L left for Seoul today. Although I wish he were still around, I feel good about having met him and spent some time with him. It really was a special rapport with a kindred spirit.
I was waiting for him to meet me at the hostel for over an hour so as to go to dinner together around six o'clock yesterday. I waited He did not show up at six. I typed up my poem and posted it, then did the blog entry for the day while I was waiting. After that, I checked messages then played computer card games. Finally, I thought I should look up the street.
We had not fixed an exact time, so I was aware that something could have come up or he might have found something up to do. Still, I was not discouraged. We did not have mobile phones. I walked up to the bus stop where he would get out of the bus in the direction away from his hostel and going towards the city. That is where I felt it would be most likely that I would find him. I waited for about twenty minutes there. Since I did not see him get off the bus he could have taken, I decided to get myself some soup then wander around.
Strangely, I did not feel disappointed. In fact, I had a strong feeling that he would be walking around the area. In this small district, the raw fish market, I felt sure our paths would cross if he was around at all. I walked along the port dike following the fish market and the little raw fish restaurants all lined up doors open and facing the water. I came across one that I thought L would like. The feeling that he was around looking for me warmed me up and became strong, so I decided to loop around back to the guesthouse to see if he was there. He was.
There he was at the cafe sitting on at a picnic table on the sidewalk in front of the hostel, drinking a pint of lager. I wanted to embrace him when I saw him but I stopped myself and just put a hand on his shoulder. He moved as if he were going to rise to hug me then initiated a hand shake but pulled back and we both sat down across from each other. I explained that I had been waiting and looking around for him. He said that he had found out that the bus seats back to Seoul the next day had almost been sold out, so he rushed to the bus terminal after hiking. Once he successfully secured a ticket for Tuesday morning, he walked over to the beach to poke around and gradually make his way to the guesthouse. He got there between six and six-thirty and left me a message, then looked around the wharf and returned by seven. I got there soon after.
That is a case it being meant to be. It was because it was important to both of us and we tried to make sure we met. It was different the day before, us seeing each other after hiking separately and not having made any plans at all to see each other. That was simply uncanny. Yet, it was another indication of something meant to be.
Now, though, he is doing a quick tour of Seoul city center before catching a plane back to his life far away in Slovenia. I will probably hear something from him, as we both exchanged cards with contact information at dinner yesterday.
We had an amazing dinner of sashimi (raw fish) served in the typical way with lettuce leaf wrapping and sauces. There was sea cucumber which I had never tried before at all. On his recommendation, I ate some and enjoyed it. We also had raw strips of squid and thinly sliced fish served on a mound of transparent rice vermicelli. The cuttings of the fish were served as a spicy broth with leek at the end of the meal.
It was all very special. The restaurant looked out at the harbour where the Chuseok full moon shone yellow and children were lighting up firecrackers. Horse drawn carts brightly lit up and with loudspeakers playing bouncy old fashioned Korean music went back and forth. "How did you pick this place?" he asked me. I said I walked by and liked the concept of sitting looking over the water while eating a special meal.
He had to leave to catch the last bus at 9:30, so I escorted him to the bus stop. He said it wasn't necessary, but I said I had nothing else to do in particular and, besides, I wanted to say good-bye to him. Just before his bus rolled up, we hugged. His arms felt strong and confident. Right after the hug, I thought I'd reach up to give him a kiss on the cheek, but he intercepted with a quick peck on the mouth. Then he gave me a one-armed sideways hug. Soon, he was off.
Today, I went back to Seorak National Park for another hike. I followed the course that L recommended me, the brook side easy but long climb that he had taken on his first day while I went to Ulsan Rock. It was very enjoyable on that trail. You take steps up and down but gradually working your way up through the mountain valley, which turns into a spectacular canyon for miles. There are many good places to wade or swim. I stopped at a shallow pool to eat a sandwich and wade. Three sisters followed me and joined me there. I continued the walk, but when the weather further up the mountain looked like it might turn bad, I turned around. I did not like the mental image of being stuck in a flash flood on Seorak San. Down toward the base, the clouds lifted and I stopped at one of the restaurants to enjoy a beverage and sit admiring the scenery.
Like L, I thought I had better secure a ticket for the next day, so I went to the bus station and bought one. I am all set to leave in the morning. I have showered and reorganized my bags.
Hopefully, the room will be vacant for a while so that I can watch a little TV. Someone has been sleeping there for the past two hours, but I heard she is to meet her friends for dinner later.