May 2012: Visiting Korea

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Boy my nephew smells good

Last year, I made my third trip to my parent’s motherland; it was over a decade since my last arrival. My special reason was my brother’s wedding ceremony. So, not only would I be seeing my brother and relatives again but also my new sister in law and nephew.

As a child, my older brother was my closest and only friend. Apart from a few friends at school, I didn’t socialize much. I was a really awkward, shy, and quiet kid. I didn’t have much of a voice as a kid, and I still tend to talk too low and mumble my words.

By the time I entered high school though, my brother was off to college. When I was in college, my brother moved to Korea to work. As children, we were extremely similar yet as adults we are really different. For a while, I held a grudge against him for leaving. Partly because his departure meant more responsibilities for me, but mostly I think because I just missed him. But I know he’s happier now. That’s really what matters most.

This would be the first time the entire family had ever been in Korea together at the same time. It had also been several years since all four of us were together.

To my surprise, Korea turned out to be a good time. I reconnected with my brother and got to remember that old rapport between brothers that I had nearly forgotten ever existed. I felt a connection to my sister in law and had the oddest feeling of my small family growing. And most of all, I felt a deep caring for my nephew that I wasn’t expecting. And a bit of shame that it had taken me so long to come to see him.

I also had a few adventures on my own.

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Path to the temple was really gorgeous

I went to a Buddhist temple along some rocky hills. I planned on doing a one night temple stay, but ironically I felt the temple was too “normal” with monks and laborers doing loud construction work. The scene contradicted the stereotype image I had about an Asian temple. I left after meditating and touring the grounds.

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I did a lot of walking and hiking including reaching Nasam Tower where I felt quite lonely. It’s considered a romantic spot with thousands of locks of love with special messages attached to a fence outside. But the view from the top of the tower is pretty spectacular, you can see all of Seoul in 360 degrees.

A few plans I had never materialized. I planned on renting a hostel and staying there away from the cramped studio apartment that my parents and I were sharing. I also wanted to take a bullet train to Busan, the second largest city of Korea.

But I did meet an old friend before leaving and spent the night in the Seoul nightlife consisting of beer pong, late night bbq, starcraft, and sleeping after sunrise. Thanks Chris.

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The wedding itself was a short, pleasant affair. I felt a little out of place, but I was surprised at the warm reception some of my cousins gave me. I also despaired to see how one of my uncles had aged along with one of my other favorite cousins who had introduced me to my love of computers and video games. I still remember crying in hysteria that I had accidentally overwritten his beautiful original SImcity saved game when you could only have 3 saved cities.

And then we were back in our homes in America. But only for a short time for me. A week later, I would move to Boston for the summer and then my final storied RV trek westward.

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I’m changing gears from the making money hustling series because those posts are surprisingly very difficult to write, but I’ll return shortly to them.

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