One Beautiful Day

Yesterday afternoon was spent recovering from Saturday night’s shenanigans on the rooftop patio of a cafe in Janggok. I had the most sensational view over the local cafes, restaurants and shops which are largely in hanock buildings. All of this while surrounded by the mountains of Mt. Bukhansan. I sat in fear, taking in all that I could see, afraid that I would never get back there.

I sat there so afraid that I would never see that sight again, until I realized that I was there now. I stopped thinking about how this was likely going to be a one time thing for me and just embraced the view as it was. The entire scene was picture perfect and, after getting lost in it for a couple of hours, I will likely never forget it.

Besides, I can always go back next weekend.

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But What if I Don’t Want to Go Home or How I’ve Finally Learned to Love Korea.

I am falling for the city I am leaving. I don’t know if it is just because I am going soon and will shortly have all of the comforts I’ve been missing, because prospects at home seem so bleak or because I am finally seeing all of the lovely things about Seoul but I am definitely apprehensive about leaving now.

I spent last night shopping in the streets of Hongdae. It was crowded with young people dressed to party in their summer clothes on a Thursday night. I bought street fruit -thick slices of ¬†pineapple and melon on a stick for 1000 won. I bought souvenirs for friends and my mom for a fraction of what similar items would have cost at home. I found a stunning royal blue dress for my mom (for 40 000 won, the most expensive item of clothing I have purchased while here) similar to dresses at Aritzia, which start at about $100. I can’t believe that I am leaving this inexpensive shopping behind to go back to a city with clothes I can’t afford where I won’t be making enough money to even buy clothes at Korean prices! I went home around 11pm and the shops weren’t even closed yet!

I’ve spent the past two weekends in neighbouring Gangwan-do. Gangwon is home to the most incredible mountains I will likely ever see. The mountains were lush with foliage. The ridges and valleys were spectacular and beyond each mountain chain was another, as far as I could see. My friend, Kevin, took my through the mountains on his motorcycle, it was the best day I can remember. The road through the mountains follows a river bed, which during the rainy season must be full and flowing but right now is mainly rock but no less beautiful for it. If there is one indisputable reason to love Korea, this is it.

Outside of the shopping and mountains, I have come to love the incredible beauty products- BB cream and foot peels anyone? the little bits of the language I am picking up- enough to ask the women at the convenience store across the street if she was grandmother to the little boy she was holding, vegetarian Korean food, my students, the friends I have met and the amazing accessibility of it all.

There are still many reasons why I am excited to go home, friends and family, being understood everywhere I go, food I know how to purchase, living in an apartment without mouldy walls that doesn’t smell like whatever my neighbour upstairs might be doing (which this morning was, apparently, frying fish and chain smoking) and the prospect of being able to breathe without sending shooting pains through my right lung -to name a few. Alas, it is too late to change my mind and I can always come back someday. I am off to new adventures soon, in Philippines and Vietnam and then I will be home to a new adventure there. Yay!

I think I just may have learned a little lesson about perseverance, not making emotional decisions and giving things time before making judgements BUT what is done is done, it is what it is and I can definitely make the best of it.