Monday, May 09, 2011

Thoughts from Places: The Train from Seoul to Daegu

Written Saturday, May 7th, 2011

In the past couple of weeks, the weather has taken a distinct turn in Korea.  Gone are the chilly mornings in which one can still see their breath and the ever-present chill in the hallways of the school.  Instead, we have sunshine and warmth, a sharp rise in humidity, and that small bit of sweat accumulating at the small of your back as you walk the busy streets of Seoul

Summer is on the way!

As I gaze out the window of the train, the Korean countryside rolls by, bathed in the nearly oppressive heat of the late-spring sun.  Oppressive, that us, to this Canadian, who is more used to seeing snow on the ground in early May than battling the heat.  The warmer weather in the past couple of weeks has turned the landscape from dreary tones of brown and grey to the green of grass and leaves and the many colours of the flowers and other flora we pass.  Shelby, Meagan and I are on our way to Daegu this afternoon, leaving behind the noise and smog of Seoul for a couple of days.  Of course, Daegu is still a very sizeable city, so we'll be greeted once again by noise and smog at the end of our journey.

The landscape of this part of Korea is reminiscent of home.  As I watch the trees pass by, I'm reminded of the Wapiti River valley, or the area around Dunvegan.  Sunlight plays across green leaves and wide fields, and the nostalgia hits.  I am loving my time here, but part of me is always eager to see my friends and family and the familiar Alberta countryside again.  This leads me to think about my friends the happenings in their lives while I've been gone.  It is supremely unfair that life does not simply stop or pause while I'm away.  No, the lives of my friends go on, seemingly oblivious to the fact that I am not there to witness it.  One of my best friends is going to be a father soon, and I am sad that I won't be there to meet his new kid when he or she is born.  Is it not the height of selfishness for them to go on with their lives when I'm so far away?

I think it goes without saying that I am kidding.  But part of me does regret not being there with my friends and family, for the good times and the bad.  I am traveling to Las Vegas with some friends in August, and I will have some time afterwards.  I'm contemplating going home for four or five days at that time.  If I do so, it would be the last time I'd be home for a full year.  Perhaps it would be worth it?  I'd be able to meet Serge's new son or daughter, see my parents, visit with my friends... I haven't booked a return ticket back from Vegas yet, so I still have some time to think about it.

In the meantime, I'll be here, enjoying the beautiful weather and the company of new friends.  But my mind will, on occasion, return to the beautiful expanses of wide prairie and lush forests of home, and the friends I've temporarily left behind.