Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hongdae, Seoul

The phone rings at 10:45am. I jump out of bed to receive it, and it's a friend of the friend whose apartment I'm staying at. He's wondering if everything's okay and if I need any help. I tell him I'm trying to see family in China, but the Internet is suggesting I need a Korean Alien Registration Card to apply for a visa. I might try the Chinese Consulate in Busan. He suggests I call the Canadian Embassy first to see what assistance they can offer.

The Canadian Embassy to Korea isn't very helpful. I explain the situation, and they tell me to get a Korean Alien Registration Card. "I don't live here." "In that case, you should probably call the Chinese Embassy."

None of the numbers I find for the Embassy work. One finally goes through but the automated voice messaging system is Chinese and Korean. No English. I continue researching visas to China and learn that what I really need to do is contact an authorized travel agency. I call one and the agent doesn't speak English. I'll try again later.

I check Facebook and Gmail, and find a message from an old Korean friend I went to high school with in Dhaka, Bangladesh, who's at graduate school in Seoul. I've also received a message from a Korean Baha'i I'd written last night inviting me to the Naw Ruz celebration on Sunday. I wonder if I'll be here.

Skype with my sister and tell her the situation with the visa. She tells me I'm crazy - I just left Chiba after five days of physical and psychological instability. Take a break. That's probably a good idea. I need to cut myself some slack and somehow enjoy this unforeseen, involuntary vacation.

I spend some time cleaning up the apartment - partly as a small token of my gratitude for the openhanded use of this veritable retreat, but mostly to keep my mind from wandering back to a growing sense of guilt. I might physically be in Korea, but my heart, my soul and my friends are still in Japan. After I shower I sit down to say some prayers. There is so much to pray for - I've felt protected and guided through this entire experience. For Japan, the innocent lives that have been ended or thoroughly changed forever, and for friends and those 50 nameless workers who stayed behind. How can we thank them enough?

I'm hit with a massive wave of exhaustion and need to put my head down. I wake up famished at 5:50pm. I haven't eaten anything since dinner last night.

Mountains ring Seoul, Korea

Pojangmacha (street stalls), Seoul

Night life, Seoul

There are Japanese restaurants everywhere selling food I've never seen in Japan. The first word I'd use to describe Korea is fusion. Seoul feels so much more living than the city I left. I explore the area and sit down in a Starbucks to collect my thoughts.

I return home and Skype with a friend from Christchurch, New Zealand, whose house was destroyed in the February 22nd earthquake. She tells me she's still running on adrenaline, and invariably crashes every couple days. Still? She reminds me to look to the end of things, and that helps a little.

To bed at 1:30am.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you sooooooo much for sharing your experiences AND your insights! I am a living in The Bahamas and am grateful for your updates... it helps me really FEEL whats going on over there and to ponder about detachment and as your friend said, seeing the end in the beginning... and all this is happening during the Fast...I will think about you too at Naw Ruz!