It may look like it probably contains a Minotaur somewhere in the middle, but it is worthy of your love.
I once met a man on the way to Incheon International Airport. I was sitting alone with my enormous travel bag, reading, and he drifted into the seat next to me. At length, he wrote the word “wretch” on a napkin in a lovely, florid cursive style, and asked me to pronounce it. It became clear that this was simply his ice-breaker, as he informed me that, as a retiree, he had nothing to do but ride the rails all day and talk to strangers. Internally, I reacted with some degree of horror. Why would someone spend his golden years of rest experiencing something so horrible and repulsive, so dehumanizing and alienating and weird?
Not talking to strangers, mind you. Riding the subway.
Another month, another post where I stall by showing you the places I go via camera, rather than shaggy dog anecdote with occasional jokes for good measure. A few weeks back, I jetted (or generally meandered) to coastal Sokcho for hiking, ojingo sundae, and fireworks. Fun was had, mountains were hiked, photo opportunities exhausted. And, just the other day (!), I went with a dear-friend and similar camera enthusiast (hi Nancy!) to Seonyudo Park in Seoul to take pretty pictures and laze the day away in obnoxious Korean summer heat. Behold!
Koreans: make them wear a wig.
I expend a great deal of effort trying not to be a douchebag. For many Koreans, there is a lingering stereotype of foreigners, particularly those who arrive in their great nation to educate their children in Englishee: that we are loud, obnoxious, drunken boors who do nothing but laze about all day, slurping back beer, and rubbing our enormous, swollen bellies and genitals in a flurry of perversion and gluttony. I try to combat this by being steadfastly upstanding, trying not to laugh too hard, and keeping my boorishness at bay. The Rocky Mountain Tavern scavenger hunt, featuring an array of challenges ranging from fun and interesting to dastardly and repulsive, required me to throw all these social mores and sense of dignity to the wind.
Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving, is a time when many Koreans visit family with gifts and food, and pay respects to dead ancestors. For English teachers in Korea, it means three days off in the middle of the week, and maybe a Monday or a Friday (or both, if you’re lucky). Going through the extended immigration process to declare yourself a resident alien meant I wasn’t sure of my ability to travel, and thus I was left in Incheon to figure out what I could do with a week off.