I certainly dropped the ball when it came to keeping up this blog. To be fair, I’ve mentioned before that the true purpose of it was to keep my girlfriend and family and friends up to date with my experience in Istanbul. So, coming to South Korea for the summer, where my girlfriend lived and where my family knew I was safe, I sort of lost the drive.
Chris Gone Global was a lot of fun to write. I’m so grateful that I documented as much of my abroad experience as I did. I’m going to put all of my written posts into a single document, more like a book, and maybe I’ll try to do something with that. For anyone who followed along regularly, thank you for reading.
Obviously if I go abroad again, I’ll bring this blog back to life. It’s just not going to do much good when I’m not traveling, ya know? It’s not called Chris At Home.
Here’s to finishing up my week in South Korea, closing a fantastic summer and an incredible 7 and a 1/2 months away from the States. I have no idea what to expect when I’m back in Sacramento, but I’m looking forward to reuniting with my favorite friends and hang-out spots. This isn’t my last post. I’ve got a retrospective post brewing, just need to figure out how to put it all into words.
“I’m not good with goodbyes,” says July, packing away her swimsuits and sunblock. “Let’s not make a big deal out of it.” And just like that, July is gone.
I’m left dumbfounded between the 31st and 1st, unsure of where all the months have gone, like a drunk who’s puzzling over the empty glass in my hand. I could’ve sworn this thing was full a second ago. Hiccup. I’ll sip down the last few dregs and make the most of them, but then it’ll be back to the bartender for me.
“Father Time,” I’ll say, “I’d like another round of weeks, if you please.”
When August comes, we’ll dance and sing and sleep very little. The weather will change with the music and the leaves. Probably, we’ll sweat a lot. Toward the mid-point, I’ll take August with me on a flight across the ocean, and August will be there when I start a fresh chapter in a familiar city. The good thing about time is it never leaves your side, even if it’s always moving.
It wasn’t long ago that June brought me to Jenny, to South Korea. It wasn’t long ago that I was lounging with May on the south campus lawn of a university with my friends in Istanbul. Every month brings with it some change to your life, and while you’re busy living in the moment, getting drunk off new experiences, the weeks will slide by. Try to pay attention, but don’t worry too much about catching all the details. In the end, it’s the feeling of the memory that matters the most.
Were you happy? Were you excited?
I can’t predict what August will bring. For now, I look back fondly on the events of July, the trip to Po Hang for the fireworks festival, the nights downtown, the walks through Daegu, the barbecue dinner, the lazy weekends, the experience I needed for my major, the buzz of the cicadas, the arrival of consistently blue skies, the ever-changing plans for the future and all the little things in between. Hard to picture the summer wrapping up so quickly, but time waits for no man and a whole new chapter awaits in the States.
Summer, Act III, is upon us.
Well the weather got nice all of a sudden. We actually saw some of that blue behind those clouds, and this coming when they were warning of typhoons. However, with busy schedules on our plates, Jenny and I haven’t done too much exploring, at least not on the weekdays. Come weekends, we take trips downtown to meet friends for hookah in perfect little hideaways, or we take walks by Suseong Lake to watch the light show, or we eat pizza in the park. The non-busy moments have been spent writing and reading, mostly. I’ve got a new blog running because I can never think of enough reasons to write, and I’ve been working on a lot of fiction. Finished reading “Jitterbug Perfume,” found it captivating to the last line, and now I’m working on “Memento For Istanbul,” one of the books I picked up while I was in Istanbul, so it’s neat to read about the city I fell in love with. All said, summer is moving along nicely. Couldn’t have asked for a better one.
Out the train windows, South Korea really shows off its summer beauty. The green, rolling hills and those misty mountaintops, the farmlands dotted with smatterings of traditional houses, a wild, untamed spread of nature with a billion different shades of earth.
Then you’ve got the cities that sprout up like mushroom patches of apartment buildings and wide city streets, E-Marts and telephone wires and freeways that ride on hundred-foot pillars.
The juxtaposition is startling, but through the train window, everything looks like a dream. At times the tracks lift you high above the ground and it feels like you’re Nemo on a floating mattress in Slumberland.
When we arrive at the beach town, Songjeong, it’s already raining. Neither of us adequately prepared for monsoon season, dressed in flip-flops and shorts, we at least have an umbrella. Plus, though a tad chillier than Daegu, the weather even in the rain stays humid enough to feel warm.
We book a hotel on the beach for 55 bucks with a view of the ocean.
Then it’s down to the waterfront, to the gold-bronze sand where a hundred other Koreans have shunned the rain from their concern and come out to swim anyway. Friends play silly games on the beach. Kids squeal as they run from the waves. Lifeguards patrol the area by jet-ski, swerving back and forth along the coast. We walk up into a tree-covered nook that sticks out from the beach and stare down the unfathomable horizon across this blue-gray beast of an ocean before us, celebratory weekend beer in hand. Next it’s time for a stroll along the lapping waves, for our feet to sink in the sand and seashells to catch our attention. The water is colder than the rain, so we don’t go swimming. When hunger is prioritized, we seek a traditional Korean seafood soup house. After this, in the hotel, we take a nap.
That night, the monsoon arrives.
Post-nap, we head out into the weather to seek a sushi restaurant, but the flooded streets never lead us where we want and instead we settle on pork. The city is lit with neon and flashy lights that reflect in the puddles and waves. We’re too bad-ass to take a taxi. We get back to the hotel as wet as a pair of oxygen-bonded hydrogens, watch a few minutes of Korean television, and fall asleep.
We get a break in the morning and a few moments of bright gray sky, but just as the time comes to check out and leave the hotel, it picks up where it left off. I’ve always loved the phrase “torrential downpour” and it’s oh-so-accurate for this scene. Million thread-count sheets of it are falling from the sky. We even get glimpses of hail in the blustery wind, sweeping against our window as if to laugh and say, “You think your umbrella will save you now?”
The elevator is out of order, gone dark from the storm.
In the parking garage, we’re whipped by gusts of storm carried by the heavy winds, daring us to continue. We have no choice. We’re soaked before we even feel the rain, which feeds on us like hyenas at a buffet as we run for the nearest coffee-shop. Luckily it’s not exactly cold, if there can be an upside to a monsoon, and honestly it’s rather exciting to be in the middle of a big storm. You can hear thunder in the gray, sometimes you see the flash of lightning that sparked it.
We eventually make it home fine. The train is delayed from a fallen tree on the track, a victim of the weather. Poor old oak. In Daegu, the storm has passed.
In the end, we may not have been soaking up the sun rays on the beach, but we still went to the beach. We still got our fill of ocean scenery. For California kids like us, we need to step in the ocean at regular intervals or we go insane with land-lock syndrome. We ate good food, as always, had a fantastic little hotel room on the cheap, and left with a story to tell. Can you ask for more?