My trip to Japan afforded me a bit of breathing room before I had to say goodbye to all the lovely people who made my Korean adventure what it was.
I’ve been burning my way through as many new experiences as I can with these last two months in South Korea. One of those experiences has been getting acupuncture.
In Korea, you can get them at Oriental medicine clinics (in Korean, 한의원) and they are covered by national insurance. Each of my hour-long sessions cost me about 7,000-8,000KRW (USD$7-$8).
(Crab cake. A present from a couchsurfer.)
The idea of couchsurfing, of sleeping on a local’s couch while traveling, has always fascinated me. There’s the free accommodation, but there’s also the opportunity to meet new people who live normal, everyday lives in the area you’re exploring. It’s a double edged sword: meet strangers who could restore your faith in humanity through their generosity, kindness and general joie de vivre… or possibly get axe-murdered in your sleep. Something to think about.
(Wait until you see the night time picture.)
There’s a saying in Korea: 방꼭. It sounds like the Thai capital of Bangkok and so sometimes you hear people say they went to Bangkok when what they meant was that they had stayed in their room (방) for a long time (꼭, roughly meaning “always”).
With everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) shut down for the Lunar New Year holiday (설날), it’s all I’ve been doing. So I broke out of Bangkok by visiting one of my favorite cities in Korea, Gyeongju, to finish my list of sites I wanted to see.
I went to see Anapji Pond at night. Everyone raves about Anapji Pond at night, I wanted to see what the fuss was about.
(Photo credit: Aubrey)
November 2014 was a fruitful time to create new projects. I decided not to renew my contract in South Korea. I decided to return to the US to pursue a career. I decided that I was going to solo travel through Southeast Asia. I was a tiny bit nervous about where the money was going to come from to fund all these things when a friend said, “find a way to make some extra money.”
I had realized by then that teaching wasn’t for me and was asking myself what made me unequivocally happy. The only answer was singing. “I know,” I told my friend, “I’m going to busk for my meals in Southeast Asia.” I googled it and discovered that other people had thought of this before and had managed to make their way around the world busking.
It feels like my friends and I have been talking about doing a templestay since we first arrived in Korea. Unfortunately, schedules never worked out. With my time in South Korea swiftly coming to an end, it was time to book a last minute templestay.
One of the most peculiar rituals in Korean corporate culture has got to be the hwishik (회식). It’s when the office or department go out together for a meal (dinner, usually) which… just gets stranger and stranger as more and more alcohol is applied to the proceedings. And trust me, a lot is poured on.