We were both a little late when we met, as both of our schedules were pushed back for a bit. Gyeongju Is wearing a Gyeri overall with a simple UNESCO necklace that comes with afew sparkling pendants around it, signifying the many amazing landmarks that she carries. I couldn’t have missed out on her as she’s carrying a huge white cello case. I got off the bus and hastily made my way towards her, where she was leaning against the wall on her right as her cello case was strapped to the back. Gyeongju seems like the simple kind of girl next door who doesn't doll up much, but still looks graceful the way she is.
“안녕하세요”, I managed with my delicate Korean while asking for her introduction.
“저는경주입니다”, she smiled weakly and said.
"I'm Ronnie!, 만나서 반가워요 Gyeongju", I said, trying to put what I know to good use while gesturing.
"만나서 반갑습니다, 너의 한국어는 좋다!", she said, exclaiming for abit. I got lost for abit, and I decided to just put it out there that my Korean could barely save my life.
"My Korean...못해요! My Korean, bad", I laughed and said!
"괜찮아, ah... My English, very bad!", she said.
"Ah, it's okay! Uhmmm, here", I dug my pocket for my phone and pulled out the Google Translate App. Google Translate became our best friend as my phone swap hands momentarily as we walk and “talk”. It was quite a funny moment that I won’t forget. It also makes me want to pick up some Koreans just so it’ll make things more convenient. She’s working within her mum at their Hanok bed and breakfast where she hosted me
We walked out along the traditional walls that felt like the greying hair of Gyeongju's granny. After all, we are revisiting her family compound this time. I noticed alot of traditional buildings over here, from temples to tombs. It is funny how we rarely talk, but just smiles and laugh most of the time. I tried getting some nice photos for her while thinking that I might help her get some shots for the gram. It only took me so long to realize that she doesn't use Instagram. She bought me the compound and we walked across the forest, and she bought a sausage for us to share because she could see me getting cold. It was really sweet, and as much as I wish I could say more, I only muttered a "Thank You" in English, before digging in.
Gyeongju sleeps early, as we made our way back to our Hanok alittle after sunset. She made me an amazing beef stew while I waited in the common area. I love the common area, where there's a classic radio, playing the old classic Korean Ballad from the 90s. The soothing voice of the DJ is the perfect white noise to go with the Beef Stew. I looked at Gyeongju and smiled gestured thank you, as I raise my chopsticks to pick up the floating beef. She smiled back, asking me through Google Translate to let her know if I need more rice or stew.
I love how Gyeongju makes me feel like home despite our language barrier. It is the nice people you need during your voyage that makes your travel beautiful. And sometimes it is the simplest thing that warms your soul. We spent the next few hours typing away, exchanging hobbies, questions and occasionally she would mutter some Koreans out of habit while she scratches her head, figuring out how to get it to translate to English.
"잠깐만", She said and gestured. My delicate Korean knowledge only tells me so much, as to wait. She came back after a while with a beer and handed it to me with both of her hands smiling.
She asked if the food is good in a strangely adorable manner as she gestures a thumbs up while pointing at the bowl. I smiled and nodded before she turned and went to clean up before joining me when she is done. We talked for a bit more, and we both decided it is time to turn in when it is pretty late.
Gyeongju sent me to the train station when it was time for me to go. It is nice of her to shelter me with an umbrella despite it being a small drizzling and I told her that it is fine.
The drizzle felt like a tinge of regret for having such a short stay with Gyeongju. I would love to stay longer with her, to know more about her stories, to see more places and to write about more. And until then, it was time to go.
"안녕히 계세요", she said as she closes the umbrella once we went into the shelter.
"Thank you so much Gyeongju, so so much", I looked at her and said, hoping that she could feel my gratitude from my eyes.
Gyeongju left me with an urge to brush up my Korean the next time we meet. And I hope the next time we would be able to connect better instead of over-relying on the app.
I turned back and saw Gyeongju still there, waving goodbye. I gave her the widest smile I could to let her know my thanks and waved back with both of my hands, hoping that she could feel how grateful I am for her hospitality. And with that, the train came, and I'm pretty sure Gyeongju didn't walk away until my train departed. I started writing when the train starts moving, trying to get the stories of Gyeongju up, as I can't wait to share her with the world.