Everywhere I looked, women seemed to be brave the odds of tripping and challenged gravity on an everyday basis. Their pointed footwear didn’t deter them from hopping up and down escalators or running on Seoul’s intricate subway system. In one of those inexplainable moments, I too had a momentary lapse of reason, and for some strange reason – thought I could do the same.
“The first sign to show that you’ve been living far too long in one place, is when, you desperately try to mimic locals. It’s a camouflage that rarely works.”
Our journey (over the weekend) would take us from Seoul to Busan. The unwritten dress code for the day was ‘formal’. There was no mountain in the picture. A client meet (for Basil), perhaps a few subway stairs and a KTX train ride couldn’t have been all that bad.
Basil’s colleague doubled as our affable Korean guide for the day. As Basil and he walked ahead, I trudged slowly behind. Clearly, I had to admire the women of Seoul. Maybe, I had missed something. Basil’s colleague seemed concerned that I may not be able to walk and looked worriedly. All I could think of, were the ‘walks’ we’d been on, and hours of walking in my comfy sneakers. Why was this so difficult?
After their client meet, Basil’s colleague decided that we ‘must’ see Beomeosa temple. There we were, waiting for a train, standing in the corner, and afterwards running for a bus to take us up the mountain. Despite my sore feet, I must confess, the ride to the apex of the mountain was stunning. We saw hikers huffing along the pavements, but enjoying every bit of the climb. I cursed my wedges. This would have been a wonderful route to hike. The paved road made it look simple.
Bad decisions always have a way of biting back. Wedges and mountains don’t go well together. Here we were, on the top of the mountain, in the midst of nowhere, surely there was no reason to walk anymore. One would think, the temple would lie just beyond the gate. No more walking or climbing. And that’s when, I saw a another stairway and then another. At this point, I had to remove my shoes. It was easier and although, I didn’t see anyone else doing the same, I think it is an acceptable thing to do in a Buddhist Temple.
The view from the main temple was spectacular. It was worth it. To sit there in the silence and take it all in. Forget about my shoes or how tired I was. The serenity and tranquillity of the temple seemed to drown all the noises in my head. The bad decisions that I had made for the day or my life – didn’t matter. I was grinning more broadly than the Cheshire cat.