Welcome to Korea

When burdened with too much baggage, dehydrated for fresh air and fluids, invariably sweating because it seemed easier to wear that coat than pack it, hazy-headed, you push through the milky one way doors out of the uniformed forest of customs officials and get shunted between metal railings for inspection by a waiting crowd of strangers yearning forward to make connections, there is hardly any feeling to match finally seeing those one or two faces of familiar. Kris Feller and Chris Fazenbacher come to greet us in Seoul and we are once again amazed that in this big, confusing world human beings are able to connect in a foreign port.

As welcome as this greeting is, the joy of it is only a miniature of the elation I feel when I receive an email the next morning with the subject line: Your bag has been found. I had fallen asleep on the airport limo bus on the way to the teacher apartments and left my travel bag with passport (visa for China included), camera, blackberry, I Touch, $500, credit cards and even my driver’s license behind. The next morning it was returned. Intact. Right down to the loose change. This is only partly good karma (somewhere I must have done something right) but mostly attributable to the Korean culture. This is how I greet Korea – warm smiles and friendly honesty.

Okay. And a little whiff of garlic, racing traffic, soaring glass monuments to modernity, ancient temples, and millions of Koreans all going somewhere in a hurry. The first day we are there we just go PICK UP THE BAG and then we had lunch at a combination mall, amusement park (Lotto World) and skating rink where the speed and figure skating kids were practicing for Olympic Dreams.

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