Is Having a Favourite Country Actually a BAD Thing?

Tomorrow I’m flying to The Philippines from South Korea (by the time this is read I will already be there). And I am in the strangest of moods. Usually, when I’m about to explore a new country I feel like a kid the night before christmas and can’t sleep at all. However on this occasion, apathy is the main theme.

For I am in love. And her name is Japan.

Just your average day..being interviewed on Japanese TV.

Just your average day..being interviewed on Japanese TV.

Ever since the first moment I touched down in the ‘land of the rising sun,’ I have fell unequivocally for the country and its culture, history, pride, attitude, food, humility, people, weirdness and and all the rest. I extended my stay and changed my flight details to have an extra week in Japan – and I’m really glad I did that.

Like a boss.

Like a boss.

If a friend was to say the same thing to me I would have suggested not going to South Korea at all until they are all Japan’d out. But the onward ticket was already booked and I need to finish this mammoth trip before December, as I have some very exciting plans in Bangkok which I can’t justify not executing. So the show must go on.

But my worry is – will I be able to totally ‘give myself‘ fully to another country when travelling, or will I always be comparing to a country on the highest of pedestals? To fully understand my plight, let me explain it in dating metaphors…

Standing on the top of Mount Fuji.

Standing on top of Mount Fuji.

Imagine you’re completely head-over-heels crazy about a girl. (Sorry, none-girl loving readers – I just don’t have time to tick all boxes right now) and she’s everything you’ve wanted and more. You fell in love at first sight and every day gets better when you’re together. She really ‘gets’ you and you’ve never felt this way before so you savour every moment together. The kind of girl that you have a unique, intense chemistry with that provides a spark when you first meet – you get lost in her Bambi eyes and you immediately think; ‘uh-oh, you’re going to cause me trouble.’

But then one day, for whatever reasons in the midst of your honeymoon period – you both decide it is time to draw the curtain on your blossoming relationship. You’re sad, but you have a lot of beautiful memories together that make you smile and you wish her all the best.

She is Japan.

Wild deer in Nara - everywhere!

Wild deer in Nara – everywhere!

Then one day you’re having a cup of tea, reading a book in your favourite cafe – anything to distract you from the reminder of your recent heartache. Your phone goes off and it’s one of your friends inviting you for dinner. You accept and go over that evening – and they have also invited another girl. Uh-ohhh – you’ve ben set up on a blind date. Swines. Don’t they know your heart still bleeds for another? She’s pretty in a boring kind of way, but she doesn’t have many layers. She’s boring and too cold (and kind of rude) and she doesn’t ‘get’ you like the last girl did. However you remember your manners and you make small-talk whilst slyly checking your watch (and your phone to see if Japan has text you) at every given opportunity.

She is South Korea.

Now let’s look at Thailand. I have a lot of love for Thailand. I don’t travel when I’m in Thailand – I live there, which provides a whole new dynamic. Thailand and I are good for one another. We just…happened! It wasn’t planned and the relationship was started due to convenience. Metaphorically speaking, Thailand would be the cool and attractive female friend who I have never had a romantic agenda with. We meet for an innocent drink during a night out to catch up on each other’s lives. She forgets her key and has to sleep on my sofa…

…naked. With me spooning her after some mind-blowing (and confusing) horizontal jogging. We wake up and we feel weird, but we continue this relationship because even in the midst of the confusion – we’re good for each other. We make each other happy and feel safe.

Vietnam…would be the drunken shag with a psychopath who I never, ever, ever, ever want to see again.

Conclusion

I left a present for a lucky ongoing traveller in the airport.  I'm going to do this with every LP guide at the end of every trip now.

I left a present for a lucky arriving traveller in the airport.
I’m going to do this with every LP guide at the end of every trip now :)

I’ve always been jealous (and even cynical) of travellers who have claimed to fall in love at first sight with a country. Now I have experienced it and I’m asking myself if it’s actually a good thing. Is it a case of ‘better to have loved and lost, to never have lost at all,’ or is it merely a case of living too much in the past and taking me away from the present moment?

I can always go back (and I will, you just try and stop me you polite, sushi-eating, lovely bastards) but I’m concerned that I’ll always be comparing. I know many people struggle to find the right guy/girl, because they are always comparing to that one person who got under their skin and just doesn’t seem to leave their system. Or even jump into an ok relationship to fill the fake void in their aching hearts. You can fool others, but it’s a lot harder to fool yourself.

And I’m worried that a country can leave the same scars upon an individual. What do you think? Any experience with this?

Song for the moment: ‘The First Cut is The Deepest,’ by Rod Stewart

Notable Lyrics

‘I would have given you all of my heart

but there’s someone, whose torn it apart

and she’s taken just all that I had

But if you want – I’ll try to love again

Baby, I’ll try to love again, but I know…’

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31 Responses

  1. Becki | Backpacker Becki

    I have having the exact same Japan heartache (although my Japan is male). And South Korea… well he isn’t doing much for me and I’m still with him after a couple of weeks because I want to give him a chance. But I always think about Japan everyday.

    My advice to people is this. Go to South Korea first so that you are not disappointed. THEN go to Japan and have your mind blown. The other way around ruins the chance you COULD give to South Korea.

    I’m going to go flirt with Taiwan next. Heard he’s a bit more fun. But Japan is husband material ;)
    Becki | Backpacker Becki recently posted..The Robot Restaurant in Tokyo – A Very Futuristic Foodie ExperienceMy Profile

    Reply
    • Anthony

      Hahaha excellent comment, Becky.

      I’d just weigh in and tell people not to go to S Korea at all. But that being said, I’m just a bitter ex.

      Reply
    • Anthony

      Aaaah, the good old honeymoon period when you love all countries. Makes me smile just thinking about it :)

      Philippines – she’s definitely worth continuing dating. I’ll call her for sure ;)

      Reply
  2. Sofia

    I love how you compare countries with girls and relationships, so true!

    For me I think Italy would be that guy who has it all, the looks, the charm, the charisma, but who you really just want to use for a summer fling because you know it would never work out in the long run.

    I have a feeling I will fall head over heels in love with Japan despite all the things I already don’t like about it, haha. Really can’t wait to go there!

    Reply
    • Anthony

      Hey Sof,

      Sounds like Italy certainly is a holiday fling. I have a feeling we dislike the same things about Japan, but she still has enough to win you over!

      Reply
  3. Carl

    I feel exactly the same way about Japan! I finally made it there in March after years of waiting and it completely stole my heart – and I thought Spain had grabbed hold of that for good ha!

    Ahh I miss it so much. It was everything I’d hoped it would be. And then some. Roll on next year… Even if it does seem that Japan is a bit of a seductress!

    Reply
  4. Ryan

    I cannot wait to get to Southeast Asia. I will be living and hopefully teaching English in Thailand, so I’m happy to read you love living their. I’m hoping to get to Japan at some point in the near future as well. I really dig the analysis of falling in love with these places, very funny.

    Reply
  5. Ian Ord - Where Sidewalks End

    Too funny Anthony. I felt all the metaphors were working well, and then you had.. HAD to shag Thailand. Couldn’t you have just stayed plutonic? ;)

    I’ve often used a similar metaphor with continents. Being Canadian, North America is just like a sibling or immediate family member. Europe, for me, would be close relatives, some of which I can connect with easily, others who are just weird. Africa, so hard to put to words the feelings that come from there, but it’s maybe best at saying that it was like finding or getting in touch with your inner-self, without trying to use the cliches. Australia’s like the Danny DeVito to my Arnold, in the movie “Twins”. The real romances, happen with Asia and Latin America. Asia is spell bounding, alluring, delicious, beautiful, and wise. Latin America is sassy, sexy, vibrant and musical.

    If I had to choose (and I have already), Latin America is my sultry mistress, but Asia is my one true love :) Glad you found your true love too, Mr Middleton!

    Reply
    • Anthony

      Hey Ian, I tried to. But she had this figure-hugging dress on. The type that shows one shoulder. You know how I feel about one shoulder tops on a girl.

      Then she made that joke about how we should hook up when we’re 35 if we’re still single. Then there was that moment of silence…and the rest is history.

      Reply
  6. Adam Finan

    I would have to say Thailand!

    Great food, cheap as, plenty of things to do.

    New Zealand is definitely the most beautiful place I have been but Thailand takes the crown in my eyes! But not Bangkok. Why does everybody live in Bangkok!?!

    Reply
    • Anthony

      Hey Adam,

      Bangkok admittedly took a bit of a process to become likeable. I guess I have a cool set of positive minded friends here, western comforts when I want them, and always something to do. (Nightclubs are overrated though).

      Reply
  7. Alouise

    I can’t say I have a favourite, or I’m head-over-heels in love with a country, but I kind of get where you’re coming from because I do have some favourite cities. I feel in love with New Orleans as soon as I got there, and I missed Montreal before I even. Go back to Japan, but keep your heart open for other countries too. There’s no need to be monogamous with travel.
    Alouise recently posted..Walking Across The Border in Niagara FallsMy Profile

    Reply
  8. Christine |GRRRL TRAVELER

    Love the post and the metaphors! I feel like there are many different types of love.

    There are those like India or Thailand, who’ve blown me away to the point I’ve dropped my pants and forgotten than any other existed. They’ve gotten under the skin. But then pants back on and it’s like- yeah, that was awesome and let’s do it again. But marriage, let’s wait and see.

    Then there are places like Korea– pretty, but dull and uncreative. Felt the same way as you for a good 6 months. Until I spent more time with her- got to know how she thinks and feels deep down, her ticks, realized she offered me convenience and value. When you’re in a relationship, love comes through duty. The more I know her, the more I grow to love her, so she’s one of my home bases.

    I’m half Japanese, but sex with Japan felt just awkward and alien. Not sayin it was bad. Just unusual… and a little expensive. I stared at the ceiling a lot wondering if that’s how sex was supposed to feel. I left, feel equally confused whether I liked it or not.

    Reply
    • Anthony

      Hahaha Christine,

      You’re such a pants-dropper in Asia! Statues will be erected (pun intended) of you in many years. I’m not even sure if Korea was even pretty, looking back on my photos. Japan’s a pricey bitch and she’s worth it <3

      Reply
  9. Pamela

    What an interesting way to describe your experiences with those countries! :)

    Although I have never been to Japan, it is not the kind of guy (in my case) that I will date. Same goes for South Korea. Maybe one day I will give both of them a chance to see how compatible we are.

    One good thing about long term travelling is that you know you can always return as and when you want to. But sometimes, when you have a new love that came by, the old one seems to take the second place.

    Now, please allow me to reminisce on my summer fling with UK.

    Reply
    • Anthony

      Hehe I’m happy how I described it too! You should give Japan a chance when you’re ready for her – she won’t let you down!

      Interesting that your summer fling is the relationship I ran away from :)

      Reply
  10. sandstormed

    For me it’s Georgia. I’m in love with her. Next to it is her sister, Armenia!

    Reply

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