Family · Travel

Greetings from the Other Side (of the world, that is)

For those who are wondering why this blog has remained somewhat silent recently (excepting a previously scheduled post that published on Sunday), I am currently sitting in a cafe on the other side of the world from home.  For the first time in 30 years (give or take a few months), I have made the trek across the pond to visit the motherland – the Republic of Korea.  The reasons for my visit here is far from ideal.  In fact, had it not been for the fact my mother nearly lost her life in a major car accident, I would not be here.

(This would probably be a good time to state she is alive and on the mend.
We’re all very much surprised just how quickly.)

You see, I am not one of those South Koreans (not to be confused with the North, which would actually make my visit near impossible anyway) who longs to visit the homeland and partake in all that their ethnic roots have to offer.  In fact, if I were to never gaze into another mirror or hang around other Koreans again, I could seriously forget that I was ever Korean.  I am, for all intents and purposes, completely Americanized.  So flying 13 hours to the other side of the world among people I have a hard time identifying with now is not something I particularly wish to do.

I’m not saying it’s a good thing.  I’m just saying it is what it is.

But, here I am…because if there’s one thing that supersedes my inability to identify with those who are apparently supposed to be “my people,” it’s the familial ties that binds us, no matter what culture or nationality is written in my DNA.  It’s the same familial ties that people across all cultures and nations also feel.

So, while most of my time is spent helping out my mom and family in any way I can these couple of weeks I am here, I put it into my mind to try and enjoy my stay as much as I can.

Here are some of the most memorable moments…

This is the apartment of one of my uncles (in Suwon, South Korea).  It is definitely the nicest of all the apartments I have stayed at this trip.  One thing I keep saying again and again…no one can beat Koreans when it comes to aesthetics.

This is the first major FEAST I have partaken in while in Korea.  If there’s one thing about Korea that I did greatly anticipate, it was the FOOOOOOOD!!  Truly, can’t beat the REAL THING!!

We were blessed with such a warm and beautiful day my first day in Suwon, South Korea.  Here’s my loverly sister (post-car accident, surgery, and hospital discharge).  You may not realize, but she completely bunged up her knee in the car accident.  But the docs did a pretty good job putting it back together, and she is also slowly on the mend.  Although, her knee sometimes seems to forget what it’s job is and she will stand there for a few moments, willing it to bend enough for her to hobble along.

But from this picture, you would NEVER know that.

Isn’t she beautiful?

We went to an area in Seoul called Itaewon on Sunday to meet my brother-in-law for brunch.  Unfortunately, I had a brain fart and completely forgot to take any photos with him before parting ways (curses!).  But we did decide to meander the streets afterwards, and ran into this lovely cafe called Passion 5.

I fell in love with this huge bird (chicken?) outside.  Hopefully, the feeling was mutual.  Wouldn’t want a harassment suit on my hands.

The desserts were UH-MAZE-ING!!  Especially the strawberry desserts.  There’s just something about Korean strawberries that makes them head over heels superior to American strawberries.  So much sweeter….so much fresher.  I will miss the strawberries.

I celebrated my birthday while here in Korea.  It’s not the size of cake, but the thoughtfulness behind it that counts (and the taste…OH MY GOODNESS, the TASTE!!).

So very happy from partaking in fabulous desserts!!
Okay…you may be wondering why I included a picture of the restroom at Passion 5.  Public restrooms in Korea are some of the most vulgar places on earth.  You think restrooms in American gas stations, Walmart, etc. are bad?  You have no idea!  So when I came across THIS piece of paradise, I could not help but snap a photo…to remember that there are those in Korea who takes care of their facilities.
And another amazing meal that was partaken of in another part of Korea (in a city called Gyeryong near the city of my birth – Daejon, South Korea).  This is what is known as 감자탕, which is a stew made from chunks of beef still on the bone.  The stew is apparently named after the marrow inside the bones.  I had thought since 감자 in English is “potato,” the stew little sense because there were all of 2 pieces of potato in the entire pot.  Goes to show how little I know about the nation of my birth.
But it was amazing…for sure.
Of course, a trip to Korea isn’t complete without meeting up with friends who also happen to be in Korea at the same time.  Would you believe I haven’t seen the guy on the left in years until this point?
Then there’s the family time we share.  This doesn’t even scratch the surface of how big this side of my family is (the rest are in the States).
Another birthday cake! Although, a week belated, it was AWESOME!!
The final leg of my journey home was in one of those small, regional commuter planes that seats maybe 18 people.  I suppose one needs to experience everything at least once…but I could have done quite well without the fear of flying in one of these things, thankyouverymuch.
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All in all, the opportunity to revisit Korea was good (despite the reasons that brought me here).  It may be another several years before I return (and in truth, I’m still not all too bothered by that prospect).  But I am glad I made as much of the trip as I could while I was here. 

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