Last year, I have fond memories of spending each and every weekend with friends. We would romp around Gwangju, take day trips to museums, explore countryside historical sites, immerse within a local festival, or simply enjoy a drink in Mokpo. I procrastinated on spending a weekend alone for nearly three months.
However, these solo weekends have become commonplace as of late. It’s not that I do not appreciate time with friends. I wouldn’t describe it as “hermit mode” to borrow Nightmare’s words. In fact, I have yet to unequivocally decide how I feel about these weekends. Are they solo or are they lonely?
Feelings flip-flop. Sometimes I smile as I leisurely stroll through my morning routine. Without having to report to work or meet at the bus station for a weekend day trip, I appreciate watching a few extra Youtube videos, doing an extra five minutes of yoga, or sipping that extra cup of coffee without a care in the world.
However, once I resolve to leave my apartment, the pendulum swings. One Saturday I recall waffling over attending an island beach party. It’s strange. In 2017, there would be no debate – I would be whistling in the wind on the first ferry out. But now, thoughts of drunken revelry no longer rev me up.
“What happened to you?” I think. “Have you become such a slave to your habits that you forgot how to have fun?”
“You could always go and just drink a little bit. You don’t even have to drink at all.”
“Don’t fall for that one again,” Rational-Ian replies. “You always say you’re going to show up and drink only a little. Then you wake up in your bed with little recollection of returning home.”
“If I don’t practice moderation, I will never learn.”
“If you never tempt yourself, you will never have to moderate.”
Two sides bicker for an hour before mental fatigue sabotages my good mood.
“I’m worn out. Let’s hit the sauna.”
Before coming to Korea, I knew I would appreciate many aspects of life – delicious food, fast internet, and language learning opportunities. However, public bathhouses did not make the list.
I never realized how freeing it feels to skinny dip in a jacuzzi and cold pool, douse myself with a massage-strength overhead shower, and sweat buckets in a sauna. To top it off, one room has floor space dedicated naps. I’m not much of a napper – unless I am hanging out in a bathhouse with butt naked strangers.
Initially, I planned to blog and study in a café following my spa time. However, the sweating made me lightheaded.
“Time to hit the buffet.”
Sushi O Black Container is a chain of conveyor-belt sushi buffets. I found one on the third floor of the Namak Lotte Outlets back in February.
They also serve salads, shabu-shabu, soups, various fried foods, ice cream, and some desserts. While 19,800 won can be quite pricey, I tend to make it worth my while. Picking up plate after plate, I sometimes wonder if the staff is impressed, disgusted, or apathetic to my eating. They probably don’t care. I’m just full of it sometimes.
After stuffing myself beyond recognition, I thought I would make the trip worth my while. I was due for a new pair of running shoes.
Waddling home, I crawled into bed, able to do nothing more than read my Kindle, drink water, and groan with pain as the carbs expanded in my stomach.
While Saturday is often my fun solo day, I tend to take Sundays more seriously. I enjoy riding my bike or walking into Mokpo and settling into my favorite café – Motung-E.
Situated over a lovely public square complete with a pond, fountains, trees, and a small pagoda, Motung-E boasts a massive folding window that allows me to write, study, read, and stare at cats while basking in the refreshment of wide swaths of natural light. The owner speaks great English due to a past sojourn in Canada as a taekwondo instructor.
I sometimes surprise myself with how much time I can spend in one café. Five hours later, I say my goodbyes, head home, and cook dinner. After one final yoga session, I collapse into bed, refreshed and ready to return to the classroom.
Sometimes I tell myself I need to socialize more. It is too easy to slip into a rut if one is not careful. If done to excess, refreshing solo weekends can deteriorate into a draining lonely norm. However, despite my occasional apprehension, I also revel in substantial alone time. I am slowly learning to accept (even love) my introverted nature and relish the opportunity to recharge my batteries.
It’s nice to see the fountains in Namak’s central park popping off again.
Last weekend I actually did get out, hiking around Mudeungsan National Park in Gwangju. This is one of several temples I encountered.
And another temple.
And a lovely historical sitting Buddha statue.
One, I find “disaster district” an awesome translation.
Two, this picture suggests that maybe the little bear pushed the big bear off of a cliff? The disasters seem to stem from bears being assholes.
I loved the views. There’s nothing like a good hike to humble me through sweat and awe.
I chased the dragon all over the park and finally earned its water.