On Again, Off Again ---

5:01 AM Jessica Montgomery 0 Comments

School has started back up again. And the weather is changing as quickly as the Daejeon-expat dynamic. The new Daejeon-teachers Welcome Party was this past weekend at one of our favorite watering-holes, and I must say it was somewhat of a surreal moment. My past and future were churning together in a cocktail full of soju and mixed emotions. Kate and I took our first cab ride in Korea to get to our Welcome Party (back in the day). We had no idea where we were going, and once we hit the bright lights of Time World, our doe-eyed expressions beamed back with an equal amount of luster. It's crazy to think that was a year ago already. I dare say, the shiny appeal of the Time World nightlife has yet to leave my eyes... Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Probably a bad thing.



Speaking of school, who says you can't accomplish a life-long dream while sitting at your desk? Not me. And I'll prove to you why. This morning I went ahead and booked my ticket to Kyoto, Japan for the upcoming Chuseok holiday. Chuseok is only two weeks away. Two weeks to the day actually. I've never booked an overseas trip so last minute. It kinda snuck up on me. I guess my mind has been on Vegemite and Koalas these past couple months...  But yes! Chuseok. The first vacation of the new school year.
(Can I just sit back and pause for a moment. Back to back months of overseas travel? *wide eyes* Damn. Alright, life. Touche.)

Japan has always been #2 on my Places I've Always Wanted To Go Since I Was Little List. (Number two right behind Australia, and  #3 was Thailand.) I can't remember what I was reading or watching, it might have been an Anthony Bourdain episode even, but I recently heard an interesting comment on the United States' (general) love for Japanese "culture" (I put "culture" in quotations for a reason. I'll explain.). Whoever it was, made the observation that we, as a general whole, gravitate towards Japan as the one Asian nation that we claim to understand above all others. I'd say that's pretty accurate. We romanticize Japan. But I think it's safe to say that the general knowledge of true Japanese culture is somewhat low. Myself definitely included. What do we (the common man, having never been) really know about Japan? Sushi? Geisha? Samurais? Cars? Whatever has been spoon fed into popular culture? Is that it? What's the draw? What's the underlying factor that lures us? Even with our nations' complex history, how did Japan become the one Asian nation that almost every American wants to visit? I'm speaking for myself as an American of course. How is it that I, as a little girl, knew I wanted to one day go to the Land of the Rising Sun? It's interesting to think about. I don't think it's a bad thing by any means. I'm just proposing the question: Why Japan?

Anyways. Kyoto: The heart of Japan's old culture. I am beyond excited. This will also be the first time I will travel alone-alone. Sure I boarded a plane to Korea by myself, but I had an EPIK safety net upon arrival. In Japan, it'll be me and a map. I used to say that I never saw the appeal of traveling alone...but the more people I talk to who have, and the more I think about the intent of this trip in particular, I can see the draw. It's going to be a personal trip; compiled of many factors, reasons, and nuances. I'm staying in Gion which is the setting of one of my favorite books: Memoirs of a Geisha. I'm going indulge my National Geographic fantasy by photographing my way through every side street possible. And I'm going to attempt to scratch the surface of the question I proposed above. -Or at least, as much scratching as one can do in 4 days time.

Regardless. I'm excited. Not a bad way to celebrate turning 25, eh?

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