Saturday, February 18, 2012

{Mom and Dad in Korea: Part Five}

Korea is known for its public bath houses and spas.  Most Koreans live in small apartments without bathtubs (oh how spoiled Ryan and I were last year when we had one) so public baths are used to relax and bathe.  My parents and I were able to enjoy a well-earned day at Spaland, the nicest bathhouse in Busan on their last day in town. 

We soaked our feet in the steaming hot water of the outdoor foot baths.

We later relaxed in a few of the many co-ed steam rooms and dry saunas, all with varying temperatures and health claims.  Then the men and women parted ways to visit the single-sex baths, a somewhat daunting experience for us westerners.

 Visitors to the single-sex baths shed the uniform issued upon arrival at the spa and enter a large room where everyone is naked.  Yep, naked.  Women are lounging in pools and meandering around to find the perfect bath to take a soak.
It's a bit uncomfortable at first, but after the initial awkwardness you get over it and embrace the opportunity to test out a variety of warm pools and saunas.  

Awww relaxation.

With the busy sightseeing adventures of the previous week and a half, Spaland was the perfect way to end my parents' time in Korea.  We had a great time together.

Later that evening when the time came, it was really difficult for me to say goodbye to them.  I shed a lot of tears.   
A lot.

Usually it's easy to block out the things that are happening back at home.  If we don't dwell on the birthdays, weddings, happy hours and everyday bits and pieces of life in the US that are taking place without us, it's easier to avoid thinking about them.

Most of the time we're able to in a way, block out that part of our lives, and focus on the life we have here.  But with my parents in Korea it was almost as if  my two worlds collided.  
Don't get me wrong--It felt so good to spend every meal with them, to share our daily cocoa and conversation, and to show them the life Ryan and I have been living for a combined year and a half in Asia.  I wouldn't have traded their visit for anything.  But for the first time in a long time, I had a feeling of real homesickness.  That feeling in the pit of your stomach where you truly long for something.  I don't mean longing for the silly little things like margaritas, an English speaking hairstylist or access to my favorite magazines and books--but for the people I love who are thousands of miles away.  With my parents here I realized that if I didn't live across the world from my loved ones, I could see them as often as I wanted to.

The winter weather doesn't help the mood here either.  It's much easier to relish our life abroad when every weekend is spent reading a book at the beach or visiting a new outdoor restaurant on a sunny summer evening.  

Last year at this time we were wrapping up our first year away.  We were excitedly planning our Southeast Asia trip and knew that it wouldn't be long before we'd see our family and friends again.  But that's not the case this winter, where the stubborn season seems to be dragging its heels without much to look forward to.

However, on Thursday night we were home from work before dark.  That hasn't happened since autumn.  The waning blue sky we saw from our rooftop gave me hope that the days are getting longer.  I know that someday soon we'll see the year's first cherry blossom.  And I also know that being away from home will soon be easier as well.

By now my parents are halfway through their tour of Southeast Asia.  After Korea their itinerary included stops in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.  I'm so happy they were able to visit us and see Asia for the first time.

Hope you're having a blast Mom and Dad.  
We loved having you and we already miss you.


  1. Aw, so sweet.
    I agree. It's really hard being away though obviously my "away" is not quite as far as you are my challenges are different (putting up with bad New Jersey hair and clothes) and I'm able to get Mexican food whenever I want (well not really but that's another story). :-)
    In all seriousness, I hope in the not too distant future we're all together on a regular basis. No more of this "once a year/twice a year" nonsense. It just plain sucks! I do a lot of that "blocking out" myself. If I think about it too much I just get bummed out and for now, it is what it is. I will say it makes me value the time we have together even more and there just is no taking for granted.
    It looks like you guys had a wonderful time. I've enjoyed following your adventures from afar and thought of the time you were spending together, often. xoxo

  2. SO relate to this post - could've have said it better myself. Living abroad is such an amazing experience, and one that many people don't get to experience. But as amazing as it is, there are times when you wonder why you're doing it - why you CHOSE to be so far from the people you love and all these huge life events. It's all worth it in the end - but know that you're not alone in these feelings.

    Also, we ALMOST went to a day spa out here that sounds a lot like the spa you went to. Except it's co-ed and no bathing suits are allowed PERIOD. We will try it someday, but chickened out last weekend. That's how it is everywhere here, so I guess we'll just chalk it up to another "European Experience" when we do finally go! :)