Travel opens eyes in ways that alarms that go off early mornings can’t figure how. In its range of new stimuli, there is more than ‘attention’ that you give up. You give a piece of yourself for unknown to you, a piece of yourself shifts. Or so it does for me.
Bill Bryson says it like none else.
“But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”
Last month, I went to Korea. I guess I have been jumping around and exclaiming to every moving object that whizzes by: “I went to Korea”. Perhaps laced with a tone of stupendous achievement. That’s the only explanation I have for the question that some well-meaning friends posed: ‘North or South?”
For the money of an air ticket and the visa to the South, I also checked out the North. By going up to the border and gazing at the skies of North Korea. That point’s mention has been like a noisy trinket in a solemn conversation. Always attracting attention beyond its worth!
That was the trip. Time spent in walking about the streets of Seoul. Discovery. Conversation and of course, some work! Many GB of photographs and many multiples GBs of memories that were soaked in with a resolve to share. As has been the case with every trip.
Shedding some laziness, thanks to gentle arm twisting of well meaning friends who declare ” I love to read your travel account “, there will be a few posts here. Over the next few weeks, hopefully.
For starters, Korea is an awesome country. The seamless mix of modernity and tradition. The distinctness in the culture that taste buds announce with no scope for ambivalence. The exacting polite ways of people. The diligence and the work ethic. And several such will vie with my default procrastination and an up to the brim calendar to find a way here.
I didn’t go to Korea with a list of places to see. I wanted to go there and figure out what do through conversations and ambling around. It was worth the adventure. Lucky breaks, lovely people, and google helped in hordes. I saw some fantastic palaces, trudged across streets, gazed at mountains and at a time or two was overcome by emotion. It is a place to go to and I hope to do so again.
One last thing about travel. When you travel the world and come home, the home looks different. Nothing has changed at home in itself, but the lenses you wear shifts the horizons of your imagination. There are new questions of the ‘why not’ variety that emerge. Base assumptions that are hidden beneath layers of time resurface. Home is never the same place for the person who travels, at the end of each travel. For that reason, I hope to keep traveling and discovering as much about myself as about the places I travel to.
Bill Bryson said, “I could spend my life arriving each evening in a new city.” I couldn’t have said it better. Maybe, I would wish that it extends to a few more lifetimes too.
For there is so much to see.
Both outside and inside!