I am going to to my best to share about the images below and tell the story of how we ended up in Asia.
Thanks for reading! This may be a novel... so be prepared.
The story really begins about a year ago when a friend and I had just landed stateside after backpacking through Europe. The trip was nine days long and took us through London, Paris, Switzerland, and Spain. After this trip, we quickly realized that we needed to plan another trip and mutually agreed on Asia. Little did I know how much would change over the span of 1 year and how much this trip would mean to me.
I have always been fascinated with the travel. Seeing new cultures, ways of life and locations always inspires me. Succumbing to the unknown really opens up your heart. It forces vulnerability which in turn forces growth. If I could encourage you with anything, it would be to travel the world.
My specific draw to Asia actually stems from my Mother. She was adopted from South Korea when she was 9 months old and was raised in the states. The idea that part of my heritage was rooted in an unfamiliar country always fascinated me. I am incredibly thankful for my Grandparents. They rescued my Mother and because of adoption, I am on earth today. With this knowledge, I knew one day I would travel to South Korea to see where my Mother was born.
We planned a 16 day trip that started in South Korea and brought us through China and Vietnam. These 16 days were actually insane. Below you will see some of the adventures we embarked on and I will just share a few of my favorite memories.
-Our first day in Korea we set out to find the adoption agency my Mom was adopted from. This is the first 8 photos below. We took the subway across Seoul in search of the Holt International Building. I had done a little bit of research and only had the latitude and longitude of building, so we were a little in the dark. I also had a friend who attends the U help translate the only documents my Mom has from her adoption. This was a MASSIVE help. We exited the subway and just like a movie, turned around and saw a giant building with "Holt" on it. We walked into the building and were told we would need to head to the"Post Adoption Services Building." We were then directed to go out the back door and to walk towards the 7-11, turn right. It was quite the adventure. We found the building, walked in, took off our shoes and wore slippers to the second level where we were greeted by Esther. We were then put in a room and politely informed that Holt Korea and Holt USA had split in 1975 and any adoption records prior to that date were actually stored in Portland, Oregon. At this point I felt like I flew to Korea to be told that I could have just went to Portland. I suppose thats another trip in the works! Anyways, they did have 1 sheet of paper on my Mother. The most surreal moment was receiving this piece of paper that had my Grandfathers signature and address on it as well as my Mothers name on the other side of the world in Seoul, South Korea. Even though I didn't grow up there or really have any affiliation besides my ethnicity. It felt like I gained a part of who I am and a true understanding of how special adoption is. I am so thankful for Holt and for Adoption. It really does save lives.
-We had the opportunity to travel to China and see The Great Wall. I would highly recommend seeing this. You will know it when you see it below! Getting to the Great Wall was one of the most interesting things I have ever been a part of. We took a bus out of Beijing and ended up in the city of Huariou. Then we bartered with a cab company to take us to the Great Wall. Seeing such a massive human creation was incomprehensible. The wall itself is large and intellectually designed to both protect and enclose. It's also a workout to walk. Part of the deal we received when we purchased tickets to see the wall were toboggans to descend from the wall after we were done exploring. I will never forget having a Chinese man yelling at me to go faster (I think) as we raced away from The Great Wall. The wall goes as far as your eye can see. It's remarkable.
- The last country we visited was Vietnam. If you ever want extreme anxiety or stress just hop in a cab there. I had to learn how to shut off my peripherals because of the craziness they call "driving." Their is a plethora of motos and the drivers are insane. We were informed that we must keep a steady pace when we cross the road because the drivers will go around you. If you fluctuate your pace you will get hit. Somehow this system works. We adventured in Ho Chi Minh City, and then embarked to Hai Phong. We did a boat tour of Ha Long Bay and even met some new friends. I really don't know how to describe how they park the massive vessels you see in the last few photos. They will ram each other supposedly it isn't a concern to them. Ha Long Bay was beautiful and Vietnam in general was such a wonderful place.
As I reminisce on the trip I feel more inspired to do my part to make a positive impact. We possess one shot at life. Make it purposeful.
Thanks for reading.
*All photos were captured on a Mamiya 645 Pro with Portra 400 film.