Monday, February 20, 2012

6 months..

Life is what you make it

I've had some really amazing experiences during the last six months in Korea, and despite the fact that not everything has worked out quite the way I hoped it would, I wouldn't go back and change anything I've done. I can look back and be happy with my decision to uproot what was basically a good life in Seattle to move across the world. No regrets. So here is a list of a few of the great experiences that come to mind:

Busan last weekend: hiking through the woods with various Koreans who laughed every time I said "kammsamida" (thank you.. maybe I really have been pronouncing it wrong for six months, who knows?) and finding Seokbulsa Temple, an amazing temple that is precariously built into the side of a mountain. Getting there involved lots of walking, riding a cable car, more walking, and lots of miming where I wanted to go to Koreans (if only I could put "miming" on my resume when I get home).

The next morning, I watched the sun rise over the ocean, and then went to Haeundae Beach.

Spending New Year's at the Homigot Sunrise Festival: One of the biggest lessons that I've learned about myself in the past six months is that I'm tougher than I give myself credit for (it only took me 31 and 1/2 years to figure that out...). I needed that tough-ness when I decided to go to this festival: getting there involved taking four buses, sleeping in a jimjilbang, and going so far from the beaten path that I didn't see any other westerners or hear any English spoken for almost 2 days (a bit of a rare experience in Korea). And really what can be better than watching the first sun rise of the new year over a giant statue of a hand in the ocean? Yes, nothing can be better.

Christmas in Seoul: For Christmas, my friend Victoria and I decided to go to Seoul. On Christmas Eve, we went out in Hongdae, the University area, and randomly found a bar advertising "live guitar." The live guitar player turned out to be the bartender, who played songs for us (including an amazing version of "The Blower's Daughter" by Damien Rice and, hilariously enough, "Puff the Magic Dragon"). At the end of the evening, we took a taxi back to our motel and as we were getting out of the taxi, two college-aged Koreans got in and said "Merry Christmas!" I looked at my watch and it was exactly midnight: Merry Christmas indeed. The next day, we went ice skating and then I went to see an awesome play called "Cooking with Nanta." We ended our Christmas day with dinner in Myeondong while watching an impromptu marching band play "YMCA" by The Village People. It was all so awesome I had no time to miss home! (Sorry, mom!)

Some other interesting things:

Festivals! The Jinju Lantern Festival, the Seoul Lantern Festival, the Busan Fireworks Festival and the Cheonan World Dance Festival.

Buddhist temples. There are so many amazing temples in Korea - from Jogyesa temple in Seoul to Donghwasa temple in Daegu. For me, part of the fun is not only seeing the temple itself, but also the journey in getting there. Most of the temples are located on mountains or in parks, relatively far from the cities. I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I'm able to find them.

Halloween in Seoul, and buying a drink in a bag from a wizard on a street in Hongdae.

The friends that I have made. Although I generally enjoy being and traveling alone, I have made some great friends here that I think I'll probably stay in touch with even after this adventure is over.

My vacation to Vietnam and Hong Kong. The pinnacle of the past six months. Not much more that I can say about it than that.

And what am I looking forward to in the next six months?
More traveling around Korea.
Hopeful short vacation to Japan?
Trip to Jeju Island when mom and dad come to visit.
Visits from friends? Beatrice, I'm looking at you!
Buddha's birthday in May. Given my love for temples, I am really looking forward to this.
Cherry blossoms in the Spring. A taste of Seattle.
Radiohead at the Jisan Valley Rock Festival in July.
Lady Gaga in April (Haha, surprisingly I am really looking forward to this!)
More trips to Busan and Seoul. I love those cities.
And the pièce de résistance: one or two months in the Fall spent traveling around Southeast Asia. Pages added to my passport, here I come...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice half way through report. you hvedone so much. and you have thepictures to prove it we are looking forward to our visit. not long now. mom