how I am doing (sort of like a mentor/guide), she and another lady whom i just met told me that I will go down (fail) if i keep looking at others/other business and wanting to follow their style/ direction/what they do. So this really hit home for me.
Our taxi driver, Mr Lee had really good command of English (for a Korean). We chatted so much and he shared with us his life so much. And the best is, he knows so much about Singapore, and how things work here I almost had to ask him – did you live in Singapore?? How did you know so much about it! His customers are 90% Singaporeans based on referrals. And so I will refer anyone to him that wants to go to Jeju and need a driver. I highly recommend because Jeju is huge and public transport/bus are not very frequent. The travel from one place to another is 20mins – 1 hour.
Here’s our very kind and friendly taxi driver, Mr Lee Hong Min. (he speaks English)
To book him Watsapp: +82 10-9396-4498 / email:
He has been doing this for 2-3 years, his father in law owns the taxi company. But what striked me hard was that he loves what he does, he isnt “sian” of bringing us around like its just his job or a chore. I can’t imagine how excited you have to be doing the same time day in and out for 3 years. He works 23-26 days a month. You know like how some people in Sg (customer service sector) give you a sian look when they are serving you. Mr Lee was so patient, so punctual. We said 10am, and he comes at 920. Like omg we haven’t even started our breakfast! And the best thing is, he’s not just a driver. He parks his taxi, and brings us into the sightsee, walks with us and explains to us whats the history, what happened, how it came about. He will also take pictures for us, tell us the best place to stand and also take scenery pictures while we read the sign boards and stuff. I mean, which “taxi driver” will do all that, he was literally a tour guide and even got us discount one of the sight see entrance fee. This brings me to iterate 1. people in jeju really love their job. 2. they give more value then just the service they offer
And he was always chatting, smiling and always ready to bring us here and there where we want to go. On the first day, i was so tired and i didn’t say I wanted to go back to the accoms, but he said you look really tired why don’t we go back and rest for today and continue tomorrow. At that point, we had just reached the sight see entrance and even got down the taxi. If I was the driver, I would not bother because i drove all the way here! I said ok and we headed back.
It also dawned onto me and i was quite amazed that they could make a business out of just hosting people and driving people. It looked to me that there was a need in the industry and you can always make a business out of it as long as you provide value / something that someone needs. For them, it comes out of the tourism and people need the service their provide.
So although I felt real tired and sick during Jeju trip, I liked it a whole lot more then Seoul. Maybe less people, more fresh air and the seaview from our room. Also what I took away and learnt from the short 3 Days.. helped me to see that providing VALUE in whatever I do will lead me to the right path.
Sunset in Jeju looks like this, so picturesque – i took this outside Isabel’s place.