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. Breathing deeply, I found a convenient seat beside a window and wrote what what I saw 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 an anonymous 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.