April 14-15, 1997

Pusan --> Cheju, South Korea
With my ticket in my hot little hand, I filed my backpack in a pay locker and headed to Nampo-dong to kill the last couple hours before ferrying to Cheju. That place had changed a lot, but still had the great energy that I originally fell in love with. Sadly, there was a triple-decker McDonalds where my favorite record store once stood. I went ahead and ate a Big Mac since I knew it would be rice 3 times a day once I got to the Master's house.

After my brief walk down a distorted memory lane, I made my way back to the ferry terminal. Quite a large crowd had grown outside the terminal, most of them were college-aged girls. It seems a field trip was happening. An all girls university was sending hundreds of their co-eds down to lovely Cheju island for a spell. And we would share the ferry.

The overnight ferry ride passed quickly as one-by-one the students offered up their kimpap to me (not a euphemism), exchanged email addresses with me, and tried out their freshest English skills on me. None of us slept a wink.

We parted on arrival and I found myself alone with all morning and most of the afternoon to pass before the fashion show was scheduled to begin. I sat by myself in a coffee shop for hours, reading my Lonely Planet guide. I shopped a bit and bought some wooden Buddha bead bracelets that I still have. I bought a postcard and mailed it home to my parents. I was a real tourist.
By late afternoon I made my way over to the big outdoor theater where the fashion show was to be held. It was a pleasant April day, and I was in my shirt sleeves. The first familiar face I saw was Kimi's. She was busy busy but stopped to talk it over. Her mom was in a frenzy dealing with models and outfits and whatnot, and The Master had not arrived yet. I went inside and greeted Kimi's mom and looked at some models wearing their persimmon-dyed 갈옷. That was downright decent.

The seats were starting to fill up and I just milled around. I spotted a couple whiteys and before I could avoid them totally they came over and chatted me up. They were young American missionaries. They had a lot more questions about me than I had about them. I've said it before somewhere, but somebody really needs to document some rules of engagement or behavior protocols for expats when they see another expat. Is a greeting required? Or must one avoid even the vaguest acknowledgement? The road cyclists have universal protocols requiring a nod or wave to any other cyclist they see, Taxi drivers from the same company are required to nod or salute each other. Bus drivers too. When are the expats gonna get their act together and agree on what to do?

Soon enough, Yong-i (the Dragon) came up and whisked me off to our seats in the crowd.