Before landing at the Shanghai airport, I had an 18 hour layover in South Korea. As a second generation Korean American, I had the opportunity to see many of my extended family members from my mother’s side. Last time I arrived at the Seoul airport, I went to the town of Ilsan (일산) by bus. However, my uncle, dad, and grandmother came this time to meet me at the airport. It was strange to have my dad welcome me, since we live together in California and all. He went to Korea about two weeks earlier to visit his younger brother, his friends, and the in-laws.
After having dinner, we came back to my grandmother’s apartment. Soon afterward, three of my aunts came to see me as well. We were watching a professional baseball game on TV while catching up. I was happy to hear that all my cousins were studying hard, graduating college, and finding jobs. Everyone was very curious about the traveling endeavor I was about to embark on. Why I decided on it, how I will do it, and what I hope to gain from it. All of them were nervous, but very excited for me.
Early next morning, my dad and I took a stroll through the lake that’s right next to my grandmother’s apartment. Although much of the leaves have already fallen, some trees still held onto them. Looking upon true autumn foliage…it was just absolutely gorgeous. The colors ranged from yellow, orange, red, to purple! As we were walking around, I can sense that my dad was concerned about my trip to China and Vietnam. Probably because I am traveling alone again and because of my recent cycling accident. When we came back, we went to my dad’s favorite chicken stew (삼계탕) place.
My dad and grandmother walked me to the bus stop to head back to the airport. My dad and I parted along the way so he can meet up with his friend. While waiting for the right bus to come, my grandmother kept reminding me to be careful and to make sure I always eat well. Grandmothers…am I right? Just as I was getting onto the bus, my dad popped out of nowhere to say goodbye one last time and said, “Don’t get yourself killed!” Looks like my old man’s getting a little soft. Hahaha.