Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday, Day Twenty-two

Gimhae (Busan) airport waiting area
7-11 in Gimhae (Busan) airport
We were up at 7:00 and out by 7:45. We stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for an egg and bagel sandwich, then Geoffrey got me to the airport. He stayed with me as I returned my cell phone, then as I got in line at check-in he left to go to work. I really appreciate all the help he has been. I went through security but lost the Swiss army knife I had gotten in Geneva. I forgot to pack it in my checked luggage. The annoying thing is that once on the plane they served a meal (a meal on a two hour flight; what a concept!), and the knife and fork were steel and every bit as useful as a weapon as my knife. After security I sat around watching people for the last time in Korea.

Getting off the KAL plane in Tokyo the flight steward indicated my (Busan Giants) scarf and said "Thanks for your support." I nodded and smiled and then without thinking said to him "andesemneda" or I'm sorry for your loss. That will be my last word in Korean aside from the occasional Korean restaurant. 

Snack bar in Narida (Tokyo) airport
In Narita airport (Tokyo) I had to go through security between flights. I'm glad I asked Dr. Park to translate my pacemaker information into Japanese. It helped. I also had to check in with Delta and the young lady at the desk was Japanese, but knew Philly enough to appreciate Wawa coffee. I had a snack in a snack bar and bought a large bottle of water for the trip. Frustrating, can't speak the language!

On Delta flight 622 I sat next to a young woman with huge grapes and other very large pieces of fruit. She had to finish it before getting to U.S. Agriculture control she so shared it. It was a lot of sugar and I tested; my blood sugar was high, so at a guess I gave myself four units of insulin which seemed to do the trick. A young American woman coming home from the Philippines corrected my impression of there being not much to see there. My thinking was that  the Philippines is not a country with an ancient culture. Before the Spanish arrived in the early 16th century I always thought it was tribal. She said if you get out of the cities there is much beauty. I'll pass that on to Geoffrey who would like to visit after Korea. 
Minneapolis airport (note Philly Grill right)

I went through customs in Minneapolis without incident, and had some argument with Homeland Security about the electronic gate. I was assured it is just radio waves but I pointed out radio waves are an electromagnetic field and that is what my doctor said to avoid. I  prevailed and got the pat down, waited a couple hours, and was on my way home
Pat meets me in Philadelphia

Pat met me in Philadelphia. It's been a long day (about 48 hours).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday, Day twentyone

Dr. Park's garden where I sat and waited
Geoffrey came in at some point this morning and put a light quilt on me. It is getting chilly. My cell phone isn't working and I wonder if it was cut off by the company, thinking I am leaving today. 

I found an e-mail from Geoffrey telling me to call the woman down stairs. Of course I can't. After breakfast and a shower I got dressed, brought in the laundry, and went down to talk to her and explain. She was gone. I sat for a while viewing the garden then came back up, got a book, and left for lunch. 

I went down the hill and turned right. I passed Geoffrey's hair stylist, "Mo," just as she was coming out of the shop and we chatted. She asked where I was going and I said "to lunch" in English, then in Korean when she gave me a blank look. She asked "alone" and I said I have a book and showed her my copy of Back to Heaven by Chon Sang Pyong, pointing out the Korean and English on facing pages. I don't think going to lunch with a book qualified as not being alone for her. 

Chinese restaurant down stairs behind red sign
I crossed the bridge and first went to the stationary store for a pen, then to the Chinese restaurant for their mini tangsuyuk. Mini refers to it being a single portion. Geoffrey says when he goes to a restaurant the menus all list double portions on the assumption customers come in pairs. I guess Geoffrey's hair stylist didn't think my book would be suitable companionship, and at any rate wouldn't eat much. Koreans don't eat alone? 

I then went to Caffe Bene for coffee but when I sat down it didn't feel right so I went home. Mrs. Dr. Park still wasn't back so I sat by the garden again, sipping the coffee in the quiet. A sijo came to mind:
Even here in Korea, 
    especially here in Korea,
All is busyness, go there, do that. 
    Where is the time to appreciate?
Time to still the monkey mind, 
    and to feel God's presence?
Last dinner (ribs) in Korea
When Geoffrey got home we we went to the Changwon market to try to find some gifts. It's not what we wanted so we headed for Home Plus. On the way we stopped for ribs. It is my last dinner in Korea. We then went to Home Plus where we found some things that looked nice. From there we came home for me to get packed.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday, Day Twenty: Quiet Day Alone

I had breakfast, and read up on hurricane Sandy which is due to hit the east coast (U.S.) today. The prediction is for a really big one. Pat is concerned, telling me (by e-mail) to try to get a few days extra of my medicines and change my flight so I don't land in the middle of the chaotic aftermath of the storm. I'll look into both. I did a wash and hung it out. It's cold today and I doubt if it will dry before tomorrow. 

I didn't even go out for lunch, but had some left over gimbab I bought at Seoul station for the train ride Saturday.

Sushi bar with conveyer belt in fore ground
Lobby of Lotte Cinema
 When Geoffrey got home he went running while I took a nap. We then went back to city hall circle and the Lotte Cinema and department store.  We got tickets first, for the new James Bond movie "Skyfall." It isn't even out in the U.S. yet. We ate in the food court again, both eating omrice, Geoffrey's with a hamburger and mine with a cutlet of some sort. We then went to the sushi bar for the second course. We looked around Lotte Department Store for a couple gifts but didn't find anything at a reasonable price. Across the street at Lotte-mart there was nothing at all. We went back to Lotte Cinema, in the Lotte Department Store building, and sat down in the lobby until the theater was opened.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday, Day Nineteen: Geoffrey's Birthday

Entrance to Casabella

Geoffrey and Dr. Park's wife in the garden
I had a bad night, woke up several times with reflux. I had trouble digesting the duck. I slept until 10:30 and did not go to church with Geoffrey. When he got back with Dr. Park and his wife, and a deaconess from the church, we went for lunch at an Italian restaurant, Casabella, in  nearby Janggyu myon. The food was good though the seafood spaghetti was too spicy for me so I gave it to Geoffrey.  After lunch we had coffee, then went out and walked in the garden.

Geoffrey at Junam Wetlands Park
 Geoffrey had told Dr. Park we had arranged to meet someone in Masan at 4:00 but I think he heard me mention the Junam Wetlands Park so he took us there. This is the kind of thing that can drive Geoffrey nuts. He just go somewhere with no discussion and Geoffrey is a prisoner. But intentions are good and he doesn't want to be impolite. We got out of the car and started to walk. I went up to Dr. Park and pointed out with my watch that it was ten of four and reminded him of our commitment in Masan. He said in English "I remember." I'm older and might be able to get away with this. I then joined Geoffrey at an observation point and he went on, but they soon returned. We dropped off the deaconess then came back to Sarim-dong. I expect to go back to Junam Wetlands Tuesday with Mrs. Dr. Park.

Geoffrey and I then headed off to Masan to look for a gift for Pat. Geoffrey had arranged with a friend at work, Choi Won Jung, one of the guys with whom he climbed Joeng Byong mountain (see picture) for him to give us directions to a good place for what we were looking for once we got to the Masan fish market. We also planned to have a dinner of hoe, a local delicacy of thinly sliced raw fish wrapped in lettuce and with several sauces. 

A stall at the Masan fish market
Neither worked out. We walked through the market and up and down the main street for some time. The market was the kind of place I remember. Masan is an older city. Finally Won Jung called and said he'd meet us, which he did. We tried several ceramics shops, again walking up and down the street; I got a lot of walking in, all within a half mile area, but didn't find what I was looking for (a tea pot). We then took the car and headed to a different part of Masan where we found a place to eat. 

Choi Won Jung with Geoffrey
Like the place on the way back from Gyeongju, it was the kind of place I could have gone to in the 1960s. We all had boribap (보리밥) which is rice mixed with barley (in the 60s all restaurant rice was required to be so mixed to conserve rice). Won Jung  demonstrated the method of eating, mixing in the vegetables and other dishes much as one mixes bibimbap (비빔밥). Geoffrey again commented on the healthiness of Korean food, with all the fresh vegetables. A Korean couple with two cute little boys came in to share the room. The younger of the two boys, maybe three or four years old, spent the longest time standing in the corner farthest from me, just staring at me. I don't get much staring on this trip. Near the end of the meal Won Jung left the table, presumably to go to the men's room. It turned out he went to pay the bill for Geoffrey's birthday dinner. After dinner we dropped off Won Jung near his place and headed back to Sarim-dong

Geoffrey opened his presents, books from me (Tom Coyner's book, and the bilingual book of poetry by Ko Chang Soo [고창수], Between Sound and Silence) and clothes from Pat (sweater, tee shirts). We talked and he showed me a stone dojang (도장) a young lady at church gave him for his birthday. That led to further discussion about dojangs, and women, particularly Korean women. On another subject we followed a train of thought to its absurd conclusion and both started laughing, harder than I have for a long time. It was good for me.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Saturday, Day Eighteen: Back to Changwon

The new Seoul station
Woke up early and am feeling OK. Mostly it is my shoulder that hurts. Had breakfast with Greg and Frank, then went back to my room and packed. I was out by 11:00 and passed Elliot and Cathy in the lobby and said our good-byes. I took a taxi  to Seoul Station in the rain.
A Benidictine nun in Seoul station
I had made a reservation on line Thursday at the hotel but had to pickup the ticket, which I did. I then had to stand around for two hours.The bags are damn heavy and my left shoulder hurts when I use it so that is a problem. I saw a Catholic nun and have seen the habit before so I asked her what her order is (some kind of Benedictine) and asked permission to take a picture, which she granted after I explained why. I then saw Elliot and Cathy again. They are going to GyeongJu. 

On the train I asked solders to put my big suitcase in the over seat rack, and in Changwon to get it down for me. I read Little Pilgrim, watched the scenery, slept, and several times prayed thanks to God last night wasn't worse. Geoffrey met me at the station. 

After getting settled we went out for dinner thinking to find an eel place but never did. After driving all over, including through the tunnel to West Busan and back, we ended up at a duck place. It was a very nice meal.

Friday, Day Seventeen: Shilla Hotel, 70th Birthday in the ER

In the U.S. I am really 69 today, but as Koreans count it I am 70, which is a special birthday. 

I went down at 8:00 to tell them I wouldn't be going to the shelter for the comfort women. I need to keep my leg up or in use, but not just sitting or standing. At dinner last night Jon asked how I'd do on the flight and the answer is that I just don't know. I have an aisle seat so can get out and walk and that should help, and by Wednesday it should have improved. I don't think a few days would make much difference. 

Jacob Italian restaurant on the right.
Interior view of Jacob restaurant
 I went back to the room and sat at the computer or lay down watching CNN, but both with my foot up. At about 1:00 I went back to Seoul Selection for a book on Chinese characters I have long wanted, and a CD of gayageum music. I had a cup of coffee there while inspecting some other books. I then went out and walked down Yulgok-ro  toward Insadong to find a place for lunch. I settled on an Italian place, Jacob, on a little side street near the entrance to Insadong which it turned out led to the back door of Somerset. I had a dish of assorted sausages. They all tasted the same to me, hot dogs with extra garlic, but were different shapes and colors

Jon Keeton and k-6ers <KF Revisit photo>
 the afternoon we had a debriefing with Join Keeton. At 6:00 (18:00) we assembled to board buses to go the the Shilla Hotel for a reception with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It was quite an affair. There were speeches, then we ate. I found a seat in the back where I could put my foot up and took my plate back there. Several people came up to speak to me so I wasn't alone.

Himself at reception <KF Revisit photo>
Staff was walking around with drinks and I saw one young woman with glasses of juice. I asked if she spoke English; she didn't. I asked in Korean if the drinks were alcoholic and she just looked at me. My Korean isn't that bad. Jon thought she didn't expect to hear Korean from me but I think it was that Korean desire to say what the guest wants to hear and she didn't know what answer I wanted.
 Cathy, Elliot, Gerry (me in rear) <KF Revisit photo>
There was a talk by a deputy foreign minister, and Gary, a K-1 from Hawaii, gave the RPCV response. He started with a chant from his home state; very dramatic

Group <KF Revisit photo>
When I could see it was almost over, I went downstairs to use the men's room, then waited there for the group.  When they got there I went out with them. On the steps my knee must have collapsed under me, it's kind of a blur, but here I am going down about a dozen granite steps head first. I hurt a finger, my shoulder, and banged my head on the steps. I came to rest at the bottom. I'm lying on my back and people are yelling "help him up!", or "don't move him!" One said "call an ambulance," probably because I wasn't moving. I just lay there stunned but completely conscious, trying to assess the damages. I did say "Don't call an ambulance [yet]." I also told the woman who was telling everyone what to do to "stop telling people what to do, just let me be." I never lost consciousness and answered the "orientated in three space" questions. Eventually I decided to try to get up and I did with little difficulty. A couple people (I think Joe) helped me to the bus, and Elliot said he was coming to my room with me. On the bus I apologized publicly for telling the woman to stop telling people what to do, and asked that if they knew who was doing the organizing to pass on my apology. When I sat down I heard from the back of the bus "Apology accepted."

Ms Kim & Jeong; Angels of Mercy at ER
But when we got to the hotel Miss Jeong told me she wanted me to come to the hospital with her. How could I say "no" to that face (on the right in the picture)? She and Sunny Kim took me to the ER at Seran General Hospital not too far away.
In my room with head bandaged

The doctor examined me, had x-rays taken. The doctor spoke some English and relied on Miss Jeong for help; discharge instructions were in Korean. The x-ray tech asked me if I spoke Korean and when I indicated "some" gave me instructions in Korean, which worked out fine. By then I was alert enough to handle it. I got a pain shot (OK now but in the morning?), bandages, and instructions to come back in if I feel pain (pain shot would mask that) blurry vision, vomiting, and that kind of thing. He described my injures as contusion. He also warned of possible delayed bleeding in the head. Hence the warning to come back if need be. I told him I'd be in Changwon tomorrow so he gave me notes to give any doctor that I see, and his card. I'm back now and feeling OK.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday, Day Sixteen: Interviews, Bibab

I had set the wake up call for 08:30 but woke up at 06:00. I couldn't go back to sleep so got up at about 6:30. It was a good thing because Pat called on my cell phone (said the hotel number didn't work). We talked of probably a half an hour. 

Jon Keeton Conna Jung and Lina Min
 I had breakfast with Joe and Soogie at about 8:00. I opted out of the trip to Gyeongbok palace; Geoffrey and I were there Saturday. At 10:30 I went down to the lobby to wait to go to the National Museum of Contemporary Korean History and seized a chance to get a picture of Jon and two staff who have been very solicitous of my needs. 

Himself and Gteongbok Palace
At 11:00 we all went to the Museum for a presentation (the museum is still under construction) and had lunch on the roof overlooking Gwanghwamun. In the picture they are doing military drills in the front courtyard (men in red), and the Blue House (Presidential residence) can be seen at the top right. We then went back downstairs for interviews about our service. We were given a list of questions to structure our presentations and they were to be eight minutes long, but nobody adhered to that. I even got off topic by addressing some of the changes that impress me, including sit down toilets, but I could feel my leg swelling (skin getting tight) and asked to be moved up; I rushed it to get back and put my leg up

Set of Bibab <KF Revisit photo>
At 6:00 we left for a very nice dinner, and then went to a show, "Bibab." It was loud, flashy, and very energetic with tumbling, break dancing, and lots of slap stick, and audience members were used on stage. It was a good choice since one didn't need to know Korean to enjoy it. Toward the end though, with it being very loud and the lights flashing at the audience I started to get a headache coming on. I covered my eyes and rode it out. See a promo on YouTube.

Ines Choi, guide for health worker's bus
On the way out I found an elevator and went over and pushed the button. A man comes up and tries to squeeze in in front of me and waves some others to join him, probably expecting me to move back. I didn't move and turned toward him a little making the space even smaller. I just looked at him and he backed off. I feel this explains some of what we see in driving. If you can get your nose in people defer to you, but in this case I didn't.