Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Stuff that Ulcers Are Made of

Actually, today was a great day up until about 9:20 pm. My air conditioning, which had broken again the day after it got fixed was repaired again on Saturday, so I was able to get a full night of sleep for a change. This morning I slept in, spent some quality time with Mindy, and then met my friend Diane at about 2:15 to leave for Busan.

We took the bus to Busan, then took the metro to get to Sooyoungro Church. We underestimated how long the metro would take and actually got there a bit late, so we completely missed the worship time. Luckily, however, we didn't miss a second of the message. Esther Berg is an excellent missionary pastor, and I got a lot out of her sermon today. Then, after the service was over, Diane and I joined a bunch of the other girls from the church (most of whom I had already met when I went to the retreat) and went to Nikki's gorgeous apartment for dinner and "girl time." We had a fantastic time. I really love being around the Busan crowd - there are some really foreigners there.

Diane and I left at about 9:00 pm, since we wanted to get back home to Gyeongju at a reasonable hour. We decided to take a train, which is a bit more comfortable than a bus, so we took a cab to Haeyondae station. There we learned, to our chagrin, that the next train wouldn't be leaving until 10:30 (it was 9:20 at this point). We knew that taking the metro back to Napo-dong bus terminal would take at least forty minutes, so we almost reconciled ourselves to waiting and taking the train. After looking at the deceiving metro map, however, we assumed that Napo-dong station was close above ground, and opted to take a taxi there and catch a bus back to Gyeongju. What a mistake!

The driver had no idea where we were telling him to take us at first. Since he didn't understand our pronunciation of the station name, we told him that we wanted to go back to Gyeongju and needed to get to a bus. After the meter in the taxi had gotten past 7000 won, Diane and I started to fret that perhaps the driver had misunderstood and thought we wanted him to take us back to Gyeongju, which would have been ridiculously expensive. With no idea of what to say, we rode in agonized worry. Finally, with the meter at 13,000 (about $13), he dropped us off at Napo-dong station. Were we ever relieved! We rushed inside, only to learn that the next bus was leaving at 10:30! We knew then that we should have taken the train.

Feeling the need for something cold and sweet, we treated ourselves to ice creams, and then went outside to board our bus. There our eyes were met by the sight of an enormous line, which led to the bus we were taking! We knew that there were more people in the line than could fit on two buses, let alone just ours. Big problem! The bus filled and left, and another came in. We started to breathe easily again, only to find out, just as we made it to the steps of the bus, that this one was full, too. The next bus would not be leaving until 11:30, which would have us arriving in Gyeongju at 12:30. The kind Korean woman ahead of us informed us that they were giving people the option of squeezing onto this bus and standing the entire way. Reluctantly, we chose to stand for an hour on the insanely crowded bus. Compared to our situation, sardines have tremendous stretching room.

We finally made it back into Gyeongju at 11:30, shared a cab back to our part of town, and went our separate ways. I got in to my apartment and discovered that my poor puppy has diarrhea again. I hope this isn't an omen for how this next week is going to go!

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"