Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ride of life to Korea!

I was thinking about how I got to Korea. Sometimes I guess we all need the willingness to point ourselves in the direction of the unfamiliar, unknown, and possibly even unsafe. But still to look in that direction and take those first small steps that will inevitably lead us to hopping onto the "ride of life" that will lead us down a mysterious path, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad, but always with wonder. For me, it starts with something small like a "hello" to a stranger, a quick read of job advertisements on the net, or a "Why not?" to a friend proposing an idea off the top of his or her head, but soon I find myself across the city, state, or even world, totally inundated with an unusual variety of sensations and experiences. It has not all been for the good and I have missed out on many things. Not watching my niece and nephew grow up are at the top of my list, but Africa and Asia and all the other adventures in between have also made me richer in ways I did not know, or couldn't have known before. And for me, it all started with a willingness to look into a path of life that I either thought was ridiculous, unnecessary or strange, but regardless, to take a few steps anyway just to see where it led me.

Being a foreigner in an interesting country, I often go to bed at night wondering with complete surprise about the events of my day. These were events that I in no way had planned for myself when I started off my seemingly normal day. Here is a little story of something that happened to me just this week.

I have been in negotiations to buy an old car from and old friend in Seoul. One of those deals that may or may not go through, or may or may not be a great deal. Who really knows these things? So, I was talking around to some people and I told a girl at my gym about this little bitty blue car I was going to buy for about $1500. If you want to know what it looks like, just think of a blue golf cart on steroids. Yes, it is one of those. It has great gas mileage, is really easy to park, but definitely won’t be good for my image. Anyway, the price is right, so I went around asking my friends if it was a good deal when a girl at my gym told me, “No. I know a place where you can get the same car for half the price.” Well, half the price sounded good to me so I asked her if she could help me out. She told me that one of her mom’s friends has a dealership, manages one, or something like that, and she would be more than happy to take me there.

A couple days later I get a call, “Are you free?” she asks.
“Why not?” I say, and I was off.
This is how one little step in an unknown direction leads me down a path of surprises. First a “hello” to a stranger at a gym, then a “why not” to an offer for help, then next thing I know I am on my way. I was imagining a short little trip to the car dealership to look around for ten minutes and then back again, but just in case I brought a large chunk of cash and my debit card because who knows what can happen. First, she came to pick me up at around 4:30 PM. Her mom was in the car and we all set off together. Next, we got lost. After driving around for a while, then making a phone call, then driving around more, we finally figured out what to do; we picked up her dad. Now it was me and her whole family on a trip together. It turns out the car dealership was on the other side of town and that her mom’s contact is merely the husband of a lady in her exercise class. I realized that her mom has no pull. By the time we got there I expected a normal…. okay, maybe sleazy car salesman to come out and try to sell me a wrecked car for double the price. Actually, the man was really nice, but yes, the car was a wrecked and recently fixed for double the price, not half. That is the way it goes I guess.

Next, her parents decided to take me to get some dinner. I couldn’t really refuse at this point. Once I was already so deep in this experience, I was kind of locked in and on cruise control for the rest of the night. After quickly running some errands we were off to dinner. They took me to a little noodle place that was, well, I am not exactly sure where it was, but I had the best Korean noodle soup I have ever had. The noodles had a wonderfully soft but chewy texture and the broth was very richly flavored with little chunks of seafood in it.

Strange I know, this long blog for the point of telling how I stumbled upon the best Korean noodle soup of my life. But it came as a total surprise to me at the time and I had no idea when I woke up that morning that I would be in for such a small but tasty little treat. I guess my point is that sometimes saying, “Why not?”, leads me to have a big adventure that leads me across the world, although sometimes I just end up across town having a good bowl of noodles, and sometimes something far less, but regardless very often I end up with a surprise. So, I would like to say happy adventures and surprises to all of you.