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Archive for September 14th, 2009

The Birthday

As I sit in my favorite cafe Americano  in Yongin waiting for a bus to take me to Incheon, a plane to Singapore, and a connecting flight to Nepal I find myself in the middle of an all ladies birthday celebration.  When they starting singing “Happy Birthday” or something that sounded like it, I joined in to their great delight.  Korean culture is hard to break into but little things like this are sure to produce a smile and laughter. After the singing, and clapping was rewarded with a beautiful bunch of grapes and I was able to produce a respectable- Cas-ham-nida (thank you in Korean). The grapes are really unique and remind me of the off the vine ones we grew when I was a kid; full of seed with all the juicy sugar close to the tough skin while the inside is very firm mass.  Somehow these grapes seem more real then I highly modified cultivars. Being a gift makes then all the sweater.

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The answer

South Korea

little guy

Guardians protect the entrance to many ancient sites

Given “The answer” has been found, I – well- guess , I can go back to the states. In hindsight it was easy, to easy in a way; and while I am very happy, I am left with a feeling of – really, that simple; results do not lie. When Sara and I speculated that we were onto it, it was simply a matter of finding the “right”, “not substitute” ingredients. Granted it took some bus rides, it took some walking, it took asking directions, it took help from abroad, it took multiple stores, it was expensive – but after a half a day we had what we needed, or at least we were pretty sure we did (labels were all in Korean); the ingredients for the perfect American chocolate chip cookie, and thus the answer to all of life’s questions – Good friends, good laughs, great cookies. We could only bake 4 cookies at a time given we only had access to a toaster over, but we knew we had it as we ate multiple spoon fulls of raw dough; lubrication for the tongue and upper palette. REAL BUTTER, REAL VANILLA, REAL CHOCOLATE CHIPS, and of course walnuts.

“We are dangerous together, like two peas in a pod” Sara exclaimed as we thought it was perfectly fantastic to stay up until 3am and sleep until noon all the while enjoying batches of cookies, 4 at a time. Sara had bought a book on traveling to South America on a shoe string and I had found the newly published Lonely Planet guide for Nepal. “Hey check this out, I am going to take Salsa lessons in Latin America” or “OMG, Kathmandu is one of the only capital cities in the world to have daily and extended power outages….it says here that nothing works”.

And thus my stay with my Sara comes to a perfect end. We saw some sites, we experienced a different culture, we ate a lot of Kimchi, and most importantly, we expanded our friendship beyond one of Uncle/Niece that was a definition from my previous marriage and a previous time.

While I have found the answer, I do think I will carry on in my travels however. In a comment posted here, my friend Ed Whitehead reminded me about what Mark Twain said of travel: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Looking forward to that motorcycle ride to the tip of Baja, ferry across the gulf, and ride back up the mainland of Mexico Ed; you and those biker bums back home get to planning. And that goal of sailing across an ocean together, well that needs to happen also.

Off to Kathmandu and the country that has the right to boast about having 8 of the worlds 10 largest mountains within its border. Tonight, if things go as planned, I will be calling the Singapore airport home. Tomorrow, tiger balm hucksters, and some BIG ass mountains.

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