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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Spending October in Korea

I am very excited about the 50 States Challenge, and I have big plans for it, but those plans have to go on hold for the time being.  I have worried about this greatly, since after visiting only one state, I am going to spend my entire travel budget on a trip to Korea.  It makes it seem like I'm not serious about the 50 States Challenge.

Here's the problem.  I usually visit Korea in August or January, or both if I can.  This is because I can teach at an English camp, which pays enough to cover the cost of the plane ticket and my expenses while I'm there.  They also provide lodging and some meals. It's usually a really good arrangement.  However, this year the camp I usually work had an explosion of interest among teaching applicants, and they filled up before I even sent my application.  So I had to choose between not going to Korea this time, or paying for the trip out-of-pocket.

Well, I'm training with Grandmaster Park in Korea.  I figure for many of you reading this, that doesn't mean anything to you.  But try to imagine having an instructor who was good to you at a time when you desperately needed someone to be good to you.  Imagine having the chance to train with someone who has been deeply involved in martial arts since taekwondo was first finding its identity and even before the name "taekwondo" was conceived.  Imagine having an instructor who not only taught you, but went out of his way for you to a degree that could never be called fair.  Or maybe you have an instructor that awesome and you don't need to imagine.  But suffice it to say there is no force on this earth that can keep me from meeting up with him like I promised back in January.  Even if I have to put the 50 States Challenge on hold.

I've trained with him every chance I get, but only once
did it make the front page of Taekwondo Times.

The other exciting opportunity on this trip is training in taekyun with Master Do Kihyun.  I talked about this a bit in a previous post, and this trip will be a continuation of what I learned from him before.  He told me once that the nearest taekyun school to where I live, as far as he knows, is in Vancouver.  That's only a 30-hour drive away.  As you might imagine, I don't mind travelling for an opportunity like this.

Of course, it's fun, too.

So, why October?  Two reasons.  First, the flights are cheapest in October, whereas August and January are peak seasons.  Unfortunately, that's a stressful concern.  And second, I've always wanted to go back to Korea in October.

The first time I went to Korea, I was there for a year.  I got to experience each yearly occurrence once.  Each season, each festival, each holiday.  The one exception was October.  I got sick in October, and it took me the entire month to get over it.  During that time, the weather was gorgeous and there were a ton of festivals and events, but I couldn't attend any of them because I couldn't exactly breathe.  I told myself that someday when I'm rich I'll return for the month of October and do it properly.  Well, I'm not rich, but I'm motivated.

How I spent my first October in Korea, except without Darth Vader.

I'll have a lot to tell about this trip, and I hope you enjoy it.  I'm anticipating stories about travel, culture, martial arts, and history.  I also have a couple more posts from Washington that will go up soon.  I will be posting one article per week until I run out of interesting stories to tell, but I am all too aware that when I get home, I'll to have to spend some time earning back all the money I'm pouring into this before I can resume the 50 States Challenge.  I hope I don't have to go into complete radio silence while I'm doing that, but if I do, know that I will be back.

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