Lord I was Born a Ramblin Man

tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can

And when it’s time for leavin’

I hope you’ll understand

That I was born a ramblin’ man

-Allman Brothers Band

The day is fast approaching when I go off to Scotland. Truth be told, I haven’t been on an airplane in decades. Can’t remember when my last flight was. I think it was to go see a friend in Fresno in the mid-90’s! That’s a long time.

So, I’ll be on a plane (three planes, actually) on Labor Day, Sept 3rd, from LAX to Las Vegas, then to Heathrow, and finally to Edinburgh. Because of a housing issue at Saint Andrews–they only open their residences on the 8th of September–I had to book a hostel in Edinburgh for three nights! I’d tried postponing the flight but the travel agency’s surcharge on that was outrageously expensive. Looked at some hotels in Edinburgh and Saint Andrews but they too were quite expensive. That’s when my brother suggested a hostel and I looked some up in the Edinburgh area. Quite affordable! Of course, you have to share the room, but that’s no problem for me. I guess I can be a tourist in Edinburgh for a few days. I hear it’s quite beautiful there.

Definitely got to go visit Edinburgh Castle. The hostel emailed some tour guide info and I think I’ll try one of those. Did some demographic research on the internet and it appears Edinburgh has a population of about half a million people. Saint Andrews is a small town, about fourteen thousand. And about 99% white. No worries about me standing out.

I’ll miss the food in Los Angeles! This past week, I’ve had dinners and lunches every day with friends and acquaintances wishing me a safe and happy trip. Can’t remember a time when I had two Brazilian BBQ’s on the same week! Sookhee, David, and Phillip took me to a Korean Chicken place in K-Town that was awesome.

Now I feel a little plump again. Not good! Just when I was starting to lose the extra pounds I’d gained this year and revert back to my normal weight. That chicken bbq with all the veggies (and cheese topping!) tasted delicious. I’d never tried that before even though I’m Korean and I hear it’s become quite popular.

I’m sure Saint Andrews won’t have anything close to the rich variety of restaurants we have here. My mental impression of Scottish food is meat and potatoes, but what do I know.

Another odd thing: I went to a foreign currency business and exchanged $600 for British pounds. It’s not safe to travel with a lot of cash so I wanted to take just enough for emergencies and my short stay in Edinburgh. I’ll wire the rest of my funds once I open a bank account in Scotland. But I discovered much to my chagrin that British pounds don’t fit in my wallet! And they are all different sizes too! The 50 pound bill is so huge and blocky I’m gonna have to fold it in neat squares to fit.

Wanted to thank Joyce jdsn for taking me to Venice Beach to watch the sunset. I took the photo on my cell phone at the end of the pier. The sun was just peaking over the horizon at the time. We stood there for less than ten minutes, watching the sun fade past the horizon. It was an amazing sight.

I leave Los Angeles with good memories, especially of the people I have come to know and love and call my friends. I know the world is so much smaller now with the internet and social networking and whatever else we use for relational activities. But it’s not the same as being there face-to-face.

This past week has been all about my friends. A group of people from my mother’s church have been putting together a fund ever since they found out I was going to the University of Saint Andrews. Solid Rock Church itself contributed quite a bit to the fund. I was so humbled because I know these are not the richest people around, and Solid Rock isn’t even the church I attend. And yet each small, individual contribution came out to quite a lot in the end. Grandmothers, mothers, fathers, friends… they are all amazing! A man’s life consists in the riches of his friendships.

One story. I went to get a haircut at a salon owned by a friend of my mother. Not only did she lavish her skills on me, spending two hours meticulously coiffing my bad hairdo, shampooing and fussing over every single strand, but she wouldn’t accept my payment afterwards, and then gave me an envelope with a hundred dollar bill in it. “For your education!”

That’s the first and probably the only time somebody pays me to get a hair cut! I am truly humbled and grateful to all the people who contributed so much for my education.

My brother took me to watch a Dodger’s game here in Elysian Park. This was the week when the Giants were in town and the series would determine first place in the National League West. Sad to say, the Dodgers got shut out. This game they actually got blown out. I think the final score was 7-2. Although I’m not much of a baseball fan, I was rooting hard for the Dodgers. The atmosphere was fun and exciting. And the seats were awesome!

The other Dodger’s game I watched, we were seated way, way back in the boondocks. It was with a Korean church where I served as youth pastor during the days Chan Ho Park was pitching for the Dodgers. He didn’t pitch all that well, but the Dodger’s eeked out a win against the Mets that time. All I remember was the plethora of Koreans in the stadium shouting “PARK CHAN HO!” and “DAE HAN MIN GUK!” throughout the game. This was around the time they had those big clapping, banging things from the Korea/Japan World Cup 2002! Thank God they’re gone, along with the vuvuzelas…

So I guess in a few days I am going to miss a lot of things here. I’m going to miss the variety of cultural foods here: Thai curry, Armenian esfihas, Brazilian BBQ, Korean BBQ, Pho, Cuban rice and beans, Burritos and Tacos, Argentinian empanadas, Slovaki, Bulgogi tacos, Fish tacos, etc… I’ll miss the good food we have in Los Angeles! Can’t say I’ll miss the sports that much since I never really rooted for the LA teams. But I’ll miss the camaraderie of watching the Anaheim Ducks with Keith and Brian. Those were good times! And congrats to Keith since his LA Kings finally won the Stanley Cup!

The thing I’ll miss the most are the variety of people I met here. I loved to interact with friends from so many cultures. I treasure my Arminian friend, George Terterian, my Brazilian friend Bill Lima, my Japanese friend Alex Hisa, my African American friend Jamal Scarlett … well, I could go on and on. Not to mention all my Korean friends. Los Angeles is one amazing place.

Of course, I don’t know what the future holds, and I don’t know when I’ll be back, but in the meantime, I am excited about going to Scotland. I am sure there will be new friends, new encounters, new foods … haggis? errr… new ideas and new discoveries. I’m sure there will be setbacks as I research for a dissertation. I don’t expect it to be easy but we all know that good things never are.

I’ll keep this blog updated on my travel and education. At least in this way my friends can keep abreast of what’s going on half way around the world in the life of a good friend. Blessings!

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