For many of my friends and family back in England or Australia, living and working in Korea is still a mad, crazy adventure...maybe even dangerous too? But for me, despite living in the shadows of despotic Kim Jong Il in the red north for more than two years, it is no longer that adventure, and far from it. I had a home, a job, lots of friends and a football team, and of course my girlfriend Leslie. I may be blase, but it was as 'normal' a life as I have had in a very long time. For sure I have had an enriching and rewarding couple of years in the R.O.K, absolutely, but hitting the winding and uncertain road again, if only for a few months, was to get a new lease of life, a return to freedom.
Surfing is not a sport in Hawaii, it is a way of life, so ingrained is it in the the native's psyche as to dominate lives. Leslie's brother and niece, having lived on Maui for 15 years, are prime examples, getting intolerably grumpy if they can't surf every day. I myself have surfed before, and was eager to test myself out in surfing's spiritual home, but I admit it, I was scared. The waves were enormous, and sharks not uncommon and, perhaps as a sign of age, I sensibly denied my impulses.
My only other decisions on Maui were choosing what to eat. Korean food, decent as it is, was hardly inspiring. So now, in the U.S, gaining kilos was inevitable, and to adopt the Roman philosophy, "When in America, eat like the Americans eat," and gorge I did.
After two weeks of worshiping the three S's...sun, sea, and stuffing my face, I reluctantly squeezed out of my hula hula skirt and flowery shirt, cast off my lei (garland) and prepared to face the daunting mid-winter chill of ol' blighty. It's no fair trade, magical Maui for lackluster Lowestoft, but after yet another thirteen months away, I was going home.