I always like to end the semester with a bang. To some, this might mean many consecutive days of drinking and partying. After all, what better way to forget all of that hard-earned knowledge for which you spent so many of your precious hours studying away in the local library/Starbuck’s?
Wait. I do like to celebrate that way. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
What I’m talking about is yet another international vacation…the last before my fourteen months of living in Asia draws to an end.
This time it will be…(spins globe and stops it with index finger)…Korea!
Actually, plans for a trip to Korea have been in the works for some time now, I just didn’t want to mention it until it became official. Now that it is, here’s a snapshot of what my next month will look like:
This Monday Andy, one of my closest friends from back home and a fellow computer engineer from UCSD, will be coming to visit for a week. We’ll spend that week getting into who knows what kind of trouble until the 23rd when he heads back to China to resume his study-in-Asia program.
On the 24th I’ll attend the completion ceremony for my year at Ritsumeikan University and begin packing. On the 29th I take off for Korea.
As for the details of the trip, those are still a bit up in the air. Most likely I’ll arrive and spend a few days in Busan, take a train North to GyeongJu (a.k.a. “Korea’s Kyoto”), continue on to Samcheok (containing an immense limestone cave with cathedral-sized caverns, waterfalls, cascades, and pools) before ending up in Seoul. And of course, you can’t forget a quick visit to the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t get shot or blown up by a landmine.
What will set this trip apart from all of the others I’ve taken so far? Chie, Min-Kyeong and Yun-Yeong will all be back home visiting their families, meaning that I’ll have the unique opportunity to get a glimpse of what daily life might be like in Korea. No more opening up my Lonely Planet guide and saying, “Ooh, that temple sounds nice.” Instead, I imagine it’ll be something like “Let’s go grab a bite at the little kimuchi stand my friends and I always eat at during our lunch break!”
This should be great 🙂
Then on February 5th I’ll head back to Kyoto and leave immediately for Ehime where I’ll experience a few days of field work with Dean collecting Ground Penetrating Radar data on hidden burial sites and Japanese mummies and such.
Finally, I’ll head back to Kyoto. I’ll spend one week saying goodbye to all of the people and places I’ve learned to call home over the past fourteen months. I’ll pack up my bags, vacate my apartment, and return to Los Angeles.
Some of you might notice the lack of a trip to Hokkaido in this winter’s plans. It’s true that I’ve been looking forward to the Yuki Matsuri (snow festival) for almost a year now, but with my limited time it came down to a decision between that and Korea. I picked Korea.
I don’t doubt that I’ll find myself back in Japan with another opportunity to go to Hokkaido at some point or another anyway.
So, what is there to do from now until all of this fun begins?
Well, for starters, I can wish Chie a happy 22nd birthday!
Happy Birthday Chie 🙂