I’d never really been a flowers person.
Backtrack to one year ago. I was sitting on a park bench with my girlfriend under a peaceful canopy of trees. The sun was shining, the weather was sweet, and we were absolutely annoyed with each other. This small coastal town famous for their cherry blossoms was completely flowerless. We had arrived to Jinhae a week too early.
Fast forward to present time.
I checked my watch… looked out the window… turned on my camera… turned off my camera. Repeat. It was 1:12PM and we were minutes from Jinhae Station. Gotta catch the moment… can’t miss it, can’t miss it, I kept reminding myself. When or where this was going to happen, I didn’t have a clue. So far all my expectations had been lived through pictures and hearsay, and I remained determined to see this “stuff of fairy tales” with my own eyes.
Our train began to slow. Is this it? I pressed close to the window, stretching my gaze forward. A scattered line of cherry blossom trees passed my view. Outside, a few people ambled along by the tracks, posing for pictures with the flowers. We seemed to be entering a small town. The line of trees began to grow denser, forming a broken wall of pink flowers. More and more people filled up along the tracks, pausing to watch our train pass by. And suddenly, with a nonchalance that matched the leisured slowness of our train, the pink saplings gave way to their taller, grander elders. What was once a level view now extended upwards above us. Long braches adorned with cherry blossoms arched majestically overhead. It was like everything you’ve read, seen, or heard about romance combined into one epic scene.
We were in a tunnel of pink.
So this is what it’s all about. As the display of brilliance passed by in a slow dreamlike gait, my eyes struggled to take everything in. Along with the intricate web of flowers over our heads, the crowd had swelled to hundreds. Many people outside stopped what they were doing to admire the procession of our train through the shower of pink petals. I’m not sure who was more impressed with what they saw, those inside the train or those along the tracks. It was such a picturesque moment.
I decided to wave.
That was just the beginning of our day. In the next 5 hours I reconciled on every level with the city that had last year been marked an “incomplete” on my South Korea bucket list. We climbed the 365 steps to the view tower at Jehwangsan Park and saw the city rightfully draped in its blotches of pink. We held hands and acted like a couple as we walked along Yeojwa Stream, the location of Korea’s “Romance Bridge”. And as the day winded down and the sun began its amber dip, we walked for a mile up the same tracks our train had come down earlier, once again searching for that magical pink oasis.
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