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Speaker’s Corner: Who Are Your Heroes?

April 19, 2015


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Welcome back to another episode of Speaker’s Corner, where patrons of our coffee shop, You Are Here Cafe, step into our video booth and answer the question of the week. This week we asked people about their heroes, and how they’ve been influenced by them.

For starters, let me say CONGRATULATIONS to the second girl who answered the question and came to Korea to travel, BY HERSELF! At SEVENTEEN! That’s amazing! Or is it? I don’t know. That seems a bit uncommon to me. I couldn’t imagine traveling to another country by myself at 17 years old. I wasn’t adventurous enough back then. Oh how things have changed! Now, all we want to do is travel. It’s like getting tattoos: getting your first one is scary, but then after you’ve got one you want to do it again, and again. If it were up to me, we’d just live in a new place every three months, and go from one location to the next, making videos and taking pictures of all of the amazing things that surprise us, all of the things that are different than what we’re used to.

I’m actually really touched by the second girl’s answer, whose name I didn’t have stored in the video so I can’t thank her directly, but it’s actually a really important message that we try to get across. Sure, we talk about Korea a lot of the time, but more than talking about Korea, we’re really interested in inspiring people to make the change, to take the plunge, to not feel as if they’re trapped in one lifestyle because of their habits, possessions, friends and family. You can get new ones of those wherever you go. Not that I’m advising everyone to dump all of their responsibilities, but if you have a calling to travel elsewhere, you’ll regret not going more than you would regret actually going. I know too many people, friends and family, who want to experience a new country and culture, but feel too tied down. For those of you who do take the plunge to travel, to experience a new place, I have lots of respect for you, and to think that we’ve helped give some people that push is really touching. So, thank you girl #2 :D

As for me, Simon, I’m not sure if I have a hero at the moment, or someone that’s influenced me a lot. I have people I’d aspire to be like. Anthony Bourdaine is one of them at the moment. I don’t know that much about his past life, and I don’t share his deep hatred of hipsters (arguably, since I’m deeply one myself), but I do like what he does in his programs. I like the idea of travel blogging, and he’s the most prominent figure that I can think of at the moment in this field. Though, it seems like he goes to an area and explores it for a bit, then leaves it behind, while I like the idea instead of having a country and culture deeply impact how you perceive yourself, and how you behave afterwards. Korea has changed us a lot, in many ways, and has made me feel reverse culture shock when we’re back in Canada, and I like that, and I hope that it’ll continue in every country that we live in.

Anyhow, if you have someone that’s influenced you a lot, let me know in the comments! Or if you know of any other travel bloggers that inspire you, I’d love some recommendations, because I don’t know of that many :D



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Speakers Corner


Speaker’s Corner: Who Are Your Heroes?


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  1. IM GIRL NR2!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!

    I am currently still in korea and on my 6th day in korea i got hospitalized and I am still going to be in korean hospital for a while, so please all that’s in korea reading this, come visit me haha!!! A bit scary without parents but insurance company is good and i have an english korean helper here to transelate for me…
    EAT YOUR KIMCHI!!!: Please see this, thank you for making a day in korean hospital better for me!! and if you have the littlest time and see this comment to maybe answer i would be more glad!! :D
    AND also for being my inspiration!! :D i dont regret my korea trip even though many weeks of my 8 week trip is in hospital haha!

    5 years ago
    • HOLY SHIT! I’m so sorry to hear that you’re in a hospital now. If you’re there for a while then it must be serious. That must be terrifying. Especially while traveling on your own. I hope all goes well and that your trip isn’t totally ruined by this. Wow.

      Please get better. My thoughts go out to you. FIGHTING!

      5 years ago
    • Hope you’ll get better soon !!

      5 years ago
    • Oh no too bad you got into hospital during your trip! I also think it’s amazing that you can travel alone at 17, I would have never dared so young! So I hope you’ll be better soon and you can enjoy the rest of your trip in Korea! Fighting!!!!

      5 years ago
  2. My heroes are female journalists Lisa Ling and Anna Politkovskaya. The state of the news is such that we continuously receive a disgustingly biased and incomplete picture, which I firmly believe keeps us uneducated and prejudiced. Both Ling and Politkovskaya investigate with open minds and empathy, and are true champions of human rights.

    Politkovskaya in particular put her life on the line to speak on behalf of the Chechens and Putin’s oppression. She was murdered on his birthday in 2006.

    Ling tackles issues that America does not want to acknowledge. Such topics include mass African American incarceration and female trafficking in major American cities. Her report on the LGBTQ and “pray the gay away” church camps caused Exodus (the leading “change gays to straights” establishment) to publically apologize and close their doors for good.

    Last but foremost in my thoughts is my partner who has given financial and emotional support as I continue my university degree.
    She has exhibited much patience and empathy even when I make mistakes, and has given me her unconditional love.

    5 years ago
    • That’s amazing. I wasn’t familiar with either of those names, but I’m inspired now to look into them more. Thank you for taking the time to write this!

      5 years ago
  3. I have to say that my biggest hero is my mom. She is the strongest woman I know. She has delt and deals with so much crap, it’s amazing.

    But I wanted to talk about you guise for a minute.

    When I started getting into kpop and stuff, I felt a bit alone in the matter. I still kinda do. I am a fan of music in general and I tend not to have a lot of prejudices. I like the music that I like, regardless. However, people poke fun of me sometimes for liking kpop and asian stuff in general. I had the great luck of having a best friend that shared the love for anime, manga, etc. She was actually the one to introduce me to kpop, although I am much more of a fan than her.

    The reason why I’m writing this is to thank you guise. I use to question the fact that I liked this sort of thing (kpop, anime, cute fashion,…) because it’s kinda considered a teenager/kid thing and the comments I heard made think people perceived me as immature or something like that. And than I found you! (:

    A married couple in their late 20’s (now in their 30’s) that are not afraid to be who they are. Martina has pink hair and wears bows. Simon had colorful hair and cool fashion. And that’s ok. Your style and the things that you like don’t make you less “mature” or “adult”. That meant a lot to me. I’m 24 turning 25, graduating university this year and there is a constant pressure from society to be “adult”. “You’re not a teen anymore!” or whatever.

    Thank you guise! For giving another perspective of what a “real” life looks like. That really inspired me!
    As a result, I got very interested in Korean culture in general and plan on moving there for a bit after I graduate. (:

    Maybe I’ll catch you in the coffee shop next year, eh? ;D

    Love you, guise! Stay Nasty o/

    5 years ago
  4. Huge fan of Bourdain, I’ve literally watched every episode of all of his shows. Next week’s Parts Unknown Season 5 premiere is going to feature Seoul so I’m definitely excited for that. If you guys haven’t already, I’d suggest you watch A Cook’s Tour, his first food travel show on the Food Network which ran for two seasons back in the early 2000‘s. Many No Reservations and Parts Unknown fans have never even heard of it but it’s a definite must-watch. It’s a bit rawer and more food-centric than his later shows which have more of a travel/politically-oriented focus. His Singapore episode was especially good, from what I recall. Speaking of Singapore, Bourdain’s opening up a huge Singapore-style hawker center/food court in NYC later this year. If you guys are in town around that time, it could possibly be open by then.

    I’d also recommend Mind of a Chef which is produced/narrated by Tony. Each season highlights 1-2 prominent chefs (one American, one international) as they travel and explore their histories and culinary inspirations. Two of the three seasons featured Korean-American chefs: season 1 focused entirely on David Chang as he went back to Japan to talk about his origins as a soba noodle apprentice as well as his travels around Europe, the US and Canada; season 3 featured chef Edward Lee who’s created a Korean-Southern US fusion cuisine in his adopted city of Louisville. (His counterpart on season 3, Magnus Nilsson, really stole the show though. His episodes were probably the most provocative and aesthetically beautiful of the series.)

    When it comes to Youtubers, one who I think you guys may be interested in is Furious Pete. He’s a Polish-Canadian competitive eater/bodybuilder who travels all over the world to compete in food challenges and partake in local culture. He started off on Youtube just vlogging his competitions and then people started taking notice, including a German television company who signed him to star in a food travel series. His episodes should be up on his channel.

    5 years ago
    • I concur that Mind of a Chef is awesome. And yes, I DID attempt what I’m sure every Italian thought was a crime against nature, David Chang’s cacio e pepe made with ramen. He was so gleeful and happy at what a culinary travesty it was that I had to make it. It was very mac and cheesy.

      5 years ago
      • Haha ah yes…instant ramen, grated parmesan and black pepper, right? How sacrilegious, gotta love Chang. Btw I love the fact that he mentioned he enjoyed eating raw blocks of ramen as a kid since I did that as well. Can’t really do that with high-quality Korean instant ramyun but it’s pretty awesome with the cheap supermarket brands. Someone should make a snack chip out of ramen. They already have ramen burgers so why not chips?

        You know, out of all people I think Martina would really have a blast cooking out of the Momofuku cookbooks, the Milk Bar one in particular. It’d be right up her alley, whether it’s the ddukbokki, ramen with bacon broth, miso apple pie or cereal milk…I’m sure she (and anyone else who likes experimenting with funky recipes) would love it.

        5 years ago
  5. NEO

    I don’t know about heroes but there are a lot of people who have inspired me a lot. And inspired by the second girl I just had to come and tell that you guys inspired me a lot too! Since I was a child I always knew I wanted to travel and was sure that as soon as I can I will travel to a lot of places and that I want to know what it’s like to live in other countries. But when I was in high school, I stumbled upon your videos and got interested in Korea. Before that I had always been especially interested in Asian countries and especially Japan, but I didn’t know much about Korea. Through your videos I got to see all these weird and awesmoe things about Korea, I also got into K-pop (which I no longer really follow, but it was one of the first things to awake my interest in Korea). So after I graduated high school, I packed my bags and came to travel in Korea and Japan, and now, two years later, I’m doing my undergrad in Korea! If it wasn’t for you guys, I would probably not be doing what I am doing right now. You have influenced me a lot and I thank you for that! If I didn’t happen to see your videos a few years back, maybe I would still be in my country. Or another country. Who knows :D It’s interesting how such seemingly little things, random things, can have a big impact. So thank you Simon and Martina for introducing Korea to me, you are the reason I’m here now :D!

    5 years ago
  6. Honestly, hipster barely means anything at this point in time as anyone could be one and it’s basically become something thrown around… That’s basically what Bourdain means by hipster hate, it means nothing anymore… Though, if he’s talking about those people in Vancouver that ruined and changed historic Chinatown to have stupid indie coffee shops, ugly furniture, longboards, and bike shops, then I might agree….

    I think my parents try to tie me down… I want to travel, and I’m about to graduate. I don’t want to work this summer. I want to go by myself somewhere in Asia. But, my parents have over protective Asian parents in them and think I shouldn’t go to a city by myself, or a city without modenity…. I get envious of people who are allowed to backpack across Europe just because they have the freedom to travel..

    5 years ago
  7. I wouldn’t call them heroes per say, but I do have a ton of people who influence me a lot. You guys are some of those. Thanks to you I’m now trying out new stuff food wise. I used to be a reaaaally picking eater (still am in some ways. Onions are still hateful) now I try out new stuff and new mixes with the food that I used to eat just plain. For example, I ate sushi for the first time this year! And when I went to Stockholm I ate bibimbap and drank bubble tea and it was amazing.

    Other people that inspire me are my friends. Most of them are between 15-18 (with me at 20) and some of them are just starting high school, or ending it, but their determination is amazing. A lot of them are going through hard struggles, and some of those struggles I went through in that age too so I try to be a good influence/role model for them too, to show them that things do get better. My life took a 180 degree spin when I started high school, leaving all the toxic things behind and starting of fresh, and that spin continued in to uni, because if I hadn’t moved into this town, I would never have these friends.

    And for girl #2, I hope you have an amazing time in Korea!! And I’m impressed that your guardian/s let you go to Korea all alone, but then my parents let me go to London all alone when I was 18 for Muse so *shoulder shrug*
    Although all my friends were shocked when I told them I was going alone, I heard a lot of “you’re going ALONE??!???? Wow I would never dare to do that!” was it the same for you?

    5 years ago
    • No onions?!? Really?! OMG! I love onions. Dicing an onion, and sautéing it over medium heat over butter is one of the most comforting smells I know. Ahhhh! Have you had a bad onion experience or something?

      5 years ago
      • No onions, no matter which type it is. Not fond of the smell of it either, haha. It makes my dad sad whenever I go home and we cook, because he loves onions. And mom would always scold me for picking out the onion piecies in her meat balls, or any food in which she put onions in.
        People also ask me if I eat garlic (because in Swedish onion = lök, garlic = vitlök or “white onion”) and that’s fine. Loooove garlic.

        I can’t remember a bad onion experience other than burning eyes from being forced to chop it (thanks mom) and not being believed that my eyes still burn after 5 minutes (thanks again mom), I just can’t stand the texture or taste of it. It’s getting a little better nowadays, like, if it’s really chopped up in tiny tiny baby pieces and mixed with many other spices I can drown it out, but if any of my corridor mates are frying onions, I have to leave the kitchen because my eyes will burn, even with open windows!

        5 years ago
    • Yes! especially since i got hospitalized, haha!

      5 years ago
  8. come to concord NC I’m sure you’ll love to #seemycity

    5 years ago
  9. I like Anthony Bourdain as well. Yeah, I’m not into the things he hates (such as hipsters as you mentioned, and vegetarians as well), but his relentless search for what’s wonderful about the world is great.

    5 years ago
    • Ha! I didn’t know that he hates vegetarians! Really? I like vegetarians, so long as they’re not evangelists :)

      5 years ago
      • Haha! You really need to read Bourdain’s stuff (if only because he is a WONDERFUL writer. It’s what made him famous in the first place.) But his general dislike of the vegetarian lifestyle is well documented. However, he gives a total pass to India. He feels India is the only place where vegetarians do it right. Actually what I think is really interesting about Bourdain is starting from the first book, Kitchen Confidential, where he hadn’t really traveled and only really knew the restaurant world, you can really see how he’s grown. He’s changed his view on so many people and so many things, it’s impossible to keep track. It’s not that he waffles, it’s that when he’s done being a big mouth he’s willing to listen and consider another viewpoint. That makes him an excellent traveler.
        If you really want to get into the deep cuts, read the books that came before Kitchen Confidential. He wrote a history about Typhoid Mary (she was a cook, who knew?)

        5 years ago
        • I think traveling a lot definitely changes you. I didn’t know he had books before Kitchen Confidential. I’ll have to check them out.

          5 years ago