A Life Journey, Travels and Places

When Another Wish Came True

I’ve written about this a couple of years ago. And then it happened again. And again. So I think I ought to write about it again.

Has it happened to you that you were innocently wishing for something, and then suddenly it unexpectedly came true?

Small example. Let’s say one evening you were bored at home. You began to think about stuff that would make you happy. And then you remembered that little pizza place across town where you had the most fun you’d ever known in the past twenty years or so. You wished you could assemble the gang again for a night out there.

Your phone suddenly rang. It was your best friend asking if you were free because the gang was in town and – what were the odds – they wanted to have dinnner at that place you just thought about!

A few years ago I watched a documentary program on TV (I cannot remember whether it was on Discovery or National Geographic channel). The program showcased a modern miracle in Seoul, a mega city that was plagued with traffic jams.

Instead of building more highway to ease the congestions, the city government decided to do something that may seem to be counter intuitive. They upgraded the public transportation system, and put in place a state of the art traffic information system.

The major unusual step was they torn down a major highway into the city, and restore the Cheonggyecheon, an ancient stream in the middle of the city that for many years had been covered by the highway.

They took water from the river Han, had it processed, and put it into the stream, resulting in a clear water flowing in the stream.

On the day they opened the restored stream for public, the mayor took his shoes off and waded into the clear water. He scooped some water into his palm and took a sip. A stream that used to be so filthy that they closed it under concrete now filled with fresh water good enough to drink.

I was mesmerized by the program. I made a promise to myself to one day go to Seoul and see this miracle for myself.

The problem was I didn’t know how I could make it happen.

Fast forward to 2012.

When planning for a company trip to Honolulu, we made an interesting discovery. Most of the possible flights to Hawaii from Indonesia with single stop must have more than 12 hours of transit. After comparing alternatives from several airlines it was decided that we would fly on Korean Airlines and to fill the 12-hour layover by taking a day tour of Seoul.

We had a great time spending the day visiting temples, palaces, museums, markets, and trying local food. At the end of the tour our guide asked, “We still have a couple of hours left before we have to get you back to the airport. Is there any more place you guys want to see?” I raised my hand and asked, “How about the Cheunggye…” I knotted my eyebrows trying to recall the name. Her face suddenly lit up. “You mean the Cheonggyecheon? Sure! It’s not so far from here!”

As I walked along the paved bank of the Cheonggye stream that cloudy winter afternoon, marveling at the clear fresh water running in it, I wondered at the series of what seemed to be unrelated events that finally brought me there. It was nothing short of miraculous.

Make a wish. Have a dream. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

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