When I think of Auraji, I think of the rice fields. Criss-crossed by tiny roads more often walked than driven upon, they fill the valley with brilliant green leaves rustling in the breeze. Mountains ring the valley, visible with the absence of the haze which can plague Korea’s urban areas. It is a valley where the slow life remains. Not an easy life, for the people work the soil and run their shops to get by, dependent only on themselves and their neighbors for most day to day needs. But life is slow there, removed from the madness of city streets. When I think of Auraji, my soul finds a lingering fragment of peace.
I think of a row of pastel colored houses lining the railway tracks, tracks which no longer serve trains, but allow caravans of beaming, waving Korean tourists to peddle past on rail bikes before disappearing into a yawning tunnel. I think of meat sizzling on the barbeque, a guitar passed around in the company of friends and strangers under the stars, and the omnipresent chirping of crickets. Morebul Pension–the little pastel houses in which we stay–will always be linked with Auraji, and Auraji with Morebul Pension. I could not imagine one without the other.
When I think of Auraji, I think of the gleaming sickle of the moon bridge spanning the river. I think of the path along the banks walked by families and giggling couples. The moths which flit and flutter and perish by the thousands in the tranquility of the valley. I think of the tiny town, with its quirky buildings built in the shapes of fish and insects.
How about you? Is there a place you cherish and look back on for the wonderful memories? Where is it? What makes it so special?