"No Matter What" - a two-and-half week trip report (to Busan, South Korea and back)


Travel, See, Feel, Explore
I've known her for more than seven-and-a-half years.
Instant electric shock deep inside me when I met her that very first day back in late March 2012.
She wasn't ready for me back then, and surprise-surprise... ...still not ready for me seven years later.

But fools learn only by experience. And that hurts, a lot actually - especially when the other person fires a what proved to be her last text message to you saying a few things any man should never ever get to read.... What is done is now done. You need to manage it. This is how you can grow. And like it or not, it's the only way forward.

So let's go back to earlier this summer. You see her IG pictures and silly summer love stories. You suddenly sense how much you feel for her, but distance these last four years has kept both of you apart. Distance, your unemployment, her struggle to get her new business up and running, etc. Despite all your lack of income struggles, you do wire her money couple of years back. Who would ever do that for her? The recent sexy six-pack one month summer love affair, perhaps? I don't think so... You know you should have not done that, but you did. Lucky you got the $$$ back some months later.

So you believe. You believe so much in something you actually know it has very, very slim chances of materializing.
But you believe deeply, so you have to go for it when the moment appears in the horizon.

You lose the kilos, and we are talking about a twenty six kilo off job in six weeks. Crazy but you do it. Because life is now, time is now, and having not seen her in four years you feel you should not lose any more time. We move mountains? Yes we do, no question about that.

Then comes the sudden phone call with a colleague, early September.
You're still grinding day in, day out: sending CVs everywhere, walking 2 hrs every day, meditating, and eating like a fly.
Colleague sits in Busan. Korean wife, nice easy life, probably washing dad's $$$ through a legit outfit of 'agencies'. Whatever.

The 'Le Petit Prince' Big Pilot, the rose gold anniversary Reverso with the wonderful Fagliano leather strap, etc. - all purchased duty free from the big boutiques in Athens, GR since he is now a Korean permanent resident. Oh well. The posh office in one of Busan's most luxurious office apartment buildings. Of course.

"...I'm in Athens in two days, currently in Italy for work and pleasure at the same time. Will come to book a ticket for you."
That was 11th September. Still waiting for that call actually, right here, right now as you all read these lines.
The promises they give you. I go there, he gives me a bit of training in what he does, then I come back and do marketing here locally.
This and that blah blah blah, but nothing concrete later on.

Never mind. that was the spark I needed to light my fire.

I never waited for his call to arrange for my air ticket. Wouldn't want to be obliged in such a way, anyhow.
On the 13th I had a ticket ready in my hands.... On QR.
Economy, but come on... My preferred airline, and to go visit a place I had left a part of my heart in, to see the girl I fancied, to make a couple of good business connections... Everything fit together after four terrible years in this prison-like environment.

(Continues - stay tuned....)


Travel, See, Feel, Explore
So the work connections fit, the local shipping/maritime exhibition fits, another colleague and solid friend who sits there is also good to meet – so with the air ticket booked, let’s do the hotel and board part.

You start from zero. Or perhaps sub-zero. The 33gr. gold dragon mafia gangster ring you had purchased in Kuala Lumpur five years back is now gone, as are two Cartier rings you seldom wear. At least from the KL thing you did not lose anything. Gold is gold. Ticket in hand, guesthouse booked with no cc deposit confirmation necessary, all is going well then. We still have to make room for the food etc. expenses there.

You announce her the good news. You’re thrilled, you think she feels the same – but may be in a different way. You are so determined that you’re already going love-blind. You believe anything is possible. For you it’s love, for her friendship – and you will find that out soon, no matter what you want to believe.

Expenses there? Food? Hmmm, any other forums apart from ATG and TSR? Funny but true. So crazy, I tell you. I got a stackload of fountain pens sitting somewhere, I believe... FPN comes to mind. Need four posts to become eligible for selling items. You get down to ‘work’. The usual rare handmade items sell in a blink of an eye. You now have another grand or two in your PayPal account. We’re building momentum, and we never thought we’d be in such a favorable position few weeks back.

But what about the other dozen or so pens? These will be hard to move. Hmmm. And that’s when the Universe brings its magic touch and the mystery ‘investor’ appears out of nowhere. Collector (and dealer of course) from Kuwait… Ho ho ho. He likes a nice Cartier fountain pen. OK. We make a deal, then continue on WhatsApp: “…Do you happen to have any other Cartier items?”

I realize the ‘potential’ (may God call it potential but never mind anyway) and say to him “no, not really”. OK. I await instructions for shipment. Day goes by, he has paid, comes back and says “Ship by DHL, please.” Of course, he’s from the Middle East. I should have known better! Then he carries on texting “…Any other Cartier items, please?” I’m still asleep (regarding the ‘potential’). Suddenly I wake up and say to myself “go open that bloody box”.

Some fountain pens, roller ball pens, ball pens, a gorgeous Cartier lacquer/sterling silver ruler, palladium, rhodium, platinum, anything you like. I mean, what is the value if you do not use these things any more? And when you’re in love you’re getting blind, I said this already.

So I go back to him and say, look, I’ve got this and that. We strike another one-and-half k deal. OK. I still have shipped nothing to him. Hundred Euros for the shipping but who cares. Next day another WhatsApp message: “…Any Cartier sunglasses?” WTF. They must be obsessed with these down there. The devil in my mind keeps nudging me. I go back to the box, with my phone next to me. I see a couple of pouches. Oooh – cufflinks. Say to myself “you reckon he may want these?”

I text him “No sunglasses but I have abt 15 pairs of Cartier, Hermes, Dupont cufflinks. Any of interest?” His reply: “I want all of them, will buy the pouch as it is. Name your price…” Couple of days and three k PayPal more down the line, I ship him the second lot…. Crazy? Hell yes.

So with a ‘wealthy’ wallet now, I dump the guesthouse reservation and switch to Airbnb. Little bit more expensive but still considerably cheaper than a hotel and much much better. Full small apartment so that I can also cook for her if she wants one day (and I actually did manage to make lunch for her and her business neighbours).

Departure day comes. Bliss, happiness, anxiety to get there and see her. She came to the airport, with her lovely Golden Retriever of course. I thought may be there could be a kiss as well, at least on the cheek, but no. It wasn’t to be. Still blind, and every day there the blindness would become more intense – until the final four day abrupt wake up.

When you go with expectations and have not done any due diligence, it’s your responsibility that you get a nasty surprise. Why would things be as you had imagined? You mistook some positive signs you had all these years as if they were evidence. But in actual fact they were not. Despite all that, Busan continues to that day to remain a truly wonderful city. The sea, the wonderful people, the slowly developing cultural areas with small shops, cafes, restaurants, the city’s proximity to Japan, everything is so nice.

Busan - Marine City on the far right.

(Continues - stay tuned....)


Travel, See, Feel, Explore

Exhibition week commences fast. Little bit of jet lag, but day in day out we go for dinner, lunch, spend time together. Perfect start. Then a big blow to her business comes in all of a sudden, and she now has to fight very, very hard every single day. Huge stress. I support as much as I can, but as the days go by, the magic goes away and reality sets in. She’s too busy to do other things, I’ve progressed with my business affairs but all the other time during the day I want to see her. It’s too much in too many levels for her.

I start to see some neutral to -at most- friendly behavior, so I get uncomfortable. No patience, while I should have been smart and be as distant as I could. But I just could not help it any more. She was so dynamic, so cool in her day to day life, that I fell in love with her even more. Nothing worse for the particular period and circumstances.

I strike a potentially very good employment opportunity, which may give fruits in a 2-4 weeks. But all the rest goes from bad to worse. I start to feel I’d like to leave. Really. We discuss it, twice, and her reaction is: “…Even if I ever told you to leave, would you ever do that? Would you, really?” And that’s what I did. You can’t be friends with someone you fancy. Simple as that. Was so love-dizzy that I did not even manage to tell her that straight face-to-face, but to be brutally honest I’ve always been brave enough to say what I want except from the fact in that particular trip and under these once-in-a-lifetime influences I just did not to spend even some hours away from her.

Last four days went from argument to more serious argument, job/work was done for me so I was practically staying there for her. Dinner or lunch together had become a luxury, so come on, what’s the point. Once I made the final mistake to push even further for more frequent meetups (silly but I did that), she became angry. A nasty text message was what I needed to decide to pull the plug. But it was my fault, no question about it. I pushed too much, too early, for a place next to her that she was just not willing to give me. I should have taken many steps back, but that’s why when you’re so dizzy you should not drive…. You destroy everything, and this is what actually happened.

I left the birthday present in my Airbnb apt. with instructions to the apt. owner to coordinate for my friend to pick it up. Flowers for her birthday had also already been arranged days before the arguments started, but I did not change that either. When you love, you love, when you go there with a mission nothing is going to change anything. She should have the gift and the flowers.

Leaving @ Busan's Gimhae airport.

Fourteen hours after I left my apt. I was up in Seoul’s Incheon International changing my air ticket at the QR desks. Felt I deserved an upgrade, but of course it’s the wrong decision again. Mountains change, characters never do. I’m determined to prove the latter wrong in the future, but let's leave these things aside for now.

Five minutes before boarding the plane to Doha I fire a long 'Goodbye' text msg. to her. Took all responsibility on my shoulders, thanked her for the precious friendship all these years. I’m sure women don’t care for all that, but I felt I had to do it. Now I wouldn't, of course, at least to that extent, but at the time I was still love-drunk. Once they see your dizzy behavior they start to lose respect for you, and this is the worst that can happen between a man and a woman. I’m not sure she truly understood how confused I had been all these last few days, this just doesn’t matter now I suppose – the damage is done. And it is permanent.

She did go fast enough to pick up the birthday gift though, and she must have received the bouquet of white and red roses days later on her birthday. She never thanked. Still upset? Certainly. Indifferent? Possibly. And for me, well, never been more destroyed to be honest. Seven days on and I only feel one or two percent better. Sleep is terrible. Every single second of the day is a struggle. The feeling is awful, especially when someone you had so much respect for wrote such harsh words in her last text message to you. But it’s a lesson. The Universe chooses what to bring to you, and everything you receive is for a reason. Everything is an opportunity.

I will miss these beautiful first dinners but sometimes life unfolds just the way it wants.

I was in a #NoMatterWhat mode since August. Now all this is gone. But a new K will rise, soon. It will take time, but it will happen, I’ll make it happen. Have to learn, have to improve. What is the lesson is the whole point. My sister said “…she was clear with you, but you pushed too much. So she had to be brutal with you. She did not thank for the gift and flowers at the end? Bury the whole thing in a box, put that box well aside and just do not communicate with her again under your initiative no matter what...”

Of course. There’ll be more #NoMatterWhats in the years to come, not with her obviously. Unless I get that employment contract in South Korea and one day we come across each other in one of the well known beaches of Busan, while she walks her dog and I do my usual morning walk/training….

See you again then perhaps, I suppose.
Life sometimes plays funny games till the end, when the sum is done.

Arabic breakfast was good, but I'd very much fly coach having not hurt her and our friendship...

Shorty after take-off from Doha. Deeply regret leaving her so soon, but even at that late stage I had to go.


Fellow Traveller
K, what a heart felt tale - thank you. You come across as understandably raw. No sagacity from others, will, I suspect help. Trust you find some equanimity soon and I hope some good even if indirect, comes from the contract/job opportunity you pursued. I heard Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man playing in my head as I read your posts...
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Forum Sod
Everyone has been where you are now K, one way love is a horrible place to be, you put your heart and soul into a person who doesn't see you that way and you cannot understand why you give them everything in the hope they may change but it isn't to be. So you move on and hope to meet someone else who will love you back as much as you love them. They are out there, they always are, finding them is the hard part but they are there and I honestly believe you will find that person to make you whole again. I wish you all the luck in the world but as you say, this isn't the end, it is a new beginning, as the song goes Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again.


TSR reject
You haven’t done anything that every man here has done at least once. The heart will always overrule the head initially.
Nothing we can say will help how you feel now but you’ll move on K. and be stronger for it


Forum GOD!
Heartfelt and touching and very well written, affairs of the heart can be so cruel and sadly a little peice of your heart will always bear the scar but as has been said already time will dull the pain and you will move forward and be stronger for it. Good luck. P.


Well-Known Member
You will find someone better and more deserving of your love for sure. What happened to you also happened to me, but I found someone much much better. So turn that frown into a smile, you will get yours. Keep actively searching and use those dating sites. Faith & prayer works miracles & wonders, so I’ll do that for ya and you do that for yourself too.


Forum GOD!
I feel for you my friend, love hurts, I have never been in your situation, married to my best friend and wife for 33 years, you would be a fine catch for any Woman, the perfect gentleman.