Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.
Life is good, I thought as I strolled through the forest, listening to the birds conversing in the trees, and breathing the warm, living scent of nature. The path had dropped down into tall trees and I could no longer see the golden dome that I had spied from higher up.
I came around a bend in the trail and found myself standing in front of wide disk of stone, about fifteen feet in diameter and carved around its edge with some amazingly intricate work. A young woman was standing on the stone. She was holding a broom, as if she had been in the act of sweeping it off, although now she was frozen in place and staring at me. She wore a light gray skirt and a slightly darker gray jacket, and her long, black hair was braided down her back. She was also insanely beautiful.
Life is getting better, I thought—not in a lascivious way, you understand, but just in a general way of admiring the beauty all around me.
“Annyeonghaseyo,” I said, greeting her in Korean and bowing slightly. She bowed her head, but didn’t say anything. “Is there a restaurant around here? I’m a bit hungry,” I said, but again she did not respond and just keep staring at me. It was a bit ridiculous that no one could understand me, I thought. After all, even if these people had a very strong mountain dialect, they must still be able to understand standard Korean. They watch TV, don’t they?
I mimed eating, taking food up my mouth with an invisible fork (which I quickly changed to invisible chopsticks). The girl said something and I nodded, because honestly, nodding even when you don’t understand becomes a bit of a reflex after a while. She seemed to come to a decision suddenly and climbed down from the stone and motioned for me to follow her.
Not even two minutes later, we came to a sort of village. The houses here were similar to the old woman’s house I had visited earlier that morning but beyond them, I saw a stone wall rising up above the roofs. It had to be at least fifteen feet tall and was tipped with what looked like golden spikes. It continued out of sight, both left and right across the valley and I could see that we were on the inside of the wall. Somehow, I had come down in the middle of a mountain fortress.
I saw a few woman here and there as we walked among the houses, but there were no men visible anywhere. As soon as the women saw me, they jumped up and looked quite agitated. The first few just yelled at me (or at the young woman guiding me) but a few rushed at me, brandishing tools of various sorts as if they wanted to attack me. The young woman starting talking really quickly and it was pretty obvious there was a huge argument going on. I bowed and smiled awkwardly at a few of them, until this seemed to make things worse and I just looked down and scuffed my boots in the dirt.
After about five minutes, an older woman came up and everyone stopped arguing. She didn’t have a name tag that said “The Boss” but it was pretty obvious. Also, her clothes were more colorful than anyone else’s. They had a much more respectful discussion in which everyone ignored me. I was just thinking about climbing back up the mountain pass to try to find my way back when they stopped and the head woman bowed to me. I bowed back and said, “It’s nice to meet you. I hope I’m not disturbing you.” This prompted another minute of discussion. I don’t know why I kept speaking Korean to them when they obviously couldn’t understand it, but it seemed rude not to say anything and I hadn’t quite gotten to the place where I just gave up and spoke English.
The head woman said something and all the other women suddenly dispersed and went back to their houses until it was only me, the head woman and the young woman left. They led me to a large house whose walls were made of stone for four feet, and then wood above that. The young woman led me to a bare room with small windows along the top of the wall. There was a low table and a cushion on the floor. I took off my boots and she motioned for me to sit down. Then she left.
Well, this is certainly an experience, I thought as I sat there alone. It intrigued me that I hadn’t seen any technology here at all. I wondered if it was a Folk Village or a UNESCO Heritage Site, where they did everything in the traditional way.
I also wondered where all the men were. Perhaps this was some hidden tribe of Amazons living in Korea and I was the first man they had seen in years. This didn’t excite me as much as you might think. For one thing, I was married, so I wasn’t looking for any significant increase of women in my life. Also, I had read about the original Amazons. They were scary.
The young woman came back presently with a tray loaded with food, all in individual dishes, which was refreshingly Korean. As she was arranging them on the table, I tried to learn her name. “David,” I said, pointing to myself. Then I pointed to her. “You?” I did this several times, but apparently movies have lied to us about this being a universal gesture since she just stared at me uncomprehendingly.
I was about to ask (i.e. gesture) if she was going to eat too when she stood up and left, closing the door behind her. I heard a sound like a bar being put down across the door. I went and tried the door and sure enough, it was locked firmly. A moment later, someone put down shutters over the small windows, throwing the room into deep gloom.
Great, they had put me in prison. Still, I wasn’t too worried yet. At least they had given me food, and if I ever got out, it would make a great story. That is my view on all bad experiences. So I sat down and started to eat.