Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Old Friends, Ancient Walls

I had really been looking forward to Wednesday's hike on the Seoul Fortress Wall of Mt. Bugaksan, and I have to say it more than lived up to my expectations. Unlike Sunday's hike with Rebekah, which was all about navigating the rocks, this one was about the stairs. Up stairs and down stairs, the trail followed several kilometers of the ancient wall whose first section was built in 1396.

This mountain is in the heart of Seoul. The views down to the city were spectacular. The wall isn't really visible when you are down in the city proper, at least not from the parts of Seoul where I have been. I didn't even know it existed until Rebekah said she had done the walk with her hiking club.

In 1968 some North Korean commandos managed to sneak into Seoul and attempted to ravage the Blue House. Security measures have since been put in place to guarantee there isn't a second try. This means every person walking the trail has to show their passport and sign in before being allowed access. You are given a number to wear around your neck and warned to only take pictures in designated spots. Spying is strictly forbidden.

Guys in blue are stationed all over, making sure you stay on the path and follow the no picture rule. I found out when taking the picture of the deer (yes, it was a real deer), that they weren't joking about the picture thing. The tree with the circles painted on it is called the Incident Pine Tree. The rings show the bullet holes from the battle with the North Korean commandos.

I am breaking tradition in today's blog post and not showing any food pictures. This isn't because Wednesday night's dinner wasn't good. It was! But this meal was about something way more important than food. It was about relationships.

A couple of years ago, through Facebook, I was able to reconnect with some very good friends from my years spent living up north in Fort St. John. While there are many negative things one could say about the social quagmire that Facebook is, I have to say this ability to find long-lost friends is a point in its favour. Bill was the pastor of the Presbyterian church I attended, and his wife Diana and I were very good friends. We eventually escaped the north, and they did as well. Life found us on two sides of the country, then, after they became missionaries in Africa, halfway around the world from each other. As the years went by we eventually lost touch with each other.

Imagine my surprise two years ago when their son Liam sent me a friend request on Facebook! I discovered they are now residing in Korea, and as soon as I knew I was coming to visit Rebekah we planned a reunion. Last night Liam, Bill, Diana and I sat down to dinner together for the first time in over twenty years! What a treat it was to reconnect with them.

We talked and laughed and shared stories together for almost three hours, and if time had allowed I'm sure we could have gone on for many more. I was so caught up in our conversation that I forgot I had my camera with me, so don't have many pictures to share of our evening together. But that's okay, because a camera can't capture the important thing, the thing that made this evening so special - friends reconnecting, sharing their hearts and life stories with each other, so happy to have crossed paths in this warm-hearted country after all these years. I hope we don't have to wait so long until our paths cross again!

I promise there will be more food pictures in my next blog post! Here's the random collage of the day.

Top left to right clockwise: Food drying on a roof; a motorcycle policeman (he reminded me of a comic book character); brooms for sale; ripe melons at the market


  1. Fascinating that you were able to connect after all these years. I, too, moan about Facebook, but then it's all worth it when it affords you an experience like this.

    What did the commandos do when you took the picture of the deer? Because I happened to look down at the picture of the bullet holes next and thought, "OH NO!!!" ;-)

  2. My friend has told me about that wall walk - sounds wonderful! And how neat that you got to connect with your friends again.