1.4 Spring 2020 (COVID Archives)

July 31, Long Time No See

There’s a local kimbap shop and I think by now the woman recognizes me as the foreigner who doesn’t like pickled radish.

It’s a long but narrow shop where I can sit at the counter like an old regular. I also wanted some fish cake broth and guessed:

“Can you give me some uh… fish cake water?”

“You mean fish cake broth?”

“Ah yes. Can you tell me that word again?”


I was missing the one syllable that made water into broth and I appreciate her congenial help. The shop was the perfect temperature and I took my time eating through the long tuna roll.

I asked or really pointed to my empty Gatorade bottle and inquired (implied) if she had recycling.

“You want me to throw this away for you?”

Yes, please.

I exited feeling warm and full in every way then headed two doors down to the local shop to see my girl. In fact when I had walked by earlier I saw her through the window patting a large barista boy on the back.

We were really excited to see each other and she said “long time no see” in English.

We caught up in Korean about if the cafe has been busy and her young male associate, different and less suspicious than her previous guy from months ago, acted as her translator on words like “every day” and “weekend”.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be a regular and to have someone that knows me in a small way like this.

At my previous job one of the big corporate guys told me of China: “the energy there is unlike anything else. It’s unbelievable.”

At the time I felt both wonder and jealousy. When would these so called international companies actually send me abroad?

(They didn’t so I sent myself. A great decision.)

I’ve been thinking about the energy and vibe of places and came to the conclusion that I don’t want to leave Asia for a long time. That corporate guy was right, there’s nothing else like it.

Korea is a night culture which means there’s always something open or something to do past 8pm. I grew up in a “city” and everything was dead and lights out at 9pm. I felt like the only person in the world at night.

I just can’t see myself leaving anytime soon when I still enjoy the energy of a place that’s always up to something. My body is still hungry for the fast pace of the East.

Asia Time did attack recently but with the intention to reminding me of these things, although I’d argue it took itself a bit far.

(The day I scheduled my extremely important immigration appointment was canceled because the government decided to make that day… a holiday. And of course when I tried to book again, the only appointments were the day my visa expires. No stress there!

But again, Asia Time, so apparently I’m supposed to go to immigration anytime within a two week window, show the officer the cancellation text I received and they will… work out an appointment for me then and there? Ah well, it will work itself out.)

But in the moment where I briefly imagined being deported (okay, just not allowed to stay) to the US, I felt wrong. I don’t want to leave Korea, I’m not ready! There’s so much left to see and do!

The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.

John Muir

And I don’t want to leave Asia either. I am actually so excited for the future. Well, the eventual future where I can travel again and also scope out my next country.

Now I’m just trying to accept the unknown with open arms and pray the landing is soft.

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