Sunday, August 19, 2007

Part Four: The Steph and Alison Odyssey

From Tuesday, July 31st until Thursday, August 2nd we were in Busan enjoying some sun and fun on the beach. It was an adventure since neither Matt nor I had ever been to Busan before so we were winging it a bit. My lovely coteacher Paige really helped us plan the trip from the train tickets to the motel room.

We took the super fast KTX train from Seoul Station and in less than 3 hours we were in Busan!

We had a good time on the train and Matt packed some awesome sandwiches. Alison loved them so much she almost ate them all.

We arrived and Steph found her mothership.

Matt found a new friend.

And Alison found the sexiest underwear EVER.

We spent the first day navigating around Busan (we rode on the jerkiest bus in Korea and everyone except me got carsick), finding our motel, singing our hearts out, exploring side streets, munching on baked goods and frozen yogurt and having a drink.

While we were making our way back to our motel to get some rest we ran into this couple.
I'm sure that most of you know about the South Korean hostages that the Taliban have captured in Afghanistan. Well our first day in Busan was the day when they executed the second hostage. Understandably this is a sensitive and emotional topic right now and we've been approached a couple of times (usually by intoxicated individuals) and asked what nationality we are. The feeling I get is many Koreans are unhappy with America and the war in Iraq.

Anyway, I digress. So these two were totally drunk and approached. We communicated poorly for some time (with their broken English and our broken Korean) and the woman even tried calling her daughter in Seoul who speaks English (who hung up on her since it was almost 1 am at this point) so she could translate. It turned out they wanted us to drive them home so they didn't have to pay for a cab or drive themselves and in return they would let us sleep at their house for free! They had gone out for dinner with friends and were upset about the hostage being executed and consequently drank too much. We had to decline since a) we'd been drinking a little ourselves; b) none of us have Korean driver's licences; and c) we didn't feel comfortable doing that anyway and already had motel rooms we'd paid for. Hopefully they got home all right. It sure made for an interesting cap to our first day in Busan.

The next day we decided to check out the beach. Busan has a number of them but we spent time at Haeundae Beach, which is the best known.
The beach was pretty busy (and a bit dirty) but the weather was nice and we all had a lot of fun. I got a huge kick out of all the vendors that walked up and down the beach with fried chicken and beer for sale. It makes sense because who doesn't crave a bucket of greasy chicken when you're covered in sand and salt and it's 40C?

The girls made sure they reached their daily yogurt quota while I chose something with a little more substance.

Later that evening we had some dinner and watched the stage show on the beach. It turned out that the Busan Sea Festival had just began! There was a huge crowd and at the end of the concert was the most AMAZING fireworks show I'd ever seen. I think I've mentioned before how awesome the Korean fireworks displays are and how we saw cool ones at New Years and then again at the Boryeong Mud Festival. However, this one topped all of them. We stood there in awe for probably 20 minutes. Everything was to music and it was sensational. I managed to catch the last bit of the finale with my camera but it really doesn't do it justice.
After the fireworks we decided to check out a club (which I think was called something like Groove and Tongue or Tongue and Groove) that we'd been given a flyer for. Apparently there were a bunch of DJs spinning. The flyer said there was a cover charge so we were reluctant at first but then it turned out foreigners got in free so we had nothing to lose!

Unfortunately Mattie got a headache from the loud music, strobe lights (and probably from getting a bit too much sun during the day) so he went home early. Us three girls got a bit of a taste of celebrity though! This was one of my favorite memories from the trip and we had so much fun dancing crazy and throwing caution to the wind. The Koreans were totally fascinated by us and were staring, whispering and then nervously dancing near us. We danced with everyone and had a really great time. It was hilarious since a lot of them were copying how we danced. Hahah! You should have seen some of the outfits people were wearing, like this guy. We danced for hours and then decided to leave once a couple of our admirers were getting a bit too intense. It was so much fun though!

Our last day in Busan we decided to check out the aquarium.
They had a really goofy show going on with pirates and a mermaid (that actually swam in one of the tanks) but I didn't get any pictures. I think Alison did (and I know she videotaped some of it) so maybe I'll post one if she sends me one. The aquarium was really cool.

Then it was time to make our way back to the train station. We stopped off at a little place along the way and had some sushi and we tried to go shopping at what we'd thought was a mall (not so much). Then we bought a delicious potato pizza, hopped on the train and said goodbye to Busan.

If you'd like to view all of the Busan pictures you can see them here. Keep in mind I was on crack when I uploaded them and page 1 is actually the last pictures and page 11 is the beginning. Oops!

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