Thursday, March 21, 2013

Are you Trevor?

I always pace around departure areas, so today was no exception at the Busan ferry terminal.

A couple years ago, had I not been pacing around the Haridwar (India) station platform at 3:00 a.m. waiting for a train that never came, I might not have been spotted in the crowd by four backpackers. I would've missed the scariest, most invigorating car (jeep) ride of my life. Stuff like that makes me feel really alive.

Anyway, there I was,  doing the Busan Shuffle, when a Korean guy walked up to me, and asked: "Are you Trevor?"

"No, l'm not!" I quickly denied, while simultaneously increasing my pace.

He ran after me and repeated: "Are you traveling, are you traveling?"

Oops. To be fair to myself, what other reason could there possibly be for me to be there, with a backpack on my back, having cleared security and emigration? Besides, it seemed quite plausible he was looking for someone called Trevor, and I was the only person in the area who could possibly be called Trevor.

I softened and did my best to engage him in conversation. His English was certainly infinitely superior to my Korean. I learned he was 68, a  retired chemical engineer, he loved learning languages, loved discussing cultural differences, and was going to Japan for the weekend with his wife. The wife stood a respectful few feet away, bowing every time I looked in her direction, causing me to mirror her bows. His vocabulary was a little limited, so the conversation tended to cycle.

Then he said: "You are handsome."

This made me feel uncomfortable, but it was probably the limited English. Maybe he was saying something completely different.

I thanked him profusely, but I'd had enough of straining to understand his limited English. The last few people were boarding so I was able to bring the conversation to its conclusion.

He was pleasant, but I did not relish the thought of straining to understand the guy all the way from Korea to Japan.

As we pulled away from the pier, the land-side hostesses stood in a line on the dock, and bowed, precisely, simultaneously.

I'm sitting in a great assigned seat, upstairs, right at the front of the vessel with an unobstructed view of the Sea of Japan ahead. There's an empty seat on each side and a bulkhead behind us. There's a pleasant, quiet Korean couple to one side.

Speeding out at 46 miles per hour through the gap between the Busan harbor piers on a glittering sea was like going through a star gate. And the hydrofoil barely wobbles. A lovely experience.

OK, so, there's a pleasant couple to one side of me. At one point the husband returned to his seat carrying purchased packed lunches. He had an extra one for me, and I gratefully accepted. He then paid attention to his wife; clearly the gesture was simple hospitality.

Divine: hashi in hand, enjoying a tray of Korean savories, and a bowl of rice on which I had crushed some dried seaweed. Gliding across the glittering sea of Japan at some speed only enhanced the experience.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, standing next to me, I could see R U Trevor. He was clearly disappointed I was eating, and not available for an analysis of cultural differences. I tried to be welcoming, but he offered me a candy and left.

I'm enjoying having a front seat on my star cruiser, looking out at the space ahead. I'm writing these rambling thoughts partly because if RUT returns, he'll see I'm busy. I just don't want to spend the next 2 hours straining to understand his English.

A bird has just smashed into the window in front of me and met an untimely death. It's not all pretty.

I'd planned that 30 minutes out from Fukuoka I'd pace around the boat, find him, and see if he's up for a time-boxed chat. But I've just realized Fukuoka is right in front of me.

Would I get a chance to speak with him?

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