Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Being Practical Can Still Be Fun

I've made a very painful, agonizing decision. In order to save money for when I get back to the States (and for my Ireland/Morocco adventure), I am not going to take a winter vacation. At least, not a big one. I really wanted to do Saipan for New Year's, but I really can't justify the expense. So, instead I'm going to save money by staying here. To compensate, I've decided to allow myself a few special weekend trips, which will come out at least $1,000 cheaper than one big trip over my Christmas break.

I'm going to have one of my special weekends this weekend. Cirque du Soleil is in Seoul right now, and I have always wanted to see it. The tickets are pricey, but since I'm not doing the big trip, I can go. My plan is to go to Seoul on Saturday morning (as early as possible), visit a museum or two, and then go to the evening performance of the Cirque du Soleil, where I will have a fabulous seat (no nosebleed section for this girl). I'll stay the night at a nice hotel, then go to the aquarium and possibly another museum on Sunday. In the evening, I'll return to Gyeongju. Ordinarily, I wouldn't be able to do a random expensive weekend like the one I'm planning, but, again, without the big trip in December, a few weekends like this are possible.

For another of my weekends, I thought I might go to Fukuoka, Japan. The ferry is reasonably priced, and I can pack my own food so I don't have to pay the expensive Japanese prices. In Fukuoka, I can do some hiking and see some historical sites. I figure November would be a good time to go. For my third special weekend, I'll do a DMZ tour and maybe even visit one of the propaganda villages. I'm planning to that during my winter break, since I can perhaps stay with one of my friends who live in Seoul. I may have time for a few more museums and historical sites on that trip, as well.

I figure three special weekend trips will more than compensate for the lack of a winter vacation. I'll save quite a bit of money, but I'll have loads of fun, and I'll still get to do things that most people never get to do. I'm a little sad at missing Saipan, but I'm obviously going to return to Asia someday, so I can hit it then (and hopefully Malaysia as well).

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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"