Incredibly curious about what a Korean Fortune Teller could offer me, I eagerly climbed the stairs of an unassuming building in a local Korean neighbourhood. I stepped onto the third floor of my future to see her. Behind the rented room of 306, destiny was waiting to be unwrapped and exposed to me. I pressed my finger to the buzzer. The door slowly opened and with her glowing smile, the Korean Fortune Teller welcomed me into her world. This is what she told me…
When I was fresh faced and high on the magical innocence of childhood, I endeavoured to make my parents lots of money. I can’t quite remember what profession was burning in my mind at this time but it was certainly creative. I was going to be an artist, a high class pianist or some enchanting dancer.
Fast forward thirteen years and my Dad told me there was no way I was going to Art School: ‘Can’t make any money that way’. By the time I had finished University and trained my ass off, I was a psychologist. That lasted four years.
Yet still, the Korean Fortune Teller was insistent that I’m in the wrong career: ‘You need to be playing music, teaching music, experiencing music’. Maybe she’s right. This inner desire has reared its head throughout my travels. I’ve been a travelling rock drummer, been requested to tutor peoples’ musical abilities and exhibited the art of seduction on stage with burlesque in Shanghai. Just a couple of months ago, I was volunteering with Workaway to paint inspiring pictures on the walls of a hostel in Taiwan. Teacaketravels is also now 10 months old! I may not be Nic Firth or Beethoven but I’m finally fulfilling my needs and the Korean Fortune Teller had her eye on that for sure.
2013 was the year that I travelled solo all the way through Japan, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. I saw the Korean Fortune Teller in February and her words of warning stuck with me throughout. In March, I was driving by myself through the fields and dirt roads of Pai in Thailand. I carefully squeezed my brakes as I got to the final challenge of my destination: a towering hill with a promised temple of beauty perched on top of it. I revved my little engine with full intent and willed it to claw its way to the top. Woefully, it just didn’t have the strength. Trying to encourage it a little further, I put my feet down, digging my heels into the sand and burnt a perfectly shaped circle as big as a digestive biscuit into my right foot. In the scorching sun with no water and a lack of tiger balm, the pain slowly seeped through me and I considered this predicted unlucky fate ticked off my Korean Fortune Teller list. I was wrong: Two weeks later I accidentally got pregnant. The Korean Fortune Teller knew what she was talking about.
I’ll never forget the expression that shot across her face. As she materialised from her calculations and laid out everything before her, her look was an unwelcome mix of alarm, surprise and confusion. I wasn’t sure what to say but as the reading came to a close, I wanted to dig deeper about that expression I’d seen. ‘Am I going to have a long life?’ I asked. ‘Mmmm…’ she said and proceeded to say different things which didn’t answer much at all. ‘I feel you’re not telling me something’ I said. Her response? ‘Sometimes I see things but I cannot reveal everything’. I left with my curiosity well fed but an unpleasant aftertaste lingering in my mouth. Maybe some things are just better left unknown that not even a Korean Fortune Teller will tell you. You make your own destiny after all…right?
Saju! Originating from super old China and highly popular in Korea today, Saju translates as ‘The Four Pillars as Destiny’. What are these wondrous pillars of destiny? They’re the year, month, day and time that you were born. Endless calculations later with a serious looking book, your Korean Fortune Teller will tell you what life has in store for you (or maybe they’re just a good storyteller).
*Update* Fast Forward Two Years Later
Always one to be curious about how things are shaping up along the line of fate, I decided to have a destiny top up after my last encounter with the Korean Fortune Teller. This time it was in the temple-powered city of Chiang Mai, lovingly hugged by rugged green mountains and watched over by the infamous Doi Suthep. I was strolling down Nimmen Road; the emerging hipster area of this city where endless Chinese tourists come to gawp at random coffee shops and kitsch boutiques here. This street was in a Chinese movie apparently and they’ve been going crazy about it ever since. Nonetheless, amongst the endless signs competing with each other that you’ll see at the end of every street, I spotted a fair-weathered peeling blue sign exclaiming ‘Tarot Readings this way! I speak English’. I passed that sign as I waltzed up and down that street to ‘work’ (blogging) many a time and finally gave into my curiosity. Was what the Korean Fortune Teller said really true? Am I really going to get married at 38? Am I going to pop my clogs before I’m 50?
I swerved left instead of the using onwards direction and walked and walked and walked. Like any mystical lady in her right mind would do, she lived in the very last house on the street, tucked away behind big rusty gates and somewhat fear-inducing malformed trees that uncomfortably wrapped themselves around the house walls in a yoga position that a girl like me may try but fail miserably at.
A man with shiny jet-black horse-like hair down to his waist materialised and peered at me through the trees. ‘My Mother is seeing someone else right now but feel free to come and sit in the house whilst you wait’. I stepped over the threshold and sat myself down in what could be mistaken for the Sleepy Hollow set. In fact, it completely reminded me of the Black Temple in Chiang Rai I had seen two years before. Animals on the walls. Beautifully crafted figures made from caramel chocolate coloured wood. Lots of Thai Buddhist designs and images that I wish I knew about but was surprisingly too shy to inquire about.
As one local lady left, I was invited in. At the forefront of my mind was the perfect guy who I had left behind in Taiwan. I needed to know if I should put any more energy into him or keep calm and carry on being Teacake. What happened in the next thirty minutes can be described as all a bit barmy. The perfect guy was not addressed at all and the Thai Fortune Teller proceeded to tell me these five things.
This is when I started to doubt the lady a bit. She was determined to get my ass to a particular temple she had a leaflet for and when someone is pushing a particular product on you, well, you start to doubt them a little bit don’t you. Especially if you’ve turned up to spend some time with some tarot cards, not a monk. I took the leaflet but decided to go one better on this piece of advice. I did my research and discovered a monk in the countryside who believed in giving women Sak Yant tattoos: a spiritual Thai tattoo to offer you protection and blessings depending on what help you need in life. Representing love, compassion and being a firm believer in kindness, I discussed with the monk what I needed. He presented this design to me and I immediately fell in love with it. With bamboo and herbal red ink, he proceeded to chip away and the result is this! Now that is one hell of a way to leave Thailand and go forwards in life with strength, awesomeness and a whole lot of love!
Who knows when I’ll be searching for my next reading. Fingers crossed the next seven years will be smooth sailing!
Photopin image edited and courtesy of Charles Wagner and on Flickr