Monday, March 27

a contrast

I went to Korea on Friday morning and got back yesterday at noon. It was a great trip. I got to see a lot of friends in Korea and that was really a blessing. I went to my Korean (girl) friend's and my American (guy) friend's wedding. It was impressively beautiful and it was great to see so many people I knew there.

I was surprised at how different Korea felt. I was surprised at the availabilty of things, how nice things were, how expensive things were, and how much had changed, both in Korea and in me. It was nice to experience the conveniences. I got to eat Mexican food with real sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and cheese not only once but twice! With all the friends I got to see and all the conveniences I got to experience, I was happy to return to China. I'm not trying to paint the picture that we're in the dark ages here, but it is very different from the lives most people I know lead. I am glad to realize again, though, that this life I've chosen is good. I love the simplicity of it. I love the purposefulness of it. I love it.

As I landed in Korea and rode the bus to my friends' house, I thought about the contrast just between the arrival at the airport.

When I arrived in Korea, I was greeted by smiling, bowing airport employees, moving sidewalks, and a bathroom toilet that had a button where you could cover the toilet seat with a clean plastic cover. There were soap and paper towels at the sink. I bought my return ticket and applied for a Skypass card and the ladies spoke English well. I waited in a line for the airport bus beside well labeled signs telling me where I could go. The driver of the bus took my luggage and spoke in easily understandable Korean to greet me and ask where I was going. I sat in an airport limousine bus that had wide leather-like upholstered seats that leaned back and had leg rests. It cost about 10 bucks to get to my destination. I travel on nicely paved roads down streets with modern buildings lined up beside them.

My return to China is a little different. People push to get out of the plane as if they're not the first ones to get out they will lose some large cash prize. If I want to use the bathroom I go to a little stinky room with a hole in the floor, no toilet paper, let alone soap or paper towels. I go through a quarantine line with a video camera looking thing that takes my temperature to see if I have symptoms of the bird flu. I walk out to the parking lot through a crowd of people that crowds around the exit and only opens as you push your way through. The taxi drivers are kept to one part of the parking lot and yell and shout not only at possible customers, but also at each other as they fight for customers. I have to haggle the price down from what they ask (around 6 bucks) to what I know is closer to what other people pay (3 bucks). We travel along bumpy roads and pass people in the cold carrying loads of sticks or with carts behind old fuzzy donkeys.

But, like I already mentioned, I love it here. One question I answered a lot was "When are you moving back to Seoul?" I don't see a long term stay there in my future.

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