November Train

A hiking weekend in Gwangju with ten strangers who became ten friends.  Five people dashing through an extremely crowded terminal with 5 minutes to make the train.  I found a convenient seat beside a window and wrote what was outside.

The endless concrete skyscrapers slowly give way to the crumbling tiled roofs of generational living, subsistence farming and barefoot children kicking beat up balls.  Train tracks slowly drift within the pastoral landscape providing a dismal distant soundtrack to this quiet land.   Stooped, forever hunched ajummas.  Lonely old men, hands in pockets, collars turned to the evening wind, walk along grassy paths among filthy shrubs littered with garbage, scattered among the perfect rows of cabbages and soybeans.  Mountains looming in the misty background, whispering of ancient Buddhist mantras and forgotten battles.  Rice paddies glowing in the dusky pink sunset.  Silhouettes of the hills extending far into the horizon with random Asian houses and bare deserted sheds at their footsteps.  Greenhouses in smooth white lines beside the dirt fields.  Power lines crawling along every visible corner of the scenery.  Kashmir plays on my iPod, laughs and conversation of a relaxing weekend reverberating through my sleepy synapses and never questioning how I got here, only that it is here.  Passengers finding their way, baggage of their life, moving away or toward where they want to be.  A large gothic church with a neon red cross peeking over the small one story homes, keeping its silent, pious vigil over the diligent, dutiful citizens of a nameless town.  The night lights appear over the quiet countryside and darkness settles upon the Sunday streets.  They disappear by my window as quickly as they arrived and damp clouds laze alongside our train, pillowing our travel.  This is when observation gives way to transportation and the goal of returning home overtakes the adventure of moving.

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2 thoughts on “November Train

  1. Hey, William! I just got off the phone from a long conversation with your mom and we got very caught up on the Sabia life. Then she sent me your latest blog and all I can say is, you have all the makings of a writer! Your travelog (sp) reads like an old Michener novel – very engaging from the get go. I wish you all the best of luck in your Korean journey/adventure. I know someone whose daughter is over there somewhere doing the same thing you are. I can imagine you are having the time of your life. Well deserved, too.

  2. Dear William–Wow.WOW and Wow!! I thought I was reading a great novel by some famous, well-known published author in your message about the train trip. I hadn’t gotten anything for many days, so it was a very bright spot in my Wed. morning try to regain some control of this black monster!! I am about to check every avenue possible and hope to find some solutions. I sent a small package to you yesterday (14th) and will be interested to see how long it takes. Went to the Phoenixville P.O. and don’t know how long it has been since I have been in it, but has to be years!! Just had dinner with Jack last night and with your folks on Sunday eve.. Your Mother roasted the biggest chicken (8 lb.) I have seen in ages and had lots to go with it too!! Guess I had better quit here before it gives out on me, but thanks for your wonderful word pictures , I am traveling with you!! Love–Gam

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