I’m in Gyeongju now, at a PC room near my hotel. I took the new high-speed train down here from Seoul, which was fast and smooth and full of people. Actually, I didn’t take the high-speed train all the way here, as it doesn’t actually go through Gyeongju (yet), so the last hour of my journey was spent in a very old Korean train. I saw tiny villages full of rice paddies, interspersed with hills/mountains and dirt roads. I thought: This is what I expected Korea to look like before I arrived. This is what most Americans think Korea looks like.
Gyeongju, however, is not a tiny village full of rice paddies, it is a relatively large town full of people. It’s a bit less quaint and a bit more like the Korea I know than I was expecting. I wandered around town for about an hour tonight, I had a delicious Korean dinner, and I am now planning to return to my hotel room for some sleep. I booked a bus tour for tomorrow, and I am hoping that seeing the "sights" of Gyeongju will change this benign first impression of it.
Sometimes I like to travel alone, but it would be nice to have a companion on this trip. I have only seen three white people here, and I find it easier to play the part of the stupid foreigner when there’s another stupid foreigner to back me up. Perhaps there will be some stupid foreigners on the bus tour tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I am finally doing some long-intended extra-Seoul sightseeing–I am taking a train down to Gyeongju for a coupla days. I have been repeatedly told that this is the one place you shouldn’t leave Korea without seeing, so I’m hoping that this repeated telling proves accurate. I don’t know much about Gyeongju, aside from the fact that it was the capital of the Silla dynasty thousands of years ago, and that it is full of temples and tombs and other historic-type-places. Mostly, I’m curious to see what other parts of this country look like, as I haven’t seen all that much of it in my (approximately) 497 days spent here.
Perhaps I’ll take some pictures.
Am I really leaving South Korea in eight days? Am I really in South Korea? Did I really move to South Korea to teach English a coupla years ago?
Life is weird, man.
My last day as an English teacher in South Korea has come at last. I’ve spent much of the morning trying to decide exactly how I feel about this, and I have concluded that I am mostly relieved. The responsibility of teaching is stressful to me–being accountable for the English acquisition of these kids is a bit overwhelming at times, and I found myself getting (perhaps) overly upset when a class went badly. This is just CDI I am writing of, the rest of my teaching jobs here were comparable to the experience a dancing monkey has at a circus, albeit without the pink tutu and the applause. Oh, if only there had been a pink tutu and applause…
Once my classes are over today, I will slowly exhale and then take a nap.
Leaving my job at CDI has been full of awkward goodbyes with co-workers that I never got to know well enough to make for comfortable goodbyes. I have made a few relatively good friends in my three months here, but for the most part I have remained typically aloof. Why go through the effort to become friends with people only to say goodbye to them in a month? This is not to say that I have been pushing people away, only that I have (generally) made few sincere efforts at pulling them in. This behavior is very typical of me, I think.
This strange plan is random at best.
This strange, how much more can I take?
This strange change in atmosphere
and in gravity, too, and its severity.
This strange day is almost over
just started to get sick of it.
-Built To Spill, "Strange"
I am doing my best to leave my life in Korea as neatly as possible. I have come to the realization, and to accept, that some bygones must be left bygones. I’ve been told that I am too forgiving of people, and while this may be true, I have difficulty letting go of unresolved past messiness. I forgive easily, but I often have trouble forgetting. That being said, there is some past messiness that I will leave Korea without rehashing, while there is some that I am glad to have been able to resolve before my departure. Life is an inherently messy thing, it’s all we can do to try and clean up what we can, and leave the rest to the maids of time.
Right. "The maids of time." I’m Andrew-fucking-Marvell now, and there’s my winged-fucking-chariot.
I’m in the midst of my second-to-last day of English teaching in South Korea. (I draw the phrase out to give it emphasis.) I was trying to write poetry, or anything, on my way to work (in the one-four-three), and I found myself at a loss for words. Or, more precisely, with so many words and thoughts running through my head that I was (and have been) unable to narrow them down into something meaningful yet concise. I ended up with only “I am leaving, what does this mean?” and “South Korea rhymes with diarrhoea, which is not to say anything about South Korea, only to point out a rhyme.”
Deep stuff, that.
into the strenuous briefness
handorgans and April
i charge laughing.
Into the hair-thin tints
of yellow dawn,
into the women-coloured twilight
i smilingly glide. I
into the big vermilion departure
(Do you think?) the
i do, world
is probably made
of roses & hello:
(of solongs and, ashes)
"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
-George W. Bush, 5/24/05