Fascinating conversations in Korea (Day 229)
We really do meet some amazing people whilst travelling. I know that are plenty of amazing people back home, yet sadly perhaps I didn’t make an effort to speak with strangers like we do now. And today more fascinating conversations in Korea.
The day started chatting with Magnus from Sweden while we were eating our breakfast. He is a Junior doctor so we talked about health. I have been reading Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s book The 4 Pillar Plan, recommended to me via an FB post by my friend Claire. It is a fascinating book and the 4 pillars are about how to relax, eat, move and sleep. I couldn’t believe that since 1996 the number of Britons diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes has grown from 1.4 million to 3.5 million and it is costing the NHS more than £1 million per HOUR! The majority of this could have been avoided if people reduced the amount of sugar they ate. Anyhow, getting back to our chat, it seems as if Sweden has the same problem and Magnus said that the most frustrating thing is that so often people unnecessarily suffer due to either not realising the help that they can get or not adhering to recommended diets. The conversation flowed from health to immigration to the recycling revolution in Sweden. Tim read yesterday in the BBC news that US citizens produce around 120kg of plastic waste per person every year; UK = 76kg and Sweden = 18kg. We really do have such fascinating conversations with people. Later in the day, after a bit of chillaxing and washing clothes, we caught a bus to the Gwangju Museum of Art. Sadly it was closed, despite google informing us that it was open. After popping into a café next door I noticed that the door to the Museum was open so we walked in. One of the staff stopped us, informing us that museums are always shut on Mondays. Tim updated google. It was a lovely day, a patchwork of blue sky amongst the white cloud, with a light breeze cooling us down from the 30 degrees heat. The Museum is located in Jungoe Park which also includes a Folk Museum and an Exhibition Hall. It’s a beautiful area with many wonderful art installations, trees pruned in niwaki style, paths through a wooded area to an outdoor auditorium. We had a wonderful walk around and then I needed to visit the restroom (as they are called here). When I came out, I found Tim talking with an elderly man. He greeted me warmly and introduced himself as “Park” – ah, the second Park we have met in a few days. (I have just googled the name and apparently it is the third most frequent Korean royal surname, traditionally traced back to King Hyeokgeose Park. Crikey, were we talking with royalty I wonder?) We stood chatting to Park for probably 90 minutes and again, what a fascinating conversation we had. Much of our discussions were about Politics. He was very much a fan of Trump, saying that he hoped the man would save Korea and bring peace. Mmm…We have very different views about Trump, however, it was a very genial conversation. We moved onto Brexit – at least we all agreed on that subject…then moved to religion. A difference of opinion for some of it but not all. Park was so well read and so knowledgeable about politics around the world. We both very much admired him. And all of this long conversation was, of course, in English. It wouldn’t have been so interesting in Korean. Our breadth of Korean words hasn’t grown much. I think we also, in a small way, enabled Park to reflect on some things we discussed. He seemed to regret things from the past. What is the use of using a lot of energy on regret? Surely it is better to learn the lesson and then forgive oneself and move on. We cannot change the past. We said a fond farewell and later got a taxi to Art Street in the Gung-Dong area. Sadly most of the shops were closed by the time we got there, however it was nice to wander around. We did go in one shop to look at the massive calligraphy brushes. I have seen a video of a lady using one of these massive brushes – absolutely mesmerising. Onto Dongmyeong-Dong, where we went with Juhwang on Saturday evening. Some more walking – I did want to ensure I got my 10,000 steps in, and a delicious very filling dinner to end yet another wonderful day having fascinating conversations in Korea.