Monday, August 20, 2007

Seoul

Hey,

I made it. I am in the Orient. These people are going to be our overlords. Get ready. Let me tell you about my trip so far. So much has happened in the last three days, I feel my ninja skills going up:)

I got on my first plane. Andy said that I would love it. I hated it. Going to jail for 24 hours would be far easier than being confined on that plane for eleven. I watched Mr. Bean episodes on the TV in the seat. I did have this tripidelic experience over southern South Korea though as we descended out of the clouds and did a bank. I looked out my window for the first time since Seattle and saw out my window something glorious that I didn't understand at all. Streaks of gold whimsically dancing beyond the wing. My mind just did not understand what it was seeing and I could feel the struggle in my brain to comprehend. UFO's? Angels? Then it clicked. I realized I was seeing cities dotted through out the country and that the gold was sunlight reflecting off all those windows thousands of feet below. It is funny what the mind can dream up when it doesn't understand something.

I was so happy to get off of that plane that I didn't even mind dealing with immigration and customs. I talked to a few American's at the airport, one of them a military guy who started talking about strategic missions up north and deployment and everything. I think he thought I was a soldier because of my new short haircut. So I jumped through all the hoops then it’s just me, by myself, in Korea. I stepped out of the airport in to Incheon and was struck immediately by the humidity. It is like a bath-house here. I started sweating immediately. I lit up a cigarette. Every male here is a damn chain smoker in public. This college girl comes up to me as I'm smoking and shows me photos cut into heart shapes of her and her friends holding hands in a circle. She spoke terrible English. Everyone here so far speaks terrible English. She told me that her English name was Victoria. She talked about the unification of all religions for world peace. She made me smile and I thanked her for welcoming to her country with words of hope.

From the airport I caught a bus to Seoul which is about a one hour drive or 30 miles. Incheon and Seoul kind of form this one huge megatropolis as Seoul has about 11 million people and Incheon has about 6 million. To put that in perspective, Washington only has 5 million. So take everyone from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana and squish them between Seattle and Tacoma and you have something resembling here. I have to tell you though that on the bus I was looking out the window and the sun was setting, the sky was orange and some of the city lights were beginning to burn. Between Incheon and Seoul looks a lot like Everett or Tacoma. There are pockets of skyscrapers. I thought for a moment to myself, "Is this it? Is this all you could muster, Sauraman?" But the skyscrapers began to multiply and the space between them grew smaller. My God! Okay, you know how when you drive through Seattle, downtown only takes about five minutes to pass by? Well imagine driving from Marysville to Seattle with nothing but downtown Seattle’s to pass by. The East is going to take over the world. So at this point I'm blown away. Other thoughts and observations were happening at this point but this is a letter not a novel. I get to the bus terminal. Am too stupid to figure out how to use the pay phone and a nice person let me use her personal cell phone. I got a cab to my hotel and checked in. When I opened my door I was happily surprised. A nice little pad. Went downstairs for some fresh air. Met a fellow English teacher, Jordan, fresh off the boat who was from Seattle himself and so we started talking and soon enough the conversation turned to Bellingham and the Horseshoe. Apparently he's been there a lot. What are the chances? First person I meet? I was exhausted but we went out for a drink. The streets were filled with people and neon signs everywhere. It smells like fish and spice here.

I walked a lot yesterday and sweat my ass off but am starting to see how my environment connects and God willing will be able to navigate my way to my first day of work tomorrow.

Today I was up before dawn. I called up Jordan and we went across the street to this massive mall which is under the world trade center. We went into this little restaurant with two middle age women running shop. The place was no bigger than maybe my living room and kitchen at home. The woman asks us what we want. We are dumb though, don't have a clue what she is saying. We smile and point. I point to the cheapest thing on the menu, 5000 wan or roughly 5 dollars. Jordan didn't order anything. About ten minutes later the woman brings out a tray with about five plates on it. Then she comes back with three more plates and two bowls, one of soup and one full of eggs cooked in a way I have never seen. Ten plates! for five dollars!!! I made Jordan help me out and we both left full with food still left on the plate.

One thing Koreans are not is hungry. One thing they are is damn fine dressers. I was on the subway today and the most powerful smell attacking my sense was that of makeup. Women here take care of themselves. Very stylish and the men look like mafia dons. I am probably the most scrubby person in the country.

We went on the Subway today must have been an hour to the other side of town to this park called Seoul Forest. I wanted to lay in a park and see trees. It wasn't much of a forest I have to say. Looks like an ecological restoration over a couple city blocks. the trees were only about ten years old but I imagine in another fifty it will be quite a forest. A supplier of shade even. The last two days have really been fun and I have only met one guy. I imagine tomorrow will be better as I meet my peers at work.

I was told that a lot of people here speak English. I haven't found that to be true at all. But I will have to keep and my ears open and definatly take this opportunity to learn their language. It is difficult to not be able to use words as enamored with them as I am. People here seem to be really nice. I can't explain it. It isn't a different planet. There is still earth and sky. Just a lot to get used to and I am excited about that.

Thanks for reading. This is as close to conversation as I've gotten outside of my new buddy in the last three days. Peace, my friend. Write me back let me know how your doing.

With Love,
Matt

2 comments:

Jessi said...

Way to go, Matt! Very exciting! I'm sorry you loathed your plane trip, but you did fly to the other side of the world. When do you start teaching?

jessi said...

One more thing, I watched a cool Korean movie a little while ago. "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance." You might like it.