Sometimes you have some amazing adventures you just have to tell everyone about. Read the rest of this account here.
There are times in life when something happens that changes everything. Like if you’re arguing with someone and they pull a gun out, or if you’re in a restaurant and find a mouse in your food. They’re kind of deal-breakers. That’s what it was like when I saw that map, which apparently showed where I was, yet was nowhere that I recognized.
That’s it, I’m done, I thought. I wanted to get some air. I wrote the word “air” (空氣) on the paper, but the woman didn’t seem to understand what I meant. So I just stood up and walked out. She came too, of course.
I had no idea what time it was, but it must have been pretty late. The moon had set and the sky was dark. One door of the gate had been shut, but the other was open a crack. I walked around a little, as if admiring the architecture, and then when I got close to the gate, I just took off running. The old woman shouted after me, but I was already through the gate when the two guards wheeled out of the darkness towards me. They lowered their spears to block my way, but I was too fast for them and a second later, I was running and stumbling back up the valley.
It was exhilarating to break social convention that way and just run away. Once when I was in Korean city with my cousin, a man came up to us and wanted to guide us around. Nothing we said could make him leave and eventually we ran away as he was getting a taxi for us all. It was that same feeling, a mixture of adrenaline and relief, spiked with the fear of being followed.
I left the path to avoid being caught again and started blundering blindly through the underbrush. That place may not have been in Korea, but it sure had the same amount of thorns on every living thing. My jacket was torn and my hands were scratched and bleeding before I had gone very far.
I was out there a long time, maybe hours. All I know was the sky was just beginning to lighten in the east when I came out of the woods and found a tall fortress wall in front of me. I didn’t see the gate anywhere. I had left the path on the left side, and so I now continued left along the wall. My plan was to walk around the fortress and then back up the valley where I had come from.
I was really tired by this time. I hadn’t slept all night and the last time I had eaten was when I was locked up in the room in the fortress. I kept stopping to lean against the wall and close my eyes. Maybe twenty minutes later, I came to what Koreans call an ammun, or secret gate, built into the wall. The tiny door was open and all I could see inside was darkness. I was about move on, when a lantern was uncovered and a woman stepped out of the gate.
I was about to run, when I saw that it was young woman I had seen earlier the day before; the same one who had helped to lock me up. Still, she beckoned me in and smiled so joyfully, that my legs moved on their own and followed her inside.
Just inside the gate was a small chamber, probably designed for guards. There was food and water there, as well as a bed. I had a drink of water, but before I knew it, my eyes were closing and I couldn’t keep them open. The girl saw this and helped me lie down on the bed and covered me with a blanket. Within a minute, I had drifted off to sleep.