Saturday, May 1, 2010

The final days, minutes

I am sitting here in my room with loaded luggage hoping that I am not overweight and I am not forgetting anything. My trip in Korea is rapidly finishing, although I have a long trip ahead traveling from Incheon to Milwaukee.

Since the weather got nice on Wednesday, I have been filling my days with traveling around Seoul and meeting people. Friday and Saturday were especially enjoyable because they were relaxing and I got to see some particularly beautiful places, including Jogyesa Temple and Bukhan Mountain.

I have mixed feelings about leaving as expected. I am looking forward to returning home to my prairie dog, Calypso, my own bed and some more home cooked meals. Plus, Wisconsin is so lovely this time of year. But, I am sad to leave my friends, the excitement of Seoul and to simply know that this huge trip is done. I have had a strange feeling the whole time I have been here--torn between feeling like a resident and a visitor. Being in so many of the same areas and seeing many of my Korean friends, I felt almost like I live here, but then I had no routine. That is one of the reasons that on my final day in Korea I wanted to do something that I had never done before. So Suki and I went to Bukhan Mountain in the northern part of Seoul. I didn't expect much, but it was gorgeous. When you get on the outskirts of Seoul, you realize that the city is surrounded by large, rocky mountains. It took Suki and me about two hours to get to the mountain by subway and bus. The paths were surprisingly steep and difficult. Along the path, there was a gorgeous mountain stream (very tiny, but pure). At the base of the side of the mountain we arrived at was a very large Buddhist temple. It was hard to capture the image of this colorful temple with monks chanting and followers praying in front of massive mountain.

The last big thing I did Saturday was to go to Suki's family's home near my motel for dinner.I helped her mother make Korean dumplings called mandu. It was a delicious dinner of mandu soup and many homemade kimchi side dishes. Everything is home made by Suki's mother, even the soy sauce. Suki's brother, sister, niece and nephew were also there. Although they did not speak any English, it was a great experience getting to eat a homemade meal of traditional food.

Now I should finish getting ready for my 19 hours on planes and layovers and about a total of 27 hours of traveling. I will take with me from this place many more memories to share and many more photos. However, the memories to me feel like ordinary life.