Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hitting a Wall


Just three more days til I return to Korea and my one true love...dalkgalbi!

There comes a time in every expat adventure when you feel like you've seen it all.  (This is not to say that it's true...there is still lots more to experience, but the feeling remains.)  When that happens, the time has come to wander a little further afield.  It's been ten years since some of my homegirls and I decided we would hike the walls of Hwaseong, the fortress in Suwon, but I'm pretty sure that was our thought process.  Seoul was played out like snap bracelets, but Suwon had exciting possibilities.  Or at least one exciting possibility.

However, I think it took us two tries to actually do it.  The first time, the three of us came from different directions, and since none of us had been to Suwon before, I set the meeting place at Suwon Station, exit one.  If you're not sure what exit to meet at, I say go for exit 1.  If there are multiple exits, there will definitely be an exit 1, and if not, you'll find each other regardless.  The problem was that Suwon Station had both metro exits and KTX exits, and way back in 2005 the three of us were wandering Korea without cell phones.  People used to do that back then.  I promise.
Anyway, in this case, the second time proved to be the charm, and we met up and found our way to the walls.  Hwaseong is fantastic.  It's historic, but like I give much of a crap about that.  Ringing gigantic bells, on the other hand...  The hike itself is gorgeous, and the company - Heather and Jen - were the kind of friends that I could be myself with and not worry about them thinking that I was going to hell for every other thing that came out of my mouth.

Expat living: it attracts the black sheep.

This is true even amongst Mormons.  Jen and Heather were both church friends (as opposed to my degenerate GDA friends, who were also black sheep, just the kind that needed a few grown-up drinks to hit the noraebang...)  Well, here is a little bit of Mormon trivia for you - we are cheesy as...well, something that's extraordinarily cheesy.  As we passed one of the towers on the wall, one of us noted the similarity to this tower in the Book of Mormon called the rameumpton.  Basically the function of this tower was people would go up on it to pray about how much better they were than everyone else (FYI: these weren't the good guys).  So we decided that this would make an excellent photo op, and being the person who doesn't mind being slightly (or more) blasphemous for the sake of a good picture, I got tapped to climb up the tower and pretend to be a Zoramite.

It was a fairly clear day.  I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get struck by lightning...

On the way to the wall, we passed a variety of vendors and I was happy to find one that had these really cool, fold-up hats.  I bought two of them.  When we met up, it had actually been really sunny, so I was happy when the clouds gathered - I was pretty much as paranoid about skin cancer then as I am now.  I'm pretty sure my friends thought I looked like an idiot (or an ajjumma...possibly both), but they were good sports and had a high tolerance for dorkiness.

We didn't make it all the way around the walls...at some point - I believe around the time we decided to go wading in the stream - we decided we were hot and thirsty and needed melon bars.  We veered away from the wall into a market area, where old men were paying paduk or something, and wandered in and out of shops until we made our way back to the station.

People always ask if I'd go back to Seoul to work.  It's a complicated question.  I was a lot healthier then, and I love the fact that there's always something to do.  I really consider Seoul to be my second home...but like my first home, that life's moved on without me.  Most of the people I loved there are gone, and I don't know if I have the guts to go back to an empty house and build the thing up again.  That didn't stop me from applying to a job there when Belynda told me about an IB school that was advertising for an art teacher - although it did cut the disappointment when they wrote to tell me they'd just offered the job to someone else.  Thus, the search continues.

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