The outgrown haunting trees in Gyeongsangbuk-do Forest, Gyeongju.

This was not a usual day for me. I feel different waking up. As I take off my cozy blanket I can feel the excitement running through my nerves pumping out an extra gallon of blood, preparing me for the adventure ahead. It has been months since I have traveled outside Busan (the city I reside) due to Covid restrictions but now that we have been getting used to the situation, I decided to travel safe to my dream destination, Gyeongju. I have planned three times but slipped out of the opportunity. But this time, I’ve made it possible.

On the way to the historic city, I chose to walk which sounded better while wandering through the woods. The breeze blowing chilled my veins and the huge scary trees haunted my soul for a moment. This ends at a point of a woody forest (which was artificially made) housing tons of gigantic trees. I feel my heart warm. This was a moment I felt I was missing home for this whole time. I thought to have a stop here and carpe diem.

I had to find the best ever place for me to fit into the scene and mingle myself with nature. Finding a perfect spot is difficult rather than any hiking I have done to end up in this place. Yet finally, I managed to find “my very own spot” and set up my territory there. I was prepared to read a book, write a blog, and sync into a peaceful song. I brought Murakami’s Norwegian Wood with me here. I don’t know why no matter how many times I have read it I feel like this would be the best choice to at this moment. Plugged in my headphones with a collection of Zack Hemsey and started reading the book while having a sip of cold, black coffee. I found myself lost in the book for more than a couple of hours just when I realized a smooth, silky fur ball beside my legs. He was a milky white Sapsali playing next to me. I wanted to touch and pat him but in Korea, you can’t touch the pets without the consent of the owner. So I looked up searching for his dog lord. None was there but I cute five-year-old year bearing an apologizing look on her face. I understood her embarrassment and said “It is fine” in English yet she remained still. Then I realized she might have not got what I intended to say and said “gwaenchanh-a” (fine in Korean). She felt relieved and nodded her head in amusement. Then I asked her whether I can pat her dog and I think she was extra delighted by the offer and admitted to play along. We didn’t play talk much though since I speak only a bit of Korean and she speaks no English. Yet we managed to play along with the help of Ken (That was the name of the dog). The bonding didn’t last long she had to leave because her parents showed up. She got up and bowed at me (Korean courtesy of respect) and I nodded my head. She waved goodbye and Ken wagged his tail, back at me.

I was looking at them walking towards their parents. I should get going; instead, I got caught in a moment. Back in the days when I first came to Korea, I thought I would never make it mostly because of the language difficulties. I struggled even to accomplish a simple matter. I took my Korean learning seriously throughout the months even I had heavy working days in my lab. At times I’ve felt this as a useless burden to suffer. Yet today, I felt contented not because a five-year-old showed up but I made myself able to talk through my numb feelings towards people and left an imprint. I might not meet her again but I am pretty sure I will be there in her stories of how she became friendly with a total stranger.

This day has been quite a memory steeped in nostalgia. I found my emotions blended with the correct amount of mood, music, and ethos of a five-year-old. Is this what means to be quiet, peaceful, and calm? It sure feels impeccable!