Paralympic Travel Odyssey

Usually, my approach to big trips is to largely ignore them (besides taking care of details like checking the passport expiration) until I’m on my way. This time, heading for South Korea for a month, leaving in a couple of days, I’ve been doing a bit more stewing. Don’t get me wrong, it is very exciting. First time to Asia. Our son competing on the world stage. Having Ruby and Eli join us for part of the time. And then following up the games with two more weeks of travel with Sawyer. All pretty damn cool. There will be stories!

At the same time, I go back to my usual bias on travel adventure, which is that I’d far rather be dropped off in the middle of nowhere and figure things out than, in this case, be dropped into a country and culture utterly foreign, exotic and challenging on many levels. Totally undecipherable language and signs for starters. An absolute antpile of humanity – this is a country of 40 million the size of Indiana, and much of it is too steep to live on. A small town in South Korea is 500,000 people. Then there’s the angst of getting around, finding our AirBNB, reuniting with the kids, trying to communicate – all in the knowledge of how limited my tech abilities really are. What could go wrong, right?

A friend who spent several years in South Korea recently said it’s like landing in a country where everyone wears their underwear backwards. Once you get past the different habits and customs, you just go with it. So yeah, maybe we’ll come home with some different underwear styles.

Another friend who spent time in S. Korea in the 80s went over from Japan for a weekend and ended up spending two months because he loved the people, the food, the country so much. “They finally kicked me out because my visa was up,” he said.

My strategy, at this point, is to go with it. This is no official tour. We’ll go, we’ll check things out, we’ll follow local intel and travel tips, we’ll eat some strange and wonderful and maybe alarming food, we’ll go to baths and get scrubbed til we bleed, we’ll hike and bike and island-hop. We’ll no doubt have some sobering, culturally awkward, maybe dangerous, certainly hilarious, escapades. We are almost certainly not fully prepared. We’ll do our best, get help from our children, lean on the good nature of locals, and then, kind of appropriately, we’ll return on April Fool’s Day, back to Seattle and the land of things familiar. By then, no doubt, it will be a great relief to be home, to look back on our silly anxieties, and we will look at our turf with new eyes.

Why does everyone wear their underwear that way???

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