I have tried to write an account of how beautiful and amazing my week with my family has been. However, I am prideful and verbose and far too in love with my own language that the words that tumbled from me became too convoluted and complex. But, my mother, with her ability to balance logic and emotion, reflected on the week. It is far better than anything I could write about it. So, from this point forward, you will read the wonderful words of my wonderful mother.
I desire to describe the sights and sounds of a world thousands of miles away, yet is now called home by my baby girl. I will try to gather the moments to savor them, but fear the memories too beautiful to capture.
My scrapbook of memories begins the first day with visiting Katie’s class, and the joy as her students laughed at our jumbled greetings in Korean, described their school days, shared places we should visit and taught us how to play Kawi Bawi bo (rock, paper, scissors on steriods). Katie is so blessed in her school with teachers/staff that have helped and befriended her. Our family was so grateful for the many acts of kindness and friendship shown to us by her fellow teachers.
Nature abounded as we hiked one of Katie’s favorite mountain paths, complete with a rock outcropping perfect for pondering life as we drank in the beauty of the crashing waves below. Or as we hiked the path of Oedo Botanical garden, I was sure only God can paint in such vivid and gorgeous colors and patterns. Or as we took in four different beaches, each with its own atmosphere and beauty. Or as my son in law Brian scooped up a fish that escaped its tank at Jagalchi Fish Market to the applause of the locals. Scenes we thought only came about by special lighting and photography for shows like National Geographic or Planet Earth, but we reveled in these times and places.
We were honored to learn more about this proud country as we wandered through palaces, temples, museums and burial grounds. Lotus lanterns symbolizing the hopes and prayers of so many, bigger than life carved statues guarding temple gates, stern faces of the palace guards as they march a ceremony that spans hundreds of years, treasured pagodas and our sheepishness as we realize the pagodas we had been searching were statues and not buildings!
Now, a moment about the food! Sarah and Brian were ready to gallop through new food experiences, while I with a more cloistered food palette braced myself for eating a lot of rice if need be. We turned the week into a much enjoyed international adventure of seafood, Japanese noodles, Korean barbecue (twice!), Indian curry, Vietnamese spring rolls and Pho, Korean fish dinner, seven course temple meal, and a beautiful fait accompli with our last meal being at the only Tibetian restaurant in South Korea.
How can this tale be complete without describing the people? The cab driver eager to show us the beauty of his island and picture of his son, the restaurant ladies who kept bringing us food while waiting for take-out (although they were enjoying and laughing at my chopstick mishaps), the teen at the beach eager to speak in English, the hal ahbuji (grandpa or elder) on the subway so excited to visit with us (and called me handsome), the holiness of the monk chanting prayer at Yonggung-sa, the pleasure and smile of the airport security guard as I said kam seumnida (thank you) for the last time.
Finally, we met so many of Katie’s friends, both Westerner and Korean. We laughed about being 10,000 miles from home and still can’t walk down the street without Katie running into friends! We were so blessed with the many gestures of kindness and friendship, and the times of sharing meals, drinks, desserts, games, songs, walks, touring, and visiting. Suffice it to say I loved meeting you all.