Ahhh, what a journey.
It still amazes me that a short 4 hour bus ride takes me more than half way across this tiny little country. Back in Canada, 4 hours would get me, well….to and from work.
After coincidentally taking the bus with a friend from Naju to Seoul, I waited for another friend at the bustling bus terminal when I arrived in the evening. This was a fellow student back in high school, someone I never said a word to, Yet somehow we connected through Facebook, and as we awkwardly found each other, it was not awkward as I would have presumed. It was as warm a welcome as I had received from when I returned back to Toronto from Jasper. That night we had a wonderful Korean evening snack before I headed to a Jjimjilbang.
Man, how to describe Jjimjilbangs…I would have to say relaxing, entertaining and most of all, carefree. For those who don’t know, this is essentially a bathhouse amusement park. It is a place loitered with showers, baths, saunas, and other unique treatments that families and individuals can enjoy. It also includes other entertainment (based on location, of course) such as computer rooms, arcades, theatre rooms, and food bars. It essentially has everything a wandering traveller needs…if you are comfortable with your body. Just as swimming pools have its own dress code, Jjimjilbangs also have their own: birthday suit. segregated into genders, everyone must don their birthday suit (proudly) to the communal bath. Unfortunately, I currently lack the self confidence to attempt it. However, you can believe that I will continue going until I get over my irrational fear of naked men scrubbing me down! I did find a wonderful leather reclining chair to sleep for the night, and was ready for the festivities that awaited me in Seoul.
In just a second, you will enjoy my adventure with me. But before that, a little background information. South Korea is a rather conservative country, and has yet to really embrace differences in others as well as some parts of the world. That being said, the Seoul Gay Pride Parade 2014 was very well received by a large amount of people…for the most part. As the parade began, two groups of protestors did everything in their power to stop the merriment. the first group were homophobes (religious or otherwise), and the second group were those still mourning for the ferry accident here in South Korea. While it was disappointing that previous suffering had to impede on the happiness of others on a completely different celebration, it was very interesting to have witnessed it in person. Anyways, reading is for chumps. Lets look at pictures instead!
A wax statue of a prisoner at Seodaemun Museum Jail, during one of the Japanese Occupation (Independence Movement 1910-1945).
a guard at Gyeongbokgung Palace.
A bridge at Han river, where many people suicide. The words along the bridge offer encourage to souls that might have lost their way.
Police standing guard against protestors during the 2014 Seoul Gay Pride Parade.
Two people, any two people loving whoever, and whatever they want.
Gay (in both senses of the word) and proud!
One of the few LGBTQ that unfortunately had water/garbage thrown at them. why must people impede on other people’s happiness when it harms no one else?
A Fantastic drummer.
A weird group (even to koreans) that were praying, mumbling or summoning something the whole time. (one korean said they were trying to communicate with the souls of those who passed away in the ferry).
The outside of the National Museum of History. An AMAZING museum to visit. Themed art galleries are also present.
This was truly an amazing journey, one that made me appreciate a few things, both new and old.
1. Thrill of exploring new things.
2. Understand that a plan is necessary, but it should be loose so that many changes can be made to it.
3. The wonderful feeling of companionship wherever I am.
Culture truly is a fascinating thing. My favourite thing about culture is how it shapes people’s thoughts and ideals, for better or worse. What is your favourite thing about culture?
Until next time,