Near the Lincoln Memorial is the Korean War Memorial, located at the southwest end of the Reflecting Pool. The first time I walked up to the steely figures of soldiers, it felt as if I had stumbled into a combat mission. The squad is arranged in a triangular formation over an area of juniper shrubs. Their lifelike expressions and movements frozen in midstep induce a sense of eeriness. I can’t help but think these sculptures spring to life when no one is around.
Each branch of the armed forces is represented in the unit although I’m not sure how to tell them apart. They are all wearing ponchos, which adds to their ghostly appearance. Some of the figures have a more active stance while others seem to have thoughts that are miles away, perhaps thinking of home and loved ones.
Next to the statues is a black granite mural that depict images of servicemen and women. The sandblasted images show people and scenes from the war which seem to emerge from the wall. These solemn images invoke a haunting reminder of “The Forgotten War,” a reference made by Western nations to a war that received little attention compared to World War II and the Vietnam War.
After a long day of walking, we decided to get a Lyft back to our friend’s apartment in Columbia Heights. It was my first time using a ride-sharing service, and I can see why it’s disrupting conventional forms of transportation. The convenience of getting a ride anywhere at any moment by simply using an app on your smartphone is much quicker than finding and hailing down a taxi. I also like that the payment happens seamlessly through the app so you don’t need to carry any money. Services like Lyft and Uber are perfect for tourists who don’t want to rent a car and bother with figuring out bus and train schedules.
For dinner, we headed over to the Adams Morgan neighborhood in D.C. and ate at Donburi, a hopping joint serving Japanese rice bowls. The narrow restaurant with bar seating gives patrons an up-close view of the kitchen action. My friend ordered the sakedon, and I got a mix katsudon of shrimp and chicken. My sister opted for the panko coated pork loin and tenderloin. Overall, it was a decent meal for a reasonable price.
Usually, I’m hesitant about eating Asian food when I travel, unless I’m in Asia, because living in Vancouver, the Asian cuisine here is hard to beat. This can be a blessing and a curse. There are no shortage of Asian restaurants in a city where almost half the population is Asian. As a result, the fierce competition for discerning tastebuds creates high expectations when it comes to Asian cuisine. What we have here in Vancouver is an Asian food bubble! I’m often disappointed by the quality of Asian cuisine outside of this bubble, and so I opt for other cuisines.
This leaves me to ponder, would it be better to have never eaten excellent Asian food so that even mediocre Asian buffets taste amazing? Since this post is about D.C., a city full of politicians, a quote by Donald Rumsfeld comes to mind. “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” Hmm, I’m not sure I have a good answer to that question, but I do know I enjoyed the meal at Donburi and that’s a known known!