Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
– C. S. Lewis
I can honestly say that this has been the most interesting and memorable part of my travels thus far and a large reason for traveling to Asia was a visit to Korea, and since I tend to find humor in almost everything, there have been a handful of things that I find particularly amusing about Korea during my month long stay in the return to the Mother Land. This is just a short list with photos of my highly entertaining experiences.
My apologies for condensing the past few days into one blog, but it was a lot to take in and I wanted to try and write these memories down while they were still fresh in my memory before beginning the preparations to travel back to Thailand–laundry, a few gifts for my sisters and nieces, saying goodbye to friends, etc etc–as well as knowing I am in for a very long travel day beginning on Wednesday with an overnight stay at Incheon International Airport (ICN) and a 10-hour plus itinerary from Seoul to Shanghai to Bangkok before arriving in the afternoon and a few hours later will be boarding an overnight bus to Chang Mai that is expected to take anywhere from 9 to 13 hours. While this is the exhausting or ugly side of travel, this Saturday morning I have set my alarm to wake me up early just in case I was tempted to oversleep. I feel quite fortunate to have a second, however last weekend, with my birth mom before I continue my travels. It is just after 8:45am when I wake up and look forward to another hot shower, take ‘em when you can get ‘em–the small victories and luxuries in life as a backpacker, and I am out the door at 10:15am sharp. Since there was some miscommunication last Friday when my mother arrived in Seoul from Iksan and was waiting for me at Eastern (ESWS) for about 40-minutes, I have confirmed several times with Crystal both the time and location that was decided without me for my lack of Korean language skills and want to be prompt on whatever plans my mother may have for us today. The weather is a bit chilly, but nothing a light fleece jacket will fend off, and just after 12pm I see the large grin as she approaches. Carrying her own backpack, I can’t help but think it must run in the family, as I take it and carry it for her. We climb aboard the bus and three-stops later we are at the guesthouse. After getting her settled in, unfortunately there is no one else around to help translate, but thank God for the Google translator app, however terrible it may be. Soon after we have arrived at Mugunghwa house, the weather begins to cloud up and a light frigid rain begins. It is around this time that Crystal arrives back and is able to be our bridge of communications. My mom tells her that she would like to make everyone a nice authentic home-cooked meal tomorrow night but still needs a few items from the grocery store, and this causes Crystal to jump in to a frenzy and before I know what’s happening the three of us are walking to the supermarket.
After a quick lunch in the food court, where I’m guilty of punching a man in the face with glasses, we purchase the few items needed and head back before the rain really begins to come down. The five-finger fist to the face, you ask? Well as it turns out Koreans are impatient, may say a lot for my demeanor, and as we were getting up from our table two other guys were standing hovering over us like vultures that I never saw, and as I stood up and was placing my arm through my jacket in an upward angle it met squarely with the guy behind me where I literally punched him in the face. I apologized, but talk about some serious silent ninja skills, this guy had them, and what got me was the fact that there were at least four of five other tables surrounding us that were completely vacant. Who knows maybe the King of England sat at this particular table centuries ago and it was a highly valued piece of real estate at this local neighborhood Korean supermarket, who knows. Since she has had a long travel day herself, my mom has requested an earlier dinner nearby since we also have plans to go to church in the morning at 8:30am and she would like to be well rested. Just after 5:45pm, I’m able to convince Sam and Brenna, also Korean adoptees that are staying at the guesthouse, to join us. Dinner is gimbap or kimbap, ramen, and an assortment of a few other delicious items that I can’t remember, but I will say is that it was tasty as usual.
Around 4:30pm my mom is in the kitchen like a conductor, orchestrating together a meal as she flies around the room, and before I know it she has me in an apron as well helping her through a series of hand gestures. Tonight’s menu is bulgogi, (grilled marinated beef), japchae (glass noodles with vegetables for our vegetarian, Brenna), and the traditional kimchi (this should hopefully be self explanatory, if not click on the links). Since this appears to be a special occasion for the guesthouse, Crystal has set us up in the office and Sam, a long-time guest, has also helped out by setting the table and even adding candles for our family style dinner.