Today is the last day of my vacation. It was a good vacation, and I don't want real life to kick in again yet, but I suppose that's the whole point of real life.
My family was supposed to come in, but after a couple days of miserable travel circumstances on their side, it became clear that the trip would be much better postponed. Lucky for me, the day they should have arrived I bumped into a new girl at church who also had no plans for the upcoming week. We ended up meeting in Seoul just about every day to explore some of the stuff I hadn't done yet.
On Monday we went hiking at Mt. Bukhansan, which is allegedly in the Genus Book of World Records for being the most crowded national park in the world. That's why it was wise of Rebecca and I to go during what is predicted to be the hottest week of the year. It certainly wasn't crowded. I was about to list all of the reasons that it was unwise for us to go in the miserable heat, but I'm sure all of my readers are creative enough to construct that list without my help. A highlight of the trip was getting lost on the way to the trail. We stopped at an outdoorsy looking shop to ask for directions. I asked in Korean, and as I've gotten used to, I got my answer in English, "Where is mountain??" He laughed a lot, then borrowed a pen from me to jot down some Korean on a post-it note. He handed the note to me with the pen and indicated that if we felt a need to ask someone else for directions we should use his note instead of attempting to speak his language again.
On Tuesday we were going to take one of the evening cruises along the Han river. The good news is, we found the river without any help. Then we walked along the river for a couple hours watching the occasional cruise glide by us and wondering where exactly they stopped to let people on. The directions I got off the the Internet said to leave the Dangsan subway station through exit number five and then walk for twenty minutes. Just to be sure we tried the twenty minute walk in a few different directions, but never saw anything that looked promising. My guess is that either the information online was outdated, or that the place you get on the boat is marked by an unobtrusive pole sticking out of the ground somewhere along the shore that can only be identified as significant by those with very deep levels of Korean intuition.
On Wednesday we took a tour of the Gyeongbokgung palace. I learned an interesting thing on this tour: gung means palace in Korean. Despite the fact that all of the palace names end with the same syllable, I never made that connection. Turns out I should be calling it the Gyeongbok palace and that by saying Gyeongbokgung palace I'm being redundant. I hope I'm not too set in my ways to change. Overall it was a lovely tour. I learned a lot of interesting things that I didn't pick up when I went and just wandered around the palace grounds by myself a few months ago. I also felt particularly free of evil spirits when we left the grounds, probably because we passed by at least 12 different statues, symbols, or engravings that were designed to ward off evil spirits. After the palace we went to the National Folk Museum. The display was of Korean pots. There were four or five rooms of nothing but Korean pots, mostly kimchi jars. I'd honestly say there were at least 500 kimchi jars in the display, and besides some variation in size and hue, they all looked the same. 'Oh look, a panoramic view of kimchi jars! If you look through these portal windows there are kimchi jars on the other side! Over here you can see kimchi jars in their natural environment!' Meanwhile, I'm trying to imagine the guys that made these kimchi jars. I wonder if they were thinking, "This one will be in a museum someday." or, "Yeah, this'll hold kimchi. Next!"
On Thursday I woke up tired and sunburned with dreadfully sore feet. Rebecca was supposed to call me to agree on a time to meet up and go to Seoul Grand Park. I hobbled around my apartment for a few hours hoping she would forget to call. She didn't. Good news is, we were on the exact same page. We decided to take a vacation vacation and stayed in on Thursday.
On Friday we were going to go to the beach. We spent the whole morning looking at maps, guidebooks, and websites trying to figure out how to get to a beach. After spending an ample amount of time lost already that week, we decided to skip the beach and do Seoul Grand Park. I'm so glad we did, the park was great! We were only there for a few hours, but in that time we strolled through a rose garden, soaked our feet in a fountain, fed corn chips to reindeer, barely avoided feeding the fringe of my parasol to some lamas, took about a zillion pictures off a ski lift, watched some bears wrestle, and ate grilled squid. I'd say the beach couldn't have topped it.
Anyhow, the point at hand is still that vacation is over and I have to go back to work tomorrow. I decided this past week that my calling in life is to do whatever I want and have no responsibilities.
So, I'm looking for someone to sponsor my loafing. If you're interested, please send my parents a check made out to me. I promise to put it all toward my new life calling.
Until then, I will be forced to work for a living. Do you really want that on you conscience?