For those of you keeping track, welcome to Gwangju through our eye(s). We set up an account with a Vancouver-based group called Flickr. A random selection of photographs will be posted in the right "links" bar. All you have to do to see more, is click on one of the thumbnails, and you will be magically transported via internet to more photographs of Korea. Don't be shy about leaving comments, I'd love to know what you think. More soon. Love, Audrey.
Friday, April 29, 2005
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
The bus ride to Gwangju was quiet. Alex and I held hands, I leaned on his shoulder, and he talked about his day. Looking out the window, I saw a beautiful array of landscapes; mountains, hills, rice paddies, cherry blossoms, and a cemetery. The bus had satellite television, and the older folks were enjoying one of the many karaoke game shows on Korean TV.
I nodded off, and Alex wrote in his journal.
Two hours later the bus made a stop for everyone to stretch and grab a bite to eat. We walked through the little roadside mall to the bathrooms. Two little girls almost ran into me when entering the bathroom. They stopped, and looking up said, “wow” under their breath. It was really sweet. Children don’t often see foreign faces so up close, or at least, one so Caucasian here Alex informed me later.
We ventured into a little mart and got snacks. Funny thing about Koreans, they aren’t so big on salt. We bought pretzels that were sweet and had sugar on them. My water was sweet, and we also bought a stick of meat (hopefully chicken or pork) marinated in a super-sweet BBQ sauce. I had canker sores from the food, and craved water that was just water.
The rest of the trip to Gwangju was quiet. The towns we passed began to light up with an array of neon. The red neon crucifixes adorning churches were among the most unique and recognizable for my travel-weary eyes.
Alex and I caught a cab from the bus station, and Alex navigated us home using broken Korean. I already felt perfectly at home.
Monday, April 25, 2005
I had no idea what to look for, where to look, or at what point I would find myself toe to toe with Alex. At luggage claim, a boisterously American Marine helped me with my luggage, and pointed me in the next direction. In my immediate memory, the trip up until this moment faded.
I pushed my big, awkward cart with my big, awkward self out of luggage claim and into a roped off area designed to keep loved-ones from seeing their family and friends too soon. People were shouting names and waving frantically. I tried, at this point, to wipe the intense look off of my face (you know, non-smiling with a furrowed brow), and look as attractive as I could after a 14-hour flight . . .
I didn’t even recognize him. He had lost so much weight, his blue jeans gathered at the top by a belt that no longer fit. His hair longer, his face shaved, his smile . . . the same (*sigh*). He yelled my name once, it had been barely audible in the noise around me, but we’ve always had an easy time spotting each other. I look for the guy that falls, and he looks for the girl who laughs.
He didn’t actually fall, that would’ve been too perfect (although it would've ruined how sexy he was in the moment), but we did manage to look horribly awkward pushing the cart together stopping occasionally to embrace. We laughed a bit, but were mostly silent. It was like being married to a stranger . . . a tall, sunburned & handsome stranger.
As he stood line for bus tickets, we stole glances at each other. Glances that were more like questions, questions that would eventually not be asked, because they didn’t need to be asked. Sometimes it just takes a moment to remember.
When the plane landed in Incheon, I had been awake for six hours (sleeping like the dead for the first eight). My body ached, my pulse raced, but my mind eased into a funnel of focus. “It’s an airport”, I thought, “how hard could it be?”
Things were posted fairly clearly alongside the Hangul in English. I navigated the terminal using a bit of instinct, and of course the little pictures of a suitcase. I slowly came to realize that eyes were beginning to follow me, that I was the foreign face in their homeland. I became excruciatingly aware of my steps, my facial expressions, my size (packed in amongst Japanese, Chinese and Korean whom all stood below my shoulders), and my passport blatantly announcing my homeland. In the Asian nations where their economic growth, military might, and technological advancement are poised to overtake if not already overtaken that of the U.S., we are an anomaly for the senses only.
After passing through immigration, a process involving a yellow ARRIVAL/ DEPARTURE card that you fill out on the airplane and several lines of Asian travelers with the occasional vertical jut of a European or American, you walk the main concourse. It is mostly an average looking concourse, but on either side, encased in protective glass, are pieces of Korea’s history. I’m not suggesting a mere clay pot or two, but ornate crowns from the Shilla kingdom, swords, paintings, etc. It was fantastic, and derailed me briefly. Then I remembered I was in Korea, and somewhere in this mess of luggage and people, would be my husband. We couldn’t miss each other . . . just look for the anomaly.
Friday, April 22, 2005
and . . . i'm off. thank you to everyone for the support, patience and kind words this past week. it's masked the nerves until this very moment, and now i must vomit.
Monday, April 11, 2005
my flight has been successfully rescheduled, although i have to say, expedia.com sucks when you're faced with the challenge of an exchange. i spoke with 3 different people and was on the phone almost two hours. it was as though they had never been confronted with an itinerary change in the history of the company. unnerving? just a bit. they also attempted to overcharge me, but were no match for my thorough knowledge of their own website.