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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Heading to the Middle Kingdom . . .

Gyeongbukgong - Seoul is showing it's best side as I prepare to leave.

I shared an article yesterday that inspired some lively debate among friends on travel, relationships and life. I am blessed with the amazing, talented, adventurous friends I have and they constantly inspire and challenge me. For me, while I didn't agree with the whole "find a partner" aspect of the piece, I loved the reminder of what travel offers. The following is from the article, with the romantic advice removed (I didn't even correct the writer's grammar and spelling) :
. . .  who’s lived out of a backpack because he lives happily with less. A boy who’s travelled has seen poverty and dined with those who live in small shanty’s with no running water, and yet welcome strangers with greater hospitality than the rich. And because he’s seen this, he’s seen how a life without luxury can mean a life fueled by relationships and family, rather than a life that fuels fancy cars and ego. He’s experienced different ways of being, respects alternative religions and he looks at the world with the eyes of a five-year-old, curious and hungry. 
It was a timely reminder as I prepare to go to China for at least a year, a choice that has caused very different reactions among the people I know. My soulmates - the adventurers or adventurous at heart - are excited for me and planning their own visits. An amazing friend had booked a 10-day trip within an hour of me making my choice public, I already have other visitors confirmed from as close as Seoul and as far away as Arkansas. Acquaintances have been more negative, but it's possible to find negative in anything if you try. I acknowledge their concerns and assure them I intend to have an exciting adventure, and even the bad times make for good stories when one is a writer. As for my beloved, I'm not quite sure.

Then, on my way home, I picked up a travel guide for China, wanting to start planning mini adventures and also to work out where I'll be living. The map was inadequate to give me more than a neighborhood but on browsing the book, I realized I know the area. The Pearl Market is there, where I've been to buy pearls (obviously) and silk on previous visits. So I now have a mind map of where my new home is in relation to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, which I view as the center of the city. It's become much more real to me, knowing that, and I'm getting excited.

I'm also excited by the magnitude of China and the knowledge my new employers want me to write of it, and also of the countries that surround it. I'm already trying to decide whether to take the Trans-Mongolian or Trans-Manchurian Railway on a trip to Moscow, and realizing that there is so much to see and do in China and it's near neighbors that a year will fly by in a mere blink. Did I already mention that I am excited?  

I will miss Seoul, and the city is particularly beautiful right now, but we're no longer happy together so it is time to move on. Korea has been good to me but I never intended to stay as long as I have. I'll still visit, we'll  stay good friends, but it's time to part. Jeju will always be part of my heart, but there are direct flights there from China so I'll still be a transient resident.

But for now, I'm making lists of where to go and what to experience and looking forward to a glut of topics to write about. I'm also looking forward to sharing the adventure with those friends who come to visit in person and those who come to read my tales of the Middle Kingdom.

The adventure continues . . .

1 comment:

  1. I recommend the trans-Mongolian and also recommend inviting a willing friend! Don't forget about the train trip to Tibet, too!