Wrap Up: Part II - Random thoughts & comments

November 17, 2011 - Arlington, Texas, United States

I don't think this could truly be my journal without giving myself the opportunity to make some random comments about my trip.

  • I experienced several firsts on this trip.  My first time to meet my great-niece Hailey and she was already almost 4 years old. Sweet girl.  My first time to see the Pacific Ocean.  My first time to leave the North American continent.  Obviously my first time to visit Asia.  First flight that lasted longer than 3.5 hours. Wasn't sure I could handle that long flight but I did.  It was recovering from the flights that about did me in.
  • Koreans do not seem to age well.  On my first journey out into a Korean neighborhood I saw two elderly Koreans who were hunched over – completely unable to stand up straight.  I can’t even begin to imagine how hard their lives must have been.  But just in general time did not seem to be kind to elder Koreans.  Makes me wonder…and hope & pray!!
  • Having read up some on the history of Korea I have to say the people are very resilient and proud even if they do not age well.  Look at the size of Korea as compared to their neighbors: Japan, China, Mongolia and Russia.  Kind of like your short, nerdy kid being surrounded by the schoolyard bullies.  Then after surviving all the attacks and occupations they turned on themselves.  No one can speak for the North but the hope of the people of South Korea is for reunification.  I'd like to think it could happen but it won't happen anytime soon.
  • Rice paddies.  Everywhere there is a flat piece of land there is a rice paddy.  And I mean EVERYWHERE!  And as far as I know they still plant them all by hand. They were just starting to harvest the rice right before I left.  So there would be a field with green squares of rice growing and then one square would be brown having been harvested.  Jayme said it really gets brown after all the paddies are harvested.  I can only imagine.
  • I don't know why but I had the overwhelming urge to tackle some of the younger Korean women and feed them some cheeseburgers and fries (forget the fried squid rings).  I mean put some meat on those bones ladies!  And get some sun!
  • They do love their cell phones there as well.  I kept waiting to see someone run into a wall or fall down a flight of stairs as they venture through the subway system with their eyes glued to their phones.  Which brings up the thought that I actually enjoyed being "detached" from my phone during my vacation.  It was nice to not be constantly checking it.  On the other hand it was nice to be still connected with friends and family through facebook even if I only had access to it while at the apartment.
  • I’m not sure if the Koreans are taken by American children or light-haired children in general but they were very taken by Caeleb, Alaura and Hailey.  They stared at them, pointed at them, talked about them (I’m guessing) and some wanted to touch them or take pictures with them. Jayme said they have always been nice to the children but you could tell that all that attention was getting old with them.  I noticed that I got stared at quite a bit as well.  Not sure why but judging by some of their looks I’d say they were trying to figure me out.  It should be obvious that I’m American but they seemed perplexed nonetheless.
  • Got asked several times if I was the grandmother.  Now seriously, do I look like a grandmother? Ok, don't answer that.  Moving on!
  • It may be that I’m oblivious but I really didn’t see many other Asian foreigners such as Chinese or Japanese but I did see a whole lot of Americans.  Not too surprising considering I was staying on an American Army base.  But I also saw a lot of Americans out and about in Seoul. A lot more Americans than I expected to see.  What I didn’t see a lot of were birds.  This really surprised me.  They did have some big black birds with white streaks on them but I only saw a couple of them early on.  I did see a flock of smaller birds – sparrows most likely – while waiting in line for the cable car to take us up to N. Seoul Tower.  And I saw very few dogs.  Most of the dogs I saw were on base belonging to families who lived in the building where I was staying.  Out and about in the neighborhoods I only saw a couple of dogs and they were tied up.  Guess they have never heard of fencing. The one place I actually saw dogs out on leashes with their people was at N. Seoul Tower.  I know there is at least one professional pet sitter in Seoul (did a search through Pet Sitters International) so they are making strides in this area and that always makes me happy.  The only cat I saw was Ducky, Jayme's black cat.  I know there were stray cats around the base but I never did see any.  And before you ask, no I didn't eat any dog meat.
  • I've had several people ask me since my return if I found my family over there.  You can't find someone if all you know is that he was a Korean sailor.  I didn't go to S. Korea to search for my birth father but to get a sense of that part of my heritage.  And of course to visit with Ray & Jayme and the kids.  What really surprised me was how little I thought of my birth father while I was there.  I will admit I looked at more than just a few elderly Korean men and wondered.  I'd like to think that somewhere that I went was somewhere that my birth father had once been.  Being in S. Korea was the first time I really felt any kind of connection to my birth father.  I think constantly of my birth mother for all the obvious reasons but rarely of the man who help create me.  And I can't think of my birth parents without thinking of my parents.  I don't know if it was because the 9th anniversary of my dad's death was quickly approaching or just thinking of fathers in general but I realized on this trip just how much I miss him and what he meant to me.  There were so many times during the trip that I wished my mom could have been there with me.  I know that there is no way she could have made that trip but she would have loved it.  Last night I was able to show her all my photos and describe the details behind each photo but that's not the same as being able to share it together in person.
  • I want to give extra special thanks to Ray, Jayme and the kids: Caeleb, Alaura and Hailey.  Thank you for opening up your home to me and sharing S. Korea with me.  You made my trip of a lifetime possible and I will always be grateful for that.  And it was great to actually get to spend time alone with you, Jayme and to actually get to know you.  And to learn the history of your relationship with Ray and how that all developed.  I really appreciate the time you spent with me and enjoyed our adventures together.  Love you guys!
  • I didn't get to see much of Ray while I was there but it was an awesome experience to get to see him fly.  I was a proud aunt.  What an amazing man he is and what an amazing family.
  • And a special thank you to Debra, Susan and Angela for taking such great care of my boys while I was away.  There is great comfort in knowing your pets are in good hands.  I worried about them more before I left than I did while I was away.
  • Even though it took me about 10 days to recover from my trip I would go again in a heartbeat.  It was definitley worth the wait even if the wait was over 30 years.  My intentions are not to wait quite so long to go back.  I am already planning a return trip.  I'm not sure when this trip will take place but I'm guessing not for at least 5 years.  I have a lot of saving to do as well as a lot of planning.  I want to explore more of Seoul and then visit other areas of the country so the trip will be an extended one.  I'll know more once I start deciding where all I want to go and how long I want to stay.  I would love to go to Australia & New Zealand but that might just have to wait or be put off completely.  I liked it there and as corny as this may sound I felt a connection to S. Korea.  I can't wait to return.

 

Thanks so much for reading my journal and sharing in my travels and experiences.  I still need to finish posting pictures to facebook.  Some day that will get done.  But if you live around here I do have the pictures printed out and in photo albums so hit me up if you'd like to see them.  Thanks for being in my life.  I love you all!


1 Comment

JoAnn Nichols:
December 10, 2011
Tracy, what an incredible life experience! You are one very fortunate lady. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to your next trip even if it is 5 years from now. :)
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