Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hadong and the Case for Divine Intervention

"Hey, Noona, look at this!" Jini calls out from the living room.

I walk into the hostel's main room and look at the TV, where Jini is pointing. The news is being broadcast live, but the backdrop on the TV screen looks like a comedic spoof of a storm. Leaves and random pieces of debris are flying in such a way that suggests Dorothy will soon be leaving Kansas. A news anchor tries to stay her ground as she gives a report. The wind, meanwhile, swirls her long, black hair upwards into a sort of electrified-looking bouffant.

"What's going on?" I ask.

"It's a typhoon in Hadong. They're now talking about related fatalities."

Hadong, Korea -- an iconically beautiful village located near the southmost tip of the peninsula. Hadong, Korea -- the place I was supposed to be this evening. In fact, the only thing that prevented me from being there was what had seemed, at the time, to be a dumb mistake.

The night before I had asked DJ, the owner of the hostel in which I was staying, which bus terminal was the right one to catch the bus to Hadong.

"Express Bus Terminal," he tells me, circling the stop on my subway map so I won't be confused.

A bit of a skeptic when it comes to directions, I question him.

"Are you sure?" I ask. "Are you sure it's not a different bus terminal, like Nambu? Some buses leave from different terminals."

"No, no," DJ confidently reassures me. "The bus for Hadong leaves from Express."

The next morning, I make it to the Express Bus Terminal with just enough time to leave on the earliest bus. But when I arrive at the ticket counter, the agent tells me all the buses to Hadong leave from . . . Nambu. It's too late for me to go to Nambu to buy an early morning bus ticket, and what's more, all the later tickets for that day have already sold out.

I fume silently, but there's nothing I can do about the situation. Taking the escalator to leave the Express Bus Terminal, I notice the wall above it showcases an enlarged photo of Hadong's vibrant green fields and a tourism catchphrase: Come visit beautiful Hadong.

"Well, now you're just mocking me," I grumble aloud to no one.

The whole thing seemed like a pointless mistake.

Until I saw the news report and the damage wrought by a typhoon.

Now, I'm not the type of person who calmly accepts whatever happens as my fate. In fact, here's one essential truth about me: I fight for what I want. I empty all my energy into trying to solve whatever problem's before me. Even just minutes before seeing the news report about Hadong, I was on the Internet trying to rearrange my schedule and buy a ticket to Hadong for a different day. But sometimes, the puzzle itself is missing a piece. Sometimes no matter how hard I try, things just don't work out.

I think now not just of one particular city I didn't get to see. I think of all the things in my life that I've wanted but didn't work out, from relationships to job promotions. But here's a kind truth I learned: Sometimes not getting the thing you want is the best thing that could happen to you. Had I gotten everything I've wanted in life, I wouldn't be where I'm at now, which is a pretty wonderful place -- one that can't be pinned on any map.

If you're not happy with the moral of my story, just chant this toilet mantra until you feel better.


  1. You are soooo right! The times that seem outrageously wrong and unfair and absolutely NOT what we want frequently end up being the best things in the end. I wish we could see that at the time...

  2. This post reminds me of one of Beyonce's songs, titled "The best thing I never had". Indeed!

  3. I liked reading this post! I especially like the title.

  4. You are one lucky gal! I share your philosophical sentiments exactly. Have enjoyed reading your posts...keep them coming!

  5. Sharm El Sheikh Holidays has a lot to offer like: scuba diving, snorkeling, relaxing in the sandy beaches etc.

  6. great post! love the bathroom mantra