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I'm back!

At least physically. Jet lag is ensuring that I'm not entirely mentally here. The first night back after the 28-hour journey, I slept eight hours (with a three-hour gap in the middle); the next night, 3.5 hours; then 10 hours (woo-hoo!); and last night 4 hours. Argh. The clock gets to 2 A.M. and I think, "Huh, maybe I should go to bed. But I'm not tired!" And then I wake up before 6 anyway.

But the trip itself was so, so awesome. The weather was lovely (even a bit chilly at night), we went on some long and short hikes that were magnificent, driving on the other side of the road went great, and in some ways it was like the honeymoon Mr. Z and I never got to have. :)



I started out in Seoul for a conference, and my simple impression is that it was really big. Like, huge. Okay, so there's 10 million people there, but most of them seem to live in high-rises that aren't clustered as closely together as I would have expected, and the main streets are really, really wide (like 4-6 lanes in each direction), so the city takes up a lot of room. It was really humid and hazy there, but indoors was not overly air conditioned (my theory is that since the men all seemed to wear short sleeve dress shirts, not suits and jackets, that influences indoor thermostats).



At the end of the the conference, we had an opportunity to go on a tour of the DMZ. That was one of the most surreal tourist experiences I've ever had. I mean, every site of national significance presents or even performs its own biased side of the story, and U.S. national monuments are certainly no exception, but this was something else. Maybe because it's not a historic site but is still ongoing? The cognitive dissonance being maintained between "we are in mortal peril from the other side of the border" and "we are/will be united as a nation", along with the mingling of present and future tenses, was impressive. We went to a train station on a line that crosses the border, and there's this huge map on the wall of the Trans-Eurasian Rail Network and how Seoul is a fundamental part of it. Or at least it will be, after reunification. But it is part of the rail network now, it just...isn't. One of our group started yelling at the tour guide for saying things that weren't true, because you can't take the train from Seoul to anywhere else in Asia. But you can...just not yet.



Then it was a mad dash to the airport and on to Australia, visiting with the lovely kasman and rinkle who were gracious enough to drive me around and feed me in my half-conscious state. We went to the beach at Manly and took the ferry back into Sydney Harbour just as the sun was setting, which made for some amazing scenery. I love that bridge and the Opera House so much; it's like my favorite city view in the world.



While y'all were watching fireworks, they took me up to the Blue Mountains, which were absolutely gorgeous. The road was a gentle climb up from Sydney, but then there were steep dropoffs to wide valleys filled with eucalyptus forests. And there were rainbows! Everywhere!



Then I flew on to Brisbane where Mr. Z was coming in from the States. And that will be part 2 to be presented later. :)


Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
harrigan
Jul. 22nd, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC)
Lovely photos! Welcome home! ♥
zubeneschamali
Jul. 26th, 2011 12:40 am (UTC)
Thank you on both counts!
scintilla10
Jul. 23rd, 2011 12:34 am (UTC)
Glad you're home safe! Those photos are beautiful. :)
zubeneschamali
Jul. 26th, 2011 12:43 am (UTC)
Thank you and thank you!
(Deleted comment)
zubeneschamali
Jul. 26th, 2011 12:44 am (UTC)
Yay for rainbows!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )