friends


wrists tying

Last half of year 2008 passed by in light speed with my students’ graduation exhibition, the end of semester and graduating gathering… among them, last week of December has been a spectacular experience to end a year.

Yes, I decide to make a trip to Ann and Mark’s wedding & post wedding group trip in Thailand almost at last minute and I did the right thing.

This xmas is the first one I couldn’t spend with my family due to my faculty resonsibility during early January. Yeah, it would have been sad to stay in Seoul alone in cold weather during xmas. So, it was a perfect timing, many thanks to Ann & Mark for many more things…

The wedding was beautiful. It was truly global, interactive, technological and traditional and modern. I’ve arrived Chiang Mai in the morning of the wedding day so I missed the dinner before so I didn’t have a chance to introduce myself to many other friends of the couple from Fabrica and ITP (some of ITPers were like a face-matching-with-name game, if you know what I mean.) I’m sure I missed a lot more things on Saturday night. Anyway, food was delicious and I especially appreciate goat stew that Ann’s father specially got them slaughtered with the holy buddhist ceremony and cooked. There were at least 3 DJs that ITP represents at the post wedding party although I had to go to bed soon after 36 hrs of almost no sleep.

Next day, I chose to go to downtown Chiang Mai instead of going to Flying of Bricks. eh, I’ve watched Amazing Race – flying between tall tree branches are not my thing. Instead, I was able to enjoy amazing Northern Thai local cuisine. I found myself that I like northern Thai (close to Laos and Cambodia) food better. I had this amazing chicken soup with egg noodles with an accent of pickled cabbage called, “Khao Soi” I already crave this dish, mmmmmmmmmm.. (Thanks, Jane for taking us there)

pretty rocks that I collected in my heart

After Chiang Mai, we flew down and reassembled at Bangkok airport. That was to ride a double deck bus down to the south in order to take 2 hr speed boat to an island, “Koh Lipe” After 33 of us including the groom and the bride’s family waited around for an hour for this mysterious double deck bus (the most of tour buses are double deck and they are very colorful in Thailand,) we started 14 hr ride bus trip down to the south. It was an adventure. I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t with this cool group of friends.

Now, I have to describe these global artistic geeks from all over the world. If you ask such a question, “Where are you from?” You will get two different answers. Either where their nationalities are or where they are living now. For example, Japanese and Chinese friends are from Amsterdam and a Russian from Shanghai, a spanish from SF in USA… myself, an American in Seoul, Korea….and the list goes on. Through ITP and Fabrica, Ann and Mark are the center of this group.

Back to Koh Lipe, it was beautiful, warm, delicious —- ahhhhhhh! several islands around it was cool to stop by as well. Koh Lipe is dreamy especially someone like me who came from temperature below zero weather.

With a dozen of mosquitto bite marks and sands in my shoes, I returned to this cold reality but, it’s time to daydream another trip to somewhere else. ๐Ÿ™‚

Looking down at Lake Isabella from our camping site

Group shot in the middle of desert with Jay and his friends (from left: Jay(Fire Poker), me(guest of honor ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), sasha(Skinny Raven), mike(Squirrel Chief), Joe(Snow Legs), Pedro(Sky Pointer) and Melissa(another guest of honer) –ย  I think Zelmo, Diane and Debbie already left at this photoshoot.)

As I was giving my brother the news that I would be heading to LA to visit him early August from NYC, he told me that he was planning to go a camping trip with him friends (who I met them at Karaoke party in LA about a year ago…) I said, ‘alright… I guess I’m going to camping. ‘ My brother loves camping and I do like camping as long as it’s less than 3 nights. I thought it would be really comfortable to camp in a nice weather in LA area… guess what? I was wrong – but just to be straight before going into the detail, I did enjoy camping with these cool friends – including my brother. Fun group of people!

When Jay picked me up at the airport… he didn’t seem so happy. It looked like something was bugging him. I was optimistic enough to know that it wasn’t me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Later, I heard that the camping site they reserved got on wild fire and was closed until September and they were looking for the camp site at the last minute… or cancel the whole trip. After finding about hundred mass emails among, umm, them – I’ve learned that we are going to camp and the day we were leaving, I learned that we are heading to “Lake Isabella.” By the name alone, it sounded very promising…

With Joe in the back seat, we got in Jay’s car and after driving about an hour… It was getting really hot, I meant 100 degree. I looked at Jay as feeling the hot wind over the opened windows of the car. “Jay, is your AC broken?” “I didn’t have a time to replace the gas” “oh……!!!” After learning that we are going into the desert (the lake is in the middle of desert) and after not seeing any green for two hours of driving – while looking at the temperature at 110 F… I just knew I had to drink lots of water. Then I learned that we have to drive one more hour.

OK, from that point, my dream of camping like the green Maine forest… was stumbled down like sand. I was thinking… ‘it must be like this driving in Africa.’ After about 3 hrs in the desert heat and hot wind which dries my sweat immediately, we started to see some green… pointy leaved trees that look like half cactus and half tree. I was picking up my hope… then I saw some thin lines of stream… Yay! At least, we are not camping in the middle of desert with no shade… When we finally arrived at the camp site, it was around 6 pm. The sun was still strong. There were few trees with skinny branches which forms some kind of shades… but, at least breeze was nice. After few struggle of agreeing where to camp…, we all started to settle. Of course, when Jay’s friends learned that he drove in the desert without an AC in his car for 3 hrs in the middle of day, they were really shocked. Thanks, Jay!

It was a dry land where wild fire catches up so easily with any friction. Setting a camp fire seemed easy although Jay deligently kept fire going well(that’s where he got his Indian name, “fire poker.” Also, we were looking at this low but large lake in the middle of this desert area. Further more, there was a river in 6 miles up… very refreshing cold water with real trees!!! Drinking several bottles of dequilla and beer with great BBQ hamburgers… we talked and laughed. The camp host was exceptionally friendly to us as well and wanted to learn about us. What a nice guy… he was also very funny.

The night sky was astonishingly beautiful. You could see milky way with your bare eyes…I tried to take photos of them but no success. I saw about 2 to 3 shooting stars but, only managed to make a wish once. No matter what, it was a great camping trip with a great company of people at the end.

New York City street during hot, humid summer night…

My last two weeks in New York city was really humid and hot, oven weather. Usually, I would be sitting in the air conditioned office and working until sunset during summer days but, this time I was back for my summer vacation. I walked in the street almost everyday in the summer heat while going somewhere or doing errands. That resulted nice tanned sandal marks on my feet. ๐Ÿ™‚ I was back to take care of some matters and work on my research projects with some friends and catch up with my friends in the city. The real reason I was back was that I need to keep that connection with this city.

Now I look back, 5 weeks has passed so fast… I haven’t realized how fast it passed therefore I have missed some friends during my stay. I hope they understand that I really wanted to see them all. I also got to meet some friends unexpectedly who I didn’t see that often. It was lovely. I met some new friends even during this short stay ๐Ÿ™‚ I had so many generous helps and care from friends during this trip unexpectedly. I felt that I was very lucky to have such good friends… I was delightfully surprised about their largely generous effort to make my NYC stay meaningful and good.

I had some conversation with my dear friend who I spent decent amount of time together during my stay… I said, “You know, I love being in NYC but, I’m realizing that I don’t really belong here. Obviously, I don’t feel that I belong in Seoul, either.” My friend nodded and said he understood exactly how I felt and he also felt as if he doesn’t belong in NYC. After few seconds passed… “Actually, I don’t belong anywhere.” We almost said at the same time.

During this trip, I have grown closer to certain friends and I felt that our friendships have reached in different levels. It was so nice to chat with such a good understanding of each others. In contrary, I felt some newly formed distance with certain friends of mine who I consider very close… I guess it is natural process of different phases people have. I know we will turn around and our friendship will continue to grow again soon. I will miss them all.

New York still means a lot to me. This is only place I have came back after my first leave and lived the longest compared to any place in the world. 17 years. With my sentiments and other complex things going on inside me, my preparation to leave was again very hectic. On the day of leaving, 5 hours wasn’t enough for me to be back for my car service. After shipping two boxes of mail to Korea additions to other shipments, I was still running around to banks and organizing stuff.

My car service from Korean vendor was waiting for me about 15 minutes in front of my place. After apologizing my lateness to my car service driver, by the time I sat in the backseat, I was sweating like I was in Bikram yoga studio. (yikes, I know) I wiped off sweat on my forehead and drank up a bottle of Vitamin water then said, “JFK, Jet blue, please.”

Here is where my story turns…

The driver is about 50s – middle aged Korean American gentleman and he kept looking at me via back mirror. After few moment as I cooled down a bit, he said I reminded him of his ex-girlfriend who he really loved when he was a college student. I said, “Really?” half believing. But his eyes were serious… a bit even teary. I thought to myself, ‘He is serious.’

He continued, “I have a wife and two kids but, I still love her and I wonder how she is now…” ‘I guess he didn’t marry this love of his life.’ hmmm, I thought to myself again. On the way to airport, he spoke about her more reminiscing his past love.

How strange… I thought I was going to reminisce about New York on the way to JFK but, I ended up sharing his reminisce about his love who he still hasn’t forgotten.

(Well, well, I haven’t posted any blog for days. That’s because I had so much going on and a bit stressed etc, etc. Let me catch up some postings.)

So here we are again, annual BBQ picnic at East River Park near Grand street with a bunch of my Thai friends… The official title was “Tina’s Farewell Party” – Tina, how many farewell parties have you had so far???? ๐Ÿ˜› In any case, it was great to see that many Thai friends of my Thai friends at one place. (friends who Tina claims that they are not really Thai…I was a bit confused but whatever.) Also it was my last day at NYC so, my dear old friend, Lawrence walked with me to the East River park and stay with my friends. Tom showed up much later after we forged all the yummy foods such as Green Papaya Salad, asparagus wrapped with bacon, mushroom wrapped with bacon, corn, Korean Ribs, Pork Ribs, Sausage, spicy marinated Pork, sticky rice, water melon and fruit pie – not to mention they are all home prepared… ๐Ÿ™‚

We also had lots of beer but couldn’t consume much due to the no-bathroom-in-the-park problem. I was really really full by the end of the picnic. Bryan told me then, “You know when asian folks do BBQ picnic, it means a lot of food and when white folks do BBQ picnic, that means a lot of beer.” Hmmm… is that true? In any case, we had enough food and beer.

When we decided to wrap up the picnic around 7 pm, (more b/c of we all had full bladers due to beer) everyone acted on magically efficient and everything was cleaned and packed in such a short time. 10 min? We all walked to East Village together and I wanted to drink at bars since it was my last night at NYC this summer so, we started with other lately joined friends as well on avenue B and that’s another story.

More List:

The Back Room

This hidden bar owned by an actor has a secret room in the back of The Back Room. The cocktails are really good and good crowd during weekdays. I haven’t checked this place during weekend so can’t tell.

Rockwood Music Hall

A good indie music venue on Allen street where you can appreciate American Indie band scene.

Freeman’s

This is an awesome restaurant located at the end of alley at Freeman’s Alley on Rivington street (Note that this alley is not on the google map) Their foods are great, one of the best Bloody Mary I’ve tasted and the restaurant decoration is quite odd but, it works. I had a brunch, “smoked trout” with a cappuccino and a Bloody Mary…and I thought about going back there for a dinner.

Vbar

Their WiFi is unstable but, it’s lovely to sit there with my laptop and a glass of wine and work during late afternoon. Great selection of beer and wines and coffee.

Ludlow street, LES, NYC – enjoy the view before they build another hi rize Co-op building


It’s been like 5 days since I got back to the city after a long, almost unbearable plane ride. Well, it’s still worth it. I always find that it takes about few days for myself to register where I am actually… meaning it takes few days for me not to startle when I jump into the subways and crossing street and walk in the street of these two very different cities in different languages and culture, Seoul & New York.

I’ve met some friends here and there and caught up our lives… mainly updating about my life back In Korea… since it’s new to them. Beside waking up and falling asleep during wrong hours here, I’m slowly finding myself home in my old neigbhorhood, LES & East village. I’ve been hanging out at the familiar restaurants, cafes first… such as Pink Pony’s, Boxcart Lounge, Marumi, Esperando, Cake Shop, Jeeb, Clinton Bakery & co., Bagel Zone then, I visited some new places I haven’t been before like 1492, Heathers and 88 Orchard street. OK, that’s a lot of places I’ve been for last 5 days, then I’m not at my home so it’s rather hard to arrange myself to cook. Also, there are all in walking distance in downtown where I’m staying.

Now, I need to get to the main story of the day – it’s involving both Ludlow and Orchard streets… I was really beginning to enjoy not having to go to work – since I’m in working vacation (whatever that means) and it’s New York, where all singles eat alone without being noticed! I went to cake shop for a large cup of Cafe Au lait and their free WIFI… worked about 2 hrs there then got tired which I knew that’s the sign of hunger that my stomach is giving sign due to my jetlag. So I thought why don’t I visit the lovely Thai Tapas, “Jeeb” It was all peaceful until I almost finished Tom Yum soup and crab rolls sitting alone at the restaurant since I was the only customer by then.

Suddenly, a guy rushed into this narrow restaurant and ran across toward back door to the garden area… passing right front of me. For moment I thought, ‘is this guy running away from someone?’ then I saw the waitress chasing after him with menus probably wondering what he is up to as that was pretty strange… then he was nowhere to found and the cook came to me asked me, “did you just see the guy ran here? did he go to bathroom?” I said, “he didn’t… he went straight to the backdoor” still chewing my crabroll… About few minutes later, next thing I knew was that there were a dozen new york cops rushing into the scene and looking for that guy. They questioned the waitress where he headed and etc…. she pointed toward the back yard where he ran off – toward Ludlow street. When I finished paying my bill, some officers were leaving while commenting, “enjoy your lunch~” I smiled back… ‘right, I’m enjoying… how entertaining!’

It was really lovely afternoon. Perfect dry weather with blue sky… white cotton clouds floating nicely. So, I’ve decided to go for some manicure which I do once or twice a year… turning around the corner heading into Ludlow street and then realized it’s where the back garden of Orchard street leads into… I saw the same group of cops searching the empty construction site… next thing I know was they had him – took him handcuffed… then did more search to find some kinda evidences. I was dying to know what this guy was arresting for but, just simply figured that he must be handling some drugs.. or something. I guess New York City is warming welcoming me back. This is, I guess everyday scene… Honestly, I thought it was really exciting and wasn’t scared at all. It’s just an everyday life thing here. Now, I finally adjusted myself to this city once again.