Yesterday I arrived in South Korea and it has been nonstop ever since! The bus from the airport is about two hours so I jumped on that and made it to the neighborhood I am staying in right in the dark of night. I was graciously offered a couch surfers apartment to myself for the next few days while she is busy between her girlfriends place and work, so excitedly I took Kate (my host) up on the offer. For some reason, between exhaustion, a new country and not having a bloody clue where I was, I found myself lost wondering the back roads of Seoul. Sometimes, there is no better feeling than being lost in a country you don’t know and trying to ask for directions from someone who does not understand a word you are saying but sometimes that feeling is a traveler’s worst enemy. Last night, I was not a fan. Thankfully though, I found my way thanks to the help of an older gentleman who let me use his phone in exchange for me to listen to the five English words he knows again and again and again.
Today was a perfect combination of a ton of fun and a complete bust. I only had one full day in Seoul to sightsee since tomorrow I take a day trip to the North Korean boarder (hooray) so I had everything all planned out with what I wanted to do. I found a hop-on hop-off bus that takes you to all the major sites in the city for only ten dollars which you really cant beat since it includes an English audio guide of all the buildings we drove past and the ability to avoid learning yet another public transportation system! I was really excited to see the Traditional Korean Village and Gyeongbokgung Palace but just my luck they are both closed on Tuesday’s. My next mission was to see the Deoksugung Palace changing of the guards, but nooo, we got caught in traffic and I missed it by minutes. Then, I ran out of money, headed to the ATM and accidently used my visa instead of my bank card which means I will get charged way more than a penny pincher is comfortable with. Ah well, tis life. At least I was able to shop around both Dongdaemun Market and Namdaemun Market. Plus, while waiting for a bus after one of these frustrating moments, a man came up to me and asked for my name, I told him what it was, he wrote it down and said he picks new people to pray for every day and today he was going to pray for me – what an encouragement.
It was really nice to drive around the city today and see so much. It is Fall here right now and the leaves are a perfect combination of colors. I was having a bit of a moment on the bus, thankful I got not one but two Fall seasons back to back this year and sad that all these beautiful leaves make me think of my Dad’s passing. Gratitude and sadness seem to coexist so much in my heart since losing my Dad. Anyway, as I sat there staring out the window contemplating which feeling outweighed the other, loving the Fall, or having it remind me of one of my greatest loses, I saw a man delicately gathering the leaves and turning them into shapes of hearts all over the sidewalk. It really was an amazing moment, as if my inner contemplations were acknowledged and answered within seconds of thinking them. Peace, love, beauty, this season still resembles all these things. I am not alone, not in these thoughts, not in these moments, regardless of where I am in this world or with whom, I am not alone.
Tomorrow I technically go to North Korea. How amazing is that?!? I must try to get some sleep now but the only problem is I am like a kid ready to go to Disney and I just may not be able to fall asleep with this much anticipation. I’ll write again tomorrow, XO!