Final Post From Seoul, 2012

There’s the window. There’s the city beyond it. I’ve been looking out of it for two years, but now it’s getting boring. Give me more data. Get me on a plane, to a new environment. I’ve promised myself that. The metropolis is no longer turgid with sensory input. Yes, I’ll miss it all, the smoky galbi restaurants, riding solo on the Han River with forehead sweat refusing to evaporate into warm, humid air; ice reflecting headlamps in the the long winter months, the ghostly decay of the subway train pulling out of a neon station in the late evening. Stimuli too abundant and rich to be quantified and counted, a thick data torrent snaking through the bedweb of undercity cables.

It’s all three-dimensional, popcorn and coke and soft seats. It takes no stretch of the imagination to be in Oz, somewhere faraway. Every day a flipbook mega-identikit of schoolgirl face recognition requests, the welcoming attention thieves of my corridor strolls. Data, begging to be processed, downloaded.


Evenings at my place. Software. Violin. Volume. Cables. Speakers. Mike. Guitar. Neighbors. LEDs and the aircon hum. Corners of cabling, bunching underfoot, wired to the world. The florescent forehead of the 402, blinding the sidewalk as it roars past in the 6-laner below. Evening falls from the ceiling, buildings grown on the horizon, feeding me with new data, subtle changes to the busy system. Defrosted dumplings and the faulty freezer door.

All these things, yes, sir, I’ll miss em.

T minus ten days till a big adventure. Hanoi to Jakarta on a bicycle. When I sum up the trip in so few words, it always seems necessary to clarify that I’m skipping Thailand by flight, or that I’m possibly dismounting halfway and continuing on foot, or that I may also use public transport while cycling.

I feel that omitting these small details would be cheating, as if I’m pawning off my travels as something greater. But succinctly summarize must I, for I’ll most likely be explaining it every day to people with less than perfect English, and my teaching days are over for a while. Floor piles: to be packed; to be shipped; sold; given away; thrown away.

I’m trading in my life for something better.

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2 thoughts on “Final Post From Seoul, 2012

  1. Troy (in Bangkok) says:

    Congrats, John. That sounds like an unbelievable trip; kudos on putting the logistics together. We traded emails as I was heading to Seoul (about your bike, which was for sale) and I’ve been enjoying your blog since. Keep the updates coming.

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