In our house, the Travel Channel and Rick Steves' PBS show are some of our favorite places to veg on the TV. We especially enjoy watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. His wry, cynical, yet loving look at people in far away places through the language of food and hospitality captures our family's love and experience of travel.
My oldest son, Troop, has long had the travel bug. His latest venture has taken him to South Korea for a year to teach English. He's begun a blog called The Virtue of Wandering. I highly recommend it. Not just because I'm his father, but more so, because he is a keen observer of his surroundings. Here are a couple of his initial reflections.
What will stay with me the most from this place, I already know, long
after sights and events have faded into soft focus, are the smells. To
a Westerner, they are completely and utterly unfamiliar and
overpowering. I’m used to the smell of woods, wet grass, the earthy
aroma of decomposing leaves. Or if I’m in town, the reek of car fumes
and asphalt on a hot day. But here in Korea, just walking down the
street you come across odors that can make the unprepared almost gasp
for air. What the hell is that smell?
I think at the root of this matter is that Korea is an ancient society
and a Confucian one. Their whole concept of self and its relationship
to the whole is fundamentally different, for it is about harmony, about
one’s place in the world, within the established order, and not
deviating from it. Short of being inside a Korean’s head, I really
don’t think that Westerners can fully grasp the significance of this.
We in the West have a fundamentally different understanding of ideas, of
objects and their relation to us and to others. We are Greek, whether
we like it or not, believers in logic, ideals, in the primacy of the
way an individual conceives of and approaches Truth. We argue and
debate, trying to extract what we can define as Right and Correct from
that clash. Here in Korea, they do not think like that. How do they
think? . . . well, I have even less of a clue now.
Here are links to his first three postings.
Make sure you subscribe to Troop's site. Follow his life immersed in a world very different than ours here in Western North Carolina.